I recently rebuilt my whole bike. It was in terrible condition. I also decided to get a new freewheel with more speeds. While i was doing some research and looking through shifters and freewheels, i found out that the twisting grip shifters were limited to only 6 and 7 speeds. I couldn't find any twisting shifter with more than 7 speeds. I personally find them so comfortable, convenient, easy and way faster to shift than the common trigger shifters. I finally decided to get rid of the old 6 speed freewheel and install a brand new 7 speed freewheel with a huge low gear for crawling. Why are trigger shifters so widely used? I don't see any advantage.

Update: Many people said that twisting grip get stiff over time and are difficult to twist. Yes they get a bit stiff over time, but from my experience they still aren't hard to twist at all

Below image of twisting grip shifter enter image description here

  • 1
    FWIW gripshift never went away. You can get an XX1 Eagle gripshift today, for example. I have a MTB with a 9 speed carbon XO one. Some racers have always really liked them. Personally I think part of it is they were a victim of their own success in the low-end world. In other words MRX Comps are so ubiqutious they cast a pallor on the nicer options. Commented Mar 30, 2021 at 16:50
  • 1
    Have you ever tried other brands of twist shifter ? Revoshifts are cosidered to be a low-budget option. SRAM make a grip shifter but naturally its more expensive so less common.
    – Criggie
    Commented Mar 30, 2021 at 19:51
  • 1
    In my experience, repairing donated bikes, trigger shifters are more reliable and easier to service. Commented Mar 31, 2021 at 0:20
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    @SteliosLiakopoulos I've recently received a bike with 9 speed sram twist shifters, and they work marvellously. But the price is 5x what the equivalent Revoshit would be and is slightly more than a trigger shifter.
    – Criggie
    Commented Mar 31, 2021 at 10:08
  • 2
    As you may have noted, the majority of the answers focused on mtb. Are mountainbikes the focus of your question?
    – EarlGrey
    Commented Mar 31, 2021 at 10:30

8 Answers 8


In the context of a high-end MTB designed to go quickly over difficult terrain, trigger shifters have the following advantages:

  • They can be operated using only the thumb, without changing the grip, so the index finger is always ready to brake.
  • Getting mud on the gloves does not impair operation.

Modern grip shifters do exist, Sram makes a wide range of those, and in my experience, the cheapest option (the GX model) is very reliable and performs very well. For completeness sake, grip shifters have the following advantages:

  • Ability to shift through the entire cassette in one motion (assuming a single chainring setup, typical for the context), useful before a sudden steep hill.
  • Absence of a protruding element to be hit by the knee in case the leg unclips unexpectedly.
  • 3
    Grip shifters, with the required change the angle of the wrist and gripping while shifting, affect braking. Shifting looses the precision needed for brake modulation when MTBing. Flying into a corner under heavy braking while shifting to the right gear for the exit would be harder with grip shifters.
    – mattnz
    Commented Mar 31, 2021 at 1:00
  • @mattnz This kind of restates my first point Commented Mar 31, 2021 at 1:02
  • mud is not a problem for me. It just needs a little more strength but overall no problem Commented Apr 1, 2021 at 18:21

I've owned/looked after a few bikes with twist shifters. They've always become stiff to the point of being hard to shift at all after a few years, even with new cables, and they're a pain to strip down compared to trigger shifters. I have successfully de- and re-greased some ancient SIS trigger shifters to good-as-new condition but never did so well with revoshift. Even before the deterioration one (paired with a 7-speed megarange cassette and appropriate derailleur from new) struggled to get into the big sprocket: it needed considerable grip strength to do so. For some bizarre reason they put them on kids' bikes. I guess they're fairly intuitive, but the grip required is often too great.

The friction shifter for the front triple is much better than the indexed revoshift (or the cheap clone I still have in my garage on a bike that's waiting for a new back wheel).

The exception seems to be the rental bikes round here that use 3-speed Nexus hub gear with a grip shifter. That works fairly well, though it twists the opposite way to the last one I had, which still confuses me sometimes.

