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Old 02-25-09, 01:01 PM   #1
steve-in-kville 
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Upgrading old shifters??

I just bought an older Bianchi steel road bike. It has the shifters on the downtube. I believe it is an older Shimano system.

How hard is it to install new shifters on the handle bars? Will I need to replace the derailers too? Has anyone done this?

I once considered converting this bike to a SS, but I am having second thoughts. I might turn this into my commuter bike.
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Old 02-25-09, 01:27 PM   #2
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Not too hard, but not too cheap, either. I'd need some more specifics to tell for sure, but in addition to the brifters, you'll need downtube barrel adjusters. Depending on the # of gears, you might need a new cassette(which might entail a new wheel, chain and perhaps chainrings). If it were me, I'd stick with the downtube shifters until the drivetrain wears out (or go SS).
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Old 02-25-09, 01:35 PM   #3
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Okay... I'll take it riding a few times. I might find that old-school shifting to the dog's balls and stick with it. I was gonna do a SS conversion, but I'm thinking of staying with the gears... at least for now.
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Old 02-26-09, 12:50 PM   #4
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Kelly Take-offs! They will allow you to mount your downtube shifters onto a little stalk attached to the Handlebar at the lever hoods, Don't buy them off ebay, the original manufacturer gives you a complete kit with a double cable stop (to replace the down tube shifters if clamped-on style). Look at : http://www.kellybike.com/takeoffs.html There the perfect solution to not having to replace so much of the hardware. I am still planning to index shift my ancient Raleigh Super Course this way- leaving the brakes and deraillers original; only changing the freewheel and chain and shifters.
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Old 02-26-09, 01:10 PM   #5
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Downtube shifting feels manly. You may just like it.
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Old 02-26-09, 01:16 PM   #6
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I think if you're willing to go to bar-end shifters you can get by with relatively minor bleed-over expenses. Some might argue that they're not much of an upgrade to what you've got, but it just depends on what you're wanting out of the deal.
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Old 02-26-09, 03:07 PM   #7
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I think if you're willing to go to bar-end shifters you can get by with relatively minor bleed-over expenses. Some might argue that they're not much of an upgrade to what you've got, but it just depends on what you're wanting out of the deal.
+1 for the bar-ends.

I'll argue that they're a big improvement over d'tube shifters for one reason: I've never bumped a bar-end shifter while removing/replacing my water bottle into the cage. I have done this with downtube shifters. Could just be that I'm a klutz.
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Old 02-26-09, 05:12 PM   #8
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How many rear gears are on your Bianchi now? Unless it is 8 or higher, you will be hardpressed to find STI shifters that will work with the rest of your current drivetrain. If it is 8 or higher, it will just cost you $100-$infinity and can be done pretty easily.

On the other hand....if you are willing to buy an new wheel and cassette (and maybe rear der...oh, and possibly new brake calipers), you can do just about anything you want.

I am running STI on a couple of my bikes but I have opted (for now) to run downtube shifters on my 1982 Peugeot P8 (one of my main commuting bikes). It works just fine in friction mode and is infinitely adjustable. That campy friction bolt-on shifting unit sat for 15 years in the snow/rain/sun and still works like a charm. Try getting that durability out of any STI unit.

I don't find downtube shifting to be all that bad. There are two downsides, as I can see (and one is more limitted to friction mode shifting).
1: Forget shifting in a heated sprint for a city limit sign or to the top of a small hill. Better be in the right gear to begin with.
2: Friction mode often requires some minor adjustment to get it exactly in the right spot. This is usually indicated by the sound of the chain hitting the gears. Because I often commute with music, I cannot often hear the squeek and don't know I need to adjust my shifting.

Here is a pic of my P8 set up as a 1X9. It has also been a fixed gear and a single speed. Because there are now 9 gears on the rear (new wheel, new cassette, new rear der), it is finally ready to accept 9 speed brifters (handlebar mounted ones like you asked about).

As you can see, an old frame can be made to run just about any new componentry. But that componentry often requires other new componentry to run well. In this case, the newer 700 c wheels went on just fine but they often require new brakes (long reach) to work on old bikes.
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Old 02-27-09, 12:05 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Sawtooth View Post
I don't find downtube shifting to be all that bad. There are two downsides, as I can see (and one is more limitted to friction mode shifting).
1: Forget shifting in a heated sprint for a city limit sign or to the top of a small hill. Better be in the right gear to begin with.
2: Friction mode often requires some minor adjustment to get it exactly in the right spot. This is usually indicated by the sound of the chain hitting the gears. Because I often commute with music, I cannot often hear the squeek and don't know I need to adjust my shifting.

I can add one more downside to that (particularly when you shift in friction mode) ;

3: It is harder to shift to the right cog when you are going up hill with a big motor vehicle closing on you from behind.
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Old 02-27-09, 02:10 PM   #10
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You might find it cheaper to find a good used newer road bike instead of upgrading. If you have a shop do it, you could be looking at $4-500 depending on components. If the bike has sentimental value, put the money into it and keep riding.
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