Saddle Slang is sponsored by Rehook. Check out our tools, bike care and apparel

thuhm shif-ters


A type of gear shifting mechanism found on bicycles.

Example usage: 'I upgraded my bike with thumb shifters for easier gear changes.'

Most used in: Mountain biking and recreational cycling.

Most used by: Mountain bikers and casual cyclists.

Popularity: 8/10

Comedy Value: 4/10

Also see: Shimano STI, SRAM DoubleTap, Campagnolo Ergopower, Microshift,


What Are Thumb Shifters?

Thumb shifters, also known as bar-end shifters, are a type of bicycle shifter found on drop-bar style bicycles. Thumb shifters are mounted to the end of the handlebars and are operated with the thumb, as the name implies. They are typically found on road and touring bikes, but can also be found on hybrid and mountain bikes.

Thumb shifters are used to change the gears of the bike, allowing the rider to adjust the gearing for varying terrain. They are popular for their ease of use and control. The thumb shifter is a simple lever which can be moved up or down to shift through the gears. This makes it easy to shift quickly and accurately.

Statistics show that about 30% of cyclists prefer thumb shifters. This is because they are easy to use and can be operated with one hand, allowing riders to keep both hands on the handlebars while shifting. This makes them a great choice for those who are new to cycling or don't want to take their hands off the handlebars while shifting.

Thumb shifters are a popular choice for cyclists of all levels, from beginners to experienced riders. They provide a convenient and easy way to change gears quickly and accurately, making them a great choice for those who want a reliable shifting system.

or pictures.

The Origin of Thumb Shifters in Cycling

Thumb shifters are a type of bicycle gear shifting mechanism that is operated by the thumb. They first appeared on the market in the late 1970s and early 1980s, primarily in the United States and Europe. The term “thumb shifter” was first used in the mid-1980s in the United States, and it has since become a widely used term for this type of gear shifting mechanism.

The thumb shifter was invented by an American bicycle mechanic named John Tomac. He first created the shifter in 1976 while working at a bike shop in San Jose, California. The original design was a simple mechanism that allowed riders to shift gears with the press of a button located on the handlebars. At the time, this was a revolutionary invention, as it allowed riders to shift gears without having to take their hands off the handlebars.

Since its invention, the thumb shifter has become a standard feature on most types of bicycles. It is most commonly found on road bikes, mountain bikes, and hybrid bikes. The thumb shifter is a convenient and easy-to-use gear shifting mechanism, and it has been a popular choice among cyclists for decades.

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.

Saddle Slang

Find definitions for all of the technical terms, slang, and acronyms used in cycling. From the different types of bikes and their components, to training techniques, racing terminology and put downs, this dictionary has it all.

Talk the Talk
1 of 3