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The 10 Best Mountain Bike Shifters in 2021 (Review) – Shift Your Gears
Last Updated on December 31, 2020
The Best Mountain Bike Shifters Review: Better shifter means better accuracy. Better bicycle shifters are built to be extreme, intended to get dirty, and they will keep on working even after the severe abuse of hard ride and muddy trail.
If you are an owner of older bikes and want to upgrade the shifters, you are in the right place. This article aims to guide you with information about the Best Mountain Bike Shifters available on the web. These durable, reliable yet lightweight shifters will offer you a smooth and faster ride.
If you shift the gears frequently, go for the better shifter. Right here we have included a set of ten best MTB shifters available on the market.
With an excellent selection of styles and prices of best mountain bike shifters from manufacturers like SRAM and Shimano, you will be sure to locate the right shifter in the right price range.
We can say this shifter will continue working whatever you present to them while you are on a desperate trail riding. We have also included a buying guide to choose the best one that fits your MTB best.
1. Shimano Shifters SL-TX30 Tourney 3×7 Pair
If you are an owner of old bikes whose dropouts can accept only hubs sufficiently wide for 7 speeds cassettes, are hoping to shed some aggregate weight by upgrading the segments, and have wallets that are on the light side.
Then the SL-TX30 Tourney 3×7 is an absolute necessity for you. Its slim design and rapid click shifting make this shifter great. Once you adjust it correctly, you can shift real quick and precise.
The Shimano SL-TX30 Tourney is a surprisingly high-quality 7- speed manual non-indexed shifter. It is well built, looks satisfactory mount and works better than most grip shifters.
The shifter is made of plastic and metal. The lever on this SL-TX30 shifter exerts enough force on the down-shift, and up-shifts are via the push of a button.
Regarding weight difference between the old XT and the new TX, you could not detect a difference. Overall, this shifter would be a great upgrade for your bike.
6 and 7 speed indexed SIS shifting
Optical gear display for verification of gear position
If you are an owner of an MTB having Shimano front and rear derailleur, the SRAM MRAX Comp is the best mountain bike shifters to get. This set works as the excellent upgrade for 8-Speed mountain bikes.
It is very effortless to install and comes with all the parts you will need including the cables. The whole package includes 7-speed rear shifters, 3- speed front shifters, steel cables and new rubber grips.
The MRX Comp Twist Shifters are compatible with Shimano products. This product is durable, light-weight and can work perfectly as the shifters have high-quality design and construction.
They are compatible with Shimano derailleur as well as others with a 2:1 ratio. The SRAM MRX Comp uses SRS technology for light and precise indexing. They also come with a quick view ledge indication to see the gear position.
Whether your ride of choice includes smooth rolling terrain or hardcore down-hills, the MRX Comp will chase you there with crunchy, positive response on your shifts.
SRAM MRX Comp Twister shifters offer you serious shifting performance. It is high quality and works perfect and came with cables ready to install on your bike.
The SRAM MRX Comp Twist Shifters are easy to use and offer fast shifting. It provides smooth shifting with just a simple twist of the wrist.
The SRAM MRX Comp Twister MTB shifters use SRS technology offers smooth and positive shifts. Its in-line gear indication provides you instant feedback.
The MRX Comp is compatible with Shimano rear derailleur and Shimano or SRAM front derailleur. This lightweight Grilon molded finish shifters come with super soft dual density grip. It has an index and Micro-adjust front shifter options.
These old-school nature shifters are a nice, simple, and modest upgrade for older bikes. You can easily replace the cables without disassembling the whole unit in a simple way that was not anticipated by other manufacturers.
These shifters have a very pleasing clicking action that keeps them in place. You can mount them on handlebars as opposed to the down-tube. It is very convenient that these shifters come with the cables too.
Sunrace SLM10 Friction Shifters are made mostly of metal and seem very solid. These are durable, incredibly easy to install, and happiness to use.
They also do not add much weight either, weighs only 126g per pair. They have a proper adjustment for the diameter. It also comes with the excellent quality shift cables to use with your existing cable housing. They can be secured onto handlebar by a bendable clamp and screw.
They are very straightforward to install and simple to use
Old-School nature Friction Shifter
Speeds 5, 6, and 7
Fits 22.2mm handlebar
Available in Black/Silver
Weight is 126 gram per pair
Needs a smaller diameter handlebar for this to work
SRAM 3.0 components are made out of high-quality materials and superior technology. This is an excellent option for the beginners and those who love light adventures.
The set comes with the seven-speed rear shifter, three-speed front shifter, and two handlebar grips. The shifters come with the pre-installed cables. It has 50mm lightweight Grilon, molded finish body.
It is very straightforward to remove and replace the shifters. The SRAM 3.0 Comp Twister mountain bike shifters have the fastest front and rear multiple shifts in an Olympic gold medal race-proven package.
