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  1. #1
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    John Deere Racer

    Thanks to all who helped identify my Fuji. This is about a John Deere bike my son bought to build up. He's only 13, so he has grand ideas about what he can do with this bike. It's stripped down and sanded for repaint right now. He spends a lot of time picking out cranks and shifters and such from nashbar, etc. He knows they have to fit his frame and work together properly, but he has no clue how important that is or why, though he's learning. I've been putting in the research time so I can guide him.

    Here's the issue: He really thinks he wants indexed shifting, and not on the downtube, like he has on his Trek MTB. He wants "brifters", which he saw on a road bike in the bike shop. From searching this forum, I believe that he will not be able to do that without significant dollars, and changing out the entire drive train, plus wheels. He doesn't know that non-indexed shifters were the standard--he thinks the ones on his JD don't work (they need cleaning and restoration, which we can do).

    I'd rather buy him a brand new road bike with everything he wants, than replace the entire drive train. Since I expect him to grow to at least 6'5" (his dad is 6'7") and he's in his prime growing years, this JD bike, economically restored, should serve him a couple of more years until he outgrows it (he's 5'4" now). THEN we can buy him nice a large frame bike.

    What are the best--or "coolest"--reasons to use downtube friction shifters, and to keep these original ones? If I can convince him to go with the shifters he has, then we can upgrade the cranks it needs for sure, get the cool paint job, and he can be riding it in a month or two.

    I bought the Fuji after he go the JD so we could work side-by-side and he could learn that way, instead of me just taking over. I'm learning a LOT because of all of you generous people in this folder, so thanks!

    Karen

  2. #2
    Senior Member PsySal's Avatar
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    They are lighter than brifters! They are retro! They require more skill to operate!

    I have no idea if any of that is actually true (except I suppose they are a bit retro) but maybe that will work. I have downtube shifters on my road bike, it's my first road bike, and my friends all agree they look pretty cool.

  3. #3
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Hi Karen,

    I am glad to see you are taking an interest in the whole process, you never stop learning!

    Tell him that you have to learn to ride "properly" using the friction shifters before you will be able to use the new fangled index shifters Seriously though that is the way we teach our sheet metal apprentices at work, they have to be able to do things with the old manual tools to get a feel for how things work, look, and feel before being taught on the automated and power equipment. I was taught carpentry the same way many, many years ago and it has paid off time and time again. Maybe appeal to his intelligence and tell him it takes more smarts and finesse to ride a bike with friction shifters...any monkey can click a lever FWIW I put brifters on one of my bikes because I thought they would be easier to use and I spend a fair amount of time on the brake hoods on that bike. Next time around the brifters are coming off and I am going back with bar ends, and unless a good deal on some 7 speed (yes it is that ancient) index bar ends comes along it will get friction shifters because that is what I have in my parts box.

    Aaron
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  4. #4
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    A nice compromise would be bar end shifters. Certainly less expensive, and he could definitely learn something from the conversion. Since he is learning about maintenance you could leverage the whole less maintenance (derailleur adjustments, etc) with the friction shifters. And if he doesnt get the brifters now, you could tell him that the money he saves now (a few hundred dollars!) could go to a nicer bike when the time comes to buy a new one.

    FWIW, though, if he goes with bar end shifters, perhaps you can further compromise and go with indexed shifting. I have to say that I do love indexed shifting when it comes down to it.

    Oh, and rivendellbicycles.com is a source for parts needed for the bar end conversion.

    edit: I reiterated some of what wahoonc said. I will consider that an endorsement for the idea.

  5. #5
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    Karen, I agree with wahoonc on emphasizing the skill aspect. My first car was a '51 crash-box VW. Having taught myself to smoothly shift up and down using the double-declutching technique not only means I can drive all sorts of vintage vehicles that other people can't drive, but I also have a real feel for what's going on that most don't have.

    Friction shifters are not unlike a non-syncromesh transmission

    If he's going to ride upright, though, then for safety it really would be good to get the shifters up off the downtube. Especially if he's going to be riding in traffic at all. Having to bend down and grope around for the curséd shift lever while moving at 15km/h in traffic feels like a receipe for disaster.
    Last edited by Katzenjammer; 12-09-06 at 03:35 PM.

  6. #6
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    I think I've convinced him we can get a much better bike when he's taller if we economize on this one, so thanks again!

    One more question: We wonked one of the cotter pins when we were taking the cranks off. I know we can probably get another pin, but he wants new cranks, and I will get them if he'll keep the rest of the drivetrain. Can we attach new cranks to his chainrings? Even if they're riveted on? Hubby thinks we can, but I wanted to ask the experts!

