Sunday, February 12, 2012

Retroshift Update

I found enough time this weekend to get the Retroshift levers and my Shimano 9 speed bar end levers mounted to the Black Mountain Cycles "Orange Crush" machine. Here's an image....

Retro-fied!
Installation: The install was pretty straight forward, but that said, you have quite a task on your hands when you swap out the levers to Retroshift.

Obviously the old levers have to come off, but so do all the cables with that, plus bar tape. You'll end up doing a tune up, so why not throw new cables and housing at your bike while you are at it? That's what I did.

So as far as the levers and adding bar ends to them, it was really easy. Retroshift sends along new bar end bases for your Shimano bar end or down tube shifters. Rivendell Silver shifters will also work. At this point there is no shifter adaptation for SRAM or older Suntour BarCons.

The only challenge I had was deciding how to route the cables for maximum flow and efficiency. I ended up going with a set up where the right shifter entered the top tube cable stop on the left side and vice versa. I ran the rear brake right down the middle of the top tube.

First Impressions: Once the brakes had been set up and the derailleurs tuned I re-wrapped the bars with my old tape, (I'm Scotch like that!), and I ran through the gears.

The default low gear position for the front is vertical/in line with your lever. As you can see in the image, the left lever is sticking out to the inboard side of the bike. That's the big ring position. The right lever is in the position where the chain is three cogs down from the lowest gear in this image.

The highest gear will put the lever on the right slightly outboard of the handle bars, so it sweeps a fair distance from low to high gear. Some folks asked about the shift lever being in line with the brake lever and how that affects braking from the hoods. Well, keep in mind that the shifter lever moves with the brake lever, so in cases where the shift lever is inline with the brake lever, simply pull back on the shift lever.  I honestly don't see this being an issue right now, but I'll reserve final judgment until after I've used these a bit.

Kind of like non-aero levers, but not really.
The switch from STI Ultegra 9 speed levers to these does a couple things. One: It saves about a 100 grams of weight. Second: It lends a totally different tactile feel to your rig's handle bars.

I think #1 is okay with about everyone. Number Two may become an issue, or it may be an improvement. I happen to think it is an improvement in feel and funtion for me, but let me explain something that affects my feelings on this.

My first road bike was a Tommasini steel bike with Campagnolo Ergo-power levers. So good! I loved the shifters, and ever since, I have found Shimano STI to be not so great for me. I won't get into all the details of that here, but since the Tektro levers Retroshift uses are more Campy-like than not, I happen to really like the feel. The other thing is that the shift motion is separated from the plane the brake lever moves in. I happen to have an issue activating the brake sometimes while shifting an STI lever. I know- I'm an unskilled STI shift operator! But, that tilts the scales to me liking the Retroshift set up.

Negatives are few. I've gone down the block and back so far, (too frigid to test ride yet), and I can easily operate the levers. The brakes work well from the hoods or the drops, but there is no way to shift from the drops. Other than this, the only odd thing is that due to the way the Retroshift mount sits against the upper body of the perch, the release button for the brakes is rendered useless. That isn't a real big deal to me, but it will make undoing the brakes more of a hassle.

So, that's the initial set up and a first impression. I'll be using these for riding and in the upcoming CIRREM gravel event in a couple weeks time. More to come later....

NOTE: Retroshift sent these levers over for test/review at no charge. I am not being paid, nor bribed for these reviews and I will strive to give my honest thoughts and opinions throughout.

6 comments:

Vito said...

Now that's interesting.

rideonpurpose said...

I was incredibly excited about these until I realized you couldn't shift from the drops. I know most people these days don't use them that much, but what are they there for then?

Irishtsunami said...

Any thoughts on how these would work on a Jeff Jones Loop Bar or an H Bar? I am looking at those bars and I know that it can be tough to get shifter/brake levers on.

Guitar Ted said...

@rideonpurpose: I've been asking the same question about RAGBRAI drop bar riders for years. :>)

@Irishtsunami: Well, for those bars you probably would use flat bar controls and Paul Thumbie mounts. (They work fantastic on those bars too)

The Retroshift pods are mounted to road brake levers, so they wouldn't be a good fit on Jones H-bars or Loop bars.

Dan O said...

I've never seen these. Interesting...

SS:Mntbiker\Olskoolrodder said...

Vito said...
Now that's interesting.


Yes it is...very...