The SRAM 3.0 Comp Twister MTB shifters use 1:1 Actuation Ratio Technology for light and precise indexing. Actuation stays exact and fluid slogging through mud, rocks, whatever conditions you are on.
It is dependable and tolerant. The rear shifter works as one click per gear. But the front shifter does not work the same way. It has several clicks all the way from 1 to 8.
You have to see the setting or listen or feel for the gear change that offers you more gear combinations. The SRAM 3.0 compatible with SRAM 1:1 Rear derailleur, Shimano & SRAM derailleur.
Compatible with SRAM 1:1 Rear derailleur, Shimano & SRAM derailleur
Grilon material made construction, molded finish
1:1 Actuation for light, precise indexing
8/7 Index Rear Speeds
Index & Micro-adjust front shifter options
Made in Taiwan
Not recommended for thin-walled aluminum handlebars
It is a basic shifter, works excellent, and installation instruction is straightforward to follow. SRAM MRX Comp Twist Shifters offer you smooth shifting and reliable construction. They shift an SRAM or Shimano front derailleur.
They use SRS technology for light, precise indexing. Serious shifting performance is accurate whether your ride of choice includes gentle on road or hardcore off-road rides. The MRX Comp Twister MTB Shifters will follow you there with crisp, positive response.
The MRX Comp Shifters are indexed to shift three positions for gears, and also feature multiple locations allowing micro-adjustments for the front derailleur alignment.
These are easy to install following the installation instruction and integrated design upgrades in addition to material. The set comes with grips and long cables too. Overall, this is a good product in this price range.
Serious shifting performance for a recreational world
Index & Micro-adjust front shifter options
Compatible with Shimano rear derailleur, SRAM or Shimano front derailleur
The Deore XT M8000 would be the most favorable shifter you have ever used! The new XT Series components set a new standard for MTB excellence.
This 11-speed trigger shifter is a straightforward yet powerful refurbish. The Shimano XT M8000 11 Speed Trigger Shifter is ergonomically intended for prolonged enjoyment and convenience.
The Deore XT SL-M8000 shifters have been entirely re-designed. Now 20% less force is necessary to shift the chain. A more extended lever body offers you more leverage to work with ease of shifting.
They are comfortable and simple to install onto your bike. Shimano Deore XT M8000 will provide you robust and stable shifting while you are on the trail.
Shimano Deore XT M8000 offers efficient power transfer and highly responsive braking. Its rider-Tuned 11-speed gear combinations provide with superior performance, toughness, and reliability on the hardest trails.
These shifters are also suitable for full-suspension and big wheel mountain bikes. It has improved chain retention and more constant shifting of rear system.
The internal mechanism offers you consistently stable shifting that executes gear changes flawlessly every time. This is also attached to shift cable and housing with hyper low-friction coatings.
Aluminum material construction Shimano 11-speed MTB
20% lighter shift effort is required to shift the chain
Anti-slip texturing on levers
Front shifter compatible with 2×11 or 3×11-speed MTB drive-trains
Rear shifter compatible with Shimano 11-speed MTB drive-trains
I-SPEC II compatible
The shifting is excellent but is not as smooth as the previous model
The SRAM X3 7 Speed Trigger shifters are the ideal upgrade for 7-speed adapted bikes. It is an excellent value for light adventurers. The X3 offers the proven SRAM 2-lever trigger shifting execution at a more reasonable price point.
The SRAM X3 is featuring proven ergonomics and award-winning 1:1 Actuation. They only work with an SRAM rear derailleur. These are an excellent choice, and the install is straightforward.
They are very accurate, and the dual action makes shifting smooth and reliable. These shifters matched with an SRAM rear derailleur influence the bicycle to move awesome.
Shifting is exact and to a high degree speedy. The SRAM trigger shifting action is additionally simple to perform and does not experience the ill effects of unintentional movements like grip shifters.
The set also comes with cables and easy to read gear shifting indicator. However, this is an excellent deal for the price.
Easy to install
Includes cables, easy to read indicator
SRAM 2-lever trigger shifting performance
award-winning 1:1 Actuation
SRAM shifters work with SRAM rear derailleur
7 Speed Rear
Available in Black
A bit expensive compared to available similar versions
The X4 offers the proven SRAM 2-lever trigger shifting performance at a more affordable price point. SRAM X4 Trigger Shifters feature proven ergonomic design platform and award winning1:1 Actuation.
They fit perfectly with standard size handlebars with a diameter of 22.2mm. The X4 lineup shifter has set the standard for elementary level performance and value. This is an intelligent blend of performance for on-road or off-road purposes.
SRAM X4 Trigger Rear Mountain Bicycle Shifter is not the world’s best shifter, but for the price is quite good. SRAM X4 Trigger Rear Mountain Bicycle 7 Speed shifter works perfectly with the SRAM X4 derailleur.
