Handlebar End Shifters on Vertical Handlebars

I had the opportunity recently to sit on and pedal 5 different trike brands and 8 different trike models. With the lone exception of TerraTrike, all the usual suspects (Ice, HP, Trident, Greenspeed, Catrike, Sun, KMX) all came with handlebar end shifters on vertical handlebars. Perhaps this was coincidental, or, was preferred by the trike shop, their buyer, or their customers. 

When I rode a df (diamond frame - aka two wheeled bike) 10 speed, I had handlebar end shifters which I loved. But I dropped that bike twice, and each time the shifters broke. I have now dumped my trike twice... once, at slow speed, when I wanted to see the effects of leaning away from a turn (dah), and once making an emergency turn to avoid an accident.

As I looked at all those trikes with vertical handlebars and thin handlebar-end shifters, I couldn't help but imagine how easy it would be to get skewered by such a combo. That got me wondering what the big fascination is with the combo of vertical handlebars and handlebar-end shifters. Can anyone shed some light on this topic for me? And does anyone else have similar concerns as me?


  • It's cool looking, man! And a lot easier on arthritic wrists than a twist shifter
  • Paddle shifters work well
  • I commonly keep my hands gently around the vertical shifters/handles when I'm riding rather than fully down on the grips.  To me it feels normal.  The paddles on my Catrike are very strong.  They're not about to break if I roll which I did once to avoid t-boning a car that had pulled out in front of me.  There's now a tiny scuff on the shifter paddle but there was no damage to it.  They're (paddles) very sturdy.

    I transitioned from the grip shifter to the vertical bar end paddles easily.  In fact, I found it more comfortable compared to horizontal bars.  I think I went with horizontal bars on my first trike because of the similarity to my bicycle.  I won't go back to horizontal bars.  I quit the bicycle because of bone spurs in one of my shoulders.
  • I would sure like to test drive them!  I had pain in my wrists and numbness in my hands while riding a mountain bike and purchased cruiser handlebars to put on the mountain bike.  Unfortunately, I move to DC soon after that and sold the bike so I didn't get to try them much.

    I can tell you my modified handlebars are not working out as expected.  I turned the handle portion in too far to be comfortable.  But, that position gets them in the door easier.  If I move the wide handlebars out as far as possible, they rub against the wheels while I ride.  If they are moved in further, I get upper arm pain.  With my new and improved knees, I have moved the seat up on the boom.  But, unfortunately, that has moved my hands closer to the handlebars.  I'm going to lean the seat back further to see if that helps. 

    Has anyone done ergonomic tests to see which is the best way to position arms during a ride?
  • OMG, what a great idea!  And, I have enough material to reconfigure them in that manner.  I just have to see if my welder is up for it.

    I have email Terra Trike about changing the angle of the handle on the wide handlebars and have not yet gotten a reply.
  • @Florida_bound
    I have stock handle bars on my Rover and after many adjustments I have found (for me) that 45 degrees back from parallel to the front axle is best.
  • I've seen these on catrikes. It may well be that some catrike handlebars from their direct-steering model(s) would be a perfect fit.

    Is there a catrike dealer around you could go and check out?
  • Wow! @Florida_bound, what a great idea... "ergonomic tests to see which is the best way to position arms during a ride" I love that idea. Anyone have any idea of how and where to get such ergonomic testing?

    Personally, I absolutely hate the vertical handelbars and I find them uncomfortable in addition to being a safety hazard. That said, if ergonomic testing should them to be best, I try to adapt to them. And a twist shifter on a vertical handelbar would be a nightmare I think. 

    Can you imagine what would happen if you were diagonally run into in the rear and jolted on to one of those vertical handlebars with a smaller and more pointed shifter on top of that. I can't believe someone hasn't been skewered and killed in such a manner.

    I think @Jamesr may have the best handlebar solution... underseat steering! Actually it isn't under the seat, just next to the seat and at seat level. Which reminds me a little of the TT Tour II. Has anyone else noticed that the Tour II still appears on the TT website if you access "Products" from the TT website if (and I believe, only if) directly from the Forum. I wonder if they are aware of this.
  • Yeah, they need some cleanup work on the site.

    I'm just waiting patiently for the "great spring announcement" about its replacement.
  • Perhaps we need to find a Trident dealer who will let us check the Jouta's bars on a TT? Trident doesn't seem to have a place to just buy the bars, nor specs on them.
  • Well, the Air Force has ergonomic specialists who test their cockpits to ensure pilots can sit comfortably for the extend of required travel.  The plane my son flies is in the air for up to 12 hours at a time.

    And, occupational therapists will adjust chairs, desks, and computer screens to ensure there will be no stress or pain while employees are working.

    Why wouldn't someone do ergonomic testing on trikes?  Would you buy a trike that you are not comfortable riding?  BTW, I moved the handlebars out a little and they feel better.  I still would like to test those horizontal ones.
  • From my days as a defense contractor I think ergonomic designs are done to include 65% profile so smaller and larger humans are outside the profile. Not sure what T.T. designs to but it's almost impossible to fit a product to every human form.

    They do a fair job with boom and seat and handle bar adjustment. Width of the seat and handlebars seems to be a problem for some but trying to keep the design within the front wheel track is limiting.
  • I wanted verticals so much I added mountain bike end bars to my Rover. Moved brakes there too.

    They curve inward a bit at the top, so my hands rest mostly on that curve
  • One of the reasons I went with a Tour ll, along with the lower seating, less weight, and indirect steering, was the vertical bars. I find them very comfortable. At first I had intended to install bar end shifters,but after a few miles, I got used to the twist shifters and actually like them. This also leaves the bar ends for my mirrors.
  • Did you add wrist rests and pads?
  • edited February 2017
    I recall that when I gave up bicycles I went with the TT Rambler because it had handlebars like a bicycle.  They were familiar and I was comfortable with them.  But, when I finally rode the Catrike 559 I found the upright grips to be natural for my hand position.  Go figure.  I guess I had to grow into it.  I could even tilt the grips a bit to be even more comfortable.  

    I grew to like the bar end shifters as well even though there was no indicator to know which gear I was actually in.  I learned to gauge the position with experience.  Now I wouldn't have anything but vertical grips with bar end shifters.  I also liked that the Catrike wrist rests that can be positioned as well.

    Looking back I see my experience with triking as being a journey with twists and turns (yes, pun intended).  Kick back, enjoy the ride and learn from the experience.  (Yes, yes pun intended)  =))
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