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  1. #1
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    Best way to convert downtube to brifters on my bike?

    I have been considering switching my Centurion to brifters eventually and trying to figure out the cheapest and easiest method. The frame has Shimano 600 7 speed with 126mm rear spacing. From what I can tell there are no 7 speed brifters that would work as a bolt on with my 600 group. Maybe the Shimano Tourney but that might be a downgrade in quality from my downtube shifters.

    I am also planning on doing a frame off restoration and getting the frame repainted down the road so the other option would be finding a good deal on a more modern 8,9 or 10 speed group and cold setting the frame to fit bigger hubs. If I go that route does this look like a good way to cold set?:

    The Plano Cyclist: Cold Setting A Bicycle Frame

    I would usually take Sheldons advice but this method looks easier and more precise than the 2 x 4 method.
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  2. #2
    Quirky Grifter LesterOfPuppets's Avatar
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    Keep an eye on ebay for some 1999 - ish RSX-100 shifters. They're some really nice 7sp.
    1980ish Free Spirit Sunbird fixed * 1996 Mongoose IBOC Zero-G * 1997 KHS Comp * 1990-ish Scapin * Lemond Buenos Aires Triple

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    Quote Originally Posted by LesterOfPuppets View Post
    Keep an eye on ebay for some 1999 - ish RSX-100 shifters. They're some really nice 7sp.
    Thanks for the tip Looks like a few listed now in the $140 range. I'm in no rush so I'll keep watching in case an auction comes along
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  4. #4
    johnliu@earthlink.net jyl's Avatar
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    Or use Retroshift brake levers that mount your shifters on the brake lever. I use these on my commute bike and they are great.
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  5. #5
    Quirky Grifter LesterOfPuppets's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rms13 View Post
    Thanks for the tip Looks like a few listed now in the $140 range. I'm in no rush so I'll keep watching in case an auction comes along
    Man they keep going up! Too many people Jonesing for good 7sp action. They were about $70 in 2009. If a nice $100 pair came along I'd be tempted.
    1980ish Free Spirit Sunbird fixed * 1996 Mongoose IBOC Zero-G * 1997 KHS Comp * 1990-ish Scapin * Lemond Buenos Aires Triple

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    Senior Member Looigi's Avatar
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    On that page, pay attention to the first comment. Using a threaded rod and nuts to spread the rear triangles apart may be OK, but there is no reason to turn both nuts equally as described on that page. Regardless of which you turn you're just making the distance between them longer. You have to go much farther than what the final spacing will be in order to take up the springiness of the stays. With this methods is there is no means of ensuring both sides wind up spread out the same amount and it's far more likely that one side gets spread more than the other. Better would be to spread one side half the total increase needed, then spread the other side the remaining distance.
    Ride more. Fret less.

  7. #7
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    The least expensive way to convert from downtube to brifters is often to sell the DT bike and buy a brifter bike.
    There's no such thing as a routine repair.

    Don't tell me what "should" be - either it is, it isn't, or do something about it.

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  8. #8
    RIP Sonny RaleighSport's Avatar
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    I've got some RSX brifters left over that I'm attempting to trade off, I'm sure if you need them we can work something out so let me know. Also as an aside, I'm running a full tri-color 600 drivetrain on my Centurion Turbo, 2x7 using Shimano Tourney 2x7 brifters, they shift crisply and work very well, the downside being the bodies/levers are mostly plastic and use a side release trigger.

    Quote Originally Posted by cny-bikeman View Post
    The least expensive way to convert from downtube to brifters is often to sell the DT bike and buy a brifter bike.
    Normally I'd agree but with the 7 drivetrain all the conversion components can be had at ~$100.
    "Seriously is what I want to be, so I put on spandex and show off my gear, my junk, my thing, yes my ding-a-ling."

