Ergonomics: STI vs DoubleTap


by Mark V on Jun 23, 2009 at 7:06 AM

SRAM vs Shimano.jpg

I’ve been switching between DA7800 and SRAM Red bikes on a daily basis, and I think I prefer the ergonomics of Red’s DoubleTap shifters in a race situation. In a sprint, I can very precisely run the chain into higher gears with just the minimal effort at the shifter, from the hoods or the drops. I still occasionally do double downshifts when I intended to make a single shift down, but otherwise the downshifts are almost as fast.

However for riding in traffic with hands on the hoods, you can’t beat Shimano STI. With my middle finger overlapping both inner and outer blades of the STI, I can brake, upshift, or downshift instantly. Also, I can brake and downshift simultaneously, which is great for diving into a turn while choosing a gear to match your exit speed.

SRAM DoubleTap for combat on the open field and Shimano STI for the switchblade melee. I like both SRAM and Shimano shifters on road bikes. However, I just can’t appreciate the ergonomics of SRAM mtb trigger shifters, not when Shimano’s Rapidfire works so well. I’m not sure if I like Shimano’s dual control mtb STI, but I’d take them over SRAM on my mtb.

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how does Campy fare in your analysis? My guess is that it sits somewhere in between..

I have Campy and have had Record on my old DeRosa. It is a steel bike TSX with Campy ergo record 8 speed. I have since sold all the Campy stuff and plan to repaint the Frame back to original colors. It always was original but banged up from years of riding and crashes. My current Road bike is a Scott CR1 and it has the Campy Centaur ten speed with a triple in front. I have ridden Dura Ace 10 speed and it is very smooth. Since now they don’t have those ugly cables coming out of everywhere I may try the new Dura Ace DA7800. I tried the Sram on a Specialized Roubaix . I thought I would like it but it didn’t do it for me. I don’t race. I ride the roads out here in La Quinta. The Dessert is beautiful to ride but you need to get up early. From June to September it hits temps of about 105 to 120 F. Nobody rides at 120 F degrees. I rode yesterday and got out at 10:45 it was about 103 but by 2:30 it was 109. I was beat. I love the new DA7800 but I like Record better. Since I am not worthy of Record I will be happy to ride Dura Ace or even Ultegra. The Sram is not to my liking because the shifting is a bit hard. Shimano is so smooth and so is Campagnolo but it has the advantage to shift into any gear without having to step up. This can also be a problem if you downshift on a hill and get it wrong. But that would be user error not Campy’s fault.

Campagnolo Ergopower scores third place for me.  The thumb button works fine for me from the hoods but isn’t quite as quick for me as STI.  From the drops, the button forces me to change my grip too much during a sprint.  Other than shifting, I actually really like the feel of the new 11sp Ergopower shifters.

Ergopower was the first integrated lever I used when I started riding road bikes in the early 90s, but I went Shimano with 9sp DA in 1997 and never regretted it.

Question for you Mark:

I’m getting a custom frame built out of Zona later this year (a cross style commuter with BB7 discs) and the builder has spec’ed Ultegra SL for the running gear.

Having only ridden drops on SS and old down tube shifter 10spds, I have no experience with STI levers. Any tips (from a commuter rather than race standpoint)?

Before Mark comments, I’ve traveled extensively with Shimano STI (old DA) on the Modal, and you’ll love it. Just note that it’s going to be more finicky then down-tube shifters. Learn how to adjust it before you ride. If Zona hasn’t ordered it yet, get the new Ultegra with the new hoods. World of difference in ergonomics.

I don’t think that the Ultegra 6700 is available until fall. Also, I think Simon meant that he is getting a custom steel bike out of Columbus Zona, which is Nivacrom tubing available in a wide variety of diameters and shapes. It’s nice stuff, my Sycip is made from mostly Zona.

Anyone can get acclimated to STI, but triple front shifter/derailleurs are much more sensitive to set-up. Doubles are no big deal. After a couple rides, shifting will seem totally natural.

The biggest issue as a commuter will be drivetrain wear.  If you chose disc-brakes, that probably means you were looking for wet weather braking.  Wet environments are particularly harsh on chains because road grit in the water is really abrasive.  Check chain wear with a good gauge every 2-3 weeks after the first 3-4months; just going by mileage or time could be misleading.  Use a tool.  Chains cost $25+, Ultegra cassettes cost $100+, and you definitely want to avoid replacing chainrings.

Mark’s bang on with the Columbus steel. It’s entry level for the guy who’s making the bike for me (most of his clients go fo Ti or XCr), but I can’t imagine ever needing anything nicer than Zona. Plus, a lack of corrosion resistance is a good justification for keeping it inside (which my gf is generally against).

The Ultegra SL was offered as an upgrade over 105, and as I’m on a budget I don’t think I’ll get the 6700 for the same price. Pity, but then again not having prior STI experience means I won’t know what I’m missing.

Thanks for the tips on chain wear and triple chainrings. Your assumption about it being an all-weather bike was correct (that and my wearing through rims far too quickly). As this is a heavy duty hauling bike (panniers and all), I’m going with a triple just to avoid potential embarrassment. I figure it’s better to have a triple and stay on the bike than let pride bust your knees on a climb. I’ll make sure to take time dialing everything in, getting to know it. Never had such an expensive groupset so I’m a bit worried about breaking things, but I’m sure I’ll get over it.

Thanks again guys!

My error on missing Zona was the steel, I presumed it was a builder I hadn’t heard of. Don’t forget fenders and flaps.

“Don’t forget fenders and flaps.”

You know it! Making sure the frame has clearance for 35c and fenders.