Oh My God! My Grandfather had those!


Gevenalle shifters, initially introduced as Retroshift, evoke a sense of nostalgia with the term “retro.” However, despite the nostalgic connotations, the Gevenalle shifting system is anything but outdated. While paddle shifters and STI-style shifters may offer comfort and aesthetics, they struggle to match the Gevenalle system in terms of shifting speed, indexing performance, compatibility, lightweight design, and durability.

In a practical comparison, shifting across the entire gear range on two 11-speed cassettes—one equipped with a GRX 600 groupset and the other with a Gevenalle shifter and BURD rear derailleur—I found that the Gevenalle system allowed me to sweep the chain across the cassette 3 to 4 times faster than the GRX paddle-shifter setup. The Gevenalle shifter enables a seamless sweep across the entire cassette, while paddle shifters require multiple independent actions to achieve the same result. Additionally, I noticed a tendency to hunt for gears more with paddle shifters, often overshifting and then correcting. With regular use of the Gevenalle system, this issue diminishes, and precision in gear selection improves.

While delving into discussions about gearing and 1X vs. double and triple chainring systems is beyond the scope of this article, it’s essential to acknowledge that each has its place depending on the type of cycling. Gevenalle’s single motion shifter provides faster and more serviceable shifting at a lower weight, regardless of the chainring combinations and gear ratios.

Young man looking back while relaxing on Mattis gravel bike in nature

For road and gravel rides, where endurance and optimal cadence are crucial, Gevenalle offers advantages with small increments between gears. This allows riders to find a comfortable power output without excessive fatigue. Smaller rear cassettes and two chainrings, made possible by Gevenalle (depending on frame compatibility), maintain control without sacrificing fast shifting. In contrast, larger cassettes, common in 1X systems, have larger gear increments, necessitate longer chains, and may reduce efficiency.

Shifter compatibility is also a crucial consideration. While modern indexed shifters may pose challenges due to varying standards, Gevenalle’s multiple pull ratios accommodate diverse needs. Friction shifters, not indexed, offer compatibility with any pull ratio, albeit requiring manual adjustment by the rider.

One drawback of the Gevenalle style is the inability to shift from the drop portion of the handlebar; hands must be on the hoods. However, considering how often one shifts from the drops, this limitation may be negligible. Public opinion on Gevenalle shifters varies, with some expressing enthusiasm and others exhibiting an allergic reaction. Regardless of personal preference, it’s important to recognize that the appeal of these shifters extends beyond mere romanticism.

Sky blue Mattis gravel bike leaning against red wall in Copenhagen
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