I haven't done any long rides with 'em yet, just neighborhood test rides, but early indications are: I like 'em.
You'll see in the picture below: the handlebar controls are basically the levers from downtube or bar-end shifters mounted outboard of the brake levers (as opposed to the shifting levers being inside the brake levers on virtually every other brifter system, including Campagnolo, Microshift, Shimano, and SRAM). The brake levers are from Tektro (the branding is still on the hoods), and I suspect the levers are Shimano, re-branded with the Gevenalle name.
(That is NOT my bike. No camo-tape for me...)
The set is marketed for cyclocross. It's hard to shift from the drops (the lower part of a drop handlebar), but I'm led to understand there's little of that in 'cross racing. And, since there's a LOT of mud and abuse in 'cross racing, they're built with durability in mind. (In fact, the associated derailleurs are labeled BURD: Blatantly Upgraded/Re-branded Derailleurs, and they're beefed-up versions of, I think, Microshift derailleurs: the chain cage on the front derailleur, for example, is steel rather than aluminum.)
What do I like?
- They're REALLY easy to work with. The derailleurs came with one instruction sheet that had the front installation instructions on one side, and the rear on the other. The controls came with no instructions at all, and even with my limited experience, I found I didn't need 'em.
- Everything is out in the open (more about this later). I had to adjust the angle of my handlebar, which meant I needed to change the front brake housing, and I could do that with minimal disassembly.
- Because the shift levers are outboard of the brake levers, there's some forgiveness in the brake adjustment. SRAM, for example, allows you to move the brake lever back a bit for riders with smaller hands. But with the shifter lever back there, the possibility exists of the shift lever hitting the handlebar before the brake engages. It's just not a problem with this setup. (Also, the Tektro levers engage with much less travel than my SRAM setup did.)
- It's easy to shift multiple gears at a time. On a recent covered bridge ride, I noticed that the covered bridges always seem to be at the bottom of a downhill, followed quickly by an uphill (well, it's a BRIDGE, dumbass; it's over a creek or something, and you don't find those at the TOP of the hill!). So go through the bridge, and downshift like crazy. Piece of cake on these guys.
- It may just be a factor of how new these guys are, but there aren't multiple levels of systems. All four of the manufacturers I mentioned in the third paragraph have “entry level”, “mid level”, and “high end” systems. Gevenalle has one system. And I got it, through a retailer, for less than $325.
- Front derailleur is friction shift; rear is friction/index selectable (you need a 4mm hex wrench to change). The indexed rear shifting, once set up, is as crisp as a new potato chip. Yummy.
- Because the rear is friction/index selectable, if I went crazy and wanted to run a nine-speed gearset on the rear (for example, if a ride were coming up and my normal ten-speed wheel was out-of-service), I could. I doubt I would, but flexibility is always a plus with me.
- I'll BET that, if I wanted to, that I could remove the levers and replace 'em. If the day came when my ten-speed cassette was no longer available, and only eleven-speeds were, I'll bet I could just change the lever and go.
What you won't like:
- Nobody else has 'em. (This is actually another reason I DO like 'em; I like bike-y weirdness.)
- No racers you've ever heard of use 'em.
- The shift cables are exposed, not “aero” under the tape, like most other systems.
Nonetheless, for a guy like me (old enough to collect Social Security, goes in for social riding rather than fast, does most of his own maintenance), they're just the ticket.