How To Use Downtube Shifters – Ensure Better Biking

As a rider, shifting gear is mandatory while riding the bike. Where downtube shifters work with a lever that allows you to change the gears, especially on a road bike. Due to their adaptability and convenience, such shifters are popular among bicycle tourists.

But can you tell us how to use downtube shifters? Typically, the shifters are operated by pushing the lever sideways until you notice any clicking noise. Around the bottom bracket, you’ll find the frame; while keeping the handlebar, we use our thumbs to push or pull the bike.

Roaming through this article will offer the types of downtube shifters, installation, and the way we use the shifters. Additionally, we have some extra tips for proper shifting of gears.

Are Downtube Shifters Good?

However we found a type of shifter called friction shifter is significantly better and ensures a low likelihood of shifter failure. But the downtube shifters are durable and functional despite being old-school. The significant benefits are mechanical elegance, cost-friendliness, and durability under any sustained pressure of rain or dust. So, your touring will be completely safe with the shifter.

While checking and then outing for traveling, you’ll see fewer wires and residential lengths to consider when positioning the handlebars with bar-ends and brifters (which integrate the brake and gear shifting commands within one part). Regrettably, they might be less practical to shift than drifters. Also, you have to reach down and lean forward to shift gears.

How Many Types of Downtube Shifters Are Available?

How Many Types of Downtube Shifters Are Available

When you push or pull the shift levers, it tightens or relieves tension on the spring. Bicycle includes different type of shifters. Among them, the most popular shifters are:

  • Downtube shifters or lever
  • Road Brake Lever Shifters
  • Twist-grip shifters
  • Bar-end shifters
  • Mountain Thumb Shifters
  • Integrated shifters
  • Electronic shifters.

How Do Downtube Shifters Work?

Downtown shifters are usually found on old-style road bikes. While using a downtube shifter, the right side controls the back derailleur while the left controls the front. The chain is pushed to a more prominent front chain ring by pulling the left and front levers rearward and tightening the cable.

A metal cage called a derailleur, forces the chains to engage with one gear by pushing it back and forward. At that moment, you move the caged rear and forward using the hand-operated actuator. Nowadays, modern indexed downtube shifters allow you to choose from the settings that regulate the cable tension to pick the right gear.

What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of DT Shifters?

Suppose you have a road bike with downtube shifters. But do we have the understanding of using? Or what are the pros and cons of downtube shifters?

DT bike shifters are an antique shifter position from the 1980s. Using the DT shifters is no more challenging; instead, it’s a job like grabbing bottles in hand.

Usually, while utilizing the shifters, you’re likely going to hate the shifters if you are riding mountain bike handlebar shifters. However, there are a few drawbacks along with the numerous benefits. Thus, be sure to pay attention to the next section!

Advantages of Dt Shifters

Downtube shifters used to be famous from old age. So, you’ll get a lot of advantages as you can call these the legendary bike shifters. 

  1. Downtube shifters are ideal for traveling.
  2. DT shifter’s near-instantaneous capacity to shift through several gears is advantageous.
  3. You’ll find two types of DT shifters: Indexed and non-indexed.
  4. Adjust the indexing lever to activate the next gear, and indicated by noise on indexed levers.
  5. You will be pleased with the simplicity of mechanics and durability.
  6. The shifter will ensure easy shifting and maintain stability plus alertness while reaching down to shift.
  7. It’s a one-handed managing responsive shifter.
  8. Les the possibility to sustain any harm in the accidental.
  9. It’s an ideal DT shifter with the majority of derailleurs and cassettes.
  10. You can easily install it, and it comes with a classic retro look.

Disadvantages of Dt Shifters

Besides the relevant facts, the old-school shifters have some adverse facts. Compared with modern type shifters, downtube shifters become a less active bike part.

  1. You will need to bend down to change or shift blow with these bicycle shifters.
  2. The visible shifting could be better for race.
  3. Require accurate control to align the required gears.
  4. You might damage your hand with the old braking lever hood shape.
  5. You can’t change the gear while picking the break.
  6. They are not performable like handlebar shifters.
  7. You will notice a decrease in controllability when changing the gears.
  8. You’ll also require clips or blaze-on fittings to attach the shifters.

How Do You Use Downtube Shifters – Ways to Follow

Unlike any other shifting systems, downtube shifters keep you in touch with your bike. But when should we use the shifters? 

  • The pedal stroke should generally be steady and neither excessively fast nor too slow.
  • We use a left shifter to change to the small front chain ring since you ride more slowly, especially up a hill.
  • While using your right shifter, you can change to a higher and easier gear in the rear.
  • Also, the front chainring is changed to a rugged gear with a left shifter, whereas the rear one is changed with the right shifter while moving faster.

On the other hand, for any position, shifters are great to use. But how do we use the DT shifters? We have two steps to follow: The installation and the Use of Downtown shifters. So, let’s take you to the next section to learn how you should use DT shifters.

