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converting to combo shift/brake levers

Old 05-19-19, 02:42 PM
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mobiledan
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converting to combo shift/brake levers

Has anyone converted from downtube shifters to the new combo shift/brake levers? I'm wondering what sort of problems I might run into doing that to my 70's Raleigh.

I'm also wondering if I can switch from the 5 gear sprocket to a 7 gear cassette, Maybe going with a different rear derailleur with a longer throw, allowing for a bigger hill-climbing ring.
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Old 05-19-19, 02:55 PM
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I know one guy who tried it, his bike blew up afterwards.
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Old 05-19-19, 03:09 PM
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Originally Posted by mobiledan View Post
Has anyone converted from downtube shifters to the new combo shift/brake levers? I'm wondering what sort of problems I might run into doing that to my 70's Raleigh.

I'm also wondering if I can switch from the 5 gear sprocket to a 7 gear cassette, Maybe going with a different rear derailleur with a longer throw, allowing for a bigger hill-climbing ring.
Retro roadies- old frames with STI's or Ergos

Yes, it's done all the time around here. It allows for classic frames with smaller tubing and traditional lug construction to blend with current technology and comfort.

- you will need indexing front and rear derailleurs in order to use STI shifters.
- you will need to go to a minimum of 7 cogs in back since STIs start there.
- depending on what wheels you have, you may need to get ones that can accomodate a 7sp freewheel/cassette or larger.
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Old 05-19-19, 03:42 PM
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It can be done with five or six cogs as well. Pre-2001 Campagnolo brifters, combined with a Shimano RD, will shift a 5/6 speed block nicely:



Tried it with good results:

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Old 05-19-19, 04:06 PM
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Originally Posted by mobiledan View Post
Has anyone converted from downtube shifters to the new combo shift/brake levers? I'm wondering what sort of problems I might run into doing that to my 70's Raleigh.

I'm also wondering if I can switch from the 5 gear sprocket to a 7 gear cassette, Maybe going with a different rear derailleur with a longer throw, allowing for a bigger hill-climbing ring.
Hello and welcome to the forums.

Sure it could be done but how complicated will it be is the question. As already noted you'll need new derailleurs, and very possibly new wheels and of course the shifters. You might also need a new crankset and bottom bracket as well.

My first question would be, what model Raleigh? If you have something top of the line like an International or Professional that you really enjoy it might be worth the expense to find a 'donor' bike (with an english bottom bracket of course) and simply swap the parts over.

If you have a lower end model it may not be worth the expense.

Any pics of your bike? or just more information about it?
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Old 05-19-19, 05:12 PM
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You need to decide how far you want to go and how much you want to spend. I took my 80s Pinarello to from 6 speed downtube to 8 speed Campy Ergopower back in 93. I was lucky that my frame was able to take a 130mm hub (old wheels/frames are 126mm, newer ones are 130mm - yes, the 4mm really makes a difference). You can find 8/9, even 10 speed groups pretty cheap, but then you will also need to find a set of wheels. Shimano 8/9/10 speeds all use the same rear hub. Campy 8 speed is a stand-alone. Campy 9/10/11 all use the same rear hub. For all the speeds, the cassettes are unique. Different speed derailleurs may or may not work correctly with different speed STI/Ergo levers. Brake throw ratios also varied with some so the brakes may or may not work quite right with a given set of levers. Just buy a complete low end group (Shimano Tiagra or 105, Campy Centaur) and some low end wheels, and you'll probably get much better performance than what you have now. And, the first time you shift under power on a climb, you'll wonder why you didnt switch years ago. (My epiphany was when I ran out of power, but still had a couple of gears left, and the hill was too steep to take my hand off the bars to shift)
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Old 05-19-19, 05:17 PM
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It's definitely doable but I wouldn't do it. I'm all about that classic simplicity and (in addition to genuinely liking them) downtube shifters just look right to me. I'm a bit of a hypocrite here as I do like aero brake levers. There's just so little cable then...
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Old 05-19-19, 05:43 PM
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Originally Posted by mobiledan View Post
Has anyone converted from downtube shifters to the new combo shift/brake levers? I'm wondering what sort of problems I might run into doing that to my 70's Raleigh.

I'm also wondering if I can switch from the 5 gear sprocket to a 7 gear cassette, Maybe going with a different rear derailleur with a longer throw, allowing for a bigger hill-climbing ring.
I've done the changeover and love the bike I built! My advice:

1. Study - know what you want out of the bike, what you want to spend, what's involved - does it make sense to upgrade your frame?
2. Read the Retro Roadies thread that mstateglfr linked to.
3. Keep your eyes peeled for deals. It may be harder now because of Shimano's issue with UK dealers selling complete groupsets to US buyers (a whole 'nother ball of wax). IDK.
4. Go for it! The rewards are worth it:
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Old 05-21-19, 09:10 PM
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A good frame.

It is a Competition. 531 double butted, nice lugs, built at the Carlton plant.
We be
Originally Posted by Bianchigirll View Post
Hello and welcome to the forums.

Sure it could be done but how complicated will it be is the question. As already noted you'll need new derailleurs, and very possibly new wheels and of course the shifters. You might also need a new crankset and bottom bracket as well.

My first question would be, what model Raleigh? If you have something top of the line like an International or Professional that you really enjoy it might be worth the expense to find a 'donor' bike (with an english bottom bracket of course) and simply swap the parts over.

If you have a lower end model it may not be worth the expense.

