You might think of this Kickstarter campaign as the anti-Di2/EPS.  It is a bare-bones essential shift lever made of six primitive pieces (like a bottle cap) intended to keep bicycles (and the people riding bicycles) functioning and on the road all over the world.

Jump past the break for more details and video on the sheer simplicity and the worthy advocacy angle of the One Street shift lever.

Launched by Sue Knaup, welder and executive director of the international bicycle advocacy organization One Street, the intent is summed up in the Kickstarter title: “Bike Shift Lever for Anybody, by Anybody”. Realizing that people riding all over the world for transportation, hauling goods, and carrying children were faced with two equally bad options when shifters break–needlessly complex and expensive or very low quality crap–Sue set out to make an affordable, dependable shift lever. The cool parts about the One Street levers are their simplicity and symmetry (can operate front or rear derailleurs on all bikes and gear ranges) and their reproducible design (can be made with a primitive casting method using a flower pot, household charcoal, and scrap aluminum). The functional use of a bottle cap-as-washer adds personalization possibilities. SRAM it ain’t – but that’s the point.

There’s a whole world of non-enthusiasts out there who just want working bikes. There’s also a lot of people needing ultra-inexpensive transportation and a rather large supply of bikes thrown away or cast off due to poor or inoperable shifters. One Street hopes to help bridge that gap with these levers. Check out One Street’s Kickstarter page for more information.


  1. How is this better than shipping a boatload of Sunrace friction shifters wherever they are needed…?

    I just don’t get this project…

  2. Nice work Sue! Good luck with your Kickstarter and please keep the community up to speed on your success. Your design could (seemly) be manufactured for just pennies, and I think that’ll help spread good-working bikes to people who could really use them.

  3. Love it.

    Make 2 cast parts out of regrind plastic instead…there’s lots of plastic already in the world…let’s recycle it. Use 3D printer. Make a lower friction part to give lighter feel on the lever throw.

  4. I like the idea of it for inexpensive working bikes. My one issue with it would be friction. It would seem that you’d be fiddling with the balance between ease of pushing/pulling lever vs wear on the aluminum, and potentially unintentional shifts due to spring tension.

  5. i dont get it. Where is the retro grouch to tell me why i need this?
    If anything i wish it was with SRAM and world bike relief. Cool idea but why does it cover the grip so you cant grab the bar as well?

    I do have an answer why shifters are complicated, we expect them to work everything, and feel like new for as long as possible.

  6. You can already buy a pair of Falcon friction shifters for about $13. If that’s too expensive, then you should probably be riding a single speed. I mean, I like the thinking and the initiative, but in the end it just doesn’t make much sense.

  7. I agree that there are other shifters that fill the same niche. I also say that shooting someone down who’s doing something herself, creating something which has its own functional flavor is great. Cheers to Sue and her colleagues.

  8. I have a hard time trying to explain customer how friction lever are working… Its ”hard” for them to understand that they manage to place the chain correctly on the sprocket by themself (with the lever). They think that their gear doesn’t work correctly so they just don’t use it… So will be more interesting to have a indexed gear lever. Freewheel is cheap, 6 spd is cheap. Otherwise go with a singlespeed.

  9. Put this on a bamboo bike with a wheels made of water buffalo crap and chains made of hemp rope and you have the perfect [deleted] enviro kickstarter wet dream.

    Why is it liberal do gooders allways dream of some lifestyle like Fred Flintstone would have lived is somehow better than the cool and uber functional life that we now live? Friction shifters are already the cheapest POS available and I am certain there are bike shops all over the world with crates of them just waiting to get repurposed.


  10. Thanks for all the interest in this project! I posted several FAQ answers on the Kickstarter page today (scroll to the bottom), which should answer most of these concerns.

  11. @chase- Probably none of the bike nerds here would actually use such a shifter, so you’re safe from other people you haven’t met being different from you.

  12. @chasejj speak the truth brother. If they could upcycle toothbrush bristles into shift cables they would. Go take the money for developments on your product and give it to a homeless guy to buy a 1/5th, at least one person will be happy.

  13. Gears are helpful. This shifter is a fine idea which deserves consideration. AND I hope the crates of frictionable shifters get utilized, too. AND singlespeeds are fun and useful, when they are fun and useful.

    If toothbrush bristles were able to be “upcycled” into shift cables, it were the best highest use of old toothbrushes and why not? What a coup that would be.

    Haters: buy this year’s version of new product X (because it’s new/better) and tip your mechanic a 1/5th as they put it on for you to use for a season. At least one of you will be happy.

    Do you guys even ride bikes?