Installation of Dt Shifters

So, when you decide to install the bicycle downtube shifters, make sure you follow the given steps.

Step 1. Attach the shifter to your frame’s downtube, where the shifting fittings or square baseplates work well.

Step 2. Insert the shifters into the fittings by tightening them.

Step 3. Next, place the shifter cable into the opening and firmly fasten it to the derailleur.

Step 4. With the barrel adjuster, you can set up the tension.

Step 5. Follow and repeat the same process, then adjust low and high limit screws to a suitable range.

Step 6. A loose shift lever indicates the limit point. However, make sure you tighten the lever one more time.

Step 7. Lastly, you’ll find the ideal position by switching your shifter from index to friction.

Using the Installed Dt Shifter

It’s time to use the shifter on the bicycle. It may take some extra time to become used to downtube shifters. In the beginning, you’ll feel a bit unsteady shifting as well. Therefore, you can push the lever up or down if not indexed for changing the gear. Also, noticing chain rattles, make sure you adjust everything appropriately.

The left hand can be a good choice when pedaling. Then, you can put your thumb on the shifter. Once the chain is in high gear, use your thumb to push on it. After that, press down on the shifter with your index finger, and make sure the chain has shifted. 

Next, let the pressure disappear from what you’ve applied to the shifters. We suggest you put the hand back on your bicycle’s handlebars. 

If you search by “how to use downtube shifters Reddit,” you’ll find more straightforward ways of using the shifters. Additionally, you can search on Google for “how to use downtube shifters video” for explicit knowledge.

Additional Tips for the User of Downtube Shifters

For the bicycle owner, we have some tips you should try while using the DT shifters.

  1. Identify where your shifters are located.
  2. Maintain a clean and fresh bicycle chain.
  3. You can press down the thumb.
  4. Always when you reach the mountain, make the front shifts via a double shifting.
  5. As downtube shifters are pretty delicate, a light touch is acceptable.
  6. In changing gears, move with accuracy.
  7. Using lubricants can be good while shifting.
  8. Remaining in normal mode expects to stop the gear shifting.
  9. Also, make sure to keep patience while performing any bicycle shifting.

How to Adjust Downtube Shifters

How to Adjust Downtube Shifters

Proper adjustment of shifters is quite crucial while you ride a bicycle. So, we have some adjustment ideas for you!

  1. Always tighten things because, ideally, adjustability is the key to any successful shifting.
  2. Then, the shifter cable needs to be correctly tensioned.
  3. If you don’t set the screws properly, the chain might become loose or stuck between the cog and frame.
  4. Your front shifters’ only adjustable component is the screw on the lid, and use a flathead screwdriver to tighten it.
  5. Don’t forget to put your shifters in the forward setting and tighten the screw.
  6. Also, a barrel adjuster is a helpful thing for modifying the indexed shifting.
  7. If you have trouble controlling the shifters, you need to choose the clockwise direction.
  8. However rotating the chain counterclockwise is to verify that it comes off.


Information hubs let the reader know more about the topic. So, for bicycle users, we have some frequently asked questions related to downtube shifters.

How Do Indexed Downtube Shifters Work?

The shifters on the right lever are where you’ll find the index setting. Also, every gear will experience eight detents and pauses indicated by clicking noise because the lever is shifted rear and forward.

What Are the Advantages of Down-tube Gear Shifters on a Touring Bike?

Downtube shifters are called touring bike shifters. The advantageous fact is DT bike shifters are more straightforward to use than brifters and bar-ends since there are fewer wires and house lengths to consider while setting up the handlebars.

How Do You Use Brake Shifters?

Typically, you push a shifter or pull the brake lever. Also, it pulls the brake and shifts the chain while dragging the cable when it travels through the interior and down to the frame.

What Function Do Friction Shifters Serve in a Bike?

A downtube shifter or friction shifter, also known as a Barend shifter, is an up-and-down lever that pulls the gear wire to change the settings. They adjust the cables, and derailleurs become adjusted in the end. On the other hand, it relies on friction to maintain position.

What’s the Easiest Way to Upgrade From Down Tube Shifters to Sti?

You can upgrade the down tube shifters to STI when your derailleurs are appropriate with a modern STI lever. Besides that, your gears might not be activated where STI takes some adjustment at the derailleur end of the wire.

Final Words

At the end of the text, we can summarize that downtube bike shifters are old-school but suitable for bicyclists. So, how to use Downtube Shifters? We operate the shifters by pushing the lever sideways and ultimately regulate the cable tension to pick the right gear.

Even though we found multiple advantages and a few adverse facts, as the DT shifters used to be popular then, modern times have invented new shifters with various features. However, when you have the DT bike shifters, follow the tips mentioned above, particularly following accuracy; using lubrication and light touch is always preferable

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