Author Topic: Electronic gear shifter?  (Read 1042 times)

rafiki

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Electronic gear shifter?
« on: January 20, 2019, 02:11:35 PM »
I am looking for ways to ease the pain I experience changing gear on my Dawes bike. It has Shimano XT Rapidfire changers. I have arthritis in both thumbs and some days I grit my teeth just at the thought of the next gear change! I came across electronic shifters the other day and they look as if they could be the answer. I was looking at the Xshifter but I know there are others. I would appreciate comments from anyone who has experience of this type of shifter system; I'd also be glad to hear from anyone about alternative solutions to my problem. At least I have my Thorn Sterling with its Rohloff twist shifter for most of my rides at the moment.

jags

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Re: Electronic gear shifter?
« Reply #1 on: January 20, 2019, 05:21:58 PM »
drop bars and 105  leavers super smooth  ;) no need to use you thumb.

Danneaux

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Re: Electronic gear shifter?
« Reply #2 on: January 20, 2019, 06:55:51 PM »
Sympathy and empathy for your pain, Rafiki. I have de Quervain's Tenosynovitis, which causes pain at the base of my thumb and also nerve damage from ulnar compression.

A Shimano Di2 drivetrain is one of the most popular electonically shifted drivetrains (SRAM is another), but a full conversion would be expensive.

One of the less expensive alternatives currently on the market would be the Archer Components D1x. It is a an electronic "shift box" that shifts your rear derailleur only. It is brand- and cable travel-agnostic, as it can be programmed and fine-tuned with a smart-phone app. Supplies are limited, cost is purportedly USD$389. I don't have any interest in the product, but did see a live demo and it was impressive. Shifting is by two handlebar-mounted buttons, one for upshifts, the other for downshifts.

As mentioned, it shifts only the rear derailleur, so is intended for 1x systems with just a single front chainring. I can't see why it couldn't be fitted with a 2x (double) or 3x (triple) crank; it just wouldn't shift the front, which could still be selected manually for greater range.

Link here: https://www.archercomponents.com/
video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5nZYF2SdTfI&feature=youtu.be

User installation videos here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EMtkPktAzXI
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vgIUmDFOrlw

At present, it appears battery life may be a problem, at least compared t Shimano's Di2 system, as it is rated at 30-hours in the normal mode, and 50+ hours in the low-power mode.

Pinkbike review here, comments are interesting: https://www.pinkbike.com/news/archer-components-wireless-electronic-shifter-review.html
Biukemag review here: https://www.bikemag.com/gear/tested-archer-components-d1x/

There are some problems, including the use of 1.5mm socket allenhead screws used in setup and for battery cover retention. That looks problematically small over time, but time will tell. Depending on the length and width of a bike's chainstays, some people's heels have hit the shift-box. The button control is not as ergonomic as some other button-shifted designs. Though the actuator batteries look like AA cells they are not; special rechargeables are required. It uses a carbon-brush motor rather than brushless or stepper, but the maker says it is rated for a high service life). I have no idea how it will work long-term and it is expensive, though less so than a complete conversion to a electronic shifting (depending on your current setup; it appears this could even be made to work with a freewheel and friction-shifted rear derailleur). Although the Archer system uses buttons, they still require a push-push motion like Rapidfire, just with less effort and travel. You might be able to mount the shifter buttons so you could use an index shifter instead of a thumb.

Happily, I found my Nomad's T-bar mounted grip shifter (which I approach from the end, as I would to turn a doorknob) causes me little if any pain compared to other shifter designs. Perhaps converting your present bike to a compatible derailleur-type GripShifter mounted on a T-bar might also be a helpful alternative? Bar-end shifters cause me no pain, and a pair of them could be mounted into each end of a larger diameter T-bar like this one: https://www.sjscycles.co.uk/accessories/thorn-accessory-bar-mk2-t-shaped-105-mm-extension-254-mm-0-deg/?geoc=US

Just some thoughts.

Best,

Dan.
« Last Edit: January 20, 2019, 07:12:07 PM by Danneaux »

mickeg

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Re: Electronic gear shifter?
« Reply #3 on: January 20, 2019, 06:59:08 PM »
I see that Dan posted something before I posted this, but since I typed it I am posting anyway.

With XT I assume you have flat bars, not drop bars? 

Since your Rohloff shifter works well for you, is there a compatible twist grip shifter that has the correct amount of cable pull per shift that would work?

I am clueless about electronic shifting, so I have no opinions on that.


mickeg

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Re: Electronic gear shifter?
« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2019, 07:08:02 PM »
...
Bar-end shifters cause me no pain, and a pair of them could be mounted into each end of a T-bar as well.
...

I think that bar end shifters are designed for the larger inside diameter drop bars.  Might not fit in the Thorn T bar.  Before you buy, you should check.

If you wanted to go that route and if the diameter is a problem, a really short stem and a bit of cut off handlebar could work.  I use the Thorn T Accessory bar on a couple bikes to mount my handlebar bag, but on some other bikes I use a second stem with a piece of handlebar or a piece of PVC plastic pipe. 

The second stem option works almost as well as the Thorn T bar for my purposes except that the T bar is much shorter on the steerer tube if you do not have a lot of spare steerer tube for mounting anything on it.

Andre Jute

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Re: Electronic gear shifter?
« Reply #5 on: January 20, 2019, 08:29:15 PM »
There are also genuine automatic shifters, including a fully automatic Di2 shifter (unlike the cut-down sporting type of the same name which is only a pre-selector) and a later Shimano outbox currently sold on Gazelle Orange in The Netherlands. I have one of the full Di2 and it is superb. Mine is in the loft because I haven't used it in years but I seem to remember two buttons and everything else automatic on the chosen programme, even the wakeup of the gearbox being effected by the bike moving off. The entire thing was self-powered from the hub dynamo. Only supplied to manufacturers.

