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  1. #1
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    Upgrading brakes and switching from grip shifters - recommendations?

    I have an older Trek 850 and need to replace the brakes so rather than getting cantilevers again, I was going to upgrade to v-brakes. I know you need new levers because the ones on there are not compatible with v-brakes so I would have to get those too. I am also not a big fan of the grip shfters either so wouldn't mind changing those as well. So for brakes, I was thinking of Shimano BR-T4000 and for levers, not really sure what the differences are. I see a couple models in the $20-$30 price range that seem to come with the cables and everything. Then for the shifters, maybe something like the Shimano Altus M-310? Then I also see a combo lever/shifter like the Shimano EF-500 or EF-65. Is that a better way to go? What do you guys think? I haven't ridden it in a long time but just started to recently and plan to take some rides once in awhile with my kids, mostly on paved trails for now so I don't want to spend a ton.

  2. #2
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    Your plan is sound. The combo brake/shift levers are OK for casual riding, but you can't change the relative positions of the brake lever and shift levers. Separate brake and shift levers give you more flexibility in that regard.

    V-brakes require long-pull levers. Some brake levers can be switched between long and short pull. The combo shift/brake levers I've seen are like this.

    A few brake levers are symmetrical top to bottom so can be used on either side of the bars. I think some Avid levers are like this, but there may be others. This isn't generally a significant advantage, except perhaps if you intend keep a spare on hand if you break a lever.
    Do the math.

  3. #3
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    Separate brake/shifters vs. combined

    Thanks for the info. So doing some pricing, I can get both the left and right Altus-M310 shifters for about $32 and I found BL-T4000 levers (which I would image will work with the BR-T4000 brakes) for $21. That is a total of $53 and those all come with the cables and housing. I can get a combo brake/shift lever (The EF65) for $32 that comes with all cables and housings as well. Is it worth the extra $20 to get separate and are they any more difficult to install and/or use? I would definitely consider myself a casual rider. Love to hear your opinions. Thank you.


    Quote Originally Posted by Lone Rager View Post
    Your plan is sound. The combo brake/shift levers are OK for casual riding, but you can't change the relative positions of the brake lever and shift levers. Separate brake and shift levers give you more flexibility in that regard.

    V-brakes require long-pull levers. Some brake levers can be switched between long and short pull. The combo shift/brake levers I've seen are like this.

    A few brake levers are symmetrical top to bottom so can be used on either side of the bars. I think some Avid levers are like this, but there may be others. This isn't generally a significant advantage, except perhaps if you intend keep a spare on hand if you break a lever.

  4. #4
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    A combo levers will be very slightly easier to install as you're attaching only one thing to the bar instead of two, but it's basically inconsequential. Most of the work is installing the cables and adjusting the brakes and derailleurs, which is the same either way. Combo levers work fine for casual riding so you might as well save the $20. You gotta take the grips off so you might consider new ones.
    Do the math.

  5. #5
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    I didn't even think about the grips. I know they have to come off, but I didn't think about putting them back on. Are you unable to reuse them?

    So after looking at more pictures of the two models (I know..I do WAY too much research for something even simple like this!), it seems like the separate shifters have the index finger trigger down low under the bar whereas the combo has it up by the brake. I am trying to visualize which is more comfortable. And actually I looked some more and there will be a $10 difference in price.

  6. #6
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    Grip shifters have short grips to account for the length of the grip shift part. You'll need full length grips.
    Do the math.

  7. #7
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    Thank you so much! I just took at look at the bike today and noticed how short they are. Glad you reminded me of this before I found out later on.

  8. #8
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    Get separate levers and shifters. There is nothing wrong with combined ones, or brifters as they were known, but individual items will let you position the brakes and shifters where you want. That is worth having.

    To remove grips. lever up the inside edge and spray hairspray under the grip. Twist and push the grip off, from the inside edge.

    To fit grips. spray the inside of the grip liberally with hairspray and slide into place.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    Get separate levers and shifters. There is nothing wrong with combined ones, or brifters as they were known, but individual items will let you position the brakes and shifters where you want. That is worth having.

    To remove grips. lever up the inside edge and spray hairspray under the grip. Twist and push the grip off, from the inside edge.

    To fit grips. spray the inside of the grip liberally with hairspray and slide into place.
    Sounds good! I will give that a try and probably get those M310 I mentioned and find some levers that work. I also like that these are under the bar rather than over, so it looks like you could set this bike upside down and lean it on the handlebars without it hitting anything. I sometimes transport it like that in the back of the SUV with the wheels off.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by j678 View Post
    ..so it looks like you could set this bike upside down and lean it on the handlebars without it hitting anything.
    Maybe but it's a really good way to rip up your seat and bars. I never stand my bikes upside down.

  11. #11
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    Heh. Opposite over here; I bought a nice Park stand and never use it. Also, used to use a fork mount rack, so I flip it every time I go to the trail. Never done any damage.

    Obviously, I always do it on grass or carpet. Pavement will definitely shred your stuff.

    (...I'm gonna choose to not reword that last line)

    edit: oh, and about grips- OP, if yours are original and not lock-on, you'd want to plan on replacing them, anyway. Those things tend to get stuck pretty good, and frequently require cutting them to remove. Ourys are the gold standard for push-on grips, but decent lock-ons are so cheap and easy that you might as well get some. Hell, I'll mail you a set out of my parts bin if you need.

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