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Rich Olsen decided to go for a long bike ride from Seattle to Portland in a couple of weeks, but he needed some replacement parts for his bike. Instead of going down to the local bike shop, Rich thought it would be a great idea to print his own. Initially he considered making a 3D printed belt-drive, but eventually decided to create a gear shifter.

Apparently Rich’s shifter isn’t the usual clicking shifter and is a friction based one instead. This means that it is more tolerant of slight misalignments that could be caused by the 3D printer.

“A slightly bent derailer or worn cables / housings will cause an index shifter to miss shifts (resulting in that click that won’t go away). A friction shifter is much more tolerant of minor problems like these. This is why shifters on touring bikes have a friction mode.

My bike is a 1×7 (no front derailer) – so it’s been pretty well tested at 7 speeds. This shifter should work for front and/or rear derailers – and pretty much any number of cogs.”

It took Rich around an hour and a half to print the shifter on a Makerbot Replicator 2 in black PLA and he used off-the-shelf hardware to mount it onto his bike. The shifter seems to be holding up fairly well, seeing as Rich has already put over 150 miles onto the shifter design. The latest version has travelled about 80 miles with a few signs of wear.

The file for the gear shifter is up on Rich’s Thingiverse page.