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To Brift or Not to Brift?

Old 08-29-19, 05:16 PM
  #1  
oldtrekguy
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To Brift or Not to Brift?

Hello Gang,

I recently purchased a 1993 Bianchi Forza from a Seller on CL.

The bike is in good shape (been hanging in his garage for the last 25 years...)

I currently have it at my LBS to have the frame faced, and the BB chased.

Plan A: I have an almost complete Campy Mirage nine-speed drivetrain. I will use either the original Shimano DT shifters, or go with Suntour Accushift, (friction-shift mode) downtube shifters, Cane Creek brake levers. For wheels, I have a 36-spoke wheel built on a Malliard hub for the front wheel, and a rear wheel built around a black Campy Mirage hub (I believe the spoke count on the real wheel is 28 spokes). The rest of the bike will be built up with spares that I have in "inventory".

Plan B: Recycle the original wheels for a more correct "look". The wheels will need truing and an overhaul of the bearings. The drivetrain will then be a mix and match of Campy, with a seven speed Shimano cassette on the rear wheel.

Plan C: I scored a good deal on a pair of Campy Khamsin C17 wheels. Plan C is Plan A with the Campy wheels, and nine-speed Campy brifters (I have the brifters and the brake/shift cable kit on the shelf).

Plan D: Reassemble with the original Shimano Exage drivetrain. The only problem her is that the front chainrings are 52/42 and I am old and fat. The Campy crankset is a 50/34 compact crank so I will end up a with lower (more useful) gearing.

I realize the Forza is a low-end made in Taiwan frame set, but it scratches my itch for an "Italian Road machine"

Any thoughts, suggestions or comments welcomed.
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Old 08-29-19, 05:25 PM
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I've no experience with the Campy stuff you have, or with a Bianchi Forza for that matter.

If it is a bike you plan on riding a lot, I'd go brifters/9 speed. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy my downtube-shiftered bikes. But I do prefer brifters.

"If you only knew the power of the dark side..."
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Old 08-29-19, 05:50 PM
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Yeah, a lot of people like brifters. If you're one of them, they're hard to beat.

I, personally, can't stand them. They allow me to form bad habits and, before long, pain.
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Old 08-29-19, 06:45 PM
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Since you have the Campy 9-sp stuff and the crank is what you're looking for, that route makes sense. I haven't used Campy brifters, but the Shimano ones I've owned were great.

Kinda like car transmissions - standard or automatic both get the job done, it's just a matter of personal preference.
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Old 08-29-19, 06:54 PM
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I replaced the DT shifters in my 1989 Bottecchia (bought it new in 1989) with Campy Athena 11 speed.

I am glad I did.

I think that you will be happy too.

post pictures.

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Old 08-29-19, 07:09 PM
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What length of crankarms is the Campy? Could be a deciding factor as well. Do you need 170, 172 or 175.
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Old 08-29-19, 07:25 PM
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I need a picture or two of this bike. Then I can suggest that you stay DT shifter and use the compact cranks until...
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Old 08-29-19, 07:29 PM
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I recently picked up a cheap Specialized Allez w/ complete 105 and I gotta say I really miss using the more modern drivetrain stuff. My vote is to put the brifters on it.
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Old 08-29-19, 07:40 PM
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quicker easier more seductive the dark side is....

Seriously you have all the stuff why not give it a whirl not like you can't swap back to the DT stuff if you don't like it.
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Old 08-29-19, 08:35 PM
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Everyone should have at least one bike with DT shifters... if youíve met that requirement, brift away.

Otherwise, the Bianchi would make a nice one.
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Old 08-29-19, 09:38 PM
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I haven't brifted yet because I'm worried all of my bikes would then need them...
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Old 08-29-19, 10:02 PM
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IMHO, brifters allow for faster gear changes.
If thatís significant, then do it.

Iíve got several brifter bikes from this millennium, so I keep the vintage bikes (except 1) as downtube shifters, friction. Helps keep my fine motor skills alive and well.

I also like the feel of Campy Ergo from the early Ď00s. But thatís a personal preference, not a functional issue.
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Old 08-29-19, 10:24 PM
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No one can tell you what to do with regard to brifters vs downtube. It's too personal.
What size bike is it ? As we get older that distance to the downtubes can become longer and longer. Do you find yourself reaching too much ? Does it stop you from shifting as often as you should ? Follow your gut. It's rarely wrong
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Old 08-29-19, 11:42 PM
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plan c, is my vote! it's hard to maneuver quickly with one hand if you need to shift, too. brifters eliminate that
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Old 08-30-19, 12:16 AM
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Since this is the C&V section I'm not going to vote brifters. Skip the modern parts unless you'd rather have a new bike instead of an old one.
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Old 08-30-19, 01:32 AM
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I was worried about being irretrievably seduced by the dark side, too. I've built four briftered bikes in the last four years and plan on doing another when I get one of those new-fangled 9-speed Ultra groups all together They are all nice feeling and snickety-snick and they please me with their clever functionality and light touch.

