ContentsQUICK ANSWER – THE BEST MOUNTAIN BIKE SHIFTERSMTB SHIFTERS REVIEWSSHIMANO XT SL-M780SHIMANO RAPIDFIRE PLUS SL-M670SRAM X.9 TRIGGERSSRAM X.9 TWISTSHIMANO ACERA SL-M310 RAPIDFIRESHIMANO TOURNEY REVOSHIFT SL-RS47SHIMANO SL-4600 TIAGRASUNRACE SLM10SHIMANO SHIFTERS SL-TX TOURNEYSRAM 3.0 COMP TWISTERCOMPARISON TABLE – THE BEST MOUNTAIN BIKE SHIFTERSHOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST MOUNTAIN BIKE SHIFTERSCOMPATIBILITY: SRAM OR SHIMANO?THUMB SHIFTERS OR GRIP TWISTS?THUMB SHIFTERSTWIST SHIFTERSFRICTION OR INDEXED?INDEXEDFRICTION SHIFTINGVIDEO – HOW DOES FRICTION SHIFTING WORK?RANGE OF GEARS Is your shifting smooth enough? Are you dropping your chain or having a hard time finding the right gears? Maybe you just want swifter, faster shifting? It might be time for an upgrade. The best mountain bike shifters work under pressure and won’t leave you in the wrong gear. You might rock simple bar-end twister shifters or the sportiest trigger-release levers. Either way, you want shifters that are reliable, lightweight and comfortable. Shifting is the most tactile aspect of biking, and smooth shifting makes a bike feel faster. Here at The Adventure Junkies, we make mountain biking easy by taking some of the mystery out of the gear selection. We’ve created this guide to help you evaluate mountain bike shifters for compatibility and riding style, helping you find the best gear for your ride. For more of out top mountain bike gear recommendations, check out these popular articles: Men’s Bikes | Women’s Bikes Pedals | Wheels | Tires | Brakes | Saddles Chains | Cranksets | Derailleurs | Gear Shifters Helmets | Lights | Computers | GPS | Pumps Shorts | Jackets | Shoes | Gloves CLICK HERE to Download our FREE Quick Starter Guide to Mountain Biking Photo by istockphoto.com/portfolio/mel-nikPhoto by istockphoto.com/portfolio/ziprashantzi QUICK ANSWER – THE BEST MOUNTAIN BIKE SHIFTERS Shimano XT SL-M780 Shimano Rapidfire Plus SL-M670 SRAM X.9 Triggers SRAM X.9 Twist Shimano Acera SL-M310 RapidFire Shimano Tourney RevoShift SL-RS47 Shimano SL-4600 Tiagra Sunrace SLM10 Shimano Shifters SL-TX30 Tourney Sram 3.0 Comp Twister MTB SHIFTERS REVIEWS SHIMANO XT SL-M780 Check out the latest price on: Amazon | Jenson USA BEST FOR: Fast, snappy riding on hard trails and cyclocross racing GEARING: 1×10 or 3×10 TRIGGER: Yes WEIGHT: 290 g PROS: Fast, easy install, smooth shifting CONS: Price, weight SHIMANO RAPIDFIRE PLUS SL-M670 Check out the latest price on: Amazon BEST FOR: Comfortable levers for flat-bar mountain biking GEARING: 1×10 or 3×10 TRIGGER: Yes WEIGHT: 298 g PROS: Ergonomics, speed, compatibility CONS: Weight SRAM X.9 TRIGGERS Check out the latest price on: Amazon | Jenson USA BEST FOR: Low-weight race shifting at high speeds GEARING: 1-3×10 TRIGGER: Yes WEIGHT: 220 g PROS: Weight, speed, quality, range of gears CONS: Durability SRAM X.9 TWIST Check out the latest price on: Amazon | Jenson USA BEST FOR: Bar-end shifters at race speed and performance GEARING: 1-3×10 TRIGGER: No WEIGHT: 195 g PROS: Weight, precision, speed, easy install CONS: None we could find SHIMANO ACERA SL-M310 RAPIDFIRE Check out the latest price on: Amazon BEST FOR: Fast-shifting on older gear ranges GEARING: 3×7/3×8 TRIGGER: Yes WEIGHT: 265 g PROS: Price, easy install CONS: None we could find SHIMANO TOURNEY REVOSHIFT SL-RS47 Check out the latest price on: Amazon BEST FOR: High performance grip shift for older rear derailleurs GEARING: 3×8/7/6 TRIGGER: No WEIGHT: 210 g PROS: Price, wide gear range, easy install CONS: None we could find SHIMANO SL-4600 TIAGRA Check out the latest price on: Amazon BEST FOR: Road-bikes converted to flat-bar cyclocross or gravel bike use GEARING: 2×10 TRIGGER: Yes WEIGHT: 297 g PROS: Quality, speed CONS: Price, weight, incompatible with mountain bike derailleurs SUNRACE SLM10 Check out the latest price on: Amazon BEST FOR: Old-school tactile friction shifting GEARING: 1-3×5-11 TRIGGER: No WEIGHT: 129 g PROS: Old school style, compatibility, price, weight CONS: Speed SHIMANO SHIFTERS SL-TX TOURNEY Check out the latest price on: Amazon BEST FOR: Inexpensive trigger-like shifters for triple chain-rings GEARING: 3×7 TRIGGER: No WEIGHT: 283 g PROS: Easy install, price CONS: Weight, hybrid twist/trigger SRAM 3.0 COMP TWISTER Check out the latest price on: Amazon | Jenson USA BEST FOR: High-end performance on budget bar-ends GEARING: 3×7-8 TRIGGER: No WEIGHT: 162 g PROS: Weight, quality, reliable, tactile CONS: Grip position can be uncomfortable COMPARISON TABLE – THE BEST MOUNTAIN BIKE SHIFTERS PICTUREMOUNTAIN BIKE SHIFTERBEST