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Drop tube shifters to brifters modification expensive?

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Drop tube shifters to brifters modification expensive?

Old 05-31-12, 05:46 PM
  #1  
lungimsam
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Drop tube shifters to brifters modification expensive?

On this bike (Bridgestone 400):

https://sheldonbrown.com/bridgestone/...estone-400.jpg

I am guessing all I have to do is buy the brifters and run the shifter/brake lines up to them at the bars?
So I need brifters, cables, new housing. Anything else? Is this hard to do?

I will keep the bike as is for now and see how I like it stock. Just wundrin' what's entailed in doing this mod if I want to.
Thanks for your interest and advice.
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Old 05-31-12, 05:59 PM
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I had that exact bike and it came with a 6-speed freewheel and Sun Tour ARX derailleurs and friction downtube shifters. You will not find brifters to match them.

Upgrading to 7 speeds will require a new freewheel, hard-to-find 7-speed brifters and index compatible derailleurs. Upgrading to 8+ speeds will require a new cassette hub rear wheel and respacing the rear dropouts as well as a new cassette, chain, brifters and both derailleurs.

Long story short: It's going to be complex and expensive. Nice bike, leave it stock.
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Old 05-31-12, 06:03 PM
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+1. If I needed the shifters closer to my hands, I'd consider friction bar-ends.
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Old 05-31-12, 06:05 PM
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So, the only really easy options would be to move the shifting to friction bar ends, or stem friction shifting on this bike?

I'll try it for a while with the down tube shifters. Never used them before and might like it that way.

Last edited by lungimsam; 05-31-12 at 06:09 PM.
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Old 05-31-12, 06:29 PM
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"I'll try it for a while with the down tube shifters. Never used them before and might like it that way. "

I think you should give them a try. They were perfectly fine for many years and you may find that you like them a lot. You might find that you pay more attention to your riding, much like driving a manual shift car vs automatic. There is a certain amount of satisfaction to be had by perfecting a new skill. You will also avoid the hassles of getting an often finicky indexed shifting system working properly. Those ratchet shifters are tolerant of system wear and even minor damage like a tweaked derailleur that might leave you limping home with an indexed system.
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Old 05-31-12, 07:31 PM
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Bar-ends or get used to the downtube shifters.

I recently replaced a stem shifter with one made by Sunlite, available through J&B through your local shop. The result was the nicest stem shifting I'd ever experienced, which still isn't saying much.

The advantage to downtube levers is that it doesn't throw off your balance to reach down to shift. Also, the cables are a pretty direct run to the derailleurs so finding your gear doesn't require a whole lot of "english." Stem shifters require you to reach up and to the center of the bar, which is inherently less stable. Then the cable runs through these loops of housing, which means more hunting for the gear.

I used downtube shifters for 35 years before trying STI levers. On my STI-equipped bike I still find myself reaching down to shift if I haven't ridden it in a while. 9- and 10-speed cassettes require indexing of some sort because the gaps between the gears are so small, but with a little practice it's easy to slam gears by touch when there are only 6 or 7.
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Old 05-31-12, 07:37 PM
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Originally Posted by lungimsam View Post
So, the only really easy options would be to move the shifting to friction bar ends, or stem friction shifting on this bike?

I'll try it for a while with the down tube shifters. Never used them before and might like it that way.
Most definitely barends over stem shifters if you want to change from downtubes. I also agree that you should give downtube shifters a chance and see if you like them. I rode my Bridgestone 400 for 7 years with them and a Trek 1420 for 4 more with 7-speed indexing downtube shifters. They do work well. Barends are slightly more convenient but the difference isn't huge. Stem shifters, to me, ar the least attractive option by far.

Brifters are the ultimate in convenience but I believe the cost of converting your bike is prohibitive.
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Old 05-31-12, 07:41 PM
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It is true that you will not find a 6speed brifter
however it is possible that some frankenstien of parts will let you use a modern brifter, just with unused clicks on it.
https://www.ctc.org.uk/DesktopDefault.aspx?TabID=3946
this site has some references, doesnt include cog spacig for sutour though, so you'll need to do some research

or go with bar end shifters, those are more fun anyway
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Old 05-31-12, 07:48 PM
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Is it expensive? Yes, particularly when compared to just finding a nice used bike with STI shifters.

Now, full disclosure, I have installed STI on several of my vintage bikes, including a 1987 Schwinn Prologue (Panasonic built), a 1992 Paramount Series 5, etc. But the project started by finding a deal on a second bike with the drivetrain I wanted, and then swapping parts. My Prologue got all nine speed Dura Ace, picked up at a garage sale. My 92 PAramount has 8 speed 600/Ultegra.

