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Old 06-05-11, 02:27 PM   #1
Kacey3
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Drop Bars with Disc Brakes

I know that this question has come up several times, but it seems like every situation is unique based on brake type and the desires of the rider. I've spent a couple of hours on this forum trying to figure out my answer, and several more hours online Googling around and I just can't seem to convince myself that I know what to do.

I've got a Trek PDX for my daily commute, and I love it. But I can't help thinking I would love it more with drop bars. If money had not been an issue, I would definitely have opted for the Portland, but it just wasn't an option. So now I'm looking at my PDX for a conversion.

The PDX has Tektro Novela disc brakes, which, unfortunately, do not have any specifications or information on the Textro site. I'd really prefer to have "Brifters" on my drop bars so I've been trying to find some cost effective options. I was hoping that there was something in Shimano that would work, but it seems like anything that is considered "Linear Pull" is intended for a 3x9, whereas the PDX is an 3x8.

I was hoping to find any information on a Dual Action shifter, maybe in the line of the ST-2203 or ST-2303 that is compatible with the Tektro Novela brakes. I'd really like to swap out as little on the bike as possible because money is always an issue.

Any thoughts or ideas? I'm kind of new to all of this, but I'm very eager to become more active and involved in my cycling.

Thanks in advance.
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Old 06-05-11, 02:30 PM   #2
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I don't think anyone makes brifters for linear pull brakes, but you can make it work with one of these:

http://problemsolversbike.com/products/travel_agents
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Old 06-05-11, 02:34 PM   #3
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I was looking at those too... the only thing that concerned me was that I read that the increased the travel but decreased the power. Is that something that should be a concern? And I guess I was getting my hopes up for "Brifters" because the Trek Portland has "Brifters" and disk brakes. They're not the same disc brakes (Avid BB-R7) as the PDX, but since I don't know enough about the different options, I didn't know how different the parts were on the two models.
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Old 06-05-11, 02:39 PM   #4
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Yea, Avid has a Road version, of cable operated discs, 5 and 7 ,the 2 models,
7 has a 2 knob based pad wear adjustment, 5 has 1,& the cable adjuster
to deal with the other.

Then you can install a road Brifter.

alternatively as mentioned above, QBP offers an Inline Travel Agent,
to amplify the cable pull
from Road-short, to mountain-V brake long.

new caliper change is tidier.
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Old 06-05-11, 02:46 PM   #5
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new caliper change is tidier.
If I understand you correctly, you're saying the better option would be to replace the Tektra brakes for road compatible Avid brakes, then get the "Brifters" as is? Would it be acceptible to call that a long-term solution, while the Travel Agents could be seen as a short-term standby.

For example, I could first invest in the Brifters, the drop bar, and the travel agents; and then at a later date, remove the travel agents and replace the brake systems? That way I'm spreading out the costs a bit more.
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Old 06-05-11, 02:46 PM   #6
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I was looking at those too... the only thing that concerned me was that I read that the increased the travel but decreased the power.
That's kind of the point. The difference between short-pull and long-pull lies in where mechanical advantage is applied. Short pull brake levers can apply a lot of force, but they don't pull the cable very far. Long pull brake levers pull the cable further, but cannot apply as much force - but they don't need to. Brakes built for either take this into account. The long arms on V-brakes create mechanical advantage and makes them, on average, more powerful than shorter cantilever brakes, even though the force from the brake levers is less. I would assume disc brakes are designed the same way.
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Old 06-05-11, 03:38 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
Yea, Avid has a Road version, of cable operated discs, 5 and 7 ,the 2 models,
7 has a 2 knob based pad wear adjustment, 5 has 1,& the cable adjuster
to deal with the other.

Then you can install a road Brifter.

alternatively as mentioned above, QBP offers an Inline Travel Agent,
to amplify the cable pull
from Road-short, to mountain-V brake long.

new caliper change is tidier.
Slowly I'm piecing this all together... but if I wanted to do this in stages I would [U]not[U] be able to change my disc brakes to the Avid BB5 Road without actually changing out levers as well. Is that correct? It's not like the calipers are adjustable for long or short pull levers, its one or the other.

