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80's Italian Bike but want to upgrade to Campy Index Shifting

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80's Italian Bike but want to upgrade to Campy Index Shifting

Old 04-25-20, 10:34 PM
  #1  
tNuvolari
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80's Italian Bike but want to upgrade to Campy Index Shifting

Hi, I have an Italian bike from the 80's that I bought new and then slightly upgraded in the 90's with Campy New Chorus parts but I never touched the derailleurs. The bike still has its original Campy 980 derailleurs which work decently but I thought I'd like to move up to newer index shifting. What's the cheapest, easiest route? I don't really care how many speeds as even with my current 6 speed freewheel, I never need anything extra. So I'll give some details on what I have currently:

1986 Torpado Beta Bike with:
"New" Chorus crank 53/42, circa 1992
Regina Extra 6 speed freewheel
Regina chain
Campy Athena rear hub
Campy 980 derailleurs

So I realize that most of the above parts will need to be replaced but I'd like to keep the crankset. Will an old school crank work with newer derailleurs? I found a Record 10 speed front derailleur for very little money so how will that work with my crank?

For the rear derailleur, I've seen Record Titanium 10 speed RD for low prices. What else would I need to use this RD? I know it would require new levers/ergo, new chain and new hub+cassette. Is 10 speed Campy worth using? If not, which systems should I use or stay away from?

I like the idea of using Synchro II levers so I can retain the friction shifting method if I end up going down the rabbit hole and the index doesn't work. Or do the ergo levers work much better so that I shouldn't bother with downtube shifters? I've never ridden a bike with index shifting so bear with me through all this. From what I've read, there are so many paths to index shifting in the Campy world and many problems getting all of it to work together but I'm up for it.

Many thanks in advance.
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Old 04-26-20, 12:08 AM
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Older Campagnolo ergos are actually not that difficile to set up and quite forgiving. 8 speed Ergos will also work with 7 speed freewheels no problem, in case you want to continue using threaded hubs.

Derailleur I think are (correct me if I'm wrong) usable for 8/9/10 speed, as are most rotors from ~1998 on.
Is 10 speed worth it? Absolutely, I run a record 10 speed system on my #1 riding bike and love the intervals I use 50/34 and 12-27. Never felt the urge to upgrade it. It worked flawlessly with a number of different cranksets and chain wheels including some originally 8 speed stuff (PCB road cranks, 1st Gen SRM...) currently I run a 2017ish Athena (11spd) with a KMC chain.

Mind you things may be different if you like to use (much) larger stuff on the rear.
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Old 04-26-20, 12:29 AM
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Campy’s attempts at downtube index shifting were average at best. If you really want indexed gears, look at Ergo levers - even the earliest models (8 speed) are so much better than the Syncro 2 downtube index shifters.

Cranks and chainrings aren’t fussy, they’ll work with anything out back.
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Old 04-26-20, 05:14 AM
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+1 on skipping the Synchro downtube gear. I have an '89 Bianchi outfitted with it, looks great but very hit-and-miss on indexing to the point I just leave it in friction mode.
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Old 04-26-20, 05:25 AM
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I have two Ergo bikes and I could take ‘em or leave ‘em. Of 6 bikes with DT shifters they are actually evenly split 3 index 3 not but one of those has to be because of the boss style.

I don’t mind friction shifting but prefer the retro friction style shifters from CampI or Simplex.

My indexing bikes are 2 CampI everything but the shipmano shifters, RD and cassette/hubs. As mentioned CampI DT indexing was nothing to write home about. I would love Suntour indexing but components in great shape are more expensive than CampI Century finish stuff.
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Old 04-26-20, 06:03 AM
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tNuvolari Other than the MTB, my first index experience on a road bike was a Pinarello Montello with all DA 740x (8V) with DT shifters. Great stuff and loved the way it shifted. I didn't spring for the STI's because of cost and the cable coming out the side of the shifter. Too cluttered looking to me. I found 8V to be very useful but wished I had a slightly lower overall range.

