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Can someone please help me understand something more clearly, because I'm a bit confused (or at least believe I am).

I have a set of the newer Shimano XT brakes, with i-spec compatible clamps. They're the newer 2013 (B) model. I'm looking at adding Shimano Rapidfire shifters soon. I understand I have two options that I could go with on the shifters: 1) Get the i-spec compatible, bolt on version, where the shifter bolts right to the brake housing clamp, or 2) Get the standard shifter version, which has its own clamp that bolts directly to the handlebar, just like the brake does.

From what I can find of information on the Shimano web site, digging around for more information on the web, and looking at various online pictures of each type of set-up, it looks to me like if I go with the i-spec bolt-on version of the Rapidfire shifters, I do not get the option of having shifters that have optical gear housing windows/display. If I get the standard Rapidfire shifters that bolt directly to the handlebar, then I do get the option of having optical gear housing windows/display, which is removable if I choose to not have it mounted.

Do I understand all of that correctly? With i-spec, no gear display window no matter what? With standard bolt-on clamp, gear display window if I want it?

If I do understand correctly, then why would someone want no gear display window, to let them know what gear ratio they're currently in? What's the advantage of not having the display?
 

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The clamp versions of the shifters (with the display) have 2 mounting positions; in board or out board of the brake clamp (i.e., between the brake and the grip). The latter is where you want your shifter, but you can't use the display if you run them in that position because it would interfere with the brake.

So unless you run your shifters where you can't reach them or your brakes way too far out, you won't use the display.
 

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I prefer the I spec over the second clamp on the bike but its more personnel preference then anything. The window gauge is useless in my opinion as the more you ride the more you will know what gear you are in. When I did have the windows on the shifters I found I never did look at them anyway and I would just look down if I was that confused. If your picky about weight on the bike the extra clamp and window will add a few ounces but nothing you will notice. And you are right if you choose the I spec version you do lose the window. Again this is all about personnel preference. Just know that once you choose on shifters you cannot go back to I spec unless you buy another shifter housing.
 

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Who looks at the display? You should be able to ride without one.

Not being a jerk, just you really should be able to ride by feel.
 

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The only advantage of having the indicators is probably that it helps beginners avoid cross chaining as there is a visual queue for the brain to observe. When it comes to riding and changing gears, your legs (and the terrain ahead) will decide for you. Your legs don't look at the indicator window for guidance. It is more a matter of shifting down or up from the current gear when you feel the need.

Not having the indicators can actually be a benefit, as you are not imposing a certain gear on yourself simply based on a number. I reommend liberating yourself from that sort of thinking and simply drive as you feel like in the instant. I think you will like it :)
 

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As far as I know, you are correct. If you use the i-spec you do not get indicators. Although, if you have the independent shifters you can remove the indicator. They come with a cap to replace the indicator with. Also, make sure you get the correct adapter because of your (B) model if you go with the i-spec.

As stated above, the more you ride the less you look at or need something to tell you what gear you are in.
 

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I've been riding since friction shifters were the only option. I've never had gear indicators, I don't need indicators, but there are times when they would be handy. Sometimes while riding up longer technical climbs it's nice to know how many gears I have left in reserve and I'll shift down to the lowest and back to where I was to confirm rather than look down at my cassette while riding over bumpy terrain. If I did have an indicator I'd look at that instead.
 
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