    Thanks,
    Karen

  7. #7
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    >>Karen, I agree with wahoonc on emphasizing the skill aspect. My first car was a '51 crash-box VW. Having taught myself to smoothly shift up and down using the double-declutching technique not only means I can drive all sorts of vintage vehicles that other people can't drive, but I also have a real feel for what's going on that most don't have.<<

    Yes, I've been wondering how he'll learn to drive a stick since my Beetle was creamed by a street sweeper last month! Now I have an '07 Honda Element (I had to compromise on bikes inside or bikes outside--in fact, the Fuji was the first thing I ever put in it!), and it's an automatic. That (diesel) Beetle was going to be his first car, like a '62 Beetle was mine (followed by the '67, the '72, the '99 and the '00, which was wrecked--all but the '62 were red). His brother has a 5-speed Civic, so I guess that will be the car he learns in.

    I guess I might be a C/V kind of gal--never looked at it that way before. I live in a 110 yo house, too. Doh!

    Karen

  8. #8
    Death fork? Naaaah!! top506's Avatar
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    I'm building up a pretty french Ficelle for my 12-year-old daughter, and she's accecpted the fact that she'll have to master friction downtube shifters after 6 years of indexed mountian bikes. But I baited her with her next bike-a Shogun 400 that'll be tricked out with Sora STI bifters. She needs to grow a few inches first, and the Ficelle is SMALL.
    It's nice your boy shows an interest in wrenching. My daughter just asks for chrome bits.....
    And keep the bike Deere green!
    Top
    (135 year old house, wood stove in the kitchen, '44 Jeep in the barn, and two manual tranny trucks in the dooryard!)

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by top506
    And keep the bike Deere green!
    According to this site:http://www.mindspring.com/~dagmara/deere.html ; only the three speed models were green. The others just had the Deere logo in green.

  10. #10
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    Yeah, it was black, with chrome half way up the fork. But he IS painting it JD green, and he hopes to get some yellow flame action going. The decals were the hardest for me sacrifice to his paint scheme, but we were led to believe the bike wasn't worth much as a collector, so I gave them up. It's his bike, after all.

    Karen

  11. #11
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    ::Bump::

    One more question: We wonked one of the cotter pins when we were taking the cranks off. I know we can probably get another pin, but he wants new cranks, and I will get them if he'll keep the rest of the drivetrain. Can we attach new cranks to his chainrings? Even if they're riveted on? Hubby thinks we can, but I wanted to ask the experts!

    Thanks,
    Karen

  12. #12
    Death fork? Naaaah!! top506's Avatar
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    1)There is a big Deere dealership the next town over; I'll see if they have any suitable decals next time I drive by. We should at least be able to find a 'running deer' for the headtube.
    2) Most likely new cranks would require a new BB spindle and chainrings as well. I have a low-end Dotek crankset with rings(42/52) out in the barn you can have for postage. If I can scrape up a spindle I'll throw that in as well, but I can't vouch for the chainline you'll end up with.
    Top

  13. #13
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    Thanks, Top. I forgot to say that I knew the old BB would have to go if we got new cranks. I have already checked that out and know I can get a new one. If I change the BB, spindle, cranks, chainring, will I be able to keep the derailluer on the front, and everythign on th back?

    It's kind of like putting a puzzle togethe. Idd be nice to know if there are any absolutely required pieces, and if there are some I can leave out

    Thanks.
    Karen

  14. #14
    Death fork? Naaaah!! top506's Avatar
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    1) Most likely you don't have to change the cups and balls in the BB, just the spindle.
    2) The FD, RD, and everything else will work with a new crankset no problems. Just minor tweaking
    3) I yarded out an old Murrey to get a fork for redneckwes. It had a cottered crank, and I can send you the cotter you need.
    So many options! Life is one big map problem
    Top

  15. #15
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    You are right that the bike isn't worth a lot to a bike collector, since it isn't a high end bike. Sometimes old tractor collectors will seek out everything that bears the name of their favorite brand, but I don't think there is enough interest to worry about.
    Tractor Supply stores have decal sets for restoring old tractors, although they may be too big for a bike. I bought some for my son's room to make him a John Deere ceiling fan. I didn't see any decals on their website, but you could call the nearest store. http://www.mytscstore.com/default.asp #02-37330 is the number for a complete set for a John Deere B which includes warning labels as well as the large and small logos. The store can order other sets, that's just what is listed in my catalog.

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