The reason I ask is that I'm not really happy with the current brakes on the PDX (they squeak a lot, and I've read that consistently in reviews), and if I were to go ahead and change out the brakes in advance of the drop bar conversion, I'd not be able to go to the Avid Road brakes without further alterations. Correct?

I'm sorry I'm asking so many questions, I'm just trying to get a handle on the situation.
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Old 06-06-11, 12:06 AM   #8
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I think you've got it straight - either change both the brakes to Avid road disc brakes and the levers to brifters (and these must be changed at the same time), or stick with the current brakes and add some in-line travel agents when changing to brifters. BTW, the travel agents work fine - I use them on one disc brake and a couple of V-brakes with brifters.

A third option would be to get some linear-pull drop-bar levers (Tektro and Cane Creek both sell good ones, much more comfortable than the Dia Compe model, but the Cane Creek ones are just re-branded Tektro's at a higher price) and then use some bar-end shifters, and stick with your current brakes. Finding 8-speed bar-ends might be difficult, but you could always use a bar-end designed for 9 or 10 speeds in friction mode instead of indexed. With this option, if you wanted to upgrade your brakes to the Avids later, then you could by buying the "Mountain" version of the Avids.

Another factor is that the road brifters will not be compatible with your current front derailleur (the left shifter will not pull enough cable), so you'll need to change the front derailleur when changing to brifters. However, if you go with bar-end shifters then they work with any front derailleur. The linear-pull brake lever plus bar-end shifter option would therefore be by far the cheapest option.
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Old 06-06-11, 06:22 AM   #9
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Another factor is that the road brifters will not be compatible with your current front derailleur (the left shifter will not pull enough cable), so you'll need to change the front derailleur when changing to brifters. However, if you go with bar-end shifters then they work with any front derailleur. The linear-pull brake lever plus bar-end shifter option would therefore be by far the cheapest option.
I'm not sure I understand why I'd have to change the front derailleur. I guess there's more to the equation than the fact that both my current shifter, and the potential replacement are both indexed for a triple chain ring?
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Old 06-06-11, 07:15 AM   #10
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The suggestion to switch to bar-ends will save you money and the expense of using travel-agents while you wait.

You'll have to change your front derailleur because it won't work brifters as they pull different amounts of cable than the front shifter on your bike right now.

bar-end shifters in 8,9 (65-80$)or friction shifters are only 50$
tektro rl520 25$ will work with your current brakes and you can upgrade to any mountain cable discs later.

You could be up and running for a 100$ in parts. I'm running almost this exact set up but I have 9 speed shifters running in friction... they shift really well with modern cassettes as all the ramps on the teeth still do their job. I'd never used bar end shifters but they are really nice.
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Old 06-06-11, 07:50 AM   #11
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The suggestion to switch to bar-ends will save you money and the expense of using travel-agents while you wait.
I read up on bar-end shifters yesterday, and they just didn't appeal to me. That's not to say that I couldn't get accustomed to them, but they just seemed very non-ergonomic. I probably shift too much as it is, but I do really like having the shifters right at my fingertips.

I knew that I'd have to change out the brake levers and shifters when I first started thinking about all of this, but I had no idea how much of a trickle down there would be!
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Old 06-06-11, 07:53 AM   #12
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Good advice here. Understandably confusing for a newbie, but it's all there. Just be patient and read through it several times.

Options (in addition to your purchase of a drop bar)

1) Brifters, plus one travel agent for each (existing) brake, plus a new front derailleur (IRD Alpina-d or Ultegra 6503) ~$300. BTW, these FD's are very difficult to actually find. The IRD is allegedly back in stock after a hiatus of more than a year and the 6503, ubiquitous five years ago, has been discontinued, available only intermittedly used on eBay.

