Which shifter for kids? Shimano or SRAM?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Which shifter for kids? Shimano or SRAM?

    I know its like a religious arguement between sram or shimano, but I'm interested in which works best for a small hand on a kid.

    My oldest has been on a sram gx that has worked ok. Wondering of shimanos works better. It seems like he have to kind of reach his front index finger to hit the trigger shifter. Not sure if that's good or bad. Anyone tried both?

  2. #2
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    I went with Shimano Rapid Rise on my sons Hot Rock build, it was the best mod I did. I found an XT short cage derailure and paired it with an Altus shifter.

    The Rapid Rise reverses the effort, when they come to a hill and need to shift, the spring does the work, instead of their tiny thumb.


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  3. #3
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    I did SRAM GX DH 7 speed for my daughter. She is 7 and tiny and doesn’t have any issues shifting. One of the tricks that I learned on this forum was to rotate the shifter so they are pushing more down with their thumb than forward. As adults we generally set our shifters up to press forward and it’s all thumb strength at that point. If the shifter faces up, the young ones can use some of their body weight on the shifter as well.

  4. #4
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    Only Shimano here...

    He couldn't turn the original clapped-out SRAM twister into the lowest gears even after new cables and an overhaul, so on to an 8s XT trigger (already XT RD).

    That worked great for him and stayed on the bike when it was sold.

    The new ride is Deore 10s and the shifter is familiar. I did swap the cable to Optislick, which I highly recommend.

    He has messed with the XO shifter on my bike and says it's harder, but that may be a lever/hand position issue.

    In any case, Shimano triggers with coated cables are super easy for little hands. I like the rapid rise suggestion too and would be going there if we still had issues.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmossbarger View Post
    I went with Shimano Rapid Rise on my sons Hot Rock build, it was the best mod I did. I found an XT short cage derailure and paired it with an Altus shifter.

    The Rapid Rise reverses the effort, when they come to a hill and need to shift, the spring does the work, instead of their tiny thumb.
    Did the exact same thing as well. It was sort of gimmicky when it came out but man it works well for kids. Requires almost zero effort to shift. You can easily find rapid rise LX or better derailleurs on ebay for cheap as well.
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  6. #6
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    either shimano or sram trigger shifters will be fine. try to avoid gripshift if possible.

  7. #7
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    Both of mine couldn't manage either SRAM or Shimano triggers, and we ended up doing gripshift (for a now 4 year old and 7 year old). They have no trouble shifting the gripshifter.

    -Walt

  8. #8
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    If money is no object, I'd say the best for kids is probably an electronic shifter.

    Archer D1X or Xshifter both offer retrofit electronic shifting that will work with pretty much any drive train.

    Because the controls are just digital buttons, physical effort to shift isn't really an issue.

    Also opens up the option for parents to shift for them or to pair up with systems to automatically shift (the few of those I've seen are pretty expensive, though).

  9. #9
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    I would worry less about brand and more about whether the brake levers are pushing the shift levers too far away. In my somewhat limited experience this has been more of an issue with SRAM. But on all my kids bikes I have replaced grip shift with triggers.

  10. #10
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    I did SRAM X01 DH 7spd for my 5yr old. He can shift fine thought he egros of the shifter aren't perfect for small hands. Also not worse than anything else I've seen. The main reason I went for it is weight and derailleur clearance. It's 200g+ lighter than anything else I could find and that DH short cage mech gives much better ground clearance than most options--important with a 20" wheel when riding rocky, technical stuff.

    If I were doing a standard XC setup I'd probably have done XTR DI2 as I think it'd be the most foolproof and easy shifting.

  11. #11
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    Not just for kids but I find that the lower end SRAM is less durable than equivalent priced Shimano... (Deore up)... just based on friends bikes that somehow always end up with me fixing.

    For kids .. never found the difference between bush and bearing was anything like as critical as cabling...

    The M7000 SLX stuff is meant to be something like 30% easier on both SHIFTER and MECH than the XT M8000 ... but I don’t think we tried both together (have them both..just not sure I ever put them on the same bike at the same time)....

    EVERY time he’s complained about hard shifting it’s been solved with cables ... so I just but 10m lengths of Jagwire outer and teflon inners and change regularly.

    Not shifter specific but he damaged his external dropper cable in yet another crash... and couldn’t be bothered to help me fix it (too busy playing with the other kids) ... next day he unweighted off a small (2’ drop) and his dropper fired ...

    It all turned out very funny ... he somehow managed to do a stoppie after nearly being shot over the bars and stopped with just a few scratches from some thorns... but it would have been different had the same thing happened on a bigger feature.

  12. #12
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    Our Shimano’s have two way shifting. Not sure when they start getting that feature (we have xt on everything) but it works for us. I do have one sram shifter and the pad is a little bigger on the upshift trigger but I wouldn’t say it’s better.

    8000 shifter with the med cage m8000-gs rd with the clutch off is my favorite combo in the garage

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by MXIV424 View Post
    Our Shimano’s have two way shifting. Not sure when they start getting that feature (we have xt on everything) but it works for us. I do have one sram shifter and the pad is a little bigger on the upshift trigger but I wouldn’t say it’s better.

    8000 shifter with the med cage m8000-gs rd with the clutch off is my favorite combo in the garage
    So you run it with the clutch off? What's the advantage? Would you recommend doing it for a kid too? Thanks btw.

  14. #14
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    I do. Easier shifting is the advantage. I think it’s easier for their fingers. The disadvantage is higher chance of dropping a chain but we’ve only had one dropped chain on the 4 bikes we have running the xt stuff in the last two-ish years so I’m not really worried about it.

