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  1. #1
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    Advice needed on Flat Bar -> Drop Bar conversion

    As summer approaches, I'm strarting to collect parts to convert my 2006 Marin Lucas Valley to drop bars.

    I'm currently using it for a 34 mile round trip commute. The only changes I've made from stock is some freddy fenders, OURY grips, lighting, computer, and slightly longer bar ends with bar tape on them. Oh... and Nokian W106 tires for the winter riding.

    The reasons for the conversion are as follows:
    - I'll be doing 50+ mile rides on Saturday and/or Sunday mornings this summer.
    - I'll be doing my 34+ mile round trip commute approximately 3 times a week this summer
    - I'll be participating in some century rides this summer
    - I'll be participation in a cross state charity ride this summer BRAN (Bike Ride Across Nebraska)
    - The only thing I don't like about the bike is my hands seem to always hurt
    - I like to tinker

    So I'll be putting some big miles on the bike this summer and I think drop bars will be a better option for me at this point. I'll keep the flat bar stuff so I can reverse things a later time if I want to. Who knows, maybe I'll switch it back to flat-bar during the winters.

    The parts I've ordered are as follows:
    - Bar tape
    - Dia-Compe 287-V Linear-pull drop bar levers
    - Shimano 8-speed barcons
    - Somewhat light drop bars (take-offs from the LBS)

    Now for the questions.

    Do I need new cables for the brakes?

    I think the shimano barcons come with cable housings. Will they be long enough to do cable routing all the way up to the stem under the bar wrap? Ergo-style?

    How about the cables that come with the shifters. Will they be long enough if I do an Ergo-style routing?

    I am planning to replace the rear derailleur with a long cage Ultegra rear derailleur at the same time. Will the Ultegra shifter be more or less maintenance than the stock Sora shifter? Does it make sense to replace the rear derailleur?

    Any reason why I should OR should not convert from 8-speed to 9-speed at the same time and just get a 9-speed indexed set of barcons instead? I've thought about converting but couldn't really come up with a valid reason to do so.

    Is there any reason why I should switch the stock linear-pull v-brakes for Shimano XT of Avid equivelants? I've had a hard time adjusting the stock ones and the tech at the LBS said that those stock brakes are a quite a bit harder to work with and adjust compared to the better shimano and Avid stuff.

    Any gotchas or suggestions that I should keep in mind as I make the conversion? I'll be doing most of the work and I'm not highly versed in bike mechanics.

  2. #2
    Perineal Pressurized dobber's Avatar
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    Yes, you'll need new cables (different ends), you'll probably need housing too.

    The barcon cables & housing should be long enough.

    If the Sora works, why bother (and if I did, I'd just go 105)

    Eight to Nine isn't going to gain you much (in my opinion).

    In a comparable price comparision, I've found my Avids to be superior.

    You'll need to look at you're stem length and if you're a worry wart about such things, the clamp size of the stem is probably wrong now (25.4 vs 26mm). I run mismatched in pop-top stems quite often though.
    This is Africa, 1943. War spits out its violence overhead and the sandy graveyard swallows it up. Her name is King Nine, B-25, medium bomber, Twelfth Air Force. On a hot, still morning she took off from Tunisia to bomb the southern tip of Italy. An errant piece of flak tore a hole in a wing tank and, like a wounded bird, this is where she landed, not to return on this day, or any other day.

  3. #3
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    If you are going to change the cassette and chain at the same time, you might as well go to 9-speed. If you are going to retain your current cassette and chain and they are in good condition, stick with 8-speed.

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    Double check this: Do not think the front der R440 will work with anything but the shifters that came with the bike, ie. flat bar specific. Can anyone else comment?

  5. #5
    Perineal Pressurized dobber's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oilman_15106
    Double check this: Do not think the front der R440 will work with anything but the shifters that came with the bike, ie. flat bar specific. Can anyone else comment?
    Front derailleur barcon shifter work in friction mode, so there shouldn't be any issues.
    This is Africa, 1943. War spits out its violence overhead and the sandy graveyard swallows it up. Her name is King Nine, B-25, medium bomber, Twelfth Air Force. On a hot, still morning she took off from Tunisia to bomb the southern tip of Italy. An errant piece of flak tore a hole in a wing tank and, like a wounded bird, this is where she landed, not to return on this day, or any other day.

