What Are Bar End Shifters and Why Are They Beneficial For Touring?

Were you tired of the integrated side shifters that come standard on most bikes and want to experiment with bar end shifters? You may be the second person after me who was perplexed, did some research, and ultimately decided to try one of them out on my old tour bike.

Living on two wheels adds to the excitement and is an experience everyone should have at least once in their lives. Bicycles are used as a form of transportation all over the world.

You could also remember your first bicycle, the falls, and the incredible sensation of being able to explore the world. However, as we get older, riding a bicycle becomes more than just a childhood activity.

But something else is associated with such bikes: “the gradual decline of bar-end shifters.” Bar-end shifters were still popular at the time, although early types of side shifters challenged them.

Riding on steep hills and long rides with these shifters was fantastic, especially when you didn’t need to change gears rapidly. On the negative, getting used to one of them took me a while.

What exactly are Bar End Shifters? Advantages, Applications, and Drawbacks

Bar-end shifters are gear shifters that sit straight or drop at the end of your handlebars. These shifters, often called bar cons, let you change without losing contact with the bars.

The gear-shifting system is simple, adaptable, and effective since it is located on the ends of the handlebars. You’ll feel one-shift gears much slower than with these. While the separate brake and shift levers save wear and tear, making them less susceptible to injury.


The advantages of bar-end shifters are numerous, which will entice you to install them. These shifters provide the rider complete control over switching hand positions without requiring hands-free riding and braking.

With these shifters, you can effortlessly shift even if you are out of your seat and riding through a rough section or steep terrain! Bar-end shifters have been a significant advancement in the way riders interact with their bikes.


Bar-end shifters are nothing more than a lever that, when pulled up, pulls the cable. When the lever is pressed down, the shifter releases the cable.

Each derailleur is linked to a shifter; the left shifter is linked to the front derailleur, while the right shifter is linked to the back-end derailleur.

Unlike the internal hub gears, you can only move the derailleurs if the chain goes forward. It would help if you cycled at all times to do this. Soft-pedal, on the other hand, prevents putting too much strain on the drivetrain during the change.


With every technical component, there are drawbacks. When you’re riding your bike, the position of the shifters isn’t ideal, and you’ll need to remove your hand from the handlebars. If the shifter is damaged, the device must be replaced, which may be cost-effective.


Image By: Russ | License: CC BY 2.0 ( Tour Bike With Bar End Shifter )

Why Do Touring Cyclists Prefer Bar End Shifters?

Cyclists that ride through muddy terrains and rocky sections rely on bar-end shifters for the numerous functions they contain. Cyclists and riders are familiar with bar-end functions and choose this equipment, whether riding mounts or touring. It’s also a common habit among touring cyclists to use them.

Cycling enthusiasts choose bar-ends because of their outstanding durability, essential for travelling. They are also less prone to mechanical problems or damage in an accident.

In addition, the bar-ends are highly shielded in the event of a front-end collision.

Friction is also a possibility for bar-ends. It works on freewheels or cassettes with many gears by shifting the back-end shifter out of the index and into friction.

If something goes wrong with the drive system, you can easily switch off the indexing and still have nice shifts. This bar ends work well with handlebar luggage.

Adjusting on any chain rub becomes effortless and straightforward if the front bar end is not indexed.

Even with a front load, broad bars boost steering leverage in advance, allowing you to maintain a light steering feel.

Suitable or Bad for Bar End Shifters? My Personal Experience

I’ve tried every shifting method to determine what works best for me. Because I love riding bikes over long lengths and along climbs, bar-end shifters are simple to operate and work well for me.

They are, nonetheless, particularly exceptional for non-racing uses. However, they require more wire, so shifting may be less exact than you are accustomed to.

When using it, slight over-shifting is occasionally necessary. When I first started utilizing bar-ends, I discovered that I frequently bumped the levers with my knees.

As a result, to avoid this, you must be extra cautious, especially when standing on the pedals. Installation and adjustment of these items take more work than usual.

You must first install the brake levers, then the bar-ends, and finally grasp how to route the wires. They only require a little care in practice but should be checked regularly.

