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MODERN GRIP AND THUMB SHIFTERS: POOR ENGINEERING?
#1
So as some who rides and maintains bikes from the 1960s to through the 2000s, I find disturbing that there are some many problems with modern shifting mechanisms on low to midrange bikes. I have an engineering background and it seems that basis quality in function and durability has gone by the wayside in this department. Is just a cost issue? I would be embarrassed as a manufacturer if I had the amount of problems that these "economically engineered" parts are prone to. Yes, there were poor parts being designed throughout cycling history, but they tended to be performance related and/or a defect in the manufacturing process. Since Sturmey-Archer essentially developed index shifting about 100 years ago you would think that in today's high tech environment these parts would better designed without causing excessive increases in manufacturing costs whilst still being able to provide the consumer with a reliable and durable product at a reasonable retail price. I know I would pay the extra $25 if I knew that the shifting mechanisms were rock solid on a bike I'm already paying $100s for. Unfortunately, I see this in many areas of manufacturing be toasters to cars. I also realize that this has become a use it and toss it out mindset where I guess folks have no expectations of many products having much longevity of trouble-free use.
Engineering in general should provide the most simplistic design to provide the required function, performance, and durability of a product while keeping costs to a mihi mum when possible. The only thing I see occurring with these shifters are increasing complexity while using inadequate materials with apparently designs not meant to provide any real long time usage for something which should last decades with proper maintenance and use (in my opinion), but often times fail even straight out of the box. My 80 year old S-A shifters and hubs work fine and I have done very little to maintain them because their design and quality of materials and manufacturing processes were such that it is not required. I ride 30-50 year old bikes regularly without issues using original equipment. Most parts upgrades back in the day (especially in racing) mostly revolved around weight reduction, but while maintaining quality, performance, and durability. Yes, there exceptions where manufacturers have shot themselves in the foot, often more like shooting themselves in the heart since it ended their well established and previously lauded product brand; think Simplex going into producing "plastic" bike components.
I will say this: give me a friction shifting system on a modern bike any day (including caliper brakes) and I will be able to ride that bike for a longer time without issue at a lower maintenance cost (never mind repair costs), less hassle setting up, lighter weight, at a much lower cost than some of the most expensive bikes on the market with electronic shifting, hydraulic brake systems, and other meaningless features ridden by the average non-competition rider (even in competition). Most riders have no need of these high end components; but regardless of usage level or need the parts should hold up better and longer without user issues occurring in the short time span from new bike to barely used yet bike.
I feel sorry for all the folks (especially parents) who spend money to buy a new bike and often spend more to get it "professionally" set-up only to have it become non-functional due to a 25 cent piece of plastic or metal break or wear out prematurely because in essence the product they bought had "built-in" design and materials inadequacies making it either a money pit and/or a throw-away item; probably due to manufacturers limiting production costs instead of building something solid and sound at a reasonable cost. I remember when SRAM products hit the market; a small company making essentially top notch parts, now making low quality stuff just to fit into the large market niche. When a company wants to get large and compete in a different market they end up having to sacrifice somewhere. There is a substantial difference in performance between many old parts I use, but generally not a loss of quality or durability. This cannot be said of today's components which seem to land in the very good category or very (intentionally) poor category regarding quality, performance, and durability.

Off of my soapbox for now, but just waiting to see the next "my shifter won't ....." post that I know will appear in short order.

Wrong forum, but it's on my mind.
Facts: 1) my hospital's cases are growing again (State has no want to control the virus, apparently sick people can work, and dead people can spend money).
2) testing at the hospital shows close to 90% of cases are now due to the "D" variant.
3) 90% of those cases are in unvaccinated patients and we are showing about 10% "breakthrough" cases in vaccinated patients. This indicates that the vaccine which was not bio-engineered for the "D" variant is roughly 90% effective against cases being hospitalized; we cannot account for cases which are not severe enough for hospitalization or asymptomatic cases.
4) the areas of the state with the lowest % of fully vaccinated individuals also has the highest % of hospitalizations.
5) it is much more dangerous to drive a car for one day in regards to the known (and unknown) dangers of the vaccine(s); but people have no problem driving everyday without questioning the safety of the technology, or other driver's also presenting a safety risk (never mind manufacturer's vehicle safety recalls; glad car designers don't do bio-engineering).
I will not say get a vaccine as there are many individual considerations involved; even for those who want it. Just be considerate to others regardless of their choices and take due precautions to keep yourself, family, friends, co-workers, and everyone safe and at the lowest risk possible; same as not driving under the influence which can be potentially deadly to you or a complete stranger, but where you made the conscious decision to engage in a risky behavior.

Please have a safe cycling summer and continue to be prudent about taking precautions regarding COVID.
Ride Fast, Be Safe!
Howard
  Reply
#2
"...but just waiting to see the next "my shifter won't ....." post that I know will appear in short order...."

It has already happened Howard; you are spot on for the most part. I use some very simple ratcheting thumb shifters for some builds, but always a friction set-up which allows me to throw whatever I want on it as far as the front and rear gears go. I think everyone should learn how to shift with friction shifting because it helps you understand how and when to shift; also, it makes you appreciate what properly functioning index shifting provides over friction.
Take care,
Jesper

"I am become Death, the destroyer of bicycles." NJS
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