8-Speed Shifter Buying Guide

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8-Speed Shifter Buying Guide

An 8-speed shifter is a component used to change a bicycle’s gears when in motion. The name 8-speed refers to the amount of gears available on the bicycle. Different gears require different amounts of force to move the bicycle forward. 8-speed shifters use one of two forms of shifting mechanisms, and there are a number of different types of shifter than can be bought. Some styles of shifter are more suitable for particular bicycles than others, and buyers should be aware of what would suit their bicycle best.

eBay has a large selection of bicycle parts, and there are plenty of new and used shifters for sale at low prices on the site. The following guide shall examine the key aspects of buying an 8-speed shifter, and will explain how to find a suitable shifter on eBay.  

What Are Gear Shifters?

Gear shifters are the components used to change between gears, and this is done through the use of a chain system connected to the front and rear derailleurs. The shifters are mounted onto the handlebars, bike stem or down tube, and consist of two levers. The left lever controls the front derailleur while the right lever controls the rear derailleur. The rear derailleur controls the more difficult levels of pushing, and the front controls the varying degrees in each level.

It’s important for buyers to be aware of the type of shifting mechanism used on their bicycle, as this can determine what 8-speed shifters are compatible. The majority of shifters are made to work with both types, but some are difficult to connect and will lessen the quality of the cycle. Below are the two forms of shifting mechanism found on bicycles today:

Index Shifting

Index shifting mechanisms are found on the majority of bicycles manufactured today. This form uses an index system to assign particular gear settings to the shifters, so the first setting on the shifter can only access the first gear and so on.

This form of shifting mechanism is very popular among casual cyclists, as it prevents the chain from slipping and is easy to use. Index shifting mechanisms are relatively intricate in their design, and as a result it is not possible to combine parts from various manufactures, which some cyclists view as a massive disadvantage to using this system.

Friction Shifting

The other type of mechanism used in bicycles is the friction shifting mechanism. This is the original form of shifting mechanisms and is the simpler of the two. The cyclist pushes the shifter lever to a different position to change to the gear, and uses the force of pedalling to slide the chain onto the desired gear cog.

This type of mechanism requires the cyclist to ‘feel’ when the chain has moved onto the right cog by how the bicycle is responding, and can take some time to get used to. If the cyclist does not shift the chain properly it can stall and slip, forcing the cyclist to stop to refit it. People choose this style of mechanism because of its simplicity, and parts from various manufactures can be combined giving the cyclist a wider variety of pieces to choose from.

This is also the preferred mechanism for speed and racing cycling, and once it is mastered it can be used to quickly move from low to high gears without needing to pass through the gears in between.

8-Speed Shifters

The speed of a shifter refers to how many varying levels of push can be used on the bicycle to achieve motion. The number is related to the front and rear derailleur, and how many cogs are on each. If a shifter is described as being 8-speed then this means there are four cogs on the rear derailleur, and two on the front (4x2 = 8). Buyers should check their gear mechanism and count the amount of cogs on both derailleurs.

8-Speed Shifter Materials

Shifters can be made from a number of different materials, and although this may seem like a minor detail it can make a difference if using the bicycle for racing or off road cycling. Below are the two most common materials used in shifter manufacturing, although buyers will find that most sold today are an alloy of a few different metals.






Aluminium is used for the manufacturing of a variety of bicycle components, and is chosen because it is light, inexpensive and highly resistant to rusting. An 8-speed shifter made from this material would be ideal for use on a racing bicycle, as it would keep the shifters weight to a minimum.

However, it may not be so suitable for use on a mountain bicycle because it is not as strong as other metals and could become damaged by vibrations from cycling on rough terrain.




Carbon fibre is one of the strongest and lightest materials used in the manufacturing of bicycle parts, and is extremely popular among both off-road and racing cyclists. Shifters made from this material will be strong and durable, while remaining light. The only downside to carbon fibre is parts made from it tend to be expensive.

Types of 8-Speed Shifter

The most important aspect of searching for 8-speed shifters is finding one that is suitable for both the buyer’s bicycle and their style of cycling.




Down Tube Shifter


An 8-speed down tube shifter comprises of two levers attached to the down tube, just below the handlebars. This type of shifter is preferred on road and racing bicycles, and works well with bikes using a friction shifting mechanism. A problem with this type is it requires one hand to be taken off the handlebars to operate, which can be a safety hazard, and it will also take some time to get used to.


Stem Shifter


Works the same as the down tube shifter, but is attached to the stem of the bicycle instead. Cyclists who race or are involved in time-trials use this type of shifter, as it is very light and reduces the amount of cables on the bicycle, which can increase speed. There are a number of stem shifters that can be used with index shifting mechanisms.


Bar End Shifter


8-speed bar end shifters are popular on road and racing bicycles that have drop down handles. The levers on bar end shifters are located at the very end of the handles, which can be problematic. as it is impossible for the rider to change gears when in a sitting position. However, these remain popular because they are easy to install and simple to use.


Twist Shifter


Twist shifters are probably the most common form of shifter found on bicycles manufactured today. As the name implies, the lever used in this style is not a lever, but instead a twisting mechanism that is mounted around the handlebars.

Twist shifters are placed just before the handle grips end, offering the cyclist easy access. Twist shifters are used with index shifting mechanisms, and are popular on mountain and hybrid bikes. This form of shifter is considerably safer than the others above, as the cyclist can successfully change gears without having to remove their hands from the handlebars. Also, the location of the shifter is right beside the brake lever.

Trigger Shifter

Similar in design and function to the twist shifter, the trigger shifter lever is located just above the brake lever, allowing cyclists to use one finger to operate the gears and another to operate the brakes. Trigger shifters are mainly found on mountain and hybrid bicycles, and work best with an index shifting mechanism.

Things to Consider When Buying a 8-Speed Shifter

Before beginning a search for an 8-speed shifter, buyers should think about their bicycle, the gear mechanism and the environment they will be cycling in. It’s important to think about which type of shifter would result in the best cycling quality possible, as it’s not very wise to use a bar end shifter on a mountain bike that will be cycled on rough terrain.

Buying 8-Speed Shifters on eBay

When buyers have some idea of the style of shifter they want, they should head to eBay.co.uk to begin a search. On the eBay homepage, click on the Cycling link that is found on the Sport & Leisure tab. Next, click on the ‘Bicycle Components & Parts’ link located near the top of the Categories table. Scroll down and click on the Shifters link. Click on ‘Number of Speeds’, followed by 8-Speed. Alternatively, while still on the Shifters page, type ‘8-Speed Shifter’ and the style of shifter into the search bar and press enter. e.g. 8-Speed Twist Shifter.


8-speed shifters offer cyclists eight different levels of push to work with, and are one of the most common speeds of shifter used on bicycles today. There are a number of 8-speed shifter styles meaning that buyers can find one that will be suitable for their bicycle and their style of cycling.

eBay is a great place to buy new and used 8-speed shifters, and the site’s extensive network of users means new bicycle parts are constantly being listed. Remember to enter as much detail about the 8-speed shifter into the search as possible, and have patience when browsing. With some time and a little effort buyers will be able to find the 8-speed shifter most suitable for them.

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