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Index shifting for a 5-speed freewheel?

Old 05-17-11, 08:00 AM
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Index shifting for a 5-speed freewheel?

If I wanted to convert DT friction-lever, 5-cog shifting to a bar-mounted indexing system, what should I be looking for? I ain't sayin' I want to but there are reasons to consider it, which is to say there are people for whom it would be a good idea.

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Old 05-17-11, 08:09 AM
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I would not. if your talking 'brifters' I think they may run $150+ for lowerend 7spd. you need a new RD, a 7spd FW (so you need to respace and redish your current wheel) or a new cassette style rearwheel, and 7spd chain.

if you have a higherend frame that you really love it would be doable but you have to weigh the expense of it.
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Old 05-17-11, 08:12 AM
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First thing comes to mind, a 5spd Shimano Uniglide freewheel with an SIS thumbie. I have a UG freewheel, and I've seen them on ebay for decent prices. They shift pretty good for what they are.
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Old 05-17-11, 08:14 AM
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Is there such a thing as 5 speed indexed shifting? I thought 6 was the bottom, but I could be wrong.
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Old 05-17-11, 08:17 AM
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I wondered that myself. I've only seen 6spd shifters.
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Old 05-17-11, 08:30 AM
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Shimano SIS was introduced in 1985 with a 6-speed freewheel. Unless by some weird coincidence the 5 speed spacing is identical to that of the 6-speed SIS freewheel I wouldn't expect it to work properly.
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Old 05-17-11, 08:36 AM
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I had a 5 speed mountain bike (schwinn woodlands) way back in the day that had indexed thumbies for 5 speed in the back and a double in front. Didn't shift the greatest, but did ok for me at the time as I didn't know what I was doing. Maybe you could find some of those and figure a new mount system.
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Old 05-17-11, 09:10 AM
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Originally Posted by himespau View Post
I had a 5 speed mountain bike (schwinn woodlands) way back in the day that had indexed thumbies for 5 speed in the back and a double in front. Didn't shift the greatest, but did ok for me at the time as I didn't know what I was doing. Maybe you could find some of those and figure a new mount system.
I wonder if that was a positron type setup?

a MTB trype thumb shifter may be good idea with a 6spd. but where to put it?
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Old 05-17-11, 09:40 AM
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Stem Mounted Shimano 5 Speed Index Levers - # SL-S452-5 (also came -6 & -7 indexed)
Bar Mounted Indexed Thumb Shifters - #SL-MS52 (also came -6 & -7 indexed) and # SL-TY15 (Tourney)
Shimano also made a 4 spd indexed thumb shifter.
These 3 above are all plastic except for the clamp band (steel) but will work with the current 5 sp Shimano, Falcon and Sunrace freewheels which seem to only come in 14-28 cogs.
My info may be out of date since I'm working from a Shimano '93 parts catalog and a 2003 QBP catalog.

I had a set of the Tourney 5 spd shifters salvaged from a Murray MTB my neighbor pitched and they actually worked but you really need to like plastic and indexed front shifting (at least on this pair).
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Old 05-17-11, 09:41 AM
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I just put Kelly Take Off's:

and new indexed 6 sp dt shifters on my bike because I was tired of the stupid stem shifters I had on there. (Well they're halfway on, I mounted them, but need the time to run new cable and adjust the derailleurs). I don't think that'd work for the op as I don't think take offs would work with thumbies, but maybe it would, or you could stick with friction and being able to reach the levers from the hoods/tops and maybe drops. Alternatively, a thumb shifter rotated sideways next to the hood might allow thumb shifting from the hoods (if nowhere else). Or rotate that puppy upside down and shift with your thumbs from the hoods or fingertips from the tops. I actually kind of like that idea. if you can turn it the right way so the shifting is extended into the space between the two hoods rather than parallel with the bar.
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Old 05-17-11, 09:45 AM
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If you are considering 5 speed indexed Shimano thumb shifters, then yes they do exist and are readily available on CL/ebay.

I have done a few conversions of older MTB's to road bars with the thumb shifters mounted as barcons. Works pretty well actually, other than the added bulk of the shifter clamp.