How Do You Install Shifters on Bar Ends?

Here is an easy installation procedure if you want to switch bar-end shifters for your existing handlebars.

These shifters are typically installed at the end of triathlon or time trial handlebars. They’re also seen with drop handlebars.

Place the shift levers and their bodies at the end of the handlebars. You must remove and reinstall the levers to access the body mounting bolts.

Push both shift levers as far as they will go. The bolt’s coned end and shifter body drive into a series of wedges. At that moment, the wedges extend within the handlebar and are tightened.

String the inner cable through the shift lever opening and the body opening until it shoots out beneath and in front of the handlebar drop.

Pull the cable all the way through until the head is seated in the hole in the lever. Please ensure the housing is correctly seated in the lever body, then fasten it to the handlebars using tape.

Finally, you must reinstall the cable housing and are ready to go!

3 Best Bar End Shifters for Exceptional Shifting

SHIMANO Dura-Ace 11-Speed Bar End Shifters

SHIMANO Dura-Ace 11-Speed Bar End Shifters

Most people would dismiss the acquisition of Shimano Dura-Ace 11-Speed Bar End Shifters as an obsolete technology, but this is precisely what I desired for a long time.

These shifters were well worth the money, and I have no regrets. This shifter assembly is designed for the ski bar-end shifters seen on TT bikes. However, they were precisely adequate for my bike.

To begin with, the feel of these shifters is quite pleasant, making riding my bike even more enjoyable. They are well-made shifters that feel solid and durable in your hands.

The shifting is incredibly crisp, which as a rider, astounded me. On the other hand, these are described as capable of switching between friction and indexing. Unfortunately, the friction option is not available on these shifters.

Regardless, I bought them because, in the end, they were worthwhile. The installation is a headache, but other than that, they are simple to click, indicating that you have changed gears.

Another advantage is that the kit includes shifter housing, connections, and hardware.

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

Microshift 8-Speed Bar End Shifter Set

Microshift 8-Speed Bar End Shifter Set

These Microshift 8-Speed Bar End Shifter Set were placed on a mountain bike conversion drop bar. My first self-built bike’s brake cable and gear configuration could have been more manageable.

This choice sounded sound and rational. On the road, they perform just as well as any other Shimano bar-end shifter I’ve used.

Usually, their pricing isn’t too expensive, but the price of these shifters for 8-speed was difficult for me to accept. But it was well worth it.

I’m optimistic they’ll last for years and see numerous bike builds before they’re worn out. The simplicity of these shifters is their most distinguishing feature.

Because they are indexed or frictionless, they may be used on any shifter system. I’m running them in friction mode, but these are high-quality shifters.

You won’t have to worry about them breaking or collapsing because they precisely latch onto the bars and are robust and powerful.

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

SHIMANO Dura-Ace 10 Speed Double Bar End Shifters

SHIMANO Dura-Ace 10 Speed Double Bar End Shifters

As an experienced rider, I have tried the 8-speed and 9-speed Shimano bar-end models and much appreciated them.

Shimano Dura-Ace 10 Speed Double Bar End Shifters are just a little behind. As you would expect from Shimano, their quality, function, and finish are excellent.

The installation of these shifters is not complicated; it is pretty simple. They shift well and perform nicely after installation.

A significant difference exists between the earlier eight and 9-speed bar-end variants and the new 10-speed bar-ends. The 10-speed bar-ends rear back-end shifter is just indexed, with no friction mode.

Like the previous generations, the front shifter is merely friction and has two or three gears.

These shifters are helpful because you don’t have to reach back when you need to shift, which is very useful while in an aero position. These bar-end shifters are well-made but a little stiff.

These shifters include all of the necessary pieces, including cables.

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


You could take up riding as a severe pastime or compete in an upcoming triathlon. Bar-end shifters are essential equipment in any of these situations.

Bar-end shifters might assist you in transitioning into a more active way of living due to their improved ergonomic benefits. The ability to get into the gear you need when you need it is critical to any good bike setup.

The information above helps you decide before installing the bar-end shifters. So, what are you holding out for? Get ready, set, and go!

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