Short Name:FrictionYear Introduced:
Speed Range:Indexed Component:N/A
General Information
The simple elegance of pure friction shifting.  Sometimes there is nothing quite as perfect as leaving the shifting of a bicycle up to the rider and the rider alone.  Since the early days of Tullio Campagnolo up through the mid 1970's it was THE way that nearly all multi gear bicycles were shifted.  A simple lever shifter wraps cable which pulls on a spring loaded rear derailleur to down shift, pushing the lever the opposite direction to allow the spring to release will allow the chain to up shift on the rear cogs. 
Shifter Information

Friction shifters come in one of two basic designs.  One is a smooth pure friction shifter, the other is commonly referred to as a Retro-Friction or ratcheting design.  Pure friction shifters utilize a set of flat pressure disks that slide smoothly against one another as the shifter is operated.  These disks are under enough pressure that the strength of the rear derailleur's spring alone is not enough to move it.  Friction shifters are known to loosen up slowly during use, and sometimes when paired with frames that are particularly flexy the flex of the bottom bracket can cause the shifter to slowly loose its position.  Retro-Friction shifters operate in a similar way to pure friction shifters as there is no distinct positions per shift, however they do have a ratcheting feel when operated in one (or sometimes both) directions.  These ratchet designs allowed for a lighter feel when shifting in the direction of the ratchet since you typically only feel the resistance of the derailleur spring instead of both the spring in addition to the friction of the shifter's disks.

It is important to note that nearly all index style shifters (not including integrated shift-braking levers) included a Friction mode of some sort.  It was not till later Campagnolo Syncro II shifters and the introduction of STI / Ergo shifting systems that a pure friction mode was abandoned on shifters.

Derailleur Information
Nearly all parallegram style derailleurs can be used in a friction shifting system, from the very earliest Simplex designs up through the newest Shimano and Campagnolo carbon pieces can move smoothly through out their range of motion when paired with a friction shifter.  The derailleur simply moves the amount determined by the movement of a shifter, it is the shifter that is "indexed".  There are a few exceptions to this general rule, specifically the Shimano AX series of derailleurs, the Shimano Positron shifters and a few others which have the index mechanism built into the derailleur instead of the shifter. 
Shifting System Component Variations
NameCategoryGearingYear Introduced
    Notes: Pure friction shifters operate with a smooth movement throughout the gear range
    Notes: Retro friction shifters: also known as ratcheting shifters.
FrictionRear DerailleursN/AN/A
    Notes: Nearly all rear derailleurs can be used as a friction shifter, however excepts do exist.
Component List
Unlike Indexed systems, friction shifting does not supply any physical feedback on where each shifting point is. It is up to the cyclist to fine tune the rear derailleur position for reach shift. Most rear derailleurs are compatible with a friction shifting setup as in the majority of shifting systems it is the shifter that contains the index shifting logic. Likewise, many indexed shifters (not including integrated Ergo and STI systems) provide a friction shifting mode in addition to the index mode.
Part TypeCountPart TypeCount
All Brands
All Friction Shifters245All Friction Derailleurs480
All Retro-Friction Shifters40
List By Brand
Altenburger Friction Derailleurs 1
Belleri Friction Derailleurs 1
Cambio Rino Friction Shifters 2Cambio Rino Friction Derailleurs 3
Campagnolo Friction Shifters 35Campagnolo Friction Derailleurs 81
Campagnolo Retro-Friction Shifters 2
Cervino Friction Derailleurs 1
Cross Friction Derailleurs 1
Cyclo Friction Shifters 3Cyclo Friction Derailleurs 7
Cyclo Gear Company Friction Shifters 1Cyclo Gear Company Friction Derailleurs 5
DNB Friction Shifters 2DNB Friction Derailleurs 2
Edco Friction Derailleurs 1
Etablissements Lionard et Deprat Friction Derailleurs 1
Favorit Friction Shifters 6Favorit Friction Derailleurs 2
Fichtel & Sachs Friction Shifters 1
FiR Friction Derailleurs 1
Galli Friction Shifters 4Galli Friction Derailleurs 4
Galli Retro-Friction Shifters 1
Gian Robert Friction Shifters 5Gian Robert Friction Derailleurs 3
Gipiemme Friction Shifters 5Gipiemme Friction Derailleurs 4
Gipiemme Retro-Friction Shifters 2
Guzzardi Friction Derailleurs 1
Huret Friction Shifters 9Huret Friction Derailleurs 27
Huret Retro-Friction Shifters 3
ICS Friction Shifters 2ICS Friction Derailleurs 2
Ihaga Friction Derailleurs 1
Importadora de Bicicletas e Acessorios Friction Shifters 1
J.I.C. Friction Derailleurs 1
Kharkov Friction Shifters 2Kharkov Friction Derailleurs 2
L`AS Friction Derailleurs 2
Lambert Friction Shifters 1
Le Lautaret Friction Shifters 1Le Lautaret Friction Derailleurs 2
Lewis Friction Derailleurs 1
Mari & Mainardi Friction Derailleurs 1
Mavic Friction Shifters 1Mavic Friction Derailleurs 10
Miche Friction Shifters 1Miche Friction Derailleurs 1
Modolo Friction Shifters 1
Nivex Friction Derailleurs 1
Ofmega Friction Shifters 3Ofmega Friction Derailleurs 5
Paul Components Friction Derailleurs 1
Precision Billet Friction Derailleurs 2
Regina Friction Shifters 1Regina Friction Derailleurs 3
Resilion Friction Derailleurs 1
Roto Friction Shifters 2Roto Friction Derailleurs 2
Saavedra Friction Derailleurs 1
Sachs Friction Shifters 1Sachs Friction Derailleurs 5
Sachs Huret Friction Shifters 5Sachs Huret Friction Derailleurs 17
Sachs Huret Retro-Friction Shifters 3
Sankosha Friction Shifters 1Sankosha Friction Derailleurs 4
Sartel Friction Derailleurs 1
Schwinn Friction Shifters 1Schwinn Friction Derailleurs 3
Shimano Friction Shifters 65Shimano Friction Derailleurs 86
Shimano Retro-Friction Shifters 5
Simplex Friction Shifters 19Simplex Friction Derailleurs 53
Simplex Retro-Friction Shifters 11
Siroco Friction Derailleurs 1
Spidel Friction Derailleurs 4
Spirax Friction Shifters 1Spirax Friction Derailleurs 1
Sturmey Archer Friction Shifters 2
Sugino Friction Derailleurs 1
SunTour Friction Shifters 47SunTour Friction Derailleurs 87
SunTour Retro-Friction Shifters 11
Sup Jam Friction Shifters 1
Super Champion (Derailleurs) Friction Shifters 3Super Champion (Derailleurs) Friction Derailleurs 5
TARF Friction Derailleurs 1
Tectoron Friction Derailleurs 1
Triplex Friction Shifters 4Triplex Friction Derailleurs 4
Trivelox Friction Derailleurs 1
Tximista Friction Derailleurs 2
Valor Friction Derailleurs 1
Versol Friction Derailleurs 1
Vittoria Friction Shifters 1
Walter Friction Derailleurs 1
White Industries Friction Derailleurs 1
Xhanti Friction Derailleurs 1
Zeus Friction Shifters 5Zeus Friction Derailleurs 13
Zeus Retro-Friction Shifters 1
ZZR-Romet Retro-Friction Shifters 1
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