  6. #6
    Death fork? Naaaah!! top506's Avatar
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    Add brake cables and you're good to go.
    As dobber states, you might need to replace your stem. I did when I build up a Miyata Triplecross with drops.
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    You know it's going to be a good day when the stem and seatpost come right out.

  7. #7
    251
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    I did a flat to drop bar conversion on my wife's Specialized Sirrus Sport in December. Here are the parts required and some issues I came across:

    New Components:
    - Sora STI levers (8 speed)
    - Sora front derailleur
    - In-line shifter cable adjuster
    - New stem (Specialized 26.0 mm)
    - Salsa Bell Lap Moto Ace drop bars (26.0 mm) + gel tape
    - Misc cables and housings
    - Tektro Oryx cantilevers
    - Cable hanger for front brake (clamps around steer tube)
    - Cable hanger for rear brake (seatpost binder mount)

    1. The original front derailleur (Nexave FD-T301) was not compatible with the Sora STI (correct adjustment was not possible).

    2. In order to get the proper tension on the front derailleur cable an in-line adjuster was necessary. Since the frame does not have mounting points for adjusters on the down tube the provided adjusters did not work.

    3. The stock pseudo-v-brakes did not work well with the road levers. I tried some Travel Agents, but they suck. I swapped the brakes with the old Tektros off of my Gunnar. The brake swap also required cable hangers; a collar type hanger that clamps of the steer tube worked for the front, and a seatpost binder mounted hanger worked on the rear.

    Let me know if you have any questions.

    Last edited by 251; 02-23-07 at 08:35 AM.
    Dave
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  8. #8
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dobber
    The barcon cables & housing should be long enough.
    I'm going to disagree with the part about standard shift cables being long enough to route your barcons ergo-style. I've never seen the need to do that myself but I've been told that you'll need a tandem cable on the rear shifter to do that.

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    I'll probably skip the rear derailleur upgrade for now as suggested.

    The cassette and chain are in VERY good shape. I broke my chain last week so it's new. I got a new cassette for a second set of winter wheels so it's only got about 200 miles on it and it's an upgrade from the stock one.

    I should be able to swap the stem as needed at the shop. They still have my fit info and the stem I have looks new, so they may allow me to swap it with another Take-off stem.

    251 ... I'm using dia-compe v-brake specific drop bar brake levers. They have the necessary cable pull for v-brakes with a barel adjuster on the noodle for fine tuning. So I will not need the brake swap you did. I also am using barcon shifters which use friction shifting for the front, so I should not have any adjustment issues there.

    I know that ergo-style routing isn't necessary, but I definately like the looks a lot better. I'll make sure we track down a tandem cable to use for the rear shifter.

    Is the shimano provided cable housing going to be long enough if I do ergo-style routing under the bar tape?

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Retro Grouch
    I'm going to disagree with the part about standard shift cables being long enough to route your barcons ergo-style. I've never seen the need to do that myself but I've been told that you'll need a tandem cable on the rear shifter to do that.

    I ran my CX bike this way for a while... I did need a tandem cable for the rear mech, just barely. The bike was a 56cm, for reference. You might make it if your frame is smaller.

  11. #11
    Death fork? Naaaah!! top506's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Retro Grouch
    but I've been told that you'll need a tandem cable on the rear shifter to do that.
    I've been told that too, but both my barcon bikes used standard cables. 57cm/23", one indexed, one not.
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    You know it's going to be a good day when the stem and seatpost come right out.

  12. #12
    Perineal Pressurized dobber's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Retro Grouch
    I'm going to disagree with the part about standard shift cables being long enough to route your barcons ergo-style. I've never seen the need to do that myself but I've been told that you'll need a tandem cable on the rear shifter to do that.
    I missed the "ergo" part, so you're probably right.
    This is Africa, 1943. War spits out its violence overhead and the sandy graveyard swallows it up. Her name is King Nine, B-25, medium bomber, Twelfth Air Force. On a hot, still morning she took off from Tunisia to bomb the southern tip of Italy. An errant piece of flak tore a hole in a wing tank and, like a wounded bird, this is where she landed, not to return on this day, or any other day.

  13. #13
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    I read quickly the other replies: hope I'm not duplicating any items.

