thumb shifter is a new technology used to mount on the top of the handlebar of your bike near the brake levers and grips, before the friction shifters were used they had their mounting place on the lower frame of the bike or on the stem of the bike so that the gears were easily shifted from the lower cog to higher cog and vice versa. all the mountain bikes with gear speeds of more than 2 by 7 have thumb shifters installed on the handlebar because the thumb shifters contain 8,9,10,11 and 12-speed cassette shifting gears.
Friction shifters used all of your palm hand and wrist arm to apply force and easily shift the derailer gear but when thumb shifters were introduced in the mountain biking world these were due to the higher speed gears of the derailer and the front crankset (3 by 12). if you compare the friction and thumb derailer then the difference comes in the changing of the gear through the shifter pad, the friction shifters use all of your hands for shifting the gear but thumb shifters need just your index finger for changing the gear of the cassette.
If you are on a long journey on your bike then sometimes your thumb will get tired of shifting the chain from the upper to the lower cog of the cassette and vice versa because the thumb shifters need just your index finger so that you are holding the handlebar with your four fingers and you are shifting the gears with your index finger.
It is necessary to keep the thumb shifters easily movable and flexible for the thumb because hundred times you can change the gear speed of your cassette on the corners of the single trails and when you are climbing uphill. the shifter pad should not be stiff soo that the thumb would not be able to move it in the back and front. when shifting the chain never push the pad quickly to move, because these are made of plastic material, if they broke it would be impossible for you to change the gear.
Types of shifters for a bike:
There are many types of shifters mounted on a mountain bike for shifting the gears and chains:
- Grip shifters
- Friction shifters
- thumb shifters
These shifters are fixed within the grips of the handlebar and these are round-shaped so that you can rotate your wrist arm with a force and you can easily change the speed of your bike. these do not contain any type of thumb pad, so in case you got a crash and your bike hit a tree or anything. gear shifters remain safe because they are hidden and there are no chances of breaking.
These have more life span than the thumb shifters and are nearer to the wrist arm of the rider.
These are the old discovery mounted on the frame tube like a vehicle gear system. these are available in steel and aluminum, so these have much more durability than that of the grip shifters and thumb shifters but are a little bit of distance from the thumb finger and your palm hand.
These usually need more safety as compared to the above shifters, because these are mounted on the top front place of the handlebar near the grips, mostly mountain bikers do not install kickstands in their bikes because of weight issues they simply lean their bike on the ground so keep the handlebar safe because these contain two pads and small legs, if they broke they do not work further.
These are usually broken and become expired early as compared to the grip and friction shifters.
What is the problem if thumb shifters aren’t moving:
You noticed that your thumb shifters became rigid and firm and are not moving from their place, when this happens you need to check the cable wire which is reaching below the derailer hanger. sometimes the cable stretches itself and becomes stiff due to which the connection of the thumb shifter with the derailer hanger becomes lost.
Open the cable from the shifter place and stretch it to check whether it is working below on the derailer or not, when you stretch the cable and notice the chain is shifting on the cogs or not, if it working accurately then it is the shifter where the issue is present, but if the cable is not working and is dropped from any place then buy a new cable and install it within the shifter and the derailer.
How to fix the thumb shifters if any problem occurred on the trail:
mostly it happens that the shifters will irritate you and cause annoying moments on the trails, the reason is that sometimes the shifters become loose from the bar, and sometimes they will not work properly and does not shift the chain up and down.
Before going on a ride always carry an Allen key and Hex key because you don’t know at which place the shifters become fail or they will stop working.
There is a small nut bolt on the top of the shifters, when it becomes lost the shifters will also lose and drop their function, the best way is that lose that top front key with a key and then move the pad or handle of the shifter back and front and adjust the gear cogs when you notice the shifters started working again then again tight the nut with a key.
Thumb shifters are the most common accessory of every mountain bike, especially for bike racers. checking and inspecting the thumb shifters before going on a ride is important for you so that you would stay aware of the shifters of the gear.
sometimes the shifter becomes loose on its mounting place on the bar and it starts rotating in the forward direction, it usually occurs because of the bumpy trails which start losing the round mounted clamp of the shifters due to which their position changes.
Are thumb shifters good for long distances?
Surely, the thumb shifters work better for more than 50 kilometers of distance but remember if your shifters are old and had any issues or problems in past, then use them with precautions so that these will work your whole way till you reach back in the city.
Never use them violently in pulling them back and front because they will stop working always use your thumb or index finger slowly to shift the chain on the cassette.
How do thumb shifters help in shifting the chain or gear?
These are an easy way of shifting the chain by your index finger mostly helps through the corners of the single trails you are climbing and coming downward, you can easily change the gear by moving the pads of the shifters, mostly these are used in doing stunts and wheelies where there is much need of changing the gears to lift the front tire.
The benefit is that these are near to your hands and there is no distance between the grips and these shifters, so you can easily shift the gears with the index finger.
How do Keep thumb shifters safe and sound to work better?
It totally depends on the working of the chain, derailleur, cassette, cable, and both shifters. all of these need to be wet with lube or oil to reduce friction between them. lube the chain so that it can easily shift from higher to lower and lower to higher cogs and teeth of the cassette. lube the cable so that it could not become stiff, it could be flexible like water for moving, turning, and stretching purposes.
prevent all of these parts from the pressure of water when you wash your bike in the service station or in the home. but if you washed all of these parts then after washing always remember to wet these parts with lube.
Can I Choose any gear shifter for my bike?
It is difficult if you choose a random gear shifter for your bike because it is connected with the gear ratio of the cassette, if the cassette speed is 3 by 7 then for this ratio you can buy ENBO SHifter and if the cassette speed is 3 by 8 then for this ratio you can choose Shimano shifters.
In the same way, depending on the speed ratio of your bike (rear and front), you can buy the same ratio of shifters for your bike.
Top gear shifters for a bike:
- Sunrace SLM10 Friction Shifter Set
- Micro Shift 3 by 7 Speed Compatible For Shimano Grip Shift Gear Shifters
- Sturmey Archer Thumb Shifter
- Paraout Tourney SL TX30 3 by 7 Speed Thumb Gear Shifter For MTB
- REAMTOP New MTB Bike 3 by 7 Speed Shifter Brake Lever Combo
- Tourney Shimano TX30 6-speed Right and Left Thumb Shifter Set
- ENBO Shifter ST-EF500 3 by 7 Speed Bike
- MicroSHIFT Shifters 3 by 7 Speed SB-R473
- Shimano Altus ST-EF51 4-finger V-Brake Shifters – 3 by 7 Speed
- SRAM 3.o Comp Grip Shifter
These are the 10 best shifters used to mount on a mountain bike, you can choose the best among them also all of these are budget-friendly.