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Campaign to convince Retroshift to modify vintage levers

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Campaign to convince Retroshift to modify vintage levers

Old 12-16-11, 05:23 PM
  #1  
mtnbke
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Campaign to convince Retroshift to modify vintage levers

Okay, since someone posted about the new Retroshift:

http://retroshift.com/

The complete website is up, and they are selling everything now (shiftless levers, dual levers rear shift only, and full f/r retroshift).

Well I thought this would be a great time to start requesting that they equip vintage levers with the Retroshift mount. I love C&V bits, and while the Retroshift looks better than my Kelly Take-Offs, there is no way I'm removing my Suntour (alpha-3000 or Superbe Pro) or Mavic SSC levers to mount on their Tektro Retroshift ones.

If it comes to that I'll stay C&V and just continue to use the Kelly Take-Offs or maybe try the Budd De-Integrated shifter mounts.

So I thought I start the campaign to request of Retroshift that they start offering to modify vintage levers to accept their Retroshift mount. Give 'em a holler and ask 'em to start offering this service for your vintage levers:

http://retroshift.com/contact-2/

No man should reach for his own downtube!
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Old 12-16-11, 07:13 PM
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They look pretty interesting.



I wonder if they can be switched to friction?
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Old 12-16-11, 08:08 PM
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Originally Posted by mtnbke View Post
So I thought I start the campaign to request of Retroshift that they start offering to modify vintage levers to accept their Retroshift mount. Give 'em a holler and ask 'em to start offering this service for your vintage levers:
There's no way I'd want to get into the business of modifying levers people send in. Life is much easier when you buy levers that are all the same and modify them all in the same way. If you have to modify a stack of 50 levers that aren't yours and everyone is different, then you are surely in hell.

Well, maybe I'd consider it for a $75 upcharge.

Oh, I'm not retroshift, by the way. Just realized that it kinda read like I was

Oh, and gerv, you supply the shifters so it's up to you to determine if you can switch to friction. Every DT shifter I've ever seen has had a friction option. There may be some index only out there, I suppose.

Last edited by LesterOfPuppets; 12-16-11 at 08:11 PM.
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Old 12-16-11, 08:23 PM
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I'd like to take the levers apart and see what it takes to mount the conversion kit. Rather than modify owner submitted levers maybe they could offer a kit and instructions. I'm assuming they use a milling machine and a drill press, but that could probably be accomplished at home with a file and hand drill.

I'd be interested in modifying my own levers too.
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Old 12-16-11, 08:41 PM
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Seems like a great idea, but I'll stick with my tried and dependable Kelly Take-Offs for now. If I hear enough positive feed-back about Retroshift from satisfied users then I'll certainly consider trying them out.
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Old 12-16-11, 08:48 PM
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They can't make money selling stuff unless they sell large volumes. You can't buy vintage stuff in large volume.
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Old 12-16-11, 11:03 PM
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I don't think anyone is expecting them to buy vintage levers and then convert them. Rather modifying customer owned vintage levers. Ther is some value there for them, they save the cost of a Tektro lever.
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Old 12-16-11, 11:34 PM
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I'd bet they have a jig/cnc program/trained monkey for the tektro levers so they'd have to re-do that (measure, etc.) for every different level that someone sends in, I can't see it even being a break-even proposition for them.
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Old 12-16-11, 11:35 PM
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It appears to me that what they make is an add-on module which is attached to the Tektro shifters.

Why don't you just buy the retroshift product, detach it from the Tektro levers and attach it to your existing levers?

It shouldn't be hard to mould a shim to match the new mech to the vintage levers but if you can't do it you've got the Tektro levers as a back-up.
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Old 12-17-11, 12:43 AM
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It's not an add-on its a custom milled tektro lever.
I have seen them in person, in use, and talked to a few local shops about them.
not impressed.
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Old 12-17-11, 01:05 AM
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Originally Posted by mtnbke View Post
So I thought I start the campaign to request of Retroshift that they start offering to modify vintage levers to accept their Retroshift mount. Give 'em a holler and ask 'em to start offering this service for your vintage levers:
If you want them to produce something more C&V, try convincing them to produce an adapter lever (just the lever arm) that will slide into a Campagnolo Record, Nuovo GS, Victory, or Triomphe lever body.