  • 3
    yeah, for kids they can be difficult to twist. But for me, almost an adult, i can use twist shifters perfectly fine. They aren't hard at all to twist. After many years they can get stiff, but i don't care. They are so cheap and easy to replace. By the way, i also have a megarange freewheel and i use the twist grip shifters. I can assure you that they work PERFECTLY fine and shift smoothly across all gears, even the huge 1st gear. Commented Mar 30, 2021 at 16:02
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    @SteliosLiakopoulos If your twist shifters have failed twice in 4 years then I would say that really point to twist shifters not being good quality. I've had trigger shifters that lasted much longer than that and never had a problem shifting. And they weren't even good trigger shifters. Just basic stuff you get from Shimano on a 3x8 bike.
    – Kibbee
    Commented Mar 30, 2021 at 18:42
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    fail twice in 4 years != work flawlessly. The trigger shifters on my hybrid have lasted 10 years and over 20000km with no maintenance (even cable changes are rare). And given that at least one bike mechanic, and I, couldn't make it not stiff It wasn't just a matter of tuning. Poor QA maybe. I get that you like them, but they're not popular. Perhaps that's because they're expensive to make well - which doesn't seem so bad paired with expensive hub gears . I also find it disappointing when something that suits me in many ways only comes as a bottom-of-the-range item.
    – Chris H
    Commented Mar 30, 2021 at 20:31
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    Maybe the twist shifters making it hard for kids to shift is what leads to so many adults pushing big gears up hills and spinning out going down. They learned not to shift as kids because they couldn't, so now they ride fancy bikes with 21 gear options like its an old 70's single-speed Stingray with banana seat and monkey hanger bars. :( </OT>
    – FreeMan
    Commented Mar 31, 2021 at 13:57
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    @PeterCordes Aha - you've found the elusive quality grip-shifter! Actually though, that link is badly written, and I suspect that grip-shifter was Shimano to match the RD; there are a few ways to parse the various commas and "and"s. Unfortunately I can't find any clear pictures of the shifter on a twist-shift equipped Dune
    – Chris H
    Commented Mar 31, 2021 at 15:06

I've had twist shifters on a couple of bikes, and I prefer trigger shifters because I like to keep the skin on my fingers - too often I would have to grip them tight when adding tension to the cable, and would almost get proto-blisters in my purlicue. They also mean that I'm effectively letting go of control of that side of the handlebar, as my hand is controlling the twisting of the shifter and it's difficult to apply much steering control while doing that twisting motion, again mainly when adding tension to the cable; with trigger shifters I can brake with both hands, change gear with both hands, while still having enough purchase on the handlebars to steer.

  • 3
    maybe im weird. I don't know. I never get any blisters on my hands and mud doesn't make my hand slip like @Roman Odaisky said. You said "my hand is controlling the twisting of the shifter and it's difficult to apply much steering control while doing that twisting motion". This was a small issue in the past for me but now i don't have any problem. All in all I find twist shifters superior in almost every way Commented Mar 31, 2021 at 8:44

As a famous marketer once said, there are more cockroaches than humans. So there are more trigger shifters than twisting grips. In fact, two of the most expensive shifting systems, Pinion and Rolhoff, both uses twist shifters (as far as I know, there were some experimental trigger shifters being developed and funded on Kickstarter for Pinion).

You do not see any advantage in trigger shifter vs twist shifter, but you are not on the mass-selling side, you are just an individual with a bicycle :D !

  • 3
    One of Pinion and to a lesser extent Rolhoff‘s biggest drawbacks is their lack of good trigger shifters for MTB usage. I think it’s misleading to use them as examples of trigger shifters being unnecessary. Only SRAM still makes grip shifters for modern drivetrains, and they’re primarily marketed towards light XC.
    – MaplePanda
    Commented Mar 30, 2021 at 16:25
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    I heard about the complain, but after having tried a Pinion MTB for a week I admit that I liked very much the shifter, it is very responsive and can do everything a trigger can do. We are too used to the crappy shifter coming on children's bike when we discuss twisting shifter ... also called twisting stiffer, on kid's bike for the obvious effect after a couple of months of use (& abuse, come on they are kids!)
    – EarlGrey
    Commented Mar 30, 2021 at 18:38

My guess, and this is just a guess, is because they were invented first and just became established as the norm. I also prefer grip shifters. Probably because I come from a BMX background they feel more comfortable to me. Sometimes on a rough trail my thumb will slip off with trigger style shifters, with the grip shift, my hands are always on them already. I have an old hard tail Trek that I bought new as a teenager...in 1999...that has SRAM grip shifters. I've probably put a few thousand miles on that bike over the years, and I still put it in the mix to this day. I've NEVER had a problem with them. They still work perfectly. I'm kind of surprised really, considering how long I've had them. They've never become stiff, and mud has never affected them. It all comes down to personal preference, but I've wondered the same thing as you in the past.


I ran Gripshift Shifters back in the mid 90's for 5 years. I had previously had STI Thumb Shifters.

