Bar End Shifters: What Are They And Why It’s Good For Touring

Tired of using integrated side shifters that came in with most bikes and thought of bringing in change with bar end shifters? Well you might be the second person next to me who was confused, did some research and finally choose to try out one of these on my old tour bike.

Living life on two wheels only makes life more vibrant and is a privilege that one should definitely have in one life. The mode of transportation via bicycles is found everywhere in the world.

You might also be able to recall your first bicycle and the falls, and the liberating feeling to explore the world. But as we grow older, riding a bicycle becomes something beyond a childhood experience.

But there is another thing that associates with bikes of that era; “The gradual decline of bar-end shifters“. Bar-end shifters were still in fashion then but were challenged by early models of side shifter.

Riding through steep trails, going on lengthy mounts these shifters were great especially when you do not need to change gears quickly. On the downside, it took me some time to adjust to one of these.

What is Bar End Shifters? Benefits, Use & Drawbacks

Bar-end shifters are gear shifters that sit towards the end of your bars, regardless of whether that is straight or drop bars. Also known as bar cons these shifters allow for a shift without losing contact with the bars.

Situated on the ends of the handlebars ensures the gear shifting mechanism is simple, versatile, and effective. With them, you won’t ever feel one shifts gears a lot more quickly. While the separate brake levers and shifters ensure there is less wear and tear making them less vulnerable to damage.


The benefits of bar-end shifters are quite a few, which will make you intrigued to install them. These shifters help the rider to have utter control over switching hand positions without the need of riding hands-free and having control of braking.

With these shifters, it does not matter if you are riding through a rough patch, or steep terrain, you can easily shift even when you are out of your seat! Bar-end shifters have been quite a progression and have transformed the way riders associate with their bikes.


Bar-end shifters are just a lever, which when pulled up, the cable gets pulled by the shifter. And when the leaver is pushed down, the cable is released by the shifter.

Each derailleur is connected to each shifter; where the front derailleur is attached to the shifter on the left and hooked to the back-end derailleur is the right shifter.

Contrary to the internal hub gears, you can shift the derailleurs only if the chain is moving ahead. For this, you will require to be pedaling at all times. On the other hand, to avoid too much tension on the drivetrain while the shift is happening you will need to soft-pedal.


With every technical part, there come to its setbacks as well. When you are actually riding your bike, the location of the shifters isn’t really in your favor, and you will need to take your hand off the bars. In case, of damage to the shifter, the entire unit will be required to be changed and that can be quite cost-effective.

Bar End Shifters: What Are They And Why It's Good For Touring
Image Credit: Russ | License: CC BY 2.0 ( Tour Bike With Bar End Shifter )

Why Cyclist Prefer Bar End Shifters For Touring?

Cyclists who tour through the muddy terrains, and rough patches use bar-end shifters for the various features it carries. Cyclists and riders who are familiar with the works of bar-ends choose this equipment while riding mounts or touring. It’s also a traditional practice of touring cyclists to utilize them.

The reason cyclists opt for bar-ends is because the durability of them is exceptionally good, which is significant while touring. They are also less likely to produce mechanical issues or get smashed in an accident.

And in case of a front-end crash, the bar-ends are well protected.

Bar-ends also have the option of friction. It works on freewheels or cassettes with quite a few of the cogs, by just changing the back-end shifter out of the index and switching into friction.

If something turns out wrong with the drive train, then you can easily turn the indexing off and endure getting good shifts. These bar-ends function effectively with handlebar bags.

It becomes really simple and easy to adjust on any chain rub if the front bar-end is not indexed.

Even though with a front-load, wide bars increase the steering leverage in advance, which permits you to keep a light steering feel.

Bar End Shifters – Good or Bad? My Experience

I have tried all the ways of shifters to understand what works best for me. Since I prefer riding bikes on lengthy stretches, and along mounts, bar-end shifters aren’t difficult to use and worked perfectly for me.

But they are specifically extraordinary for non-racing applications. They, however do require more cable, so that shifting can be less precise than what you are used to.

Now and then, marginal over shifting is required as per the experience I had while using it. When I began using bar-ends, I noticed that it was quite frequent for me to bump the levers with my knees.

Hence, to avoid that you need to be a little bit more careful especially when you are standing on the pedals. When it comes to installation and adjustment of these, it requires a little more effort than usual.

You have to install the brake levers, followed by installing the bar-ends, understanding how exactly to run the cables. Practically they don’t require much maintenance, but do regular checks on their condition.

How to Install Bar Ends Shifters?

If you are looking to trade bar-end shifters with your old handlebars, then here is a simple installation process you need to follow.

