Published on January 12th, 2015 | by Brett

Rubber Side Down | Handlebar Clamp Adapters

Last month Luke posted a great article about contact points. He discussed the three parts of the bike you interact with: the grips, saddle, and pedals. Adding to that, there is the interaction of your hands with the shifters and other levers. Believe it or not, there are a lot of different mounting options for shifters, and expanding possibilities for dropper post buttons and shock or fork controls.

With so many controls to mount, manufacturers have tried to simplify it a bit by creating standards that allow mounting of multiple controls on the same clamp. This way there isn’t a separate clamp ring for your brake, shifter, dropper post button, and fork lockout.

SRAM’s first iteration of this clamp integration is called Matchmaker. Matchmaker replaces a portion of the brake lever clamp with a clamp that integrates a mounting tab. This mounting tab can then be used to affix you SRAM trigger shifters or PushLoc controls.


First Generation Matchmaker Adapters


Matchmaker X Clamps

SRAM has since improved upon Matchmaker with the release of Matchmaker X. With this newer design, the entire clamp is separate from the brake, allowing the whole system to be more modular. While older Matchmaker brakes are not compatible with the new standard, the trigger shifters will mount to either style clamp. Trigger shifter clamps have two mounting holes that allow for different reach to the lever so you can build your system to fit you.

The latest RockShox Reverb dropper post levers integrate the Matchmaker X clamp, allowing for your Avid or SRAM brakes and trigger shifters to mount directly.

Other manufacturers have adopted matchmaker clamping as well. Hope makes a Matchmaker adapter for their brakes, allowing for the mounting of SRAM trigger shifters to Hope brakes.

Specialized designed their new SLR dropper lever to be Matchmaker compatible, it takes the place of your front shifter, an ideal setup for 1x drivetrains. But if you don’t feel like shelling out $60 for this simple lever, convert a SRAM front shifter with Matchmaker into a dropper lever. Daniel will show you how with this DIY video.

The other big standard is Shimano’s I-Spec. I-Spec has seen three iterations of the standard; I-Spec A, I-Spec B, and now I-Spec II introduced with XTR 9000 groups. The latest adds a lot more flexibility in positioning of the controls relative to each other, however it will be some time before Shimano moves over all of their components to the new standard. For now we will just have to live with some frustrating incompatibilities.

There hasn’t been as much industry support for I-Spec like there has been with Matchmaker so you won’t see companies like Hope and Specialized introducing I-Spec compatible components, especially since I-spec III will probably be introduced later this month *sarcasm.

Shimano Chart

Shimano’s Cryptic Compatibility Chart and Required Hardware

On the bright side, companies like Problem Solvers have introduced brackets to bridge the gap between the two rival factions. Problem Solvers MisMatch Adapters allow I-Spec B brakes to be used with Matchmaker shifters or Matchmaker brakes with I-Spec B shifters.


Problem Solver MisMatch Adapter

Art’s Cyclery Buyer, Jerald, has a clean cockpit design with his Avid Elixir Matchmaker Compatible brakes. On the right he shares a single clamp with his brakes, a PushLoc fork remote, and a Shimano Saint shifter with a Problem Solver MisMatch. On the left his Elixir shares a clamp with a Specialized SLR Dropper Lever.

Jerald's Setup

Left: Specialized SLR Dropper Lever. Right: Shimano Saint w/ Problem Solvers MisMatch and an Avid PushLoc Remote.

This ultimate compatibility guide will help identify what it will take to simplify your cockpit. With some prior planning, you can clean up your cockpit, free up some bar space, and get your shifters positioned right where you need them for optimal trail shredding.

Matchmaker Brakes
Matchmaker X Brakes
I-Spec A Brakes
I-Spec B Brakes
I-Spec II Brakes
Matchmaker Shifters
MisMatch 1.0
MisMatch 1.1
Not Compatible
I-Spec A Shifters
MisMatch 2.0
MisMatch 2.0
Not Compatible
Not Compatible
I-Spec B Shifters
MisMatch 2.1
MisMatch 2.1
Not Compatible
I-Spec II Shifters
Not Compatible
Not Compatible
Not Compatible
Not Compatible

Rubber Side Down is a weekly column dedicated to the fledgling cyclist in all of us. Art’s Cyclery Web Content Editor, Brett Murphy is not a professional cyclist, and doesn’t try to masquerade as one either, but he does love to ride bikes. Whether you are clipping in for the first time or counting down the days until your first race, read on, learn from his mistakes, and keep the rubber side down.

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About the Author

Murphy grew up in Idaho where he discovered the addictive nature of riding mountain bikes, only to travel out to California to study mechanical engineering and find out that riding skinny tires was just as habit-forming. Now he splits the time between the two with an equal-opportunity mileage policy.

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