  14. Psi Squared- I am shocked you self identified with my rant. But you know I wrote that bit for you right?

    I love BR as it provides such a visible forum to hammer on the most annoying and lamest factions of the sport, the delusional eco geeks.

  15. As always nice to see that everyone didn’t bother to actually read the post and its links before commenting. Otherwise they might realise it’s a not for profit trying to fundraise for bike advocacy and support for those in the third world where their bike is their sole transport, means of income, education etc rather than a coffee shop promenade of whose $13k bike is more aero.

    Dollars per kilometre is what counts for this product and what makes it such a nice change from most of the disposable junk that is produced in all levels of cycling.

    Best of luck and more power to you Sue and co!!

  16. Alternatively Sunrace/Pyramid/Falcon etc makes these for ~$5. Then there’s the venerable Paul’s and XT’s. I’m not sure why “primitive” cycles are a good thing. It’s a solution looking for a problem?

  17. This would be an excellent piece if equipment for bikes used in poor and developing countries. Check out Bicycles For Humanity – they send boat loads of bikes over to African countries for health workers, teachers, students, etc to use to make life easier and more productive. The bikes sent over are no longer ridden bikes from people in your neighbourhood – most bikes with gears! This would be an excellent(and cheap) fix. Those parts can be found anywhere!

    Haters: stop criticizing EVERY idea that gets brought forward and try using your own brain to make the world a better place. It’s easy to judge, and for many to be downright rude, it’s more difficult to be supportive and use your coconut.

  18. Some things are nice just because they look cool, they don’t have to make a new niche for themselves. I wish my life was cool and uber functional, but I’ll settle for how it is now, with all the contrived primitivity I enjoy in my free time.

  19. She has tried to simplify the simplest and cheapest part of any multi-speed bike. Come up with a simple derailleur and it would be far more useful.

    Also, casting aluminum from scrap is anything but easy or straightforward. Most scrap aluminum isn’t suitable for casting and won’t work.

    I agree with the delusional eco geek title.

  20. Wow, I knew BR commentators usually had their heads up their a$$es, but this really takes the cake. Has anybody reading BR tried to ship cycling product to Africa? To other developing countries? Do you realize that, if you’re reading BR, this product is not intended for you? Finally, you do realize that there are groups of cyclists out there who are not like you, and products for whom those cyclists are the target market. Reporting on those products does not mean that you need to buy those products nor do they exist to insult your chosen cycling lifestyle.

  21. These shifters aren’t meant to replace your cramp and go slow super record grupo. These are meant for the people who need them. I help run a non profit bike co op that primarily works with the homeless community. These would be great because they are repairable and made out of materials that will last.

  22. I had no idea that shifters were stopping people from riding bikes in Africa. I can not tell you how many times I have had homeless people come in to my shop and the bikes are in PERFECT shape except for the crappy cheap plastic shifters. What are shimano and sram THINKING by putting all of those stupid pointless parts that do nothing in their shifters.

  23. So someone is just going to use there CNC milling lathe to produce it and work for 83 cents an hour? If the shifter is to be dirt cheap? Or is this product being manufactured over seas in China and then assembled in the US? Still a Kool piece, but if its cost and simplicity Shimano are already on top of it.

  24. After visiting the Kickstarter page and reading for twenty seconds I grasped the reasons for this shifter. I don’t understand why so many people are having trouble with it. Best of luck to Sue.

  25. Cut and paste from the Kickstarter page:
    Aren’t simple, affordable friction shifters available to buy?
    The friction shifters available today only last a few months of daily, hard use and cannot be repaired. The organizations we work with all over the world either set bikes aside or are stuck with using these cheap shifters, which forces the people they work with to bring their bikes in too often to have yet another pair installed.
    If you have a pair of these cheapo friction shift levers with you, note:
    • the housing hole is plastic—it breaks easily;
    • the clamp is riveted—the rivet wears out causing the shifter to spin instead of shift; and
    • the cheap metal of the lever breaks easily, usually when the bike is turned upside down for repair.
    • Also, take one apart and you will find many strange and unusual parts that prevent repair.

    If you can’t understand this, you are subhuman.

  26. So I read the kickstarter. Not terribly philanthropic to charge a license fee or for a manual. That will certainly help out the less fortunate.

  27. @ABW
    Do you realize that derailleurs and steel cables are truely rare commodities in the developing countries?

    What good is a shifter without the rest of the drivetrain? Please explain.

  28. While I applaud the effort and the motive behind this shifter, I can’t agree with the premise that mass produced shifters are crap. Like modern cars, production values are pretty dependable over a reasonable life-span. I’ve never had a shifter mechanism break on me in a lifetime of riding. That aside, it looks like a great product if it turns out to be compatible with existing derailleurs.

What do you think?