2) Brifters, plus replace your brakes with road disc brakes, plus a new front derailleur ~$350

3) Bar ends in friction mode, plus mountain brake levers for drop bars (Cane Creek SCR-5V) ~$200

All this for a $600 bike?

Maybe you like your current setup more than you thought you did.

Last edited by Cyclesafe; 06-06-11 at 08:07 AM. Reason: FD info
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Old 06-06-11, 08:07 AM   #13
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Maybe you like your current setup more than you thought you did.
That's very possible... I guess another option I was looking at may be more appealing now, as well. Getting some "Drop-Bar-Ends" like these: http://www.bikeworldusa.us/HB-END-OR...B0013G6PB8.htm

Anyone have any experience with them? I don't do a lot of distance riding right now, but I've found that when I do (and by distance I mean 20+ miles) my wrists start to get really uncomfortable so I was really looking for some more hand positions.
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Old 06-06-11, 08:38 AM   #14
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I have a pair that I used for a couple of seasons on a flat bar tandem in the captain's position before we went to the Bent tandem. I needed an inexpensive way to provide the additional positions of a drop bar without getting into the additional expense of all new shifters and brake levers. I would give them a thumbs up. It's nowhere near as elegant a solution as having brifters but it works. Why not try them out? $16 is a very low cost to find out how you like the geometry on this bike and may even give you enough relief in hand positions that you decide to stop there

I might also chime in on the brakes. If it were my bike, I would use the BB7 Road brakes vs BB5. Both are simple to install but the BB7s are easy to adjust and work very well.

Last edited by blamp28; 06-06-11 at 09:09 AM.
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Old 06-06-11, 09:01 AM   #15
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Something else to consider with a drop bar conversion is geometry.
Your flat bar bike probably has a longer 'effective top tube' length then a bike that was actually made for drop bars.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Cyclesafe View Post
Options (in addition to your purchase of a drop bar)

1) Brifters, plus one travel agent for each (existing) brake, plus a new front derailleur (IRD Alpina-d or Ultegra 6503) ~$300. BTW, these FD's are very difficult to actually find. The IRD is allegedly back in stock after a hiatus of more than a year and the 6503, ubiquitous five years ago, has been discontinued, available only intermittedly used on eBay.
Those two front derailleurs won't work as they are bottom pull, the OP's bike is set up for a top pull derailleur.

It's not too hard to find a IRD Alpina: http://harriscyclery.net/product/ird...ailer-2435.htm
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Old 06-06-11, 09:10 AM   #16
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Something else to consider with a drop bar conversion is geometry. Your flat bar bike probably has a longer 'effective top tube' length then a bike that was actually made for drop bars.

It's not too hard to find a IRD Alpina: http://harriscyclery.net/product/ird...ailer-2435.htm
So, does that mean I just need this specific derailleur, or is there yet something else I'm looking at.

So far what I'm looking at is:
  • Drop Bar ~ $50
  • Travel Agents x2 ~ $35
  • Shimano ST-2203 Brifters ~ $120
  • Front Derailleur ~ $50

It's more than I expected, but still not terrible. Though, it's far less than if I had out and out bought the Portland I wanted in the first place. Even if I hadn't talked myself down from it, there was no way it would ever have fit in my budget. I'm kind of looking at the PDX as a "work in progress."

And can I just say *Thanks* to everyone who has contributed to this thread? Everything here has been extremely helpful and informative. You've all been great!

Last edited by Kacey3; 06-06-11 at 09:15 AM. Reason: Special Thanks
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Old 06-06-11, 10:15 AM   #17
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Those two front derailleurs won't work as they are bottom pull, the OP's bike is set up for a top pull derailleur.
Ooops! Good catch. Neither of these derailleurs will work for the OP. I am unaware of any top pull equivalents. I think that this squelches the road brifter idea completely - unless one were to recable the bike. Possible, but even more trouble and expense...

