I’m going to throw two things at you at the same time. With the trend of gears going away up front and a wider and a more plentiful range of cogs increasing in the rear, you would think that we would be starting to look at more efficient rear shifting systems. Now that 1×10 is old news, 1×11 is already being rivaled by the release of SRAM’S Eagle 1×12… transmissions have changed, significantly. Mountain Bikers still rapid fire through Shimano or SRAM paddle shifter’s and I just have to ask the question… Why?
Well, there is a solution, but let me take you down another path first.
As humans we have the amazing capability to adapt. Some things come easy, but for me I have always struggled with changes to my cycling cockpit. For example, I used to race motocross. I started out on a 1976 Honda CR125, but I struggled off the starts as the little skinny 140 to 160 lb kids would pull me into the first turn as I was dragging my 185 lbs down the straight away. So my dad and I decided I should move up to the 250 class. Well in my dad’s ultimate wisdom he got me a Bultaco 250. Yeah, a European made bike. The shifter was on the “right” side of the bike instead of the “left” side like on my Japanese bike. My brain for years was tuned to shifters on left, brakes on the right. Countless times I would blast into a berm only to be slamming on my shifter trying to brake, hit the berm and catapult off the course. With money tight in those days it was the end of my moto racing years…
“Why are motorcycle front brakes on the right side and a bicycle’s front brakes on the left?”
So I got to ask the question. Why are motorcycle front brakes on the right side and a bicycle’s front brakes on the left? Anyone? I have talked to many mountain bikers who easily adapt and have both a moto and a mountain bike. For me, I always switch my mountain bike brakes to be “right is front” and “left is rear” as an old habit from my moto years. To me, it just makes more sense. And now, I have even more reasons to convince you to switch your brakes and use SRAM’s GripShift as your shifter.
Some have shared with me that they do not like the use of brakes combined with the use of GripShift. Most will tell you front brakes are for stopping and rear brakes are for control/steering. I find this to be totally true for me. But since my goal is to not use my brakes it means I use my rear brakes far more than my front brakes. I wear out my rear tires nearly two to one compared to my front tire as well. That being true (for me), the combination of shifting and breaking on a normal bike is heavy on my right. Having placed my rear brakes on the left and replacing my Shimano Paddle Shifters on the right with an 11 Speed SRAM GripShift made my world so much better. Not only did it make my two wheeled world cohesive, my bike has become so much more efficient. This coming from an avid Shimano proponent. GripShift makes so much more sense when it comes to 10, 11, and especially 12 gears on the rear. With a flick of the wrist you can literally go from bombing down a steep singletrack in top end gears, come around a sharp bend to discover a steep grinder and flick from top end to low end grinder cogs in a fraction of a second. No repeated thumb jamming on on a paddle shifter as you scramble for the surprise punchy climb. As well, in rolling climbs and descents you can quickly adjust to the right gear for your cadence no matter how fast the terrain changes.
With rear brakes on the left and a SRAM GripShift on the right to efficiently handle 11 rear gears the cockpit is simple, efficient and extremely user friendly.
Having been an admirer of GripShift since the ’90’s, it always made sense to be a more efficient and ergonomic shifting system. But also remember I stated above that I am an adamant Shimano product supporter. But as folks start to get carpal tunnel from all those pumps and pulls of slow shifting triggers (stated in jest) in effort to keep up with 11 and 12 gear options in the rear, I can only hope that Shimano will jump on board and develop a high end version of SRAM’s GripShifts system. GripShift for me is the total winner for snappy shifting from cog to cog, and immediate shifts from high to low, and vice versa all within the human wrists range of motion as oppose to pulling a trigger to down shift.