For anyone else at the el-cheapo end of the market and looking for an entry level road bike (~£600), I think you would be foolish (but this is only me) to get anything other than a bike with Microshift shifters. You can't even get Shimano Sora at this point, you are one down at their 2300 group (which is fundamentally the same thing though). Benefits of Microshift shifters:
- You can shift up/down in the drops
- You can shift up/down in the hoods
- You can shift down on the hoods "aero-style"
- Shift levers are independent of the brake lever
- They work great with big bulky gloves on
I do mostly ride in the drops, so being able to shift in the drops was a necessity if I was going to get a road bike. However, you can shift just as easily from the hoods as well. The only time I properly ride "on the hoods" is when I use them more as aero bars and place my hands over the "bumps" as opposed to actually in the intended hood position. When riding like this it is still possible to reach round with your pinky and shift down, this is because the down shift lever acts more like pressing a button, rather than swinging a lever. I've never liked the idea of the combined brake/shift lever - it just looks weird in action, plus I imagine there is scope for accidental shifting, especially with big gloves on. On that note, I was surprised how easy it is to shift with big gloves on (I have crap hands; already on three layers), but I guess that is because you have three separate levers that you can't confuse even when stabbing around with numb fingers. I reckon you could even shift these with mittens on - but when it's that cold I'll be on the fixed gear and snow tyres.