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Building with Pre-7800 Shimano STI?

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Building with Pre-7800 Shimano STI?

Old 11-16-20, 11:14 PM
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Kilroy1988 
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Building with Pre-7800 Shimano STI?

Howdy folks!

I have no idea if I will end up using this information, but at the moment I'm very curious about the quality of used Shimano STI levers from the 1990s right up until Dura Ace 7700 ended in 2003. I used Dura Ace 7800 and Ultegra 6600 when I began road cycling somewhat over a decade ago, and loved the smooth mechanical action associated with those groups. However, used sets are a bit pricier than what I have in mind for a potential project, and I'm curious about the feel and quality, as well as possible issues that may arise, from purchasing any of the older STI levers and the associated derailleurs.

Thanks for any input. I would particularly love to hear what people have to say about bikes that are still being ridden with such components. Cheers!

-Gregory
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Old 11-16-20, 11:34 PM
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Dura-Ace 7700 and 7800 are the best shifting STI shifters ever. When Shimano moved the cable housings under the bar tape, it introduced sharper cable bends and more friction. This was offset somewhat with super-premium low friction cable housings, but if you put the new housings on the old shifters, the performance gap will further widen.

Further, the old shifters did not eat cables.

Yeah, you're going to hear howls of protest here, but most of the comments after mine will be referenced to thrashed 7700 levers that are filled up with 20 years of road dirt and sweat, in which the cable housings have never been changed. My comparison is unused fresh out of the box shifters with new cables and housing, new derailleurs, and expert setup.

With respect to buying used STI shifters - don't. I volunteer at a high-volume big-city bike Co-op. Sure, we get donated STI shifters, but 90% of them are seriously compromised, including broken mechanisms and bodies due to crashes. So thanks for that.
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Old 11-17-20, 02:23 AM
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the other consideration is replacement hoods. i still have some ultegra 6500 shifters (bought used/great shape...fyi). don't know about the DA's, but no more hoods for the ultegras. i'm contemplating coating the hoods with plastidip in a last ditch attempt at refurb.
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Old 11-17-20, 06:30 AM
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I run 7700 and 7800 on all my bikes
7700 is crisper and more precise than 7800
also bulletproof. 7800 is a bit more fragile and tend to need cleaning and lube to run smoother.
when i see spare parts, i buy them.
both are the best out there, better than the newer stuff. Clean and lube them and they will run forever . I mix 7700 shifters and 7800 for the rest, 7800 crank is superbe
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Old 11-17-20, 06:56 AM
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Well, all I can offer is my experience. I've running 3 sets of DA 7700 I got used and they work fabulously. Seriously thinking about putting my last remaining set on my recently picked up Ocshner.

As another data point I've bought a ton of used bikes with "bad" STI shifters Have yet to encounter one that a soak and relube didn't bring back to life. The worse "broken" one was a screw coming out of the shift lever on one 7700 shifter. Caused it to rattle on the road but still worked fine. I just had to source and replace the screw and now it's back to normal.
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Old 11-17-20, 08:31 AM
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Kilroy1988

Are you asking about”any” Shimano or just DA?
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Old 11-17-20, 08:50 AM
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Originally Posted by 3speedslow View Post
Are you asking about”any” Shimano or just DA?
Any of the early STI levers are up for consideration, and the pricing on Ultegra 6500 is particularly tempting... But I think Dura Ace 7700 is what I really have my eye on. How well did those first-generation 600 STI levers work by way of comparison?

A couple people have mentioned cleaning and lubrication. I don't mind getting into the things, but was for some reason under the impression that these Shimano levers (particularly compared to Campagnolo) were very difficult to perform maintenance work on. Is that true?

Thanks!

-Gregory
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Old 11-17-20, 09:05 AM
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My understanding has always been they are much harder to take apart and repair than Ergolevers. But I haven't done either. I have always been able to revive them by spraying PB Blaster or WD 40 into them while assembled and working all the stuck components free. Then I let that fluid drip out for a day or two and then relube with the aerosol version of Triflow. This has brought back many a "dead" none shifting one and I've never had one I've "fixed" fail again.

