Question: You said that bar-end shifters were a plus on a Trek touring bike you rode. Why do you prefer bar-end shifters over brake/shift levers like Shimano STI? — Ed C.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: Don’t get me wrong. I do like STI shifters and find them reliable and convenient. I use them on all my bikes except my touring bike, which I also ride on dirt roads. On that bike, I use bar-end shifters.
There are two reasons I like these shifters for touring:
1. They’re less apt to have mechanical problems or get smashed in a crash. This durability is important on tour.
2. Bar-ends have a friction option. By switching the rear shifter out of index and into friction, it’ll work on cassettes or freewheels with any number of cogs. So, if you trash your rear wheel and have to buy an old one with a 6-speed freewheel at a flea market in Murdo, SD, you’ll still be able to ride.