So I'm sittin' in my garage, staring at my bikes, thinking, "What do I have that's well enough and thus impossible to leave alone?" Obviously, it's those downtube shifters detailed in my last post.
After a few weeks of enjoying the perverse retro-osity of downtube shifting, I had to admit to myself that the "not as convenient" ergonomics I mentioned last time had become an actual pain in the tuchus. Riding a compact double with a big chainring jump is no big deal on a long sustained ride, but can create a lot of weird shift patterns in the stop-and-go of urban commuting. Plus, I found that the little buggers could get slippery during our humid months, especially when I used my questionable superpower of being able to sweat like a man twice my weight. So, I dug through ye olde bins and found some bar-end shifter pods and downtube cable stops, their matching shifters long ago busted, lost, or both. Being Shimano, they took to my Shimano downtube shifters like Lego blocks that just happened to come from different kits.
The resulting bar-end/downtube mashup works just like a standard bar-end shifter, which is to say both hunky and dory. It doesn't have the little ergonomic curve or rubber cover of a "real" bar-end shifter, but that difference is hardly noticeable in practice. Best of all, I now have shifters in the same location and with the same action on both my most-used single bike and the tandem, minimizing the chance that I'll reach for the wrong spot when swapping from bike to bike. This move even saved me yesterday when my bad back decided to act up mid-ride... had my shifters been any lower than the ends of my bars, I wouldn't have been able to reach them, and the subsequent limp home would have been even less enjoyable.
I'd love to say that this idea sprung fully formed from the twisted wrinkles of my brain, but I stood on the shoulders of those curmudgeonly giants at Rivendell Bicycle Works, who sell both bar-end pods separately and their own mashup of bar-end pods with friction downtube shifters. I get no kickback from the Riv folks for any flood of shifter sales that may result from those links, by the way.