I'm upgrading my road touring bike, currently with a 3x8 drivetrain and bar-end friction shifters. I'm going for integrated brake/shift levers, and wondering about the difference between the Claris ST-2400 and Sora ST-3500 STI shifters.
I already know that the Claris is 3x8 and the Sora 3x9. Upgrading to a 9-speed cassette and chain should be no problem (chain rings are already 9-speed compatible). I'd choose the same cassette range for either, and I don't think having the extra intermediate gear would matter much to me.
My question is: are the Sora shifters better (in terms of materials, reliability, smoothness, accuracy, or whatever) than the Claris? It's a 50-ish dollar difference, so that's not that big a deal. Anything else I might've missed? I'm not really interested in going to a 10 (or more) speed rear, so the higher end mechanisms are out.