Shimano IGH Shifters with Drop Bars

Alfine & Nexus Shifters
Alfine & Nexus Shifters

Shimano Alfine and Nexus internal gear hubs are only offered with either twist or trigger shifters for use on mountain-type handlebars (22.2mm O.D.). To use these hubs with a drop bar requires either an aftermarket mount for the existing shifter or a replacement shifter specifically designed for use on road bars (23.8mm O.D.).

HubBub
HubBub

Various mounts that are intended for headlights or cyclometers can be used for adapting a stock shifter to a road bar (see examples here and here). There is also a product specifically designed for this purpose called the HubBub. The HubBub plugs in to the end of the handlebar, providing an area beyond the drop for mounting a twist shifter (the HubBub works with any twist shifter designed for a 22.2mm bar).

J-Tek
J-Tek Bar-end

The J-Tek Bar-end and Versa VRS STI-style drop bar shifters are cleaner solutions than the mounts mentioned above, though they’re also more expensive. The J-Tek is a CNC machined alloy shifter similar to a Shimano bar-end. It clamps onto any standard drop bar and indexes with all of Shimano’s 8-speed internal gear hubs (there’s also a model for the 7-speed Shimano and 8-speed Sturmey Archer).

The Versa VRS-8 is an STI-style integrated brake lever/shifter designed to shift Alfine and Nexus 8-speed hubs (Versa has just released a model for the new Alfine 11 hub). For those who are accustomed to riding road bikes with integrated STI brake/shift levers, the Versa is the best (albeit the most expensive) option.

Versa
Versa VRS-8

I’d be curious to hear from those who are running drop bars with internal gear hubs. What type of shifter are you using and how is it working for you?

Versa
J-Tek
HubBub

20 Responses to “Shimano IGH Shifters with Drop Bars”

  • Constance Winters says:

    I’ve heard good things about those Jtek shifters, though have not tried them myself.

    Are you thinking of setting one of your bikes up with drop bars?

  • Alan Barnard says:

    Hi Constance,

    I have a Civia Bryant on order (should arrive later this week). It comes from the factory with drop bars and Versa levers. Anticipating that bike has me thinking about IGH, drops, belts, etc… :-)

    Alan

  • Carter Bruce says:

    I use the twist shifters on the hubbub. I went with that option because I was a bit short on cash (after having splurged on the frame) and it was the cheapest option available to me.

    The experience using it is not as awkward as it looks. Shifting works well, and I got used to the motion of using it fairly quickly.

    However, I must say that the way the cable loops around in front can get in the way or get hooked on things while parking…

    See Sheldon Brown’s site for a picture of what I mean: http://www.sheldonbrown.com/org/raleigh-international/index.html

  • dominic furfaro says:

    I have been following Sheldon Brown as well Carter and like the DIY set up. This is another variation using a chopped bar end component mounted to the handlebar stem. http://sheldonbrown.org/raleigh-international/pages/09.html

  • jeremy albert says:

    I’ve been running the Soma Junebug flared drops with the Versa VRS-8 STI levers for nearly a year. The Versa shifters have proven to be a very reliable and compatible match for my Alfine 8sp hub.

  • Dane Andersen says:

    I’ve had a twist shifter on a HubBub on my Surly Cross Check with Nexus 8 speed for about three years. Shifting is great and feels very natural. The only downside is that, when on the drops, my right hand/wrist tends to hit on the shifter a bit.

  • Alan Barnard says:

    Carter and Dominic,

    Thanks for the Sheldon links.

    Alan

  • Alan Barnard says:

    From the feedback above, the HubBub sounds like a nice option for those converting to drops from flat bars. Thanks for the information.

    Alan

  • Mark Potts says:

    I have the Jtek shifter mounted on mustache bars on my Breezer turned xtracycle, and I really like it. I think it works WAY better than the twist shifter that came with the original bike and it just feels and looks better to me. I also run bar end shifters on my road bike (traditional derailleur), so it feels natural to me to have the shifter there. On the downside, the Jtek does not have any built in adjuster to help dial in the cable location. The Jtek’s shifts also go in the opposite direction of my other bar-ends, so that can get a bit confusing at times. It seemed a bit pricey to me when I ordered it, but I have been very happy with it.

  • Lee Chae says:

    Hi Alan. I’ve been using the Jtek shifter in combination with a Nexus 8 IGH and Grand Bois Rando bars for a couple (?) of years now. The Jtek shifter replaced the Shimano twist grip shifter when I converted from Albatross bars to the GB Randos:

    http://tinyurl.com/2c783jz
    http://tinyurl.com/4hwn6ao

    The Jtek shifter is excellent. It has pronounced indexing, which I like, and the unit itself feels solid. The only thing missing from it is a built-in cable adjuster, much like the twist shifter offers. The indexing of the Nexus 8 is such that a slight change in shifter cable tension can introduce grinding in some gears. Because of this, you want an easy way to make slight changes to the cable tension. My hack was to place an in-line barrel adjuster near the IGH’s cassette reaction arm:

    http://tinyurl.com/474pvkp

    In summary, I highly recommend the Jtek shifter if you have an appropriate IGH. I’d love it even more if it had a built-in method for adjusting the indexing.