    Shifters

    Since you are spending money, you should go with 9-speed shifters anyway. To use your current 8-speed drivetrain, install the derailleur cable on the rear derailleur using the "Alternate Cable routing" shown on this Sheldon Brown's page (half way).
    When you need a new cassette a few years down the road, re-route the derailleur cable the normal way and buy 9-speed stuff.

    Shifter cables
    .
    Been there, done that. To run the cables Ergo style (i.e. hidden under the handlebars), you will need new cable housing and new shifter cables. The stuff supplied with the bar-end shifters is adequate if you let the cables dangle in the air, but for the clean look, you'll need much longer cable housing and longer cables. You'll need a rear derailleur cable for the front one (you might be able to use your current one, though it might be worn and on the short side) and you need a 3-m-long tandem-length derailleur cable for the rear one.

    Brakes and Brake Cables
    I haven't bought 287-V levers (they came with my single and tandem bike), but I have ordered other levers. They come by themselves. Housing and cables need to be about 20 cm longer for drop bars than for straight bars, so you'll need new housing and new cables. Here, you are most likely able to re-use the rear brake cable for the new front brake. But then, the head used on your current levers might be incompatible with the one used by the 287-V levers.

    Stem
    Depending on your favourite position, you will probably want a stem that is about 20 mm shorter and a tad higher than your current stem. That could be changed later.
    Michel Gagnon
    Montréal (Québec, Canada)

  14. #14
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    Thanks for the input everyone. All parts are ordered and I should be making the swap next week.

    Here is the parts list so far:
    - 8 Speed barcons
    - Dia-compe 287-V brake levers
    - drop bars
    - bar tape
    - 2 new brake cables
    - 1 new shifter cable (tandem length) if I do ergo-style routing
    - More cable housing if I do ergo-style routing... maybe

    The tech I talked to at the shop is suggesting that I don't do ergo style routing. I'm still torn because I want the drive train to work as well as possible but I also don't really like the looks of the wire coming out of the bar tape at the first curve in the lower portion of the drop bars.

    If I try ergo-style routing, will it be pretty easy to unwrap the bars, resize the cables and housings, and switch back to a more traditional barcon cable routing? I'm just trying to picture that in my head and I think the only thing that would change would be to shorten the cable housing if I decide not to do ergo-style routing.

  15. #15
    Perineal Pressurized dobber's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by UnderDaHill
    I'm still torn because I want the drive train to work as well as possible but I also don't really like the looks of the wire coming out of the bar tape at the first curve in the lower portion of the drop bars.
    I always liked the look. But that's my bike, this ones yours.
    This is Africa, 1943. War spits out its violence overhead and the sandy graveyard swallows it up. Her name is King Nine, B-25, medium bomber, Twelfth Air Force. On a hot, still morning she took off from Tunisia to bomb the southern tip of Italy. An errant piece of flak tore a hole in a wing tank and, like a wounded bird, this is where she landed, not to return on this day, or any other day.

  16. #16
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by UnderDaHill
    The tech I talked to at the shop is suggesting that I don't do ergo style routing. I'm still torn because I want the drive train to work as well as possible but I also don't really like the looks of the wire coming out of the bar tape at the first curve in the lower portion of the drop bars.

    If I try ergo-style routing, will it be pretty easy to unwrap the bars, resize the cables and housings, and switch back to a more traditional barcon cable routing? I'm just trying to picture that in my head and I think the only thing that would change would be to shorten the cable housing if I decide not to do ergo-style routing.
    I've used the under-the-bar-to-the-stem cable routing on several bikes with no shifting problems. Just take extra care to run smooth bends with the cables to avoid friction. I like to run my shift cables to the opposite side of the head tube, so the front cable from the left handlebar goes to the right side downtube cable guide and the rear goes to the left. This makes a smoother curve. The cables can cross as they run along the downtube to the bottom bracket so they are right when they get to the guide.
    Switching to traditional routing should be about like you described.



    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  17. #17
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    Thanks Bluesdawg. I'll definately give that routing a try first. If I have shifting issues, I'll switch back traditional routing and just deal with the less than optimal asthetics.

  18. #18
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    Well. I started the upgrade tonight. I ripped just about everything off my bike and gave it a real good bath, cleaned the wheels, cleaned the cassette, cleaned the chain rings (yuck), and put the drop bars in place with nothing on them.

