Sprinter Shifters

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I was riding yesterday, messing with my position some.  It was pretty windy, like over 20mph and I was watching the power numbers on my Garmin while I tried different positions.

I don’t ride much on the drop bars.  I guess I should say historically, I don’t ride on the drops. Normally, my hands are on the shift/brake levers.  I’ve found, or maybe, more accurately, always thought I’m as aero with my hands on the levers as that on the drops.  It seems like when I’m on the drops, all I’m doing is exposing more forearm to the wind.

Anyway, the last couple years, I’ve been better on the drops.  I still wouldn’t normally climb on the drops, but I can ride long periods on them.  I was trying to think why that is.  And I came up with the answer that it is because of “sprinter shifters”.

Sprinter shifters are just small controls that you can mount anywhere on your handlebars that allow you to shift the rear derailleur easily.   Normally, they are mounted on your bars, below the brake levers, where your hand naturally sits, allowing you to use your thumbs to shift. The right shifter moves the rear derailleur down, to a harder gear, the left up, for an easier.

I never intended using sprinter shifters.  Wayne Stetina, Shimano, gave me a set and told me to try them.  At the time, I had no intention of putting them on.  But when I was building up my bike with new Di2, I thought to myself that I should mount them.  Usually when Wayne says something like they are important, he is usually right.

I had the shifters on for a while and didn’t really notice the change.  They didn’t jump out at me, but I found myself using them more and more.  When I started racing, I realized that they are super useful.  It is great having a full grip on your bars and still able to shift.  Great for criterium racing, but really they work in about all situations.

I only have these on my road bike, since I only have one pair and when I’ve been riding my cross bike on gravel, recently, I miss them.  I need to get a set for that bike too.

I’m rarely surprised about a “gimmick” bike part.  I tend to not even give them a try.  But these shifters are different. I’m very glad I have them.  It is enough reason in itself to ride Di2 electronic shifting.

You just mount them on your bars wherever your normal hand position is.

This is what it looks like on my bike. And yes, I probably need new bar tape.

If you want a climbing shifter, Shimano already has this to mount above the shifters for climbing. Or, you can just hack it as the video below shows.


13 thoughts on “Sprinter Shifters

  1. orphan

    Or use campy, no? I had a bike with campy shifters in the 90’s and I loved the little thumb shifter to dump the gear.

  2. Joe

    As a Cat 2 I was in a two-man break with you at Coconut Grove in the early 80’s. As a Florida rider I took note of how even off the front you rode on the hoods (and went very fast) as compared to many FL crit riders who had their bikes set up almost like 12-speed track bikes and spent a lot of time on the drops.

  3. Neanderthal

    I found this sram feature to be pretty cool. Just pull the lever close to the bar and twist your wrist a bit. Very secure.

    “Unlike all other forward controls, DoubleTap® also lets you pull the shift lever in against the bars so you can upshift while sprinting or attacking without giving up a firm grip.”

  4. Buck Turgidson - Burpleson Air Force Base

    been there and it scares the crap out of you too. The adrenaline rush is an easy 50 watt burst

  5. euro

    I used the original Sram Grip Shift back in about 1989 and loved it.Bar end shifting, decades before this stupid electronic junk.

  6. JV

    Tilly, Hal Chew used to tell me classic stories about The Stetina’s picking up Tommy and Danny and going to races in thyre family School Bus Motor Home for the summers and If I remember they had a bathtub full of fruit n vegies. Whoever coined the term “Boulder is Better?” The Stetina’s were from Indiana I’m bettin they picked you up to go to race also!

  7. conrad

    Maybe these sprinter shifters came about because the ergonomics of modern bars suck. I can’t sprint from them. A nitto noodle or similar bar, I feel fine sprinting from, even with down tube shifters. Much cheaper too!


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