The Record bodies are probably the most standardized and popular model of brake lever in the C&V community, and it is easy to swap levers on the lever bodies (which could give purpose to levers decommissioned due to road rash or bent lever arms). These levers would definitely be the most logical place to start if you wish to promote the C&V angle.

-Kurt
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Old 12-17-11, 01:30 AM
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I think a stand alone conversion that works with different brake levers is likely to be big and unwieldy. Unless folks are willing to drill and file the leveres.

I could live with the BL200/SCR5s. If it fits Shimano, won't it fit Suntour as well? Both use the same size braze-on square pegs, no? Does the kit include downtube cable mounts or are they forcing buyers to herd everything else via eBay? Love to see someone resurrect Suntour Commanders!
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Old 12-17-11, 02:24 AM
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Here's an idea: What about an adapter that fits over the insert for turkey levers? It would make those old Dia-Compe's more useful...
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Old 12-17-11, 03:37 AM
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I don't need convincing as much as I need time!

mtnbke - Thanks for noticing us here at Retroshift. I think it is a very cool idea to set up a 'real' retro retroshift system. I have even eyed some older Mafac or other levers and down-tube shifters and thought it would be fun to set them up as kind of a spoof (vintage looking photo) to show that this idea had been invented many many years ago.

gerv - yes friction is no issue at all. I have told this story before but it still brings a smile to my face each time i remember it. I had a younger (young enough to not have ever used friction) test rider use the system set up with a Dura-Ace 10sp in friction and he loved it and actually thought it was a new technology. With kids getting into vinyl records again I guess anything is possible!

LesterOfPuppets - I love to tinker with stuff, but you pretty much hit it on the head as far as the reality of it. I get very excited by the idea of all the fun that can be had but I am just happy I managed to focus enough to bring just one more option to the table for cyclist to enjoy.

Snydermann - I will get more photos up in time (no need to have to take them apart I have much going on in life (work between three jobs) and web site was hurriedly done and is quite lacking I feel. The system mounts up VERY simply. That said I went though at least a half dozen levers to find the one that worked the best. The part we machine here in Portland fits up against the lever with a very purposeful profile which took the use of more than a little bit of technology to get right. It is an exaggeration but i would ask you to try to imagine trying to get a coin to reliably stick to the side of a billiard (or pool) ball with only pressure.

ciocc_cat - I am a fan of Kelly Take-Offs and command shifters (should not be too big a surprise) and still consider my Simplex levers as a pinnacle of perfection. I do hope you get a chance to try out the new shifters as I think you will probably like them for all the right reasons but will also be totally surprised at how easy and quick they are to shift. I have played with the design for some time but it was not until I moved the shifter on to the brake lever that it all really clicked. With this arrangement you no longer need to move fingers from the brake to shift.

noglider - Haven't made any yet, will be in the hole for a while! But that said we were getting orders within 10 minutes of the site going live even though it was 10 or so hours until Google indexed us and we were even showing up on searches. Have to say after all the work this was a relief. This has also gives me some confidence to move forward on an additional version that will be based on a lever for linear pull v-brakes. This has been a much asked for addition.

clasher - trained monkey = me! As I mentioned, I love to tinker and much of my time is spent for the pure joy of it and not for profit. It all takes allot of work/time. I love my machine shop and am totally blown away by them. I used to be a recruiter for machinists but never encountered folks like this. Case in point, I walked into the shop on a Monday morning the day after a pro rider had given me feedback at the end of his race about a change he would like to try. About 4 hours later I walked out with a new part, built up a new set of shifters and delivered it to him so he could ride ride it and assess it before the next race. I don't think I can stress enough that this is VERY out of the ordinary and super cool. Yes I could have this stuff made in China for half the price, but there is no way it would be as good and it would not continue to improve in the same way it does by doing it in a community. Sort of on my soap box and my desire to make things in the USA coming out a bit. Sorry.