Of course, you might have to also change out your RD for proper indexing.
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Old 05-17-11, 09:49 AM
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I have had cheap old MTB's with SIS 5spd but nothing of good quality, they did have 5 speed uniglide cassettes as we still have one in stock at the shop. I haven't seen a SIS system for a road bike, but I would think a 6 speed shifter would work with a 5 speed with a dead shift. If I was going to go through the trouble to make it index I would go with 6 or 7spd. I know there are 600EX SIS derailleurs for the 6spd on fleabay and would think it would work with 7 as long as you have the shifters.

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EDIT- boy I didn't realize how long it takes me to type until now, BG was the last post when I started lol.

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Old 05-17-11, 10:35 AM
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I've taken a couple of sets of five speed thumb shifters, indexed, off donor Huffys. Bought the bikes cheap for the saddles and tires, but salvaged other stuff just for the heck of it. Now that you bring it up, I might put a set on a cheap mixte I am rehabbing.

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Old 05-18-11, 05:33 AM
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It is even possible to get a older non-SIS deraileur to index with SIS levers. I have done it on my kids' bikes, using levers salvaged from garage sale mountain bikes. Some don't work as well as others, but that could be caused by using cheap cable housing.
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Old 05-18-11, 05:55 AM
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Index-shifting five speed freewheels are alive and well and living on brand new bikes at Walmart and Target.
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Old 05-18-11, 07:44 AM
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Old 05-18-11, 08:09 AM
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I'm pretty sure my old Schwinn Frontier mtn bike is rocking the SIS w/5-speed freewheel. I like it because the SIS is old and made of metal not plastic, although the thumb levers aren't. It works fine, but I wouldn't see me hunting this system down and switching over to it. I've thought of switching it out, but it just works well and there's a lot to be said for that and leaving well enough alone.
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Old 08-30-12, 02:01 AM
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how about using the Sturmey Archer 5 speed thumbshifter with an an older 5-sp freewheel? I'm going to try it out, but thought i'd ask around here first.

https://www.amazon.com/Sturmey-Archer.../dp/B004JKIRXE
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Old 08-30-12, 07:05 AM
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Originally Posted by rideone View Post
how about using the Sturmey Archer 5 speed thumbshifter with an an older 5-sp freewheel? I'm going to try it out, but thought i'd ask around here first.

https://www.amazon.com/Sturmey-Archer.../dp/B004JKIRXE
I would bet lots of money against that indexing properly on a 5-speed freewheel. But I'm willing to be proven wrong.

5-speed freewheels have the same spacing as "regular" 6-speed, so any 6-speed SIS shifters should work, provided you lock out one of the positions.
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Old 08-30-12, 08:16 AM
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Originally Posted by canopus View Post
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Old 08-30-12, 10:04 AM
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Originally Posted by rideone View Post
how about using the Sturmey Archer 5 speed thumbshifter with an an older 5-sp freewheel? I'm going to try it out, but thought i'd ask around here first.

https://www.amazon.com/Sturmey-Archer.../dp/B004JKIRXE
That shifter is designed to be used with the SA internally geared 5-speed hub, not a freewheel system. There's no reason to expect the cable throw to be compatible between these types of gearing.
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Old 08-30-12, 11:39 AM
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Yeah, it really seems like 6 speed down tube shifters and locking out one shift with the limit screw is a better strategy. Who knows what the pull is on SA.
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Old 08-30-12, 09:47 PM
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New 5 speed indexed freewheels should be readily available for order at your LBS. Shifters OTOH. . .
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Old 08-30-12, 10:29 PM
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Originally Posted by tcs View Post
Index-shifting five speed freewheels are alive and well and living on brand new bikes at Walmart and Target.
I just gave one of those away today to Goodwill. A small 20" kids MTB w/ a Suntour twist shifter. Only I think it was 6 speeds...? It had a single up front. I swear the bike weighed close to 40 lbs...
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Old 08-31-12, 05:01 PM
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New SIS 5 speed shifters and a sunrace freewheel should play really nicely together, assuming new compression-less housing and new cables. I imagine the shimano shifters should be available at other stores too. Poaching the gripshifts and freewheel from a busted kid-sized bike is another good idea.
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