I 've got STI shifters all the way back to those first Dura Ace ones and like them all just fine. I can't say nothing bad about any of the 105, Ultergra, or Dura Ace ones I have. I just counted and I have 10 different sets running on my bikes right now. From 7800 back to the 7403's and all are working flawlessly. That's a third of my fleet running them even though I prefer Campagnolo. That should speak to how well I think they work since I am running so many.
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Old 11-17-20, 09:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Kilroy1988 View Post
Any of the early STI levers are up for consideration, and the pricing on Ultegra 6500 is particularly tempting... But I think Dura Ace 7700 is what I really have my eye on. How well did those first-generation 600 STI levers work by way of comparison?

A couple people have mentioned cleaning and lubrication. I don't mind getting into the things, but was for some reason under the impression that these Shimano levers (particularly compared to Campagnolo) were very difficult to perform maintenance work on. Is that true?

Thanks!

-Gregory
I can’t assist much with maintenance since my main pair of 7700 rear, 7703 triple front I purchased new over 10 years ago. That iteration was already superseded by the 10 speed 7800 series but I wanted to try 9 speed triple. I rode this set for 17,000+ miles and they were great and I took great care to never scratch them. Unfortunately I destroyed the rear shifter in a freak accident on a group ride this past summer. It might be rebuildable, maybe but I’m not counting my breath. Quickly, I subbed in a (new old stock) Ultegra 6500 9-speed Flightdeck shift lever. I untaped just one half of my bars, installed the shifter and set it up with a new inner wire, re-taped that side of the bars and I was back in action the following day. The shifting with the 6500 Ultegra is spot on. The actuation is stiffer compared to the 7700 which had a more refined click. But it is fine. My issue right now with it is that I have not sorted out the wiring harness on the Flight Deck. The 7700 always read out on my Flight Deck display in the correct gear so I made great use out of the LCD gear readout and virtual cadence. I am at a loss as to why there are not more enthusiastic fettlers for this amazing era of Shimano integrated shift levers. In a way, I think Shimano did too good of a job innovating which made some folks exploit their utility and just thrash and trash them. To me, Shimano’s higher end road components are super logical and usually serviceable if you can get decent exploded diagrams on PDF files that also give part numbers for the (scarce now it seems) elusive replacement parts.

I never used the 600 sti shifters and I missed my chance several times to acquire a new set for a sane dollar figure. The 600 sti set may be more versatile than the 7400 Dura Ace integrated levers in the world of 8-speed. The reason for this is because you are not confined to the 7400 or 7402 rear derailleur which did not work with triples or touring gearing. So if you have some 600 integrated shifters in good condition they could be put to good use on a 2x8 commuter/road bike with a GS (long) cage rear derailleur such as an Ultegra 6500-GS (6603) or 105 GS cage RD (105SC GS, 5503) and a compact double crank or traditional road double (39/53) with say a 12/28 or 12/32 8 speed (Deore XT or XTR or Deore, Deore XT or XTR) rear derailleur.

Last edited by masi61; 11-17-20 at 10:39 AM.
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Old 11-17-20, 09:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Dave Mayer View Post
Dura-Ace 7700 and 7800 are the best shifting STI shifters ever.
This.

It took 15 years, $500 more/set and DA9000 to even get close, and it's not better.
7700/7800 and high end cables/housing = pick it and flick it.

A 7700/7800 group with a GS RD, Roadlink, 11-34 SRAM 9sp cassette, and you are any road, any time.
If there was a compact crankset in 7700/7800, there would not be an 11sp bike in my stable.

Done.
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Old 11-17-20, 09:28 AM
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My STI experience consists of two sets of 7800 and two 7403. Definite difference from 7400 to 7800 in feel although both work great. 7400 requires a touch more effort and is a more firm click into gear. 7800 is just plain smooth but I imagine some prefer the firmness of the 7400.
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Old 11-17-20, 09:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Kilroy1988 View Post
(harder to work on than Ergos) Is that true? -Gregory
Yes. It generally required spare parts and fabricated tools.
Curtis Dobbins (REI/Cycling Margeurite?) was the only rebuilder I know who even worked on them.
He had a boneyard for parts. I doubt he does it any
more.

Originally Posted by Kilroy1988 View Post
How well did those first-generation 600 STI levers work by way of comparison?
-Gregory
They worked fine, but by way of comparison, hmm..
Running in boots compared to running shoes.
Dancing in tight jeans compared to spandex (from what I've heard).
FM compared to satellite HD.
Thunk compared to click.
Pull compared to select.
Jerk/clank compared to looking down to see if it shifted.