So it can be done, at an affordable price, if you look aggressively for a donor bike. But if you want to buy parts at your local LBS, it is going to get really costly, really fast. And used STI shifters off ebay are risky (and not very cheap either).

Last edited by wrk101; 05-31-12 at 07:56 PM.
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Old 05-31-12, 08:02 PM
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I've done budget conversions to brifters for about $350, but that's because I really wanted to upgrade that particular bike. I agree with the other posts above.
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Old 05-31-12, 08:52 PM
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I love downtube shifters. You can find indexed ones if you don't want friction.
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Old 05-31-12, 10:46 PM
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lungimsam
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Friction sounds good. And sounds like no trouble shifting that way, and no limitations you get with indexing.
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Old 06-01-12, 09:50 AM
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Originally Posted by GeoKrpan View Post
I love downtube shifters. You can find indexed ones if you don't want friction.
The problem will be with the rear derailleur. If the OP is willing to fit a 7-speed freewheel, a narrower 7/8-speed chain and 7-speed indexed downtube or barcon shifters, he will also have to add an index compatible rear derailleur. Again, this is relatively expensive for someone without a parts stash and who will have to pay a dealer for the work.
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Old 06-01-12, 10:16 AM
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+1, more efficient to buy a whole new bike..
to get more 'speeds', (add rear sprockets), past 7
the frame has to be spread out wider between the dropouts,
to get the axle wide enough for #8 ..

consider an IGH instead of a derailleur?

2 of my favorite bikes had/have a SA 3 speed hub, 50 years apart.

But my derailleur rigs are all using friction shifters,
Drops, bar end or thumb, on the upright bars.

Kelly 'take offs' let you run down tube levers
Inside, right next to the brake lever hood ..

Last edited by fietsbob; 06-01-12 at 12:44 PM.
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Old 06-01-12, 11:28 AM
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Expensive, yes. I recently explored this idea for my early 1980s vintage Cielo that is built with Dura Ace downtube friction shifters. My wife has glommed onto this bike (it was supposed to be mine!) and taken a liking to it, but she is not comfortable with the downtube shifters. When looking at the dollars to buy used parts to do this (in my case we're talking rear wheel, rear derailleur, STI shifters, and downtube cable adjusters) and that the Cielo is a beautiful vintage steel bike that should probably keep the period correct Dura Ace parts on it, I realized I would be better off finding a different bike for her on CL. That same day I found a really nice looking Kestrel, all 600 STI 7spd, for $500 which is in the ballpark of what it would have cost to "upgrade" the Cielo.

It really depends on how cheap you can find the conversion parts for.
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Old 06-01-12, 11:32 AM
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Originally Posted by lungimsam View Post
So, the only really easy options would be to move the shifting to friction bar ends, or stem friction shifting on this bike?

I'll try it for a while with the down tube shifters. Never used them before and might like it that way.
Yep. Good idea to try down tube friction. With just a few rides worth of practice, it becomes second nature. Downtube shifters are maintenance free and reliable.

And they look good, too.
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Old 06-01-12, 02:51 PM
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Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
The problem will be with the rear derailleur. If the OP is willing to fit a 7-speed freewheel, a narrower 7/8-speed chain and 7-speed indexed downtube or barcon shifters, he will also have to add an index compatible rear derailleur. Again, this is relatively expensive for someone without a parts stash and who will have to pay a dealer for the work.
What I would do is get some 6 speed indexed downtube shifters and try it with the present derailleur. If the derailleur was a no go I'd replace it with something of a more modern vintage. Not expensive at all.
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Old 06-01-12, 03:48 PM
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Originally Posted by GeoKrpan View Post
What I would do is get some 6 speed indexed downtube shifters and try it with the present derailleur. If the derailleur was a no go I'd replace it with something of a more modern vintage. Not expensive at all.
Not expensive until it doesn't work. The ARX derailleurs were never designed for indexing of any kind.
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Old 06-01-12, 04:52 PM
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I went the opposite way brifters to downtube shifters and the only mistake i made was buying expensive dura ace with index.
I should have got cheap secondhand simplex or similar because i don't use the index and i run 9 speed.
Give it a chance and it will become second nature.
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Old 06-01-12, 08:33 PM
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Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
Not expensive until it doesn't work. The ARX derailleurs were never designed for indexing of any kind.
If it doesn't wok get another derailleur, not expensive.
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