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Can I Convert 1988 Cannondale Black Lightning to STI

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Can I Convert 1988 Cannondale Black Lightning to STI

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Old 08-06-12, 06:46 AM
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Weedkilr
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Can I Convert 1988 Cannondale Black Lightning to STI

Recently purchased a 1988 Black Lightning Cannondale and am interested in converting from downtube to STI. Can this be done inexpensively? LBS told me there was a kit which will become available in October which would work but is there a way to do this with used parts?

Really enjoying riding this old bike, original components in good shape but looking for more convenience.
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Old 08-06-12, 07:16 AM
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Weedkilr, No problem with the conversion. It's a slight squeeze to install a 130 mm hub, but I and many others have done this without any problems.

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Old 08-06-12, 11:13 AM
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Yep, like Brad says, easy-peezie. You'll need:
1) STI's (not sure what the LBS might be referring to, but any Shimano STI will work), and if you can find them, 8-speed ones because the chain width (wider than 9/10 speed) will work best with the 6/7 speed derailleur cages. Not cheap, though...figure on $125 and up for pretty much any decent quality STI. If you opt for 9 or 10 speed STI's you should probably also buy a 9 or 10 speed FD and RD. In my experience, the wider cages don't shift as crisply as the narrower ones with the narrow chains.
2) A pair of downtube cable stops- around $10 or so on eBay
3) Either a rear wheel with a Shimano/SRAM compatible freewheel or a hub of that type that can be laced to your existing rim. This will be 130mm OLD, but it will fit in the 126 OLD frame without any trouble at all.
4) A Shimano or SRAM cassette with the same number of speeds as the STI's.
5) New cables and housings- best buy is the complete Jagwire kit in your choice of colors for around $36 on eBay, comes with everything you'll need.
6) New 8, 9 or 10 speed chain, depending on the STI's and cassette.
7) Probably new bar tape.

It's a couple hour project but worth the time if you prefer STI's.
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Old 08-06-12, 11:40 AM
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To keep this inexpensive, but still work properly, I would recommend the following:

RSX STI lever set, 7-speed.

7-speed Shimano HG or Sunrace freewheel on your stock rear wheel.

Shimano road rear derailer, SIS type, 6, 7, 8 or 9-speed.

7/8 speed Shimano or KMC chain.

Cable stops for your frame's shift bosses.

From there, someone will have to add longer shift cables, possibly re-do the brake cabling and re-tape the bars before final adjustment and testing can complete the job.

The Black Lightning is a very steep-angled, twitchy criterium frame which rewards hi-intensity, aggressive riding.
It can build up into a very fast, efficient bike which favors climbing over descending and which gives the rider an advantage in terms of aero positioning.
If this is what you want in a bike, the conversion will be woth the effort imo if the frame size is also good for you.
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Old 08-06-12, 11:45 AM
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What do you call inexpensive?

The most inexpesive way to do this is to buy a donor bike and do some part swapping.

If you buy parts individually, you're going to be at least $150 deep. The going rate for STI shifters is around $100.
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Old 08-11-12, 09:13 AM
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Originally Posted by rccardr View Post
Yep, like Brad says, easy-peezie. You'll need:
1) STI's (not sure what the LBS might be referring to, but any Shimano STI will work), and if you can find them, 8-speed ones because the chain width (wider than 9/10 speed) will work best with the 6/7 speed derailleur cages. Not cheap, though...figure on $125 and up for pretty much any decent quality STI. If you opt for 9 or 10 speed STI's you should probably also buy a 9 or 10 speed FD and RD. In my experience, the wider cages don't shift as crisply as the narrower ones with the narrow chains.
2) A pair of downtube cable stops- around $10 or so on eBay
3) Either a rear wheel with a Shimano/SRAM compatible freewheel or a hub of that type that can be laced to your existing rim. This will be 130mm OLD, but it will fit in the 126 OLD frame without any trouble at all.
4) A Shimano or SRAM cassette with the same number of speeds as the STI's.
5) New cables and housings- best buy is the complete Jagwire kit in your choice of colors for around $36 on eBay, comes with everything you'll need.
6) New 8, 9 or 10 speed chain, depending on the STI's and cassette.
7) Probably new bar tape.

It's a couple hour project but worth the time if you prefer STI's.
LBS seemed to be saying a manufacturer was releasing an STI in October that is compatible with the stock equipment on this bike, I did not see the manufacturer on the website he was looking at.
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Old 08-11-12, 09:19 AM
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Originally Posted by dddd View Post
To keep this inexpensive, but still work properly, I would recommend the following:

RSX STI lever set, 7-speed.

