Can that be changed? Is it just convention? Is there any commercial bike that comes with a left-shifter that switches cogs?

  • It is convention, and the convention differs on which country you are in. See this question – Kibbee Oct 28 '14 at 15:51
  • Nothing precludes you from say taking something like the Trek 520, which ships with bar end shifters, pulling out both shifters and swapping them. However, most frames run their cables nicely to assume that the shifters match the convention in the given country, so your cable routing may be less nice. With a brifter though, your shifting motion goes towards the center of the bike so you'd need brifters designed to go in the opposite direction if you wanted the same shifting motion (or you'd swap them and shift outwards). – Batman Oct 28 '14 at 16:44
  • Yeah, I've read that in the UK they use the opposite convention. For brifters and twist shifters you might be able to get UK shifters and accomplish the swap, if the cable routing doesn't mess things up. Bar end shifters shouldn't care (nor would friction shifters). – Daniel R Hicks Oct 29 '14 at 1:05
  • Friction shifters con be used either way. I remember having a mtn bike which I installed the shifters backwards (pull towards me instead of pushing, as the bike originally was). – Jahaziel Oct 29 '14 at 22:49
  • When derailleurs emerged in the 1930s the lever was on the right side of the down-tube (mostly because of right-handed cyclists). There were no double chain-rings yet. When they appeared the lever was part of the mechanism. Only later they became cable pulled and the lever was added to the left side. – Carel Oct 31 '14 at 13:53

I would not call it convention but rather a reasoned design choice: most people are right-handed and one shifts the rear gears more frequently, therefore right shifts rear. This is the same worldwide for all integrated shifters, which integrate the brake and shift mechanics.

Brakes however are often reversed in countries, like the UK, where traffic runs on the left side of the road. This is indeed a convention and can be easily changed.

It is not possible to swap the gear shifters, using off the shelf components, without making some changes, e.g. the cable routing under the bottom bracket. Therefore, I would abandon this idea except if there is some medical reason, which makes a change necessary.

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