Inexpensive friction shift lever for any speed gearing

Sue Knaup founded One Street years ago to promote bike riding for all kinds of people around the world. She’s long been frustrated with the high cost that comes from the complexity of modern bike components, and has worked to source and popularize lower cost components that have the needed durability to survive the rugged conditions that utilitarian cyclists often encounter.

Among her latest projects: a universal, low-cost friction shifter made from six parts. The shifter can be made or repaired even with cast offs and discards.

Knaup’s goal isn’t to make a zillion gidgets for us to ooh and ahh about, but to make the components available for anybody around the world to manufacture these usable shifters. She believes these shifters can be manufactured and assembled for as little as a dollar each.

Low cost shifters are available, but Knaup notes that “friction shifters available today only last a few months of daily, hard use and cannot be repaired.” They’re essentially use for a few months of heavy use and discard. She points out the plastic components and riveted clamps break easily and don’t lend themselves to repair. She’s also reminds us of the reality that most people invert their bikes for repair, which often results in damaged shift levers.

The shifters made from these molds will hold up to daily, hard use. If any part does wear out or break, they can be easily repaired by the owner without having to bring their bike to a shop.

There’s a little over one week and $3,000 left to go on this Kickstarter campaign. Check it out.


  1. Sue totally doesn’t get capitalism, she’ll make a lot of people happy with these and save them a fortune. Good on her

  2. Except*

    BTW, WordPress comments are awful compared to disqus. Can’t edit, can’t subscribe without getting into my email. Blarg.

  3. Andy, the point isn’t to get these to you, but to kickstart her project to get these to people who need them. You’ve got STI; they’ve got a broken friction shifter and a bike stuck in an extreme gear.

  4. Andy – I would be very impressed if they last half of 50,000km, being made mostly from plastic. Also at $100 for a lifetime is a good deal – anything that can break can be replaced with parts. I can’t say that for my Shimano STIs which are slowing falling to bits.

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