Wednesday, December 29, 2010


I put brifters on the Rawland.
I tried a brifter on my CX bike this year for the first time. I dig it. Who says you never need to shift when you are standing? (Well, I know who says that, but what the hey?) Once you can shift while you are standing, you do it all the time. Especially accelerating and when trail riding tricky stuff. It's flipping rad.

When I say "I" put shifters on my Rawland, I mean that in the "royal I" way. More specifically, I watched Glen put brifters on my Rawland. The guy is a Jedi Knight when it comes to indexing.

It's a set of Sora brifters shifting a SRAM chain on Sugino rings with a 105 front and an LX rear over a SRAM 8 speed cassette.

I learned the following:
- Derailleurs have directions. And they matter. Once the shifting wasn't perfect (but it was suitable, by my low standards), Glen read the directions for the front derailleur to make it perfect.
- Housing shouldn't bend too much.
- Housing shouldn't arc too much.
- Cables and housing matter. The name of the indexing game is "reduce friction." Cheap-ass cables and housing can work, but they're not going to make things better.

So, indexing 3x8 works great.

I took a ride today with the new set up. The snow is deep and sort of lame so I had to get in a good washout-turn-wreck, my second in 3 days -- but the shifting was great. I really liek the funny little buttons on the "thumb" side of the levers to drop the chain down. It's dorky looking, but it's easier with gloves and without thinking to shift down than it is with the kind of brifter where there's a second lever tucked under the main lever.

The braking was just ok. The Sora brifters have a different geometry than the normal cheap-o Shimano aero levers. I don't know how they're different, but they were intended to pull calipers, so I'm guessing it's different enough than a generic aero lever that was designed to pull canti's or calipers. Maybe not, but in any case, it feels different and I will need to do some fussing to get the rear wheel more dialed. The front is ok, so I know it's possible.

We put new "organic" pads on the BB-7 too. We'll see how they fare. The other ones that they replaced had a surprising amount of pad left. But once we tore them all apart, we opted to put the new fancies in.

The bummer is the shape of the shifters. They're so huge and weird and clumpy and wide. I spend 94% of my time riding the hoods, so hood shape matters and I'm not sure I can live with these. I'll need to do some longer rides to verify this, or I may need to scootch them down a bit on the bars, but there are adjustments to be made.


Unknown said...

As long as you are only shifting to a smaller cog on the big hills then having brifters is ok, otherwise stick with the DT shifters. Don't think just ride! Somewhere a quickbeam hangs it's head in shame. Haha.

Not said...

One possibility for poor brake performance is using "road" levers with "mountain" disc brakes. I know that drop-bar style brake levers are available that pull the "mountain" amount of cable, but I don't know if there are any brifters that do that.

If that is the problem, one solution is to use Avid "road" BB-7 brakes, which are designed to work with standard road levers.
- Ventura

John Speare said...

Brent: I make a habit of not thinking while riding. Brifters help me in that department.

Ventura -- I'm running the road BB-7s. Which -- btw-- are way way way better in setup, performance, and maintenance than the road versions of the Shimano disc calipers.

Anonymous said...

Don't worry John soon you will learn the ways of the force and become a Jedi Knight like your friend Glen. Always two there are, master and apprentice, but beware the dark side of the force. Once you start down that path, forever will it dominate your destiny. Mind what you have learned. Save you it can. etc.

Anonymous said...

nowt to contribute on the brifter thing, but that is one perfect looking bicycle! i think i might have to try and import one to the uk.

rory said...

hmm, sounds like you might like the campy ergopower shifter over the sora. well, maybe.

Unknown said...

i believe that cable pull for disc brakes is generally designed to be the same as linear-pull brakes. how about inline travel agents? qbp has them.

BUT your brakes are designed for "road" levers

so i dunno