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    I thought that 8 speed brifters could be used on a 7 speed? The last click would just be locked out.
    Used 8 speed brifters seem to be pretty common.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slash5 View Post
    I thought that 8 speed brifters could be used on a 7 speed? The last click would just be locked out.
    Used 8 speed brifters seem to be pretty common.
    They'll "kind of" work but I've never been able to get mix and match 7-speed and 8-speed parts to work to my satisfaction.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slash5 View Post
    I thought that 8 speed brifters could be used on a 7 speed? The last click would just be locked out.
    Used 8 speed brifters seem to be pretty common.
    I tried it with 8-speed RSX brifters and a 7-speed cassette and it didn't work very well, the spacing of 7- and 8-speed cassettes is ever so slightly different. It's only a difference 0.2mm, but that's per sprocket,if you perfectly adjust the derailleur one end of the cassette, it'll be 1.2mm out over the other end.
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  12. #12
    7-speed doomsday prepper ThermionicScott's Avatar
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    If you adjust it to be dead-on in the center, though, it would only be off about 0.6mm on each end. Is that enough to cause trouble, if everything else is straight? I've heard of other people making it work fine -- which is why I generally assume it can be done -- but haven't done it myself.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
    If you adjust it to be dead-on in the center, though, it would only be off about 0.6mm on each end. Is that enough to cause trouble, if everything else is straight? I've heard of other people making it work fine -- which is why I generally assume it can be done -- but haven't done it myself.
    The main issue is that "if" - it would probably work OK if everything else was perfect, but I have a feeling the derailleur hanger on the frame I was working with is a little bit bent. It works fine with an 8-speed though, so it can't be too bad, just enough to tip the 7/8 hybrid system over the edge. I've heard of it being done, it just didn't work for me.

    Of course, the alternative would be using 7 cogs from an 8-speed cassette on a 7-speed freehub.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Looigi View Post
    Better would be to spread one side half the total increase needed, then spread the other side the remaining distance.
    That is what I did with my Raleigh technium when I went 8spd. I used the threaded rod and nuts as a gauge and BENT one side at a time (Sorry! I meant COLD-SET). Works great and is cheap and easy.

  15. #15
    that bike nut BikingGrad80's Avatar
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    If it is steel spread the frame. If aluminum 8 cogs of a 9 speed casette or possibly 9 cogs of a 10 speed casette. Sheldon Brown's (RIP) site has the details.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by BikingGrad80 View Post
    If it is steel spread the frame. If aluminum 8 cogs of a 9 speed casette or possibly 9 cogs of a 10 speed casette. Sheldon Brown's (RIP) site has the details.
    Thanks, it is a steel frame. I read Sheldon's method first but the threaded rod seemed more precise than a 2 x 4 but I guess there is reason why Sheldon did it his way.

    As far as using 8 speed shifters goes, when I first got this bike it had a 6 speed freewheel and getting that to shift properly with the 7 speed DT shifters was annoying enough. Ended up getting a 7 speed freewheel and now indexing is perfect. So for me it's either get a 7 speed brifter or look for a cheaper used modern group. I have an extra set of 135mm wheels at home so in theory I would just need brifters, cassette, RD and chain

    ...or I just stick with the DT. This is my secondary bike
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  17. #17
    that bike nut BikingGrad80's Avatar
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    Have a good bike shop spread it. I bought an 853 road bike and for some reason (that model was not designed for 7 speed) the dropouts were 124 and I could barely get the wheel in an out. I took it to a bike shop with the correct tools to spread and align the dropouts and it was well worth the $20.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by rms13 View Post
    Thanks, it is a steel frame. I read Sheldon's method first but the threaded rod seemed more precise than a 2 x 4 but I guess there is reason why Sheldon did it his way.
    Not more precise, as one has to spread beyond the needed spacing and then check/recheck. It is safer, as some might beef on a lever too much and cause problems. Personally before we got a Park tool I put my foot on the BB, one hand on the rear dropout and the other on the head tube and pulled. (Don't try that at home).
    There's no such thing as a routine repair.

    Don't tell me what "should" be - either it is, it isn't, or do something about it.

    If you think I'm being blunt take it as a compliment - if I thought you were too weak to handle the truth or a strong opinion I would not bother.

    Please take the time to post clearly so we can answer quickly. All lowercase and multiple typos makes for a hard read. Thanks!