Because it is an Italian bike and I am biased toward Campy, I am in the process of converting. I found 8V Ergo for about $75. I know, good deal. Found a rear hub $35 and a complete Chorus wheel set with FW rear hub for $50, unused. Using the front hub. and tubular Campy rims, still being trued. RD were the standard fair on eBay, so no good deals there, all Chorus 9 and 10V. The crank is like yours and purchased several years ago. Brakes are the well liked Chorus Monoplanar with original pads (need replacement with exiting new KoolStops). Currently, I am running the DA hubs. I found a spacer set for spacing the rear sprockets to Campy spacing requirements, which necessitated adjusting the dish after moving a spacer from the DS to NDS to get the chain line right.

Cany you do it? Yup. Be prepared. Is it worth it? In my case only to have Campy on the bike. The shifting is great (equivalent) and on the bars as opposed to the DT. I shift more and am able to maintain my cadence better.
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Old 04-26-20, 07:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Bianchigirll View Post
I have two Ergo bikes and I could take ‘em or leave ‘em. Of 6 bikes with DT shifters they are actually evenly split 3 index 3 not but one of those has to be because of the boss style.

I don’t mind friction shifting but prefer the retro friction style shifters from CampI or Simplex.
This. Just get better friction. Going to Campy indexed will require replacing RD, shifters/brifters/gears=$$$. Just spring $50 for a pair of Simplex retrofriction or Campy Doppler shifters, keep the rest of your setup. Bob's your uncle.
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Old 04-26-20, 07:53 AM
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...if you really have to have indexed shifting (that works well) on an 80's Italian bike, the indexing stuff that worked in the 80's was Shimano. I think this has already been hinted at, but permit me to say it plainly. Campagnolo took a while to produce a solid indexed shifting system. A while meaning in this context many years. I second the above idea to just get yourself some really nice smooth friction DT shifters as the most rational upgrade.
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Old 04-26-20, 02:19 PM
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Thanks everyone for the advice, I appreciate all the help.

First, I don't mind having modern parts on my bike; I'm not trying to keep it period correct necessarily and I know early Campy index shifting was chaotic, to say it politely, but I have a few 70's & 80's Italian and German cars so I'm used to quirks and idiosyncrasies. I'm just trying to gather some ideas for what to try or upgrade to. I have read about the retro friction levers and that's a possibility. Also, early ergo might be a good choice too. I'm prepared to replace the RD but I admit that having to replace rear wheel hub, freewheel cassette, cables and even other parts such as the little plastic cable guide under the bottom bracket will just eat up money and time sourcing.

Right now the bike shifts ok. It has the traditional Campy overshooting and then slight feathering to smooth out things on every shift but it generally shifts quickly and smoothly if not especially noteworthy. If I were to put on a Record Titanium 10 speed RD right now while keeping everything else such as levers, cables, etc, would the shifting be any better? How? Would it even work with the old school friction levers? I suspect it would but have never actually heard anyone say they have done it.

Also, I know Campy changed things across the line a couple of times and certain parts just don't play well with others, hence the A and B markings. Will the early Ergo shifters work with the Record Ti 10 speed? IIRC the levers can be adapted to different RDs and speeds by changing the notched insert within the levers, correct?

Thanks again, more questions to come....
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Old 04-27-20, 10:29 AM
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Campy made a shift in the RD cable pull sometime mid-9-speed, if I remember correctly. So I think Ergos made after the change would work with RDs made after. But my knowledge of 10s and beyond is limited, or classic and vintage if you will.
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Old 04-27-20, 01:11 PM
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Campy index...

...is not really an upgrade from anything.

Unless you use 10sp Campy bar ends, remove the rubber covers, get backing plates and match the R shifter to a suitable 10sp RD, and get compatible wheels.

Then go for it.

Otherwise, Synchro can drive you nuts.
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Old 04-27-20, 02:32 PM
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Well, I bought a Record 10 speed FD yesterday so that's my first upgrade. Even if it works exactly the same as my original FD, the improvement in aesthetics will be worth it. And for less than $20, it was an easy choice! Of course, now I'll be imagining RDs and Ergo levers and 10 speed cassettes, etc, etc....Those carbon ergo levers sure are pretty!

I've spotted some brand new Xenon levers for fairly cheap; are those decent? It might be nice to get new items as I assume they come with cables and instructions and whatever else is needed...?

