Join Date: May 2004
Location: Wilmington, DE
Bikes: 1984 Trek 660, 2003 Specialized Hardrock, 2004 LOOK KG386i (RIP), 2005 Iron Horse Warrior Expert, 2009 Pedal Force CX1, 2014 Islabikes CNOC 14 (son's)
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
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Quoted: 189 Post(s)
You don't say what year the bike is so it's tough to know how many speeds the bike came with. Assuming it came with less than 9, a 9 speed downtube shifter (and again assuming a matching cassette) would be an upgrade over a lesser number of gears because for the same cassette range, the spacing will be tighter. Tighter spacing allows you to pedal at your preferred cadence for the speed you are going.
Now, if the bike was delivered as a 9 speed bike and then the downtube shifter was added, that would be considered a downgrade by most. Standard 9 speed shifters on road bikes are integrated shifters/brake levers allowing you to shift without removing your hands from the bars (as you would with a downtube shifter because it is located...on the downtube, the downward angling tube going from the headtube to seattube).
Do you have pictures of the bike you are considering? Might help is determining if it's worth $400.