Tim, speaking for myself, I like downtube shifters for a variety of reasons. I 
like the feel of skinny bars with no cables underneath (i use non aero levers 
as well), and as you say, the cockpit is simplified. The cables also end up 
shorter, and are running through little to no housing. I don't really care 
about the minor weight savings, but that benefit is there as well. I like that 
they encourage thinking about my shifting, and not constantly shifting to find 
time my cadence (adjusting my cadence more). Some people might find that a con. 
It does provide a nice reason to take your hands off the bars.

They are less convenient on trails or very rough surfaces, since you have to 
have hand leave the bars. Another situation they are less ideal is coming down 
a steep hill where you need to stop at the bottom. You have to think in advance 
about how to both brake heavily and dump a bunch of years so you can get 
started again. I usually try to downshift a bunch of years right before I 
brake. Obviously, these conditions are somewhat easier with barends or 
integrated levers.

The downsides don't bother me for occasional trail use, but in a bike that saw 
a lot of it, I'd personally use barends. I bought a set of the Silver barend 
shifters, just using the levers on my downtubes, but having the barend pods on 
hand if I ever want to switch.housing

I'm not sure I would recommend downtime shifters to anyone who didn't grow up 
with them, but like I said, getting the barend kit from Rivendell allows you to 
try it both ways.


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