Any pics of your bike? or just more information about it?
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Old 05-21-19, 09:32 PM
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Several years ago my steel Bianchi frame got killed by a car, but all the components, even wheels survived. It came with a Shimano Exage drivetrain with downtube shifters.. By then I had discovered integrated brake lever shifters. I found some 8 speed Sora brifters on sale at Nashbar, to go with a $99 Nashbar aluminum frame. The 8 speed shifters worked fine with the 7 speed Exage, except the last click on the right lever went nowhere. I'm not a great mechanic, but it all went together amazingly well. The whole setup worked fine, but the aluminum frame didnt match the Bianchi ride quality, so I sold the bike to a neighbor.
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Old 05-21-19, 09:44 PM
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The ride quality of my old Competition beats any new frame I could afford. Thanks for the encouraging words.
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Old 05-21-19, 09:49 PM
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Classic purity.

Originally Posted by DHPflaumer View Post
It's definitely doable but I wouldn't do it. I'm all about that classic simplicity and (in addition to genuinely liking them) downtube shifters just look right to me. I'm a bit of a hypocrite here as I do like aero brake levers. There's just so little cable then...
Until recently, I felt exactly like that. But I've been riding a high bred with ratchet shifters, and I am not as comfortable as I used to be with the downtube shifters
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Old 05-22-19, 12:25 AM
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Yup, I recently switched the early '90s Trek 5900 from downtube to MicroShift brifters. No problems. Works great. The existing 7-speed Shimano front and rear derailleurs and freewheel worked just fine with the new shifters.

As other folks have described, the main advantage I've found is being able to shift while standing to climb or sprint; or any other occasion when I need to keep my hands on the bars and shift, especially in tight group rides when I can't take another line.

Oh, and the ergonomics are better. The hoods are more comfortable and the brake levers have a lighter touch.

I kept downtube shifters on my other road bike. I like 'em fine. But I do need to keep in mind the limitations, which usually just means fewer shifts and grunting it out or spinning faster than my usual cadence, for a few moments. On solo rides it's almost never a problem. It might have cost me a few seconds on a roller coaster time trial route.

Last edited by canklecat; 05-22-19 at 12:51 AM.
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Old 05-22-19, 07:25 AM
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Originally Posted by mobiledan View Post
Until recently, I felt exactly like that. But I've been riding a high bred with ratchet shifters, and I am not as comfortable as I used to be with the downtube shifters
Sounds like you will love it as I know exactly what you are saying here, I have done 4 of my bikes so far. The other big plus for me is that our area once pretty empty with few stop lights, etc, is now busy and I like keeping my hands on the brake levers when shifting.
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Old 05-22-19, 09:14 AM
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Originally Posted by mobiledan View Post
It is a Competition. 531 double butted, nice lugs, built at the Carlton plant.
We be
Is it a Competition with the proprietary Huret dropouts (like a '74 and a few years later)?

IF YOU DO, then step#1 will be modifying the hanger - and you have to ADD, not subtract, material. Nothing from all the other suggestions will work if your rear derailleur doesn't hang right.

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Old 05-22-19, 09:35 AM
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Welcome to the forum.

I suggest you make friends with @Bianchigirll and @CyclingFool95, as their posts are clear and concise. Use caution around @BFisher, because those Centurion fans are, well, batcrap crazy.

It can be done, and a Competition is a nice platform, but you need to look at the frame, too; a few things "going in...:"
1-Cable routing. I think your RD is not an issue, but the FD may need some tweaking.
2-Cable stops. Check to see how you would mount same on the DT, and perhaps one for the FD and RD.
3-Rear dropout spacing. You may need to cold set a 120 to 130, and it needs to be done right.
4-Rear cog clearance at the R chain stay. Always fun if you are almost done and realize a problem there.

There are many options, from 7-sp Shimano or Microshift, to the Campy solution as outlined above (which is elegant and works), to full-on frame mods (above) and whatever you want.

If it's been done, someone here probably did it. Take your time, ask advice, get your posts in to be able to post pics, and I'm sure we'll see your bike in modern kit before long.
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Old 05-22-19, 02:05 PM
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Originally Posted by RobbieTunes View Post
Welcome to the forum.

I suggest you make friends with @Bianchigirll and @CyclingFool95, as their posts are clear and concise. Use caution around @BFisher, because those Centurion fans are, well, batcrap crazy.

It can be done, and a Competition is a nice platform, but you need to look at the frame, too; a few things "going in...:"
1-Cable routing. I think your RD is not an issue, but the FD may need some tweaking.
2-Cable stops. Check to see how you would mount same on the DT, and perhaps one for the FD and RD.
3-Rear dropout spacing. You may need to cold set a 120 to 130, and it needs to be done right.
4-Rear cog clearance at the R chain stay. Always fun if you are almost done and realize a problem there.

There are many options, from 7-sp Shimano or Microshift, to the Campy solution as outlined above (which is elegant and works), to full-on frame mods (above) and whatever you want.

If it's been done, someone here probably did it. Take your time, ask advice, get your posts in to be able to post pics, and I'm sure we'll see your bike in modern kit before long.
Crazy like fox...
All sound advice here.
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Old 05-22-19, 03:54 PM
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To the OP: depending on the year it was made, your Competition may have Huret dropouts. The derailleur stop was made for their derailleurs, which is at the "4 o'clock" position. Campagnolo set the modern standard with the "7 o'clock" position. They can be permanently modified by brazing a bit of material in, if you look hard enough you can find adapters that attach and do the same thing.

Here's a good picture from Peter Weigle's Flickr images that shows the difference in stop position:

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Old 05-22-19, 03:59 PM
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Wow, no one has mentioned -- since your concern is about reaching the downtube shifters -- look into bar-end shifters. They're close to your hands, but allow you to keep your current friction-based driveline.
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Old 05-22-19, 05:49 PM
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Originally Posted by non-fixie View Post

Tried it with good results:

I like this bike, I like it a lot
I'd ride this bike, If I could
Without a thought.
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