Found it pretty tricky at first going back to DT levers I have to admit. I'd only ridden dt levers in the very early 90s and they were indexed. Never done any time with friction until now. Have to say that having done a few miles with them I quite like them now
Ok, off on a tangent as usual and plowing a furrow well worn by me but downtube shifters are the schnizzle and, bar racing, laugh at STIs.
Downtube shifters are an area of infinite subtlety in a machine controlled world. Want to chance gear? The subtlety of gently grasping the smoothly working lever, the finessing of the gear so that it is 'just so'. Against that the cold, harsh, brilliance of the STI, all cold efficiency and no soul. Think vinyl v CD. Think form AND function. Go the STI route and soon we'll be changing gear by thought alone. And then not even riding the bike. It is a slippery slope my friends, a slippery slope.
Also, in an increasingly comfortable, mollycoddled world, isn't the uncertainty of friction shifting somehow reassuring, even a little bit rock and roll (ok, so I argued above that friction shifting was superior and more subtle above but let's not place consistency of argument in the way of the flow). Don't conform, stick it to The Man, friction shift, it's what Che would have done.
And don't even get me on to the tyranny of compatability.
Ok, waffled on but to paraphrase Keith Bontrager - light, simple, robust, cheap, for downtube shifters pick all four.
Keeping it sundial