Another automatic and definitely available to the public, this one infinitely variable, is NuVinci.

Both the Di2 and the NuVinci have a fraction over 300% multiplication in their boxes. They're not Rohloffs (literally designed as sandbike and mud plugger) but intended for commuting or touring.

lewis noble

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Re: Electronic gear shifter?
« Reply #6 on: January 20, 2019, 08:58:28 PM »
I had a similar problem on my 9 sp. Sherpa (flat bars). Nagging pain and discomfort that took a fair bit of pleasure out of a medium / longer ride. I converted to Thumbies, kit available from SJSC. Conversion of Dura Ace bar end shifters I think. Works v well. Rapidfire probably easier and quicker to use, but on balance I prefer the thumbies.

On my Audax, I found the STIs uncomfortable,  though initially ok. Reverted to bar end shifters.

Would this suit you?
 

rafiki

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Re: Electronic gear shifter?
« Reply #7 on: January 21, 2019, 02:49:24 PM »
I had a similar problem on my 9 sp. Sherpa (flat bars). Nagging pain and discomfort that took a fair bit of pleasure out of a medium / longer ride. I converted to Thumbies, kit available from SJSC. Conversion of Dura Ace bar end shifters I think. Works v well. Rapidfire probably easier and quicker to use, but on balance I prefer the thumbies.

I have not used thumb shifters before and Thumbies are new to me too so forgive my ignorance please. If I bought a pair of Shimano thumb shifters complete with hamdlebar mounting brackets would Thumbies then be unnecessary? I don't get what Thumbies are contributing.

mickeg

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Re: Electronic gear shifter?
« Reply #8 on: January 21, 2019, 06:10:30 PM »
I am not sure what he meant by thumbies, but if he meant Paul Thumbies, that is a way to mount bar end or downtube shifters onto a flat handlebar.  See photos.
https://www.paulcomp.com/shop/components/shimanothumbies/

But, thumbies could be ambiguous, he might have meant something else.

lewis noble

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Re: Electronic gear shifter?
« Reply #9 on: January 22, 2019, 12:39:34 AM »
Sorry for lack of clarity. I mean shifters similar to bar end shifters, mounted on a bracket on the flat bars. No electronic assistance at all, but operating them uses a different part of the hand instead of the thumb pushing movement commonly required on rapidfire shifters. I will look up a sjsc reference number and post again.
 

lewis noble

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Re: Electronic gear shifter?
« Reply #10 on: January 22, 2019, 12:46:49 AM »
Go onto St John Street Cycles website, look up dura ace thumb shifters. SJSC part number 17430.

I'm busy tomorrow,  but at earliest opportunity I will post a photo of them mounted on my Sherpa.
 

lewis noble

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Re: Electronic gear shifter?
« Reply #11 on: January 22, 2019, 06:35:27 PM »
Hello again

I tried posting a photo, but ran into the old 'file too large' issue from my phone.  In fact, though, better pictures are available on the Thorn website.

Go into Bikes in the list below the title, then Bike Specifications, and you come across a brief description of the Sherpa. Open up that pdf, click-site near bottom of the description, and on page 2 you will see pictures of the thumbshifters, in a set up very similar to mine.

Bear in mind that if you have integral brake / rapidfire levers, you will need a replacement set of brake levers.  In fact, I think the integrated combinations are less commonly available now, but the kit on my Sherpa dates from about 2009 when they were still very common.  In addition, longer cables are likely to be needed.  I suppose you could retain the old integrated levers for the brakes, but that may not fit together well and would be very cluttered.

The thumbshifters are not as convenient as the rapidfires in my view.  To begin with, using thumbshifters, I found I wobbled slightly with the change of hand position - but I got used to them.  The great advantage is that they can be operated with the thumb, fingers, heel of the hand or whatever, which I find so much more comfortable on thumb joints that have taken a bit of a hammering over the years.

Good luck.

Lewis
 

lewis noble

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Re: Electronic gear shifter?
« Reply #12 on: January 22, 2019, 09:21:02 PM »
I think it would also be worth your while to look at the Thorn Mega Brochure to clarify whether the cable pull is right for your gear combination - if I understand the huge mega brochure correctly, the thumbshifters will only work on 10sp road setup or 9 sp mtb set up.  My Sherpa has a 9 sp MTB setup, and it works very well . . . . .

So without knowing precisely what you have on your bike, it is difficult to advise you further. 

But I think we all recognise just how debilitating hand / wrist / joint pain can be on anything other than a short ride.
 

rafiki

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Re: Electronic gear shifter?
« Reply #13 on: January 22, 2019, 10:01:03 PM »
Thanks Lewis. I see the setup you mentioned and it could work for me I think. The bike is a 1994 Dawes Mean Street XT hybrid. Flat bars and Shimano XT 8 speed dérailleur. The shifters you mentioned are 9 speed so I searched for an 8 speed equivalent. SJS have thumbshifters with attached handlebar brackets which look just right: https://www.sjscycles.co.uk/gear-shifters/shimano-ultegra-78-speed-thumbshifter-set/?geoc=US. You are correct that my Rapidfires are integral with the brake levers so a solution will be required there too.

lewis noble

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Re: Electronic gear shifter?
« Reply #14 on: January 23, 2019, 02:14:40 PM »
I think you will find them good, even if they take a while to get used to. Well made and robust, I have not needed to touch them in 5 + years.  Is that your question on the website entry for that item??  I guess so . . . . no secrets here!!

Regards

Lewis