The handlebars of triathlon or time trial handlebars usually have these shifters mounted towards the end. They are also seen in the drop handlebar style.

Install the shift levers and their bodies towards the end of the handlebars. You will have to eliminate the levers in order to get to the body mounting bolts, and then reinstall them.

Proceed to push both the shift levers as far as possible. The coned shaped end of the bolt and shifter body push into a set of wedges. These wedges at that point extend inside the handlebar and get tightened.

Through the opening in the shift lever, string the inner cable, and through the opening in the body until it jabs out under and in the front of the handlebar drop.

Pull the cable through it completely till the head beds in the hole in the lever. Make sure that housing is completely situated into the lever body, and add tape to secure housing to handlebars.

Finally, you will have to re-install the cable housing, and you are good to go!

3 Best Bar End Shifters for Super Smooth Shifting

Bar End Shifters: What Are They And Why It's Good For Touring

1 ) SHIMANO Dura-Ace 11-Speed Bar End Shifters

Most people might consider the purchase of Shimano Dura-Ace 11-Speed Bar End Shifters as dead tech, but ultimately this is what I wanted from a very long time.

These shifters were worth every penny, and I have no regrets about it. This shifter kit is actually intended for TT bikes’ ski bar-end shifters. But they worked perfectly fine for my bike.

Firstly, the feel of these shifters is too nice, and hence it felt even more relaxing to ride my bike. They are well-built shifters, that give your hands a robust and sturdy-feeling.

The shifting is exquisitely crisp, which amazed me as a rider. However, these are described as capable to switch to both friction and indexing. But unfortunately, the friction option on these shifters is not available.

Despite that, I purchased them because, in the end, they were worth it. The installation is a pain though, but apart from this, they are easy to click, which notifies you that you shifted your gear.

Another plus point is that the kit comes with shifter housing, cables, and hardware.

SHIMANO Dura-Ace 11-Speed Bar End Shifters: Check Its Price On Amazon!

Bar End Shifters: What Are They And Why It's Good For Touring

2 ) Microshift 8-Speed Bar End Shifter Set

I installed these Microshift 8-Speed Bar End Shifter Set on a mountain bike conversion drop bar. Since this was my first self-built bike, the brake cable and shifting setup were quite alarming.

All things considered, this decision worked well and logically for me. On the road they work as smoothly as any other Shimano bar-end shifter I have used.

Usually, their prices don’t burn a hole in the pocket, but I found it a bit hard to swallow the cost of these shifters for 8 speed. But they were totally worth it.

I’m confident for them to work for years to come, and that they will most likely experience many bikes builds before wearing out completely. The most characteristic part of these shifters is their simplicity.

You can easily use them on any shifter system, as they have the option of indexed or friction. I’m using them in friction mode, but these are some quality shifter products.

You won’t have to stress over breaking them or crashing into something, as they latch onto the bars perfectly and are durable and strong.

Microshift 8-Speed Bar End Shifter Set: Check Price On Amazon!

SHIMANO Dura-Ace 10 Speed Double Bar End Shifters

3 ) SHIMANO Dura-Ace 10 Speed Double Bar End Shifters

As I am an experienced rider, touring through roads I have used both the 8-speed and 9-speed bar-end versions of Shimano, and utterly enjoyed them.

These new Shimano Dura-Ace 10 Speed Double Bar End Shifters don’t fall quite behind. Their quality, operation, and finish are the best, just like the typical Shimano type you expect.

The installation of these shifters is not tough, they are quite easy. After installing them, they shift perfectly and also functions smoothly.

There is a major distinction between the previous 8 and 9 bar-end versions, and this new 10-speed bar-ends. The 10-speed bar-ends rear back-end shifter is exclusively only indexed, the rear shifter has no friction mode whatsoever.

Just like the previous versions, the front shifter is only friction and works with 2 or 3 speeds.

These shifters are good in a way, that when you need to shift you don’t need to reach back, especially when in an aero position. These bar-end shifters are a bit stiff and are well-built equipment.

These shifters come with all the required parts you will need, including cables.

SHIMANO Dura-Ace 10 Speed Double Bar End Shifters: Check Its Price On Amazon!


You might be planning to take up biking as a genuine hobby, or planning to compete in an upcoming triathlon. In any of these cases, bar-end shifters are essential equipment to have.

To transition into a more dynamic way of life of their upgraded ergonomic benefits, bar-end shifters can help you. The key to any effective bike setup is having the option to get into the gear you need when you need it.

Hope the above information helps you make an informed decision before fitting in the bar-end shifters. So, what are you waiting for? Get, set, and gear away!

Also Read,

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