    Best,
    Lee

  • Ben Wnuk says:

    I have a Charge Mixer that I’ve converted to drop bars. The Versa VRS-8’s have worked flawlessly for whacking through gears and actuating the avid mechanical discs. The throw feels a bit long, and I’m pretty sure you can only click through one gear at a time, but the feeling is natural and the units feel robust. Until Shimano comes out with an IGH *and* hydro disc compatible STI unit, these get my vote!

  • Brendan Abrams says:

    I run a JTek shifter on a Bryant with an Alfine 8 and Salsa Woodchippers and dig it completely. I’ve found the JTek to be a great solution. I ride year round in Minneapolis and prefer the bar end shifter because a brifter didn’t seem like it would work well with the choppers (mittens) I wear for the winter. Probably not a concern in Cali.

    In regards to the above comments, the Bryant has a barrel adjuster on the down tube that controls cable tension. I’ve got a Pletscher double, so if the cable tension gets out of whack, I just put it up on the kickstand and get it back into alignment. Not a problem at all.

    On a related note, I found the bolt that came with the Pletscher didn’t quite work with the kickstand plate on the Bryant. It was too long without the wedge/spacer and too short with it. However, a quick trip to the hardware store, a new bolt and a couple of washers and I was good to go. Been fine since. Just an FYI (or I might just be highlighting my mechanical ineptitude).

    Regards,

    Brendan

  • Doug Robertson says:

    Alan,

    I have a Nexus 8 spd IGH on my winter Cross Check with Nitto Noodle drop bars. When I set it up, the Hubbub was the only option at the time. I purchased it from Harris Cyclery. So I haven’t tried the J-tek or Versa options.

    The set-up works great for me. One thing I like about it is the twist shifter is easy to grab and shift when riding with big winter mitts on. It almost seems like it was made for this kind of winter use. Not a concern for you I’m sure.

    I find myself making slight cable adjustments with the barrel adjuster on the twist shifter at least once a month. I can’t understand how you would do that without a barrel adjuster.

  • Lee Chae says:

    “In regards to the above comments, the Bryant has a barrel adjuster on the down tube that controls cable tension.”

    Hi Brendan. That’s a good solution, but it didn’t work out for me. I set up a barrel adjuster on the down-tube shifter boss. But, since I usually carry a front load on a porteur rack, the cargo would interfere with the shifter cable run and cause the indexing to go out of whack. So, I zip-tied the cable along the frame and moved the adjuster location to right at the IGH. That’s helped a lot. For many people, I’m sure the down-tube location would work, and be preferable to my setup since it’s nearer at hand.

  • Alan Barnard says:

    Hey Brenden,

    Thanks for the info on the Pletscher mounting bolt.

    Regards,
    Alan

  • John Peterson says:

    I have mounted the Rohloff shifter on the down tube on my Surly CrossCheck (in the traditional position). It has been trouble free and fairly easy to use for over 10,000 miles. That said, I’d like to try a hubbub on the bike so I could shift without having to take a hand off the bar. I did not set it up originally that way for two reasons.

    1. I could not bring myself to cut my brand new Nitto Randoneur bars.

    2. The downtube mount provides a much cleaner cable run than the hubbub.

    Seeingthe comments of others and looking at some photos I think it is not so bad to loop the cables around to accommadate the bar mount as I feared.

  • John Ferguson says:

    Anybody have any info about a possible 11 speed jtek offering? Just thinking about the future..

  • Kurtiss Hammond says:

    First Time Commenter :)

    I run a jtek shifter on nitto moustache bars with an alfine 8 on a Kona Ute with a clever eccentric bottom bracket from forward components (of Canada) all these pieces work together flawlessly, even given the length of the cable from handlebar to rear hub on the Ute, without the need of a chain tensioner either.

    I was amazed it worked so well, and it looks positively “non-kludged”. It was a little difficult getting the tension right without the barrel adjuster, and before I take the Ute out this Spring, I’ll likely put an in-line adjuster somewhere along the cable, but that said, it still works very, very well.

    End note: I thought jtek closed after the death of its founder, but perhaps it has reopened again. May he rest in peace.

  • Robert Nava says:

    I’m running the JTek on my Bianchi San Jose Alfine 8 for months now. I’ve knocked my knee a couple of times in downtown stop-and-go and have considers trimming the bar. The in-line barrel adjuster I put about 8 inches from the shifter needs a tweak about once a week to keep 5th gear from skipping. Otherwise, I love the set up. At 5K miles, I’m promising myself one of those Civia Bryants. Thanks for the beautiful website.

  • Phil says:

    I made my own turned aluminum stub similar to the hub bub but just press fit and glued into the end of my bar. Also cut back the end of the bar a little so the shifter does not stick as far out as it would. This was to let me mount a SRAM I motion 9 shifter on my Salsa Casserol.

 
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