Oscar Goldman had it right.
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Old 11-17-20, 09:43 AM
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There is a definite group of 7700/7800 riders out there who prefer them and hoard them.
Most of them, based on those I've met from Indiana's Hilly Hundred and RAIN to NC's Blue Ridge Parkway, VA's Thunder Ridge, and fast movers in St. Lois, are young, fit, fast, and they will not give up their "non-routed" STI's. To the point where I've seen newer Tarmacs with 7700 and 7800. The madness doth have method.
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Old 11-17-20, 10:00 AM
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Just throwing this out there: if you cannot find a serviceable STI set, the 7700 downtube shifters are excellent.
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Old 11-17-20, 10:28 AM
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Originally Posted by thook View Post
the other consideration is replacement hoods. i still have some ultegra 6500 shifters (bought used/great shape...fyi). don't know about the DA's, but no more hoods for the ultegras. i'm contemplating coating the hoods with plastidip in a last ditch attempt at refurb.
There definitely seems to be a market failure here. There are two listings on ebay right now, with a single hood costing $125 on the cheaper listing.

I wonder what it cost to get something that produced?

Update: https://www.amazon.com/SHIMANO-ST-66...dp/B001P9EVHS/

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Old 11-17-20, 10:46 AM
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Originally Posted by RobbieTunes View Post
There is a definite group of 7700/7800 riders out there who prefer them and hoard them.
Most of them, based on those I've met from Indiana's Hilly Hundred and RAIN to NC's Blue Ridge Parkway, VA's Thunder Ridge, and fast movers in St. Lois, are young, fit, fast, and they will not give up their "non-routed" STI's. To the point where I've seen newer Tarmacs with 7700 and 7800. The madness doth have method.
I'm down a rabbit-hole now! It's a Pinarello Prince with 7800

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Pinarello-P...r/233782727720
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Old 11-17-20, 10:52 AM
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Originally Posted by RobbieTunes View Post
Yes. It generally required spare parts and fabricated tools.
Curtis Dobbins (REI/Cycling Margeurite?) was the only rebuilder I know who even worked on them.
He had a boneyard for parts. I doubt he does it any
more.


They worked fine, but by way of comparison, hmm..
Running in boots compared to running shoes.
Dancing in tight jeans compared to spandex (from what I've heard).
FM compared to satellite HD.
Thunk compared to click.
Pull compared to select.
Jerk/clank compared to looking down to see if it shifted.

Oscar Goldman had it right.
That’s great 👍
I like to think of similar comparisons when I ride my retro SunTour 3x8 Command shifting drivetrain driving an Accushift AP (1st generation square cut cassette cogs) 8 speed 12-26 cassette with the mechanical confidence inspired by a SunTour XC Pro short cage rear rear derailleur.

Comparing the above drivetrain to a Dura Ace 7800 2x10 is apples to oranges but both are valid. The single clunk per each gear click on the Accushift Command lever mounted inboard of my Campy-style Tektro aero levers is more idiot-proof, more robust than the precious, incredible 7800 levers - take your pick.

BTW; If you can make the Flight Deck function properly, you’ll have a reliable (now old-school) cockpit gear readout that relieves you of having to look down & back to determine what gear you are in.
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Old 11-17-20, 12:31 PM
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I run a 7800 cranks on my bikes with nos 50t DA ring and 12-30 cassette, fantastic

other combo is 46t DA ring with 12-30 cassette
flawless shifting and go anywhere rig

other combo is 48t generic ring with 12-30 cassette

using 7700 or 7800 shifters
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Old 11-17-20, 12:41 PM
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Originally Posted by BFisher View Post
Just throwing this out there: if you cannot find a serviceable STI set, the 7700 downtube shifters are excellent.
Seconded. They are perfectly indexed.
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Old 11-17-20, 12:56 PM
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Originally Posted by capt_velo View Post
There definitely seems to be a market failure here. There are two listings on ebay right now, with a single hood costing $125 on the cheaper listing.

I wonder what it cost to get something that produced?