They come with the cable so that you can run through the existing housing to the rear derailleur. It also features new easy to read gear indication. The front option is three speed, and the whole product is lightweight, weighs only 265 grams.
Compatible with SRAM 1:1 rear derailleur, SRAM, Shimano front derailleur
Easy to read gear indication
Ergonomic design platform
Weighs only 265 grams
Robust feeling mechanism and clear display panel
8 Speed Rear
Just the inner cable, no outer housing is on this product.
This is the highest value shifter in the Shimano ecosystem. With rider-tuned Shimano Rapidfire Plus SL-M670, you can ride how you like over any terrain.
The Shimano Rapidfire Plus SL-M670 offers intuitive gear combinations for optimal power delivery. No matter how rocky, or muddy the trail, you get the ultimate off-road stability. These shifters work perfectly with SLX Front or Rear derailleur.
The Shimano SLX M670 shifter comes in two unique mounting styles ISPEC mount and standard handlebar mount. ISPEC mount will attach to your Shimano disc brake levers.
This option offers less clutter on bike handlebar. It also allows the brake lever brackets to be placed inside of the shifters, which provides better control over shifting.
They also have the detachable shift indicators. Overall, they work perfect, are worth the money, and they work against the need for anything more expensive.
Light and easy Shifting operation
Compact Optical Gear Display
3x/2x mode converter
ISPEC mount and standard handlebar mount
Works perfectly with SLX Front or Rear derailleur
Average weight is 265g/pair
Similar options are available at this price range!
While picking a new set of MTB shifters, make sure to match them with the current transmission. As an 8-speed rear setup will require an 8-speed right shifter. It is recommended not to use different transmission parts from different manufacturers.
There are two main types of best mountain bike shifters: Trigger Shifters and Twist Shifters.
These types of shifters are also known as ‘Rapidfire’ shifters. These are positioned below the handlebar. You can use a thumb button to shift to larger sprockets and a small index-finger control ‘trigger’ to downshift.
Trigger shifters are the most popular choice among the MTB riders for the easy usability of the different gears.
Benefits of Trigger Shifters
Flexibility of mounting the shifter in multiple positions is the benefit of Trigger Shifters. These type of shifters can be positioned in several places on the handlebar, at different angles and also the triggers can be independently positioned. Trigger Shifters also have shifting indicators, but they are not familiar.
SRAM developed this type of shifters for MTBS. Twist grip shifters are similar to those used on motorbikes. They have also earned popularity among the commuters and MTB racers. But trigger shifters still dominate.
Benefits of Twist Shifters
Twist shifters have limited options in where they can be positioned. It is mounted on the handlebar so that you get various grip length options. This is a simple set up and has gear indicators to show what gear you are in that moment.
How to Choose the Best One
It mostly depends on your preferred group-set. The group-set of your maintain bike may limit your shifters option.
As Shimano only uses under-bar shifters in their latest mountain bike shifters while the SRAM uses both the Grip Shifters and Under-bar Shifters. And also keep in mind that, it is recommended not to mix different brand drive-trains even if they have same gear option.
Mountain Bike Shifters FAQs
What Are the Best Shifters for Mountain Bikes?
According to our Best Mountain Bike Shifters review, the following bike shifters are best yet.
Shimano Shifters SL-TX30 Tourney 3×7 Pair
SRAM MRX Comp Bicycle Twist Shifter
Sram MRX Comp Twister Mountain Bike Shifter
How Do I Choose the Bike Shifters?
Actually, choosing the bike shifters is very much depends on individual preference. We suggest you consider the size, compatibility, and smoothness of the shifter before go for a specific one.
Besides, a simple and reliable design of the shifters also helps to get more accurate and precise grain adjustments. Here are some factors that you can consider before purchasing to find which one is the right option for you-
Thumb or Twist Shifters
Friction or Indexed Shifters
When Should I Shift Gears on My Bike?
When you are just riding on hills or in the wind, you can shift to an easier gear. Especially on hills, shift your gear before the terrain changes. Besides, it is also recommended to shift into harder gears when you are on flats.
Shimano or Sram, Which is the Right Option for Your Bike?
As both Shimano and SRAM companies make high-quality bike shifters, most people cannot find much difference between them.
Usually, Shimano shifters pull cables at a 2:1 ratio, where SRAM will pull cables at a 1:1 ratio. Besides, Shimano shifters are comparatively comfortable to shift whereas, SRAM shifters seem to work better yet.
Thumb Shifters or Grip Twists, Which Tend to Be Preferable?
Choice between Thumb and Grip shifter is usually dependent on user preference. Generally, twist shifters are the most reliable and less expensive option, so many people feel happy to rely on them. In comparison, Thumb shifters are snappy and fast than twist shifters. So thumbs shifters are best suited for default racing bike setup.
