UBI Day 5: Shifters and Derailleurs

After moving through every other part of the drivetrain we arrived at shifters and derailleurs.  Friction shifting was touched upon, but as index shifting is by far the more common style, most of the time was devoted to that type.  Differences between the various competing brands and between road control levers (brifters, or combination brake and shift levers as some call them) and mountain flat bar shifters were covered in detail.  If you only took one thing away from this portion of the class it would be the massive amount of engineering the manufacturers do with shifters and derailleurs.  The instructors go out of their way to emphasize that like brand should only be used with like brand AND explain why from an engineering perspective.  No, or very little, mixing Sram and Shimano allowed…bad cyclist!! (Or worse yet, mixing Campy with anything!)  After thoroughly covering all the options we then removed and re-installed cables, housing, and derailleurs.  At that stage the finer points of fine tuning the shifting system were covered and everyone had to set up both road and mountain systems to the instructors’ satisfaction.  Week One completed!

After five days of instruction at UBI, one thing has become crystal clear to me.  These people absolutely know their stuff.  I’m no stranger to working on bicycles but even the most basic adjustments have subtleties and nuances.  These nuances are what separate decent mechanics from terrific ones, and UBI is trying to turn out terrific mechanics.  I would be shocked if even the most seasoned wrench didn’t learn something from attending this class.  It would be almost impossible not to with the accumulated knowledge in the room, and I for one, am grateful to be benefiting from this knowledge.  Bring on Week Two!


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