  19. #19
    Senior Member Grand Bois's Avatar
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    Sheldon's method works perfectly, in my experience. You will be adjusting one side at a time and you can correct any preexisting misalignment while you're at it. The threaded rod method assumes that the stays will bend equally and that isn't necessarily the case. I tried the threaded rod method rod method once and ended up straightening out the mess I made using Sheldon's method.

    Just be sure to use gentle pressure on that 2 X 4. You'll quickly get a feel for how much pressure it takes.

    I always pad the seat tube with a piece of foam pipe insulation to prevent scratching and pry only on the lower butted area.
    Last edited by Grand Bois; 08-19-14 at 11:20 AM.

  20. #20
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    Ok, so I did a little thinking outside the box here. I have a set of 130mm spaced wheels sitting in the garage. So what if I bought a 10 speed Shimano cassette, a 10 speed chain, some cable stops and this Microshift Centos mini group:

    New Microshift Double 10 Speed Centos Slv Group Set Shimano Compatible | eBay


    I assume I should be able to bolt those parts on and use my existing 600 double crankset and have everything working fine?
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  21. #21
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    OK, here's a new scenario. Doing some more research it seems that Nashbar sells rebranded Microshift components. So would it be possible to get Nashar brifters:

    Nashbar N-9 9-Speed Dual Control Shifters - Normal Shipping Ground

    Nashbar RD:

    Nashbar 9/10-Speed Road Rear Derailleur - Normal Shipping Ground




    And use that with the existing Shimano 600 crankset and front derailleur ?
    Last edited by rms13; 08-20-14 at 12:41 AM.
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  22. #22
    Senior Member Tim_Iowa's Avatar
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    Another option for 7-speeds: Use Campagnolo 8 speed Ergo shifters and derailers; they use 5.0 mm spacing just like any 7-speed.

    This excellent article on "ShimErgo" has lots of details about making mongrel combinations of shifters and derailers work. Looks like you could also use "old' Campy 9 speed Ergos, or new 11 speed ones. The Campy Ergos tend have really nice shift quality, and have ergo (under the bar tape) cable routing. But they're no cheaper on the eBay than RSX's or new Tourneys. I sometimes see an RSX bike for sale and am tempted to buy and part it out.

    I'm going to use Campy 8spd stuff on my Rivendell, once I put drop bars back on it (getting sick of the bar-ends and moustache bars). I have 8spd Campy Ergos on another bike of mine and love them. I found a set of Athenas for less than $90, and I have an appropriate derailer already.

  23. #23
    Senior Member Tim_Iowa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rms13 View Post
    OK, here's a new scenario. Doing some more research it seems that Nashbar sells rebranded Microshift components. So would it be possible to get Nashar brifters:
    Nashbar N-9 9-Speed Dual Control Shifters - Normal Shipping Ground

    Nashbar RD:
    Nashbar 9/10-Speed Road Rear Derailleur - Normal Shipping Ground
    And use that with the existing Shimano 600 crankset and front derailleur ?
    Rear? Yes. Front? Maybe.

    If you put a 9-speed Shimano-compatible cassette on the 130 mm wheelset in your garage, then the Nashbar stuff would shift the rear cogs just fine.

    However, there may be some compatibility issues with the front shifter and derailer. Shimano STI front shifters don't pull as much cable (total), instead they rely on the ramps and pins on the chain rings and the sculpting of the front derailer to do a lot of the shifting work. I don't know if this Shimano-compatible Nashbar front shifter would have the same issues. Your existing crank and front derailer don't have the ramps, pins, and sculpting like modern Shimano stuff.

    That said, it may work just fine if you set it up right. Double cranks are a lot less picky than triples.

  24. #24
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    One final question: Is there a difference between the two cable stops here priced $17.99?

    Bicycle Cable Stops - Modern Bike
    http://www.pedalroom.com/members/rms13

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by rms13 View Post
    One final question: Is there a difference between the two cable stops here priced $17.99?

    Bicycle Cable Stops - Modern Bike

    Yes, there is a difference.

    #1 Fits frames with shifter bosses that have an adapter on them that fits the curve on the frame tube, and provides a flat mounting surface for the shifter.

    #2 Fits shifters that have a curved base to fit the curve of the frame tube.

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