STI levers are a type of gearshift system that incorporates both the gear shifters and the brake levers. This system is not very common on bikes, and the STI levers were developed by Shimano exclusively for use on racing bikes. Although Shimano have developed similar systems for other types of bicycles, the STI levers are the most popular and most functionally successful. Cyclists considering buying this type of gearshift system should first become familiar with its design. This will make it easier when they attempt to attach the system to their bicycle.
eBay is an ideal place to search for STI levers, and the sites extensive database of users results in a greater variety of levers to choose from at lower prices than those found in cyclist stores, or on other sites. This guide shall explain to buyers how STI levers work, and help them navigate eBay to find a suitable pair.
Break Levers and Gear Shifters
The STI levers are a combination of the brake levers and gear shifters found on racing bicycles. Companies very rarely try to incorporate these two functions together, and those that have attempted it have generally not been very successful.
The brake levers are the two small levers found on the handlebars that control the bicycles stopping power. The most common form of braking system used on modern bikes is the rim braking system, and this involves two small brake pads pulling in against the rim of the tyre, effectively slowing it down through friction. The design and shape of the brake levers depend on the handlebars they are mounted on. In the case of racing bicycles the levers tend to be long and slim, and are attached vertically along the front drops of the handlebars.
The gear shifters are the bicycle components that are used to switch the bike between gears when the cyclist is riding on it. Shifters can be attached to the handlebars, the down tube or the stem of the bicycle, and the latter two are the most common found on road and racing bicycles. The right shifter controls the rear derailleur, which is in charge of the main gear system, while the left shifter controls the front derailleur, and the varying degrees of push needed to complete a motion on each gear setting.
The above stands for Shimano Total Integration, and these devices belong to a family of systems known as brifters (brake/shift levers). The problem with down tube and stem shifters is they require the cyclist to remove one hand from the handlebar to operate. This can obviously be an issue if the cyclist is competing in a race, as the removal of the hand can lead to a slip in direction.
The STI aims to eliminate this problem by allowing cyclists to control the brakes and the shifters without having to take their hands off the handlebars. The STI comprises of two levers placed one in front of the other. The larger one in the front is used for brake control and downshifting the gears, while the smaller and stiffer lever is used to upshift the gears.
- The front lever, or main lever, is pulled back to activate the brakes.
- The front lever is pushed towards the centre of the handlebars to downshift the gears, and the distance the lever is pushed will determine how many gears the chain moves down.
- Pushing the rear lever, also known as the release, towards the centre of the handlebars upshifts the gears, and again how far the lever is pushed will determine how many gears are changed.
STI Shifter Speed
The STI levers sold on eBay are grouped in accordance to shifter speed i.e. 6-speed, 8-speed and so on. It is very important that buyers buy an STI that corresponds to the shifter speed their bicycle is capable of achieving. The term shifter speed refers to the number of varying degrees of push that can be experienced on a bicycle, and is directly related to the amount of sprockets on the front and rear derailleurs.
To work out the shifter speed of a bicycle, simply multiply the front sprockets by the rear sprockets. So if a bicycle is described as 10-speed then this means that there are two sprockets on the front derailleur and five on the rear. This means there are ten different speed settings for this bike. Information such as the shifter speed of a pair of STI levers is usually found in the description box on the item page. If the listing is missing this information, then buyers can request it by using the Ask A Question feature, which is located at bottom of the item page. Always find out what the shifter speed is for a pair of levers before placing a bid.
Installing the STI Levers
This is a relatively easy process, and requires only an Allen key and some cable cutters to complete.
- The levers are attached to the handlebars with a bracket, so first place the levers in a position on the handlebars that will be comfortable to reach to when cycling.
- When this is done, pull back the cover of the levers and use a 5mm Allen key to tighten the nut on the bracket. Make sure the lever is tightly secured to the handlebars.
- Tilt the main lever towards the bicycle to make it easier to attach the brake and shifter cables.
- Start with the shifter cable, and carefully feed it through the lever until a small amount sticks through. Attach it to the shifter feeder.
- Repeat the above steps with the brake cables. Cut off any excess cable with the cutters.
It doesn’t matter which lever is used on the left or right hand side of the handlebars, as both levers are exactly the same.
STI levers are a combination of brake levers and gear shifters made by Shimano. These devices are made exclusively for use with racing bicycles, and eliminate the issue of having to remove one hand from the handlebars to change the gears. Instead the brake and shifter levers are combined and sit on the front of the drop handlebars, allowing cyclists to control stopping power with one finger, and the shifter speed with the other. Installing STI levers is a relatively easy process and just requires the brake and shifter cables to be attached to the correct mountings in the casing.
Searching for STI levers on eBay is a great idea and buyers will be pleased with the selection available. Both new and used STI levers are for sale on the site and the majority of them are sold at very reasonable prices. Buyers should remember to check the shifter speed before buying levers, and to review the seller’s history before placing a bid.