STI levers verses Bar End shifters

It was almost a year ago when I took the plunge and bought my Thorn Audax.  I agonised over some of the details far too much; in fact we bought our last car with much less thought or research!  Amongst these details was whether to go for the all-in-one Shimano STI levers i.e. the combined brake and gear lever, or, the bar end shifters which you see in the above picture.  I’m still not convinced I did the right thing but here are some considerations if you’re undecided which to get:

Bar End shifters:

  • Bar end shifters are much cheaper
  • Stay in adjustment very well
  • Simple
  • Easy to replace
  • The front shifter is friction only (not indexed) so it is easy to fine tune, or trim, the position of the front mech in order to stop the chain rubbing
  • Slight less vulnerable to damage
  • You only change gear when you need to
STI levers:
  • STI levers are very comfortable to rest your hands on; gives a nice position on the bike
  • Expensive when bought on their own
  • Scope for changing gear and braking at the same time
  • Safety – keeping your hands on the handlebars when gear changing
  • The more upmarket ranges (i.e. Ultegra) have the gear cable concealed under the handlebar tape
  • Less durable
  • More likely to need cable adjustments

STOP PRESS: January 2014: click here for my installation of Shimano Tiagra STI levers.

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