USETRIGGERWEIGHTPRICERATING PICTUREMOUNTAIN BIKE SHIFTERBEST USETRIGGERWEIGHTPRICERATING Shimano XT SL-M780OverallYes290.0g$$$$$4.8 Shimano Rapidfire Plus SL-M670OverallYes298.0g$$$4.6 SRAM X.9 TriggersOverallYes220.0g$$$$4.3 SRAM X.9 TwistOverallNo195.0g$$$$5.0 Shimano Acera SL-M310 RapidFireTriplesYes265.0g$$$4.4 Shimano Tourney RevoShift SL-RS47TriplesNo210.0g$$4.5 Shimano SL-4600 TiagraConversionsYes297.0g$$$$$4.6 Sunrace SLM10FrictionNo129.0g$4.5 Shimano Shifters SL-TX30 TourneyBudgetNo283.0g$$4.2 Sram 3.0 Comp Twister BudgetNo162.0g$$4.6 Gear up for mountain biking, without breaking the bankGet the Latest Deals on MTB GearSent right to your inbox...GEAR UP FOR MTB HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST MOUNTAIN BIKE SHIFTERS COMPATIBILITY: SRAM OR SHIMANO? The two main companies are SRAM and Shimano, and they differ in one major way. SRAM pulls the cables at a 1:1 ratio, and Shimano at a 2:1 ratio. In practice, it’s not that different, and you’ll probably never notice the switch. Shimano may feel slightly easier to shift, and SRAM may perform slightly better in inclement weather or mud. Diffen has a breakdown of differences between the two companies if you’re feeling uncertain. The biggest issue is compatibility; you want to make sure that whatever your derailleur is, you buy the same shifters. If you don’t have SRAM or Shimano, you’ll have to check the ratio used and then figure out what you can buy. Whatever you do, stick with the same ratio; don’t try to hack it to work. If your rear derailleur is made by Campagnolo, you have an extra set of headaches. The venerable Italian firm hasn’t made mountain bike components since the 90s, so you’ll need to consider replacing the whole drivetrain if you want new shifters. THUMB SHIFTERS OR GRIP TWISTS? The next issue is a preference once. Some are happy with simple “twist” shifters, which tend to be less expensive and fairly reliable. The bike handlebar grips turn in order to shift, similar to the shifters on most of our first bikes. THUMB SHIFTERS The step-up are triggers or twin levers; one lever goes up the gears, the other goes down. The levers usually “click” like a trigger, and provide a lot of tactile feedback. They feel fast and snappy compared to twist shifters, and are the default on any bike setup for racing or competition. TWIST SHIFTERS If you’re going for casual trail rides, the twisters are good enough; if you want to do sportier, jumpier riding or racing, you want triggers. If you have twister grips and are swapping them out for twin-lever triggers, you probably need new grips. See this guide to grips by fellow The Adventure Junkies writer Richard Bailey. FRICTION OR INDEXED? INDEXED Indexed shifting is more accurate and precise. When you press the button, the bike shifts to the next gear. You can shift better under load, too, partially because of the way the shifter works, and partially because of advances in cog manufacturing. If you need a primer on shifting technique, see Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer’s article on shifting for The Adventure Junkies. You probably will want to stick with indexed shifters unless you know you prefer friction shifters. If you do, you’re in luck; the improvements to modern cogs also benefit friction shifters, making them work even more reliably and snappier. FRICTION SHIFTING Friction shifting is largely disappearing from the market. Think 1970s road bikes with downtube shifters: That’s friction. You push the chain left and right, and feel when it’s in place. If you’re curious about friction shifting, you can learn more in this short video with a demo.  : VIDEO – HOW DOES FRICTION SHIFTING WORK? RANGE OF GEARS How many gears do you have? If you’re just upgrading the shifter, count your gears, and make sure the shifters accommodate them. Most of the sets we’ve recommended can be bought as singles, too, if you’re running a single chain ring in the front. If you’re making up your mind about gearing, Bikeradar has a detailed article on the pros and cons of various gear combinations. Look through their breakdown to determine what works best for you. MOUNTAIN BIKING RESOURCESTABLE OF CONTENTSMOUNTAIN BIKINGTABLE OF CONTENTS 1. MTB BASICS 4. MTB MAINTENANCE 2. MTB CLOTHING 5. MTB SKILLS 3. MTB EQUIPMENT 6. MTB TRAINING 1. MTB BASICS 2. MTB CLOTHING 3. MTB EQUIPMENT 4. MTB MAINTENANCE 5. MTB SKILLS 6. MTB TRAINING Disclosure: The Adventure Junkies is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost for you. We also use other affiliate programs like REI, LeisurePro, Diviac and Liveaboard.com.