7-speed Shimano HG or Sunrace freewheel on your stock rear wheel.

Shimano road rear derailer, SIS type, 6, 7, 8 or 9-speed.

7/8 speed Shimano or KMC chain.

Cable stops for your frame's shift bosses.

From there, someone will have to add longer shift cables, possibly re-do the brake cabling and re-tape the bars before final adjustment and testing can complete the job.

The Black Lightning is a very steep-angled, twitchy criterium frame which rewards hi-intensity, aggressive riding.
It can build up into a very fast, efficient bike which favors climbing over descending and which gives the rider an advantage in terms of aero positioning.
If this is what you want in a bike, the conversion will be woth the effort imo if the frame size is also good for you.
Thanks for the advice. I ride this bike short distances for exercise and apparently the style fits me well for this use. Bike seems to beg me to ride it hard.
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Old 08-11-12, 09:42 AM
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I'm doing a similar upgrade to a 1990 Black Lightning. Good advice above, but on my 1990 frame, the original frame shift bosses with aftermarket cable stops would stick out too far so I have removed the original shift bosses. The 1988 frame may be different, but if it is the same, it is easy to remove them. My rear dropouts are 128mm and I put a 130mm Campy Proton back there (up front too) with no problem at all. You can easily sink a lot of money into this project depending upon your desires. I think the 1988's had a steel front fork and the 1990 model switched to aluminum. A fun project for sure! Post some pics if you have the time.
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Old 08-11-12, 09:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Weedkilr View Post
Recently purchased a 1988 Black Lightning Cannondale and am interested in converting from downtube to STI. Can this be done inexpensively? LBS told me there was a kit which will become available in October which would work but is there a way to do this with used parts?...original components in good shape but looking for more convenience.
Hard to address the best/cheapest route without knowing what's already on the bike. As an '88 Black Lightning, original equipment would have been indexed SunTour Superbe Pro or maybe Sprint rear derailleur, with indexed dt shifters? If that's the case, and you want more convenience than dt shifters but aren't married to the idea of STI, you could find a set of contemporary indexed Suntour bar-end shifters for not too much money. Much more convenient that dt shifters, not quite as easy-peasy as STI, but for $40-$50 plus longer cables/casing and you're set.

STI is pretty much a Shimano-SRAM or Campy-specific system, your best chance of success is to have shifter, rder and freewheel/cassette match. That increases the number of parts that would need to be changed and can drive up the cost considerably. Unless the bike has already been switched over to either Shimano or Campy index-compatible parts.

If it is a Suntour indexed drivetrain, I can't imagine what kind of new soon-to-be-available indexed kit would work well with it. More info from your LBS source would be helpful.

So what's hanging on the frame? We need to know brand/model of rder, shifter, hub/freewheel-cassette, how many cogs in the rear, and is it currently indexed and working well.
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Old 08-11-12, 11:15 AM
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rder is suntour sprint indexed. 7 cogs in rear. I did not remove the rear wheel to determine if it is freewheel or cassette. The current system shifts well and components are in very good shape, appears this bike has not been ridden that much. Perhaps the bar end shifter would be simplest to use. Can I by these new?

I do have a donor bike, an old Guerciotti frame which came apart. I have a Shimano 600 rdr and 7 speed set-up that was on this bike if that is worth using. There is a tooth missing on the low cog which I do not need very often riding here in the flat lands of Indiana.
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Old 08-12-12, 09:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Weedkilr View Post
rder is suntour sprint indexed. 7 cogs in rear. I did not remove the rear wheel to determine if it is freewheel or cassette. The current system shifts well and components are in very good shape, appears this bike has not been ridden that much. Perhaps the bar end shifter would be simplest to use. Can I by these new?