Update: https://www.amazon.com/SHIMANO-ST-66...dp/B001P9EVHS/
it's a cryin' shame, really. all around
those 6600's don't quite fit the 6500 correctly. if one is desperate??
professionally, i'm sure it'd cost a bundle (relatively) to have them produced. however, there are materials to make one's own auto bushings. some material akin to that and one could make hoods. it's the mold to make them that would be tricky. otoh, there are heat shrink tubes.....large somewhat thick/durable ones....i have seen that might fit over the shifter body and shrink down. trim it up and it could maybe work. it's another idea i've toyed with
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Old 11-17-20, 01:34 PM
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Originally Posted by thook View Post
it's a cryin' shame, really. all around
those 6600's don't quite fit the 6500 correctly. if one is desperate??
professionally, i'm sure it'd cost a bundle (relatively) to have them produced. however, there are materials to make one's own auto bushings. some material akin to that and one could make hoods. it's the mold to make them that would be tricky. otoh, there are heat shrink tubes.....large somewhat thick/durable ones....i have seen that might fit over the shifter body and shrink down. trim it up and it could maybe work. it's another idea i've toyed with
I didn't even notice that my 6500 search phrase had morphed into 6600. Sorry about that! I blame Google.
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Old 11-17-20, 01:45 PM
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I picked up a box of used and damaged sti's at a swap from a retired team mechanic. As others mentioned, the 7700 is the best of the bunch. Shimano should have used steel faceplates on all their levers. The 600s are the easiest to service. Not sure why, but the 6500 series pawls seem to gum up more often. Of the broken 7700s, it is more common to see the cable head stop split open, maybe from trying to shift through a jammed derailleur?
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Old 11-17-20, 01:49 PM
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Originally Posted by capt_velo View Post
I didn't even notice that my 6500 search phrase had morphed into 6600. Sorry about that! I blame Google.
oh, no worries. i appreciate the intent

likely the reason you got that result from google was/is because one of the customers' review is based on 6500's. if you look, you can see the photo he took of his results
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Old 11-17-20, 06:52 PM
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Essentially all you'll ever need to do to 7400/6400 and 7700/6500 STI shifters is spray Tri-Flow lubricant the mechanicals through all the crevices (while shifting up and down!) in the lever when they get gummed/gunked up. A thrashed pair of shifters is not ever something to judge a shifter's quality/durability from. Between accidents/crashes and people just being animals to them (and then ignorantly telling everyone how they "just don't work"), it's quite the mine field of opinions to go through.

Each generation has their own shift feel, and I like all of them and think they work plenty well. The 7700 shifter body cross-section is different from 5500/6500, and IMO for the better as I like its more rounded top corners (vs. squared for the others). There is a shift mechanism plate in the 7700 lever (right/rear) that eventually wears out and makes it firstly hard to shift, then impossible to shift. Shimano should have been ok with 10 more grams and made it bulletproof for eternity instead of "just" several decades.

7400/6400 tend to be rebuildable if need be, but they're really strong and don't need it if taken care of. Sure, a Campagnolo Ergo shifter from the '90s "still works!" and "lasts forever!" and "is rebuildable!" which is great provided you can find the small parts for all those times you invariably need to rebuild them. The Shimano stuff works from Day 1 and was designed in such a way so as to not need rebuilding.

The height of the silver groupsets was the 7800/6600/5600 10-speed era. Those will always hold a special place in my heart. 7900/6700/5700 are plenty capable, and the shifting of Dura-Ace 7900 is really good. Never had a problem with them, and the front shifting is excellent. I haven't tried 9000 yet, but want another shot at 6800 as the front shifting experience with an internally-routed frameset (Cannondale CAAD10 disc) was quite labored, and I don't think that frame gave that groupset a fair shake.
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Old 11-17-20, 07:42 PM
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Originally Posted by thook View Post
it's a cryin' shame, really. all around
those 6600's don't quite fit the 6500 correctly. if one is desperate??
professionally, i'm sure it'd cost a bundle (relatively) to have them produced. however, there are materials to make one's own auto bushings. some material akin to that and one could make hoods. it's the mold to make them that would be tricky. otoh, there are heat shrink tubes.....large somewhat thick/durable ones....i have seen that might fit over the shifter body and shrink down. trim it up and it could maybe work. it's another idea i've toyed with
One of the problems to get these produced is that these are not all quite the same. The 7700 is different from the 7700-C which is different from the 65xx/55xx. The 6500 is different from the 6501. The 6510/5510 is also a little different from the prior models. It is somewhat interchangeable but not perfect. If using the Flightdeck feature, the buttons also are varying.
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