Do Shifters and Derailleurs Have to Match?
As a general rule of thumb, riders shouldn’t use shifters with different derailleurs. The derailleur works differently in terms of pull that it needs to get from one gear to another. If your derailleur comes with a spring in or out feature, there is a chance of mismatching. As a result, your shifter won’t work correctly over the entire cog range.
Although some derailleurs work perfectly with all shifters, most don’t work. That’s why you need to ensure that the shifter’s indexed-positions number matches with the gear’s number that you intend to use. In short, your shifters and derailleurs should get matched.
Can You Change Shifters on a Bike?
Yes, you can replace your bike’s shifters. As you know, shifters let you control your bike’s gears. With time, they can wear out eventually. At this time, every biker should change their bike shifters. Replacing them is easy if you know the mechanical concepts and you have some basic hand tools. Below we will describe how you can change your MTB bike’s shifters.
First, you need to remove the grip using a knife. While removing, you need to pour water under the grip. Pour water and twist the grip periodically until you can remove the grip from the handlebar.
Shift the chain onto the front or rear gears. Then, use a hex key to unbolt the derailleur’s cable. If your shifter cable features a small crimp, you need to remove it, as well. Depending on your shifter type, you may have to unscrew some parts of your shifter, or you may need to push the shifter lever to access the other end of the cable.
After locating the shifter cable, you have to push it back through the shifter’s body. Now remove the entire cable from your bike carefully. At this point, unbolt the shifter with the hex key’s help and remove it from the handlebar. Also, remove brake levers if your bike features any.
Slide your new shifter onto your bike’s handlebar. Then, tighten it with the hex bolt. Push the shifter cable through the shifter and barrel adjuster. Then, take the cable into the cable housings toward the derailleur. Route the cable into the derailleur’s clamp, and then tighten the bolt.
Now, you should replace the crimp at the end of the cable. Finally, try to shift the derailleur; if it shifts all gears smoothly, you don’t have to adjust it further. And if it doesn’t work, you need to adjust the cable’s tightness to shift appropriately.
Lastly, install your brake levers and grips. You have successfully replaced your bike shifters.
Can You Change the Grip Shift to Trigger?
You can easily change the grip shift to trigger. For that, you should purchase high-quality cable and housing for your bike. Usually, derailleur cable comes in one size, and you can opt for any reputed bike-cable brand.
Then, you need to find out the derailleur type of your bike. After considering that, you should purchase your trigger. For instance, if your bike features a Sram derailleur, you need to use a Sram trigger. And if your Mountain Bike contains Shimano derailleurs, you need to go with Shimano triggers. Now you need to purchase the speed shifter considering the rear cassette speed. Finally, you should buy grips as your previous grips will look shorter after installing the trigger.
How Do You Clean Bike Shifters?
If you want your bike shifters to run for an extended period, you need to take good care of them. You should clean shifters after several outdoor rides. Here we will guide you on the best way to clean your bike shifters.
Start by removing the shifter’s hood. After that, you need to use an evaporative degreaser to remove the grit and dried up grease. After spraying, wait for a while to get the shifter internals loosened up. Now you should operate the shifter through the full range of gears. Again use the evaporative degreaser and repeat the shifting until it works perfectly.
Next, you need to lubricate the shifter. For that, try to use a light spray lube. While lubricating, you have to run the shifter through the full range again. Then, leave it as it is for an hour. Finally, apply a high-quality grease to shifter’s parts that you can reach. Now, reinstall your hood, and you are all set.
How Can I Improve My Bike Shifting?
You can improve your bike shifting following these mentioned below techniques:
If you notice that your bike’s gears are pretty slow to shift either up or down, it may indicate that your bike isn’t correctly indexed. Thus, to solve that, you need to use the barrel adjuster located on the rear derailleur’s back. You can turn it anti-clockwise to speed up the shifting. And to make shifting harder, you can turn it clockwise.
With time, your bike’s cable may wear out. As a result, it won’t make the rear derailleur respond as fast as you shift. Installing a new cable can solve this matter and improve your bike shifting.
This is one such method that many riders often apply on their bikes. They grease their bike cables; as a result, they experience speed shifting. Most MTB riders mainly do this when they are on a bike race, and they need to have fast shifting. So, you may apply this method to improve your bike shifting.
If it is the time to replace/upgrade the shifters of your mountain bike, go for the better option that suits your bike best. Before purchasing the product read the gear shifter reviews properly. If you are a pro, you already know what suits your MTB best.
Then find out the newly added features only. In this article, our experts tried to provide you the information and usability of the best MTB shifters available on the web. Hope, you found these reviews and the buying guide helpful while buying your necessary shifter.
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