I do have a donor bike, an old Guerciotti frame which came apart. I have a Shimano 600 rdr and 7 speed set-up that was on this bike if that is worth using. There is a tooth missing on the low cog which I do not need very often riding here in the flat lands of Indiana.
Seems to me the simplest conversion would be to keep the drivetrain as is and find indexed Suntour bar-cons. Suntour mostly died as a high-end mfr by '92, so there's been nothing new produced since then. You might be able to find NOS (New Old Stock) shifters, but you'd need to pay more for them than for a used set. Indexed ones are far less common than the older friction versions, I found two sold pair on ebay (30 days of data is all you can get now), one sold for $25, the other for $40. I'm not seeing any indexed ones listed right now. Try a search like: "(sun,suntour) barcon"

If the donor Shimano components you have are index-compatible, then you could use those parts and buy a set of Shimano indexed barcons i/o STI to save some $$. Shimano indexed barcons are easier to find than Suntour, but they'll probably cost a little more, $40-$75 depending on condition and spec level. You could also obviously find 7spd-compatible STI levers, which is what you first asked about. Barcons will save you money and some time, you won't need to re-do the brakes since you're just swapping the shifters.

Minimum set for reasonably trouble-free indexing is rear shifter, rder and freewheel/cassette. So you'd need to move the Guerc' rear wheel and rder to the C'dale. Hard to understand how a cog could be missing a tooth, they don't normally just shear off for no reason. So what caused it, and could what caused it have done other damage you're not seeing. Sorry to say, you'll never get me to say "Yeah, go ahead and use a freewheel that has a cog missing a tooth." So if it were mine I'd be replacing the freewheel/cassette.

Find the Suntour barcons and you'll have a fairly easy job, you'll also be able to keep all the cool original matching black components. Swap to Shimano and you'll have a larger pool of replacement parts to draw from in the future, but it will be more work, will probably cost you more money, and your Black Lightning will lose some degree of coolness.
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Old 08-12-12, 10:34 AM
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Swap to Shimano and you'll have a larger pool of replacement parts to draw from in the future, but it will be more work, will probably cost you more money, and your Black Lightning will lose some degree of coolness.

You mean, like this one?


Or this?


OK, this isn't a BL, but it's the same era, resto-mod with Shimano 9 double compact. Just got back from a metric century on this, 18.4 MPH average, rode with a Pinarello Dogma with EPS and some kind of plastic Trek with those Rolf wheels that seem to have not enough spokes. Did OK for an old man.
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Old 08-12-12, 07:10 PM
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Originally Posted by rccardr View Post
You mean like this?...Or this?
Yeah, kinda. Don't get me wrong, your Black Lightnings all look very cool, and it's great that you ride them fast, and I don't have anything at all against using a mixture of parts from diff mfrs and eras on anything. I don't think I have a single bike in my stable that is catalog-correct. As my mostly-adult kids would say, "It's all good."

But the original-spec Black Lightnings had limited-production, used-by-nobody-else color-coordinated black/gold components that just looked awesome together. The ders, the shifters, the hubs, the calipers, everything was this marvelous high-gloss black with gold accents. Very sexy. I handled heaps of Suntour components back in the day, watched them being assembled in the factory, and nothing they made looked as cool to me as the Black Lightning bits. I have an NOS set of Black Lightning IPC dt shifters that I keep just to fondle.

So as cool as you BLs are, I think one with a full set of original black/gold bits would be a couple of degrees cooler. No offense intended...
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Old 08-12-12, 07:40 PM
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Try and score 9 speed 105 in black and go from there.
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Old 08-12-12, 11:16 PM
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Originally Posted by that_guy_zach View Post
Try and score 9 speed 105 in black and go from there.
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Old 08-13-12, 06:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Weedkilr View Post
LBS seemed to be saying a manufacturer was releasing an STI in October that is compatible with the stock equipment on this bike, I did not see the manufacturer on the website he was looking at.
True. The Shimano Tourney brifters are already in catalogs and should retail around $100. You most likely will need a Shimano-spaced 7-cog freewheel (I like the SunRace ones) and a Shimano RD, possibly a chain as well. The 600 RD you have should work.

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Old 08-13-12, 06:41 AM
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That Suntour Sprint gear is nice. If you want to just go to bar-end shifters, you can use the Rivendell shifter pods with the downtube shifters you already have. Here is a link - http://www.rivbike.com/product-p/sh13.htm
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Old 08-13-12, 07:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Force View Post
That Suntour Sprint gear is nice. If you want to just go to bar-end shifters, you can use the Rivendell shifter pods with the downtube shifters you already have. Here is a link - http://www.rivbike.com/product-p/sh13.htm
Ding ding ding! We have a winner!! This is the easiest/best/cheapest solution, glad Force brought it up, I plumb forgot about this option. No need to hunt ebay/forums for compatible barcons, no need to give up the very cool original black/gold shifters, no need to go Shimano and swap most of the drivetrain. Buy the pods...
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