Regulars who read this blog know I’m a long time fan of bar-end shifters set to friction mode. I’ve been using bar-ends for over 25 years and I still find them to be the most intuitive and comfortable shifters available (for me). The only drawback to bar-ends is that they only work on a certain, limited set of handlebars that have the proper inner diameter and enough sweep to point the shifters toward the rear of the bike. This eliminates a good 50% of the available bars, some of which I’ve been dying to try out.
My second favorite shifters after bar-ends are old-school mountain-bike-style thumb shifters. High quality thumb shifters are pretty much a thing of the past, but a super alternative are Thumbies from Paul Component Engineering. Thumbies are cool little shifter mounts that convert bar-end shifters to old-style thumb shifters. They’re available in models to fit Shimano, Campy, and SRAM shifters, they’re beautifully machined, and they truly are a joy to use. The icing on the cake is that Thumbies open up access to many of those other handlebars that don’t accept bar-ends.
I mentioned in an earlier post that I’ll be testing a bunch of handlebars over the next couple of months. The first set are the 50 degree Aldrich bars from Civia (see above). Next in line are a set of Nitto Promenade porteur bars. Neither of these bars accept bar-end shifters, so the Thumbies will be getting a good workout and earning their keep.