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90s Roadbike to Townie Conversion

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90s Roadbike to Townie Conversion

Old 06-13-19, 03:55 AM
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beatifik
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90s Roadbike to Townie Conversion

First, sorry if there is already a thread for this... I couldn't really find the info I was looking for.

I recently got a great deal on a low-to-mid level shop team bike from the 90s where I live in Italy. It's a Columbus Thron frame fitted with Campy Mirage for anyone that's interested.

I bought it to keep in my apartment for when people come to visit so I want to convert it to a more comfy townie type bike.

What are my options?

I'd like to convert it to downtube shifters, but it seems almost impossible to find indexed downtube shifters. Or I do barend shifters? Or I just use friction shifters but I'm unsure they will work with the current derailleurs. It has ergopower levers now... I suppose I could get some moustache bars and use the current levers? But then I'd need a new shorter stem...

In a perfect world I would love to set it up with some sort of porteur upright bars with downtube shifters (indexed if possible, but friction is fine too) and I don't want to change the whole groupset or many parts at all. Is this possible? Am I living in a fantasy land?

Otherwise I'll just leave it as is with drops, put some platform pedals on it and if people want to borrow a bike, they'll just have to deal with it as it is.
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Old 06-13-19, 07:02 AM
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Depends on your budget. You could make it into a Lunar lander if you were willing to lay out the cash.

Handlebar shifters---trigger shifters---from a flat-bar road bike would be the cheapest, easiest conversion form brifters. Does it have mountain bosses for downtube shifters, or would you have to install a clamped-on mount?

Or why not let people ride it as is? How do you know what random visitors are going to prefer?
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Old 06-13-19, 08:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
Depends on your budget. You could make it into a Lunar lander if you were willing to lay out the cash.

Handlebar shifters---trigger shifters---from a flat-bar road bike would be the cheapest, easiest conversion form brifters. Does it have mountain bosses for downtube shifters, or would you have to install a clamped-on mount?

Or why not let people ride it as is? How do you know what random visitors are going to prefer?
honestly, I have a roadbike already I like and I also will use the townie bike to ride around town barhopping or whatnot.

It does have the downtube bosses.
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Old 06-14-19, 01:06 AM
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I'm considering a similar project for my next older steel road bike frame. I like my early '90s Univega Via Carisma but at 30 lbs it's a bit heavier than I'd like for some rides. I mostly use it for errands and casual group rides. Platform pedals so I can wear whatever shoes I want.

Locally some cycling friends have done some interesting conversions of older steel road bikes.

One converted a Bianchi to a fixie with wide flat bar.

Another converted a Trek road bike to a lightweight stealth cruiser with swept bars -- I don't recall whether they're albatross, North Roads or Bosco types -- right at saddle height. And a Selle Anatomica to keep it comfortable with the more upright ride. I don't recall what he did for shifters.

My Univega has albatross bars and Shimano bar end shifters with 8-speed cassette. Index shifting for the rear derailleur; friction front, but really it would do fine as a single chainring and no front derailleur -- it has a triple 30/40/50 but I mostly use the 40. It's darned near perfect other than the weight. Something closer to 25 lbs total would be nice.

I like my Centurion Ironman set up pretty close to original, but if I found a similar frame I'd swap the Nitto albatross bar and bar end shifters over to it. Maybe some Issi platforms, or something similar. Nice thing about the albatross bar is the versatility -- almost as many hand positions as a drop bar. I often lean forward into the arched part of the bar, which feels pretty much like riding the hoods on a touring bike with drops.

For a loaner bike, I'd keep it cheap. Wald or similar low price steel swept bar. SunRace friction shifters. Pretty much how I had my Univega set up for a couple of years before I got fancy. It worked fine.
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Old 06-14-19, 01:32 AM
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For a loaner bike, I'd keep it cheap. Wald or similar low price steel swept bar. SunRace friction shifters. Pretty much how I had my Univega set up for a couple of years before I got fancy. It worked fine.
Is the correct answer.

Hang onto the Mirage shifters and drop bars in your parts bin or whatever, but definitely for the sake of simplicity, friction shifters are the way to go.
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Old 06-16-19, 01:52 PM
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Forgive my stupidity... can I just buy any old downtube shifters and install them? Or do I need to buy new derailleurs as well that are built to be compatible with friction shifting. Sorry, this is probably the stupidest question anyone has ever asked, I just don’t know anything about all this.

what kind of brake levers are people using on upright bars? I like the look of those diacompe 139 that kinda curve around with the shape of the bars but I’ll be ordering all this stuff online probably and I don’t want to order the wrong stuff.

Yeah, although this will be a loaner bike I would like a bike I can take out to the bar or into town without wearing my cycling shoes. I rode a track bike for many years with upright bars and pedals with clips and straps and I really liked it. Unfortunately that bike is in storage on the other side of the ocean right now and it was cheaper for me to buy this bike and convert it than it would be to get that bike here where I live.

Thanks again for the suggestions and ideas.
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Old 06-16-19, 02:57 PM
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The cool thing about friction shifting is you don't really have to worry about compatibility (due to no indexing).
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Old 07-31-19, 08:51 AM
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OK, I got the downtube shifters (diacompe/rivendell silver) on and they're working. I also set up porteur bars with some guidonnet brake levers. Everything feels and looks great. I even put a cute brass bell on there.

HOWEVER, I found another fun problem when putting this bike together. It doesn't even fit size 23 tires! That's absurd. The wheel is a little out of true, but even if the wheel is true it leaves me with like 1mm of clearance between the back tire and the seat tube. This is dumb.

I think now I'll just buy a 650b wheelset and some long-reach calipers and be done with it. This was an original plan of mine for this bike anyway, but didn't want to do it right away in order to spread the money I'm spending on this bike out over a bit of time.

Can anyone recommend a good 650b wheelset that I can buy pre-built for cheap? I'm in Italy so anything coming from the USA will be way too expensive to ship. Also my local bike shop does not have these types of specialty parts, they mostly fix bikes for the elderly people in my town and that's about it. He'd try to rig up something that kinda works and I'd probably spend too much on it and then just wish I'd ordered online what I really wanted in the first place. So any online source for cheaply built wheels in Europe?

Any advice would be appreciated, thanks!
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Old 07-31-19, 10:52 AM
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Wife's 650B conversion.
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Old 08-01-19, 06:30 AM
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Moved to C&V.
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