Sunday, March 23, 2014

Cheap Retro Shifter Workstand Test: Meh

Speed review for y'all: I recently ordered some SunRace 9-speed downtube shifters that were intended for the workhorse Raleigh Clubman, whose STIs have been getting a little finicky lately. Once you read the review, you'll see why I'm not even bothering to provide a link to them.

First, the mounting bolts were a bit long for my downtube bosses, so I couldn't get the shifters 100% tight against the frame before the bolts bottomed out. The mechanical bits were solid, but the cosmetic outer parts were loose enough to rattle. To be fair, that may just be an issue with the bosses on my frame, and had I decided to stick with the shifters, it would have been no big deal to cut the bolts down a touch.

I found the rear shifting action to be the weirdest combination of "too stiff" and "too easy" I've experienced in a shifter. The force required to get the lever moving was enough that once I did make it move, I'd get three or four of its not-terribly-well-defined clicks before I could stop it. Compare that to a Shimano bar-end shifter, which (admittedly) takes some force to move (more so than an STI, to be sure) but is consistent from click to click. You have to keep applying that force if you want more than one click -- which, for this ham-fist, is much preferred. I didn't even bother putting on the front shifter.

Cosmetically, the finish on the SunRaces is kind of cheap-shiny (pretty much what you'd expect for the price), and the shifters feature D-rings that serve no purpose I could discern other than looking retro and rattling. If they'd worked well, I wouldn't have given a fig about the looks... but they didn't, so there you have it. 

Bottom line: If you want to shift a 9-speed indexed drivetrain like an old man, save your pennies (lots and lots of pennies, unfortunately) and pop for Dura Ace instead:

(Oh, and as usual, if you follow that link and spend your pennies at Amazon, I get a kickback. Full disclosure and whatnot.)

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