Also, 10 speed is compatible with all later Campy items provided the proper shifter bushings are used, correct? And are there any good sites with instructions for installing and setting up Campy shifting parts? Campy's site isn't that helpful so just looking for somewhere else to learn more, if such a site exists.

Thanks.
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Old 04-27-20, 02:41 PM
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(Arghh, can't post pics yet....)
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Old 04-28-20, 01:42 PM
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So does a 10 speed chain require a specific chainring at the front? Will my old school Chorus crank chainrings work with the more modern and narrow chain required for the 10 speed set up (or further 11/12 speed?)
Or are all chainrings this enough?
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Old 04-28-20, 01:44 PM
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Also trying to get up to 10 posts....
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Old 04-28-20, 02:02 PM
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Yay, finally can show some pics!

My Torpado against my worn down but much, much, much loved Alfa Romeo Milano:


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Old 04-28-20, 02:09 PM
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I don't believe I saw any conversation regarding rear drop out spacing. I think 8sp and up would require 130 vs 126. Anyone know for sure? Campy 8sp ergos would be perfect. Disregard any Shimano suggestions.
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Old 04-28-20, 03:58 PM
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Originally Posted by tNuvolari View Post
So does a 10 speed chain require a specific chainring at the front?
The 10 speed chain should work with your chainrings. You might start having problems with 11 speed.

Edit: the spacing between your chainrings is larger than a 10 speed crank and there is a risk that a 10 speed chain will fall between the chainrings. Having said that, there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence of people using a similar set up without any problems.

Last edited by P!N20; 04-28-20 at 04:08 PM.
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Old 04-28-20, 04:01 PM
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Originally Posted by mackgoo View Post
I think 8sp and up would require 130 vs 126. Anyone know for sure?
That’s correct, 8 speed and beyond requires 130mm spacing.
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Old 04-28-20, 04:18 PM
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Originally Posted by tNuvolari View Post
I've spotted some brand new Xenon levers for fairly cheap; are those decent?
Xenon took the lowest position in Campy’s product hierarchy, but all that means is it was heavier and not quite as pretty as the higher groupsets. Functionally it was fine.
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Old 04-28-20, 04:22 PM
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Originally Posted by tNuvolari View Post
Yay, finally can show some pics!

My Torpado against my worn down but much, much, much loved Alfa Romeo Milano:
Your car has patina - I like. The bike's hella nice too!
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Old 04-28-20, 04:28 PM
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I think a piecemeal approach is going to cost you time, money and frustration..Yes 10 speed gearing requires specific chains, cranks, rings, shifters, cassettes.
I'd dial that bike in and ride it.
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Old 04-28-20, 05:22 PM
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Originally Posted by P!N20 View Post
the spacing between your chainrings is larger than a 10 speed crank and there is a risk that a 10 speed chain will fall between the chainrings. Having said that, there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence of people using a similar set up without any problems.
Argh, that doesn't sound good! Are there solutions to block out that gap to prevent the chain from getting in there?

Originally Posted by PilotFishBob View Post
Your car has patina - I like. The bike's hella nice too!
Thanks. Yes, patina it definitely has!

Originally Posted by clubman View Post
I think a piecemeal approach is going to cost you time, money and frustration..Yes 10 speed gearing requires specific chains, cranks, rings, shifters, cassettes.
I'd dial that bike in and ride it.
Well, I have a Record 10speed FD on its way; I'm guessing the front isn't as problematic to dial in, provided my current chain isn't too wide to work smoothly within the 10 speed FD cage???

I realize the rear is a bit more complicated/expensive/frustrating/painful.

What about 8 or 9 speed? I think I'd like to have ergo levers after much consideration and thinking on recent rides. Or is it possible to make my six speed indexed? I suppose that would require custom shifter bushings made to the six speed spacing.
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Old 04-28-20, 05:37 PM
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You may need to widen the rear drop out spacing.
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Old 04-28-20, 05:45 PM
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Originally Posted by mackgoo View Post
You may need to widen the rear drop out spacing.
Oh, I did see your comment earlier but wanted to measure my bike before I answered. It measures 130mm, actually a mm or so larger.

I didn't even realize there were different sizes; what do modern bikes measure to accommodate 12 speed hubs? How many different sizes/spacings are there?

And thanks to all for help in this thread as I learn all the mysteries of Italian bike building....
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