Mark Kelly - Could work. If you are handy you could even fabricate something that could work with existing parts. Take a close look at the first picture on the support page. You will see some old down-tube clamp on style brackets that I made a mock up with. This would be THE way to go to do a real vintage version as I think you CAN make a working system with only bits from the 60's, 70's. Only makes me wonder all the more why it was not done. Moser should have been riding this technology!

PDXaero - Custom milled makes it sound a bit too special. It does take some work to get it all right but it is really pretty simple in its end result. Retroshift is not for everyone but I do hope you get to actually ride it as even trying it in a repair stand does not give a fair idea of how it functions. You have to really be on it more than any other component I can think of for it to work. This is probably a good part of the reason why it has not really been done. I still cant really explain in words to someone how it works if I have it in front of me. I will be getting some more video up soon I hope to help explain it. I had a rider on 'Ladies Auxiliary' race Kruger Farms this season with a set that was put on her bike just the evening before. When I asked her how it went she said she loved it but could not really explain how or why just that it was easy.

cudak888 - I am game to try and help anyone out who wants to have a go (I over-commit often!). I would propose that someone donate an old brake lever (complete) that is of a type/model that others are interested in having something for and I will see what I can come up with. If there are a couple of different possible levers then I would want photos to see which one looked like the best bet (and least amount of work).

Kanegon - Will it fit Suntour? You are right it 'should' BUT might not. If you look at the pictures on the product page of the site (click to enlarge) you will see it does include mounts (machined here in Portland out of stainless steel - and held in place with quality hardware from Italy no less). There are so many options that to keep it simple i stuck to Shimano. There are many slight nuances in this little microcosm of shift lever mount interface that have to be taken into account and can cause issues. My kitchen table has a good half dozen assorted types of shift levers (including Campy and Microshift for instance) and they are all different. Even the Shimano which work will cause headaches. Some come with bolts that are longer than others and bottom out, some with washers that are too thick and cause mis-alignment of the cable through the cable stop hole, some fit on a boss with shoulders (like the one pictured) others wont fit over shoulders... Its almost like the big players have been trying to kill off bar-end/down-tube shifters! Conspiracy!!! I am kidding, but if you wanted to believe this you could argue it no problem!

Cheers all and I hope the above is of some value to you.

Adam - Retroshift
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Old 12-17-11, 08:01 AM
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Originally Posted by retroshift View Post
cudak888 - I am game to try and help anyone out who wants to have a go (I over-commit often!). I would propose that someone donate an old brake lever (complete) that is of a type/model that others are interested in having something for and I will see what I can come up with. If there are a couple of different possible levers then I would want photos to see which one looked like the best bet (and least amount of work).
Adam, I'd be glad to donate a Campagnolo Victory lever that is no longer of use to me. It may not be pretty, but it'll definitely be useful enough as a pattern for the arm, and a guide to the lever body itself. I think you'll find that they're extremely easy to swap the lever on - as opposed to, say Mafacs - which have a semi-permanent rod holding the lever arm in place.

Let me know where to send the lever.

-Kurt
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Old 12-18-11, 12:57 AM
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cudak888 - Can you send you some photos with views looking down into the top of the lever. We need to make sure we have space for mounting/cable stop etc. Also if others have levers that might be good candidates send me some pictures and we will pick one that looks most promising. This is an important step as I can say from experience that alot of time can be wasted with the wrong levers been there done that!

Cheers

ADam
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Old 12-18-11, 01:05 AM
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Originally Posted by retroshift View Post
cudak888 - Can you send you some photos with views looking down into the top of the lever. We need to make sure we have space for mounting/cable stop etc. Also if others have levers that might be good candidates send me some pictures and we will pick one that looks most promising. This is an important step as I can say from experience that alot of time can be wasted with the wrong levers been there done that!
I'll get one for you.