If the main issue for the OP is more hand positions, then bar-ends are the way to go. I like the more expensive Cane Creek Ergos. It makes much more sense for this bike than investing alot more money. They can be removed and saved for the next bike when the PDX is sold.

Last edited by Cyclesafe; 06-06-11 at 10:23 AM. Reason: spelling
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Old 06-06-11, 10:48 AM   #18
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So, does that mean I just need this specific derailleur.
That IRD Alpina will work with brifters but it's a bottom pull derailleur, your frame is set up for a top pull derailleur which your current front derailleur is.

Top pull - the cable comes down the seat tube to the derailleur, it pulls the derailleur from the top.

Bottom pull - the cable comes down the down tube, then goes around the bottom bracket and up to the derailleur, it pulls the derailleur from the bottom.

There isn't any top pull road derailleurs made as far as I know and you need a 'road' derailleur to work with brifters.


I've found a couple of things that could make a bottom pull road derailleur work with top pull cable routing but I have no idea on how well they would work.

Clamp on Pulleys:
http://www.cyclocrossworld.com/Thorne-Products-Clamp-with-Cable-Pulley_p_330.html
http://www.cyclocrossworld.com/Probl...ley_p_332.html

Speen makes a converter to turn a bottom pull into a top pull:
http://www.speen.de/speen____SportsE.../products.html

Last edited by cobba; 09-08-11 at 08:53 AM.
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Old 06-06-11, 11:14 AM   #19
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Yeah, the further this thread goes, the more it looks like the bar-ends are the optimal solution. I'm glad I spent as much time here noodling it all out than just jumping in and trying to make a conversion!
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Old 06-06-11, 11:31 AM   #20
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Yeah, the further this thread goes, the more it looks like the bar-ends are the optimal solution.
These bar ends get some good reviews: http://www.google.com/search?q=Cane+...hop&hl=en&aq=f:

Reviews: http://www.mtbr.com/mfr/cane-creek/b...950_90crx.aspx

Last edited by cobba; 06-06-11 at 11:43 AM.
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Old 06-08-11, 05:25 PM   #21
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So after all this, now I'm thinking Butterfly.
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Old 06-08-11, 06:26 PM   #22
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Unlike rim brakes disc brakes are just not that fussy about the amount of lever pull. On rim brakes using a canti pull lever on a V brake arm is a recipe for rim scuffing when the brakes are not applied. But with mechanical discs the very slight amount of clearance needed to avoid that annoying scuffing sound is far less to the point that the levers all provide enough travel regardless of if they are V or canti specific.

While I agree with the folks that are suggesting the Avid road caliper sets as the best way to go you may easily find that your present Tektro calipers work just fine with road brifters when they are set up nicely. And if not exactly the same that they still work well enough. Especially if your present setup only needs a one finger easy pressure sort of effort for stopping. On the other hand if you are a four finger white knuckle sort of squeeze to stop at present then switching to brifters may leave you wondering if you have any brakes at all. But more likely the reality is somewhere in the middle.
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Old 06-08-11, 08:41 PM   #23
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Quote:
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So after all this, now I'm thinking Butterfly.
I have this bar on my MTB specifically because I do long rides where the additional hand positions help. It might be another idea for you. I know a shop that had one still new in the box last time I checked - straight from the 80s.
http://www.sheldonbrown.com/scott.html
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Old 06-09-11, 02:27 PM   #24
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You can mount road brake levers on drop bar ends.
You could use the Origin8 bar-ends and Tektro long pull levers with your current bar and shifters, no new brakes or derailer needed.
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Old 06-09-11, 02:48 PM   #25
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Or you could get some kelly take offs:

and some downtube shifters along with some long pull tektro aero brake levers and use your current brakes and drivetrain. Whole setup would probably be in the $120-150 range, but it'd keep your shifters near your fingers. I'm putting my take offs on this weekend, so maybe I shouldn't talk until I've done it but it just seems like a good idea that I wanted to share.
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