April 19, 2012

Dual Control Experiment

In a previous post I explored the idea of equipping the new build with Retroshift adapters and brake lever mounted thumb shifters.  The idea seems like a reliable way to achieve shifting from the hoods at a reasonable cost, not to mention the benefits of serviceability with this system. I am still curious about this setup however I  have decided to go with conventional Dual Control levers for this build.

Over at the lazy randonneur's blog, Vic has acquired a set of Retroshift equipped levers and intends to review them on his new 26" long haul trucker build.  I am in eager anticipation of his feed back as he is a reviewer who tells it like it is.  Although his long haul trucker build will not be his go to long distance bike, he is sure to be putting in some decent miles on it in the near future.  I am interested to see what these levers will be like for a randonneur as opposed to their intended cross rider market.

In my research for parts and components for my build I came across a drive train system that immediately caught my attention.  I decided early on that a ten speed double set-up is what would suit the intended purposes of this bike nicely.  Since I am building this bike from scratch and will not be transferring any components over from my other bikes, this gave me a certain freedom to pick and choose so far as my budget and my sense of aesthetics allowed.

In my attempt to keep within a reasonable budget I came across a review of microShift's Dual Control levers and derailleurs.  I had never heard of microShift before but was impressed with their line up of drive train components.  What blew me away was the price!  As far as I have read from the reviews there seems to be no lack in performance in shifting, nor any complaints or issues regarding durability.

MicroShift is an engineering company based in Taiwan and has been in production of Dual Control levers and components since 1999.  Although Sram, as a drive train component manufacturer also arrived on the scene about this time (Grip shift 1988, Sram derailleurs 1997), Sram's success with acquisitions and marketing has allowed for a greater share of the north american market.  While Shimano, Campag, and Sram have been battling for market share, microShift has come in under the radar with an attractive line up of components which might cause others to sit up and take notice.

I have since ordered a set of microShift Dual Control Levers, braze-on front derailleur, and 10 speed rear derailleur form Bike Nashbar in the US.  These parts came out to be well under the price of a comparable Shimano product.

microShift Dual Control Levers (10 speed double)        SB-R102B        $139.99 USD
microShift braze-on front derailleur                                   FD-R72-F         $ 29.99  USD
microShift 10 speed rear derailleur                                     RD-R56S          $ 39.99  USD

I plan to write a follow up review of the microShift drive train once I have finished the build and put some solid miles of wear on the components.

We are fortunate to live in an age where the modern bicycle derailleur has more or less been perfected with reliable and accurate shifting available to all models of (properly adjusted) components.  Shifting has never been better, and although companies will try and make you believe that electronic shifting will be the new standard it is still too early to tell if the market will accept the added price and complexities of these new digital systems.  Mavic, Suntour and Sachs tried early in the 1990's to convince the market that electronic shifting would be the next big thing, but failed to produce a reliable system.

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