Pros for me were:

  1. Less Bulk on the bars, they were just a cleaner setup. Probably more "aero" but that didn't really matter for me, I was a slow MTB racer!
  2. Change from top to bottom of rear chainset in one movement (not that you would do that), but it meant that in a race I could move several rings in one go and maintain momentum easily when hitting a hill.
  3. This sounds odd but when riding up hill I used to put my fingers either side of the raised barrel and use them to pull on to get more leverage. Sounds daft I know, but it made a difference to me.

Cons for me:

  1. In the heat, the rubber on the shifter would become pliable and make it harder to move the barrel. You got used to it, but it wasn't great.
  2. Err, thats about it!

Maintenance was easy, not that they ever needed it, they were indestructible. I never had any problems with them stiffening up.

I have a lot of love for Gripshift, I have no idea if they still exist but I would definitely have them again.

  • 4
    But the virtues of grip shifters doesn't answer the question, which is why OP can't seem to find grip shfters for a new setup, and why the market seems to be going with trigger shifters
    – DavidW
    Commented Mar 31, 2021 at 17:00
  • You certainly can shift multiple gears at once with triger shifters or even STI drop-bar shifters. More with the former, e.g., Rapidfire. Commented Apr 1, 2021 at 7:37

Grip shifter does not allow masking glitches of the gear shifting. If it does not select the right gear, this is immediately seen.

Differently, trigger shifter is more "one up" or "one down", the cyclist knows the current gear only approximately (assuming that the gear indicator does not have any labels either) so unlikely to complain if the gear does not shift where expected and one needs to click the shifter once more up or down.

This is probably why the mainstream bicycles (that do not go much through any mud or difficult terrain as addressed in other answers) tend to have trigger shifters.

I prefer grip shifters that allow me to select the gear I want with a single movement, especially the planned starting gear before stopping, and shift precisely over multiple gears when starting or finishing the uphill (that may be both steep and vert short, like a ramp of the underground street passage).

Unfortunately, none of my newer bikes has them - uncommon. I do not remember having any single problem with the twist shifters I used before. Hence I needed to think up a different reason, why the component I would strongly prefer is not easily available on the market.


Why are trigger shifters so widely used?

I don't see any advantage

I don't see any disadvantage.

Trigger shifters are very cheap and easy to use. They can be used during a harsh winter when you have so thick gloves on that your effective finger size is multiplied by a factor of 2-3 as thick gloves don't make operation difficult. They aren't (usually) coupled to the brake lever so you can choose your brake lever and shifter separately. They allow you to downshift multiple gears at a time. They probably work more reliably on a slightly out-of-adjustment drivetrain as downshifting involves a small amount of "overshifting" and then releasing the overshifted cable to fall back to its rest position. In contrast, grip shifters don't overshift. Thus, they are more likely to function less well on a drivetrain and cable system that's a bit out of adjustment: perhaps the rear derailleur hanger isn't straight, perhaps the rear derailleur bushings have worn, perhaps the cable has more friction than when new, perhaps the bottom bracket cable guide is full of dirt, etc.

  • 3
    your answer confused me a bit. By the way, grip shifters are cheap, they aren't coupled to the brakes and can shift gears really fast. Also i find grip shifters better in winter because i don't have to move my frozen fingers onto the triggers. Moving my hand back and forth on the grip shifter is easier. Commented Mar 30, 2021 at 14:11
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    They can also overshift just fine. I feel like you are misrepresenting the question and then launching into a bit of an unrelated rant. Commented Mar 30, 2021 at 15:14
  • 1
    I worked on one of those cheap Amazon dropbar bikes that had twist shifters! They were mounted on the tops of the bars next to the stem. The bars were taped the rest of the way. Then there were interrupter levers installed. It was like they were trying to redo the 80's roadbikes with the stem mounted shifters and "safety" brake levers
    – mikes
    Commented Mar 30, 2021 at 22:43
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    I've removed the unrelated portion of your answer that bordered between a rant and a new question because it was garnering downvotes and flags. If you'd like, I suggest that you ask it as a new question.
    – jimchristie
    Commented Mar 31, 2021 at 14:53
  • Twisting a grip shifter is easier with thick gloves or mittens than operating a trigger. I've done both, and neither is really a problem, but feeling the insulation around your thumb rub against the other trigger is less pleasant. With a good grip-shift, you just grip it with your whole hand and twist, which you can do just fine with mittens. Commented Mar 31, 2021 at 15:08

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