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Converting a 5x2 downtube shifter setup to dropbar brake shifters

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Converting a 5x2 downtube shifter setup to dropbar brake shifters

Old 11-10-22, 02:37 PM
  #26  
austinbikebill
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whoa, that is a lot of math.

I know my lower sprocket is a 13, not sure what the upper is.

Just when I was resigned to using friction bar ends, I get thrown a curve ball.
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Old 11-10-22, 03:36 PM
  #27  
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Originally Posted by kommisar View Post
1. 5 speed brifters (brakes + shifters) do not exist. You might be able to kludge some together by using gevenalle audax mounts and sun tour accushift 6 speed index downtube shifters. These would pull cable at 5.5 mm per position and you could lock out the last position using the low limit stop on the derailleur. This assumes that suntour 6 speed accushift would mount to the same boss as a 7 speed shimano because that is what the gevenalle mount supports. You need to figure if they are compatible before spending any money. You might also be able to use a 6 speed shimano light action shifter. I believe it pulls 5.5 mm per position but not sure. Also not sure if it would work with the shimano 7 speed compatible boss in the gevenalle audax mounts.
I looked at the gevenalle audax page and it looks like the bosses are standard campagnolo downtube bosses so this increases the chances that the suntour accushift 6 speed shifter and / or shimano light action 6 speed shifters would work. Each would need to be paired with a compatible shifter in order to get the 5.5 mm per position.
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Old 11-10-22