    I did end up with a new long cage ultegra rear derailleur for about $50 so I'll be putting that on as well.

    All the stock parts are being kept together so I can put the flat bars and sora deralleur back on next winter.

    Final parts list looks like this:
    - Drop bars ($25 for a take-off one at the shop)
    - Dia Compe 287-v brake levers ($73)
    - Shimano 8 speed bar end shifters ($70)
    - Two new brake cables ($10)
    - Bar tape ($10)
    - New Shimano 105 9-speed chain ($25)
    - Ultegra long cage rear derailleur ($53)

    Here is what the bike looks like stock. The only thing I've changed so far is pedals and slightly longer bar ends.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  19. #19
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    So far so good.

    Brakes are run and seem to work well.

    Shifters are on and front deraileur is working perfrectly

    Rear sifter is on but the provided shifter cable was too short as expected

    New rear deraileur is on but the new 9-speed chain is not on yet so I have not done any adjusting yet.

    One question on the Brakes. The Dia Compe 287-v come with a set of noodles for the brakes and a set of smaller noodles that fit inside the brake and direct the cable out of the brake lever and along the bar. Unfortunately, the agle that it comes out requires a pretty agressive bend in the cable to get the cable to route along the bars. Although the brakes seem to work ok, that bend kind of bothers me and will make for a bit of a bulge in the bar tape when I wrap the bars tonight. Do I need those extra noodles or can I just route the raw cable right into the brake body?

    I'm also still trying to get a good idea of where I want my brakes to be on the curve. Too high and I can reach the levers from the drops, too low and the brake levers are to low for my comfort when on the hoods. I'll probably have to tilt the bar up a bit more to solve this.

    I'll try to post a picture once the project is complete.

  20. #20
    Death fork? Naaaah!! top506's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by UnderDaHill
    The Dia Compe 287-v come with a set of noodles for the brakes and a set of smaller noodles that fit inside the brake and direct the cable out of the brake lever and along the bar. Unfortunately, the agle that it comes out requires a pretty agressive bend in the cable to get the cable to route along the bars. Although the brakes seem to work ok, that bend kind of bothers me and will make for a bit of a bulge in the bar tape when I wrap the bars tonight. Do I need those extra noodles or can I just route the raw cable right into the brake body?
    I got my 287V levers used without noodles and routed the cable like any other 'aero' lever. No problems.
    I didn't even know the noodles were missing until I saw a picture in a catalouge....
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    You know it's going to be a good day when the stem and seatpost come right out.

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    Well.... it's done. A quick parking lot test ride and everything seems to work great. Brakes are VERY responsive and even my cheap OEM brakes, with tirreble return springs, kept the levers poping right back like they should.

    I definately like the looks. And hopefully the ride will be just as good. I plan to do a 50+ mile ride tomorrow.


    Aint she pretty!



    Don't be looking through my book selection.



    I was happy to find this bar tape at the shop. I think it looks great on this bike.



    The wiring isn't perfect, but I was happy with it considering it was me first attempt at wiring a bike. Thanks goodness I had a dremel for cutting the housing.



    So shiny and clean. It's almost a shame to get it dirty again. But hey... It is a commuter bike. Doing 17 miles each way on in the spring, tends to pick up some grit. I left the fenders off while I was working on the bike. I'll have to put them back on again next week.



    The cockpit.



    This was also my first attempt with bar tape. I think it turned out ok if not a tad bumpy in spots.



    V-Brakes with drop bars. The Dia-Compe 287v brake levers work perfectly. I'll have to get a few long rides in to tell for sure though.
    Last edited by UnderDaHill; 03-16-07 at 07:09 PM.

  22. #22
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    Looks great!
    You should put some clear tape on the headset where the shift cables touch it or they will rub the paint off. Running those cables to the opposite sides would make a smoother curve and probably eliminate the contact points.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

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    I thought about runnning the cables to the opposite sides. Unfortunately, the way the down tube is shaped and the location of the cable stops would cause the wires to rub on the down tube where the crossed back over eachother.

    Ther is also a clear dot of tape on the left side (looking at front of bike in last picture) that protects the paint where the cable touches. The one on the right side is currently in the wrong place... I'll have to move it.

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