Review - R2C Shifters

 Jul 19, 2010 article & images by Nick Salazar

R2C shifters are, simply put, a huge leap forward.

Ah, the lowly shifter. The traditional triathlon shifter is a relic. It's a holdover from the when road cyclists would reach to their drops, and use the bar-end shifters mounted there. This was an improvement from downtube shifters, but eventually replaced by the integrated STI units in use today, that combine the shifter into the brake lever. Triathletes were stuck with that old technology sitting at the end of their aerobars.

And what's wrong with it? If it ain't broke, don't fix it, right?

The Problem with Bar-Ends

The principal trouble with these old shifters is that, simply put, they get in the way. It's not easy to grip a shifter that's pointed straight down or straight up, and yet that's precisely what happens with these shifters. So riders have traditionally been forced to ride with extensions that are longer than ideal, so that they're not gripping a strangely-placed shifter. What's more, when it's time to shift, the extreme positions of the bar-end shifters make for awkward shifting, often involving taking the arms completely out of the armrest just to get enough leverage to shift.

Return to Center

So, along comes SRAM, and introduces the R2C. It's supposed to solve both of these problems by making a racheting shifter that always returns to a forward position after shifting. The idea is that it's not awkward at all just to pull up or pull down a few degrees on a shifter, as long as it's going to be back at its starting position. Zipp, after being acquired by SRAM, started producing its own version, with the same mechanics, but different ergonomics. But both of these units retail at several times the cost for traditional shifters. The obvious question is whether these shifters are worth their price, or if they're just another gimmick to be dismissed? We've been testing the R2C's for several months, and have had the opportunity to see both Zipp and SRAM's versions. Read on to find out how we liked them on the road.

Tags » aerobars,  shifters,  sram,  zipp
  • The R2C shifters look super clean, always pointed forward.
  • The front shifter moves about 40 degrees for a complete shift, and the rear shifter moves about 10 degrees per shift for up to four shifts at once.
  • Shifts can be accomplished with a thumb ...
  • ... or a forefinger.
  • Zipp's version features the same internals, but different ergonomics.
  • The 'Exact Actuation' logo betrays its SRAM heritage.
  • The SRAM version feels very good in our hands.
  • The Zipp version is bulkier, and didn't fit as well in our hands.
  • It looks so natural, but in this photo, the near hand is shifting.
  • These are easily the best triathlon shifters we've ever used.

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