But my bikes that get the most miles are still the ones with barcons or down tube shifters. It's all good.

Edit: I have not one damn thing to apologize for on this bike, it just works:

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Old 08-30-19, 03:13 AM
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I like Brifter but the "more hand positions" crowd on Drop bar bikes is good I keep feeling I have to go back to the hoods to be able to constantly be able to either change gears or be able to use the brakes.

I have found some Ultegra level parts for flat bars and while there are less hand positions, I feel more comfortable being able to brake or shift at anytime along with having more comfort being more upright.
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Old 08-30-19, 03:59 AM
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Most of my vintage steel bikes have Ergo Power shifters, 130mm spacing, modern gearing, saddles, bars, stems and Look pedals. To me, the beauty is in riding them, especially in a peloton of the latest and greatest bikes out there.
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Old 08-30-19, 05:24 AM
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My last major project was replacing the 740x on my Pinarello with Campy including ergo's . It was a good move but I can't see doing it on bikes that didn't have that option in the years they were sold. The ergo's allow for more shifts under different situations. I can't say I am faster but I can say it is a bit easier. Can't see the use for long rides though.
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Old 08-30-19, 05:46 AM
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So far am sold on brifters. Running Microshift, so not the goofy Shimano where the entire lever moves, which I find the source of unintended shifts. Much easier, at least to me, if powering up a hill or screaming downhill. They are there, no having to reach down. The downside i experience is I donít always remember what gear I am in as with a downtube I can tell by feel where the lever is.
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Old 08-30-19, 05:58 AM
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I vote for the Campy Ergo option. If I was limited to just one bike, it would have Campy Ergo 8,9, or 10 speed. Fortunately I have several bikes and I enjoy the shifting on them all, and like switching back and forth. The one shifting mode I have used and didn’t like was 9 speed friction; Shimano in this case with bar ends. I think the narrow cog spacing makes the shifts and trimming too finicky. YMMV.
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Old 08-30-19, 07:15 AM
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I like brifters, but donít feel particularly inconvenienced without them. If they make sense for you, go for it.

That said I do think some C&V bikes should be kept in their original(ish) configuration. Iím sure Iíve saved countless classics from modernization using my ninja-like internet persuasiveness. Iím sure you agree.
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Old 08-30-19, 07:31 AM
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Yeah .. I ride my more modern bikes mostly but have a collection of classics with DT. While I'll always love the classics it takes me a minute to get back to reaching down to change gears. I hate to admit it but modern technology with brifters and 11 gears is easier. The thing about DT on a classic is usually you only have 6-7 gear choices so switching gears is not something you do a lot of. So if you plan to ride this a lot I would go with a modern setup. I never thought I'd say that...but it is easier.
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Old 08-30-19, 08:21 AM
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I prefer bar ends or downtube shifters because they just work and do so with boring reliability. Additionally I am not racing and I think that is where brifters really shine. My 2x10 SOMA build uses Dura Ace bar ends and very slick shifting. Probably the best shifting of any bike I own, My only brifter equipped bike has equally slick shifting but shifters were more than double the cost of the Dura Ace bar ends.

Brifters can be nice, they offering decent shifting when properly set up, are more easily damaged in wrecks, oh and they can get gunked up which requires getting a good solvent bath and relube .

I thoroughly disagree with those who assert brifters are necessary for long rides. I do not do a lot of shifting as a rule unless I need to change a gear which usually involves a climb, and I have a lot of opportunities to do nice longer rides here in the Willamette Valley , but then again see my comments about not racing .
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Old 08-30-19, 08:46 AM
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Just be advised that doing a low budget "upgrade" like this, mixing and matching components, you may encounter some unanticipated challenges. There were some combinations that worked acceptably when new, but if you are working with worn or mismatched parts, I suggest you manage expectation.

I ride bikes ranging from 5 speed "analog" downtube shifters to Shimano DI2 (which is awesome!). Each is different and enjoyable. But the more advanced setups like Record 10 (for ex) require that everything - cable tension, chain wear, etc - be in very good condition and perfect adjustment to give satisfactory performance.

My #1 bike - best bike I've ever ridden - has Campy 9 speed which I think is the smoothest running - kind of the sweet spot. I find the Campy 11 and SRAM systems to be very fussy - not to mention that a replacement cassette can cost 300 bucks! which is crazy.

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