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Another question from a few years ago asks about Shimano 11-speed derailleurs; I have a related question about current (2021) Campagnolo equipment - I'd like to understand what downtube (friction) shifters will work with a Campagnolo 11-speed derailleur.

What is the cable pull required between top and bottom gears, and is it the same as for 8/9/10-speed systems? I thought that the total derailleur travel was the same, just with narrower spacing between gears, but I see that Dia-Compe make a dedicated 11-speed shifter with a larger diameter for greater cable-pull.

How well do friction shifters work with Campagnolo 11-speed cassettes (if at all)? And which ones?

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Friction shifters are infinitely adjustable - by definition they don't have stops or detents for each gear position. If they did, they'd be called "indexed"

So there are only three attributes your friction shifters need to run effectively

  1. Total range - the lever must be able to pull enough cable to actuate the mechanism across the whole cassette.
  2. Accuracy of your fingers/ears - The rider has to be able to place the chain in-gear without rub, while riding. On a 5 speed block there's a lot more space between cogs, and the clatter is obvious. For a 12 speed block, the cogs are closer together so the sweet-spot is smaller. Can you find it by feel while riding?
  3. Resistance - the friction lever needs to be able to hold its position and not drift, which would give you a spontaneous up-shift.

An addendum - the frame/bars needs some way to hold your friction shifters. Historically that was a set of brazed-on mounts, but a modern frame won't have them so you'll need to use a band-on set of mounts that can fit around your down tube.

Stem shifters are another option, and bar-end shifters are also available in indexed or friction mode.

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  • "Total range - the lever must be able to pull enough cable to actuate the mechanism across the whole cassette." - what is that total range? May 30 at 11:05
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    @DanieleProcida no idea - a quick google didn't return anything relevant. The length of cable pulled by the shifter's total range of movement has to be more than or equal to that needed by the derailleur to actuate its whole range.
    – Criggie
    May 30 at 19:09
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    @DanieleProcida Since 11-speed cassettes have their cogs closely packed, it might require a lot of training, 'wrist/finger memory' & 4-letter-words to get the chain in the required position. 6-speed drive trains were the last to use friction shifting. A nice challenge though.
    – Carel
    May 30 at 19:23
  • @Carel It's really making me wonder whether I am a silly fool for wanting to have downtube shifters and non-aero hoods on a new build just because I like the look of them. It would be much easier to opt for the whole new Centaur groupset, and know for certain that there won't be any doubts about compatibilities or ease-of-use. I don't change gear much, but I don't want it to be like trying to thread a needle by ear in the dark. May 30 at 20:32
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    It hasn't been built yet! So yes, it will take anything I want. May 31 at 11:20

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