By looking down, you mean a photo looking into the area with the mounting bolt and such, not just a top view, correct?

In the meantime, a photo of a Super Record lever from the side:



-Kurt
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Old 12-18-11, 09:32 AM
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Adam,

This is, indeed, very very cool work. I'm not yet a customer, but see a set of these in my future.

I love your enthusiasm and wish you all the very best of luck – and even more fun – in your adventures!

Cheers,

Owen
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Old 12-18-11, 10:46 AM
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It is a very cool idea. Best of luck with it.
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Old 12-18-11, 01:50 PM
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LeicaLad and himespau -Thanks for the words!

cudak888 - Looks way more beautiful than most modern levers. Yes a picture looking in the top of an open lever will help greatly.

I am already trying to think how to best 'dress' cables as their will be two of them..... Anyone have an idea?

Cheers!

Adam
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Old 12-19-11, 02:13 PM
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Talked to Adam from Retroshift last week. He's since posted here in follow-up. Just a class act guy.

I loved his enthusiasm and passion for cycling, especially the little things. His story of spending a full two days of his life to find the "right" bolt that wasn't manufactured in China was awesome (heretofore to be referred to as "the Italian Job").

I'm thinking of pulling the trigger on this for my Suntour alpha-3000 bike. I realized yesterday that the brake levers on that bike were Dia-Compe anyway, not Suntour, so I wouldn't really lose sleep going to the Tektro/Retroshift levers. However, I'll hold out on my Superbe Pro and Mavic SSC bike until we can (if we can) get a Retroshift mount for those vintage levers. The Mavic SSC levers should be a gimme. They are just rebranded Modolo Professonal/Speedy levers which shouldn't be all that different from the Record levers.
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Old 12-21-11, 09:15 PM
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Retro Retroshift

Couple of thoughts:

1. I am pretty busy of late but am going to grab a few bits and bobs and photograph them with a general idea of what could be done to make a full retro retroshift system using ONLY vintage parts. Think of it as what Moser would have used if retroshift had been around back then.

Give me a few days and I will have something for you all to chew on.

2. In the mean time I was thinking while our model tw0 is not vintage it will be a nice option for people who want to have 'STI' on a vintage bike. Might let you use your vintage shift levers and also give a vintage look with the cable routing?

Cheers!

Adam
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Old 12-22-11, 12:21 AM
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Originally Posted by retroshift View Post
1. I am pretty busy of late but am going to grab a few bits and bobs and photograph them with a general idea of what could be done to make a full retro retroshift system using ONLY vintage parts. Think of it as what Moser would have used if retroshift had been around back then.
If you copy the design of a standard downtube braze-on shifter boss and copy it on a CNC'ed lever, you'll pretty much wind up with a shifter boss which will accept virtually any vintage shifter; save for a number of mid-range Simplex shift levers. I have a spare braze-on boss somewhere around here - I'll JB Weld it to the front of a spare lever and mount a shifter to it as an example.

As promised, an internal view of a Campag non-aero lever:



-Kurt
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Old 12-22-11, 12:46 AM
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Saw this time ago and I think is a terrific idea, u have wheels with different speeds or brands??? put the lever in retro and ready to go.

I believe the boss piece that bolts into the lever can fit any lever. Pretty much all the levers tend to have the same shape in the upper part, maybe ones need more room but that can be fixed maybe machining the mating washer with the shape of the lever needed??

Another way to do it is adding using an extra pin or a tiny screw from the inside out to keep the boss piece from rotating. Take the brake levers out is pretty simple, just drill the hole for the machined piece this guys sell and add an extra one like 3 or 5 mm below and use a screw from the inside out, that will keep the boss piece from rotating and probably no adapter or anything else but maybe washers (and maybe foam or something to seal) to play in case of clearance issues. Besides that looks like straight forward solution and nothing extra but a hole and a extra m2 screw maybe?
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Old 12-22-11, 09:02 AM
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I have a pair of Suntour Cyclone levers if you're interested. I'll take photo's and post them
here.

Marty
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