    It’s not a huge difference, and really easy to test it out both ways, but I can notice the difference with the clutch on and off, so for the kids it’s a no brainer for now.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by svinyard View Post
    So you run it with the clutch off? What's the advantage? Would you recommend doing it for a kid too? Thanks btw.
    My kid's 20" modified Trek has a 10 speed Shimano Zee system, running with the clutch off. The reason - it requires less thumb force for downshifting. Doesn't seem much of a difference to us, but for a 5YO kid it definetly matters.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by MXIV424 View Post
    I do. Easier shifting is the advantage. I think it’s easier for their fingers. The disadvantage is higher chance of dropping a chain but we’ve only had one dropped chain on the 4 bikes we have running the xt stuff in the last two-ish years so I’m not really worried about it.

    It’s not a huge difference, and really easy to test it out both ways, but I can notice the difference with the clutch on and off, so for the kids it’s a no brainer for now.
    You can always reduce the clutch tension ...
    Shimano claim the M7000 has something like 30% less force required on both mech and shifter than the M8000.
    Not sure how true that is... but the cage on the M7000 SLX is pretty horrid...

    I wonder if you could either replace the spring in the M8000 with the M7000 spring or replace the cage on the M7000 with a M8000 cage ???
    Not sure if its the same spring but different position or a weaker spring... and now Jnr is 9 it makes no odds.

  17. #17
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    Damn, well that's pretty cool that Shimano allows that. Having the options is great just in case the kid has an issue.

    Is the XTR shifter any easier or better?

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by svinyard View Post
    Damn, well that's pretty cool that Shimano allows that. Having the options is great just in case the kid has an issue.

    Is the XTR shifter any easier or better?
    The clutch has a hex bolt you just turn it to tighten or loosen

    Mostly SLX is like XT but with features removed or cheaper material.

    Shimano seem to use exactly the same design on SLX and XT just slightly different materials or they remove a feature .. it’s almost like software where you can pay to have a feature there all along switched on.

    I only used XTR briefly on a mates bike a couple of weeks ago... Didn’t feel any different to XT riding round the mud at the campsite for the Enduro we were doing..

    Specific to shifting I think the XT is meant to be the “keeps working even when full of mud” version.. hence stronger springs .. and the shifter lacks the multiple down shifts from XT. It’s also got a different top cover/mount ...

    I’ve not pulled them apart yet ... might do that tonight for fun, I’ll post if I do.
    I happen to have one of each in the spares bin I think.

    The rear mech looks identical but the jockey cage is made of some sort of cheese... my guess is either the main spring is different or is mounted in a different hole ?

  19. #19
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    OK I picked up an XT RD and Shifter for 89$ total (nice 20$ off coupon from Backcountry etc. somehow). Looks pretty nice, should pair well with the XT brakes (everything is ispec2...we'll see on fitment I guess).

    Out of the box the shifter seems a bit stiff etc, but we'll wait to see it on the actual bike. Double down shift is where its at. My Eagle system is great (you need to set your own b-screw at sag just once, or its crap)....BUT on the few times I've used a shimano bike with a double down shift...its been pretty bad ass. I'm at times shifting up once...but when it comes to down, I'm always click, click, clicking at least twice. Should be cool. Maybe someday I'll snag a cheap 12sp XT shifter and throw it on the eagle to get that double shift myself.

    Anyways, what cables are best for making the shift smooth/easier? It sounds like there are a bunch of coated cables out there and lubed housings but its hard to know which is best. Shimano seems to have 3 different versions as does Jagwire.

    What should I be looking for? Do you have a link?

    Ryan Palmer (ex pro/WC mechanic) seems to think that simply Shimano SP41 is where its at regardless of cables. I have SP41 on my own X01 Eagle and so far it seems great but hard to know the difference.

    https://www.bikemag.com/gear/review-...cable-housing/

  20. #20
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    In our climate the best cable is a new cable ... i buy jag wire outer in 10m lengths (goes way further as there is way less wastage) and pretty much any Teflon Coated inners in bulk.
    Jagwire outer is also available in different colours ..

    optislik inners are better ... at least longer lasting but they are about 5x more expensive but I always do full cable runs ..

    my experience is just about the cheapest “upgrade” for your $ is new cable .and outer.. “makes old shifting feel like new “ and a new cable will be nicer than an older but “better” one.

    so I prefer cheaper bulk buys ...

    if easier shifting was your your main concern however you’d have been better buying SLX ... but we have had no (non dirt in cable) problems with XT and shifting pressure for a long time when he was 5-6 if ever.
    Last edited by Steve-XtC; 06-23-2019 at 12:04 AM.

  21. #21
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    I swapped my sons sram grip shifters with sram trigger (went 1x) and he has no issues and I even did the derailleur adjustments (which was my first time) and it's very smooth. He's 8 on a 24"

  22. #22
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    I noticed my kids having to really move their hands inward alot to reach the shifters, so I started setting them up with the shifters as close a possible to the grips. The shimano I-spec setup seems to be pretty good. On the tektro equipped bike with longer levers I mounted the shifter outboard of the brake, which was a big improvement.

    That being said, I can say the sram GX definitely takes more effort to shift then the shimano deore.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by eyeballs View Post
    I noticed my kids having to really move their hands inward alot to reach the shifters, so I started setting them up with the shifters as close a possible to the grips. The shimano I-spec setup seems to be pretty good. On the tektro equipped bike with longer levers I mounted the shifter outboard of the brake, which was a big improvement.

    That being said, I can say the sram GX definitely takes more effort to shift then the shimano deore.
    Regarding shifting effort, do you mean GX 11sp vs XT Deore 11sp?

    Yeah I'm hoping the Ispec2 works for us and the XT brakes I'll be using.

  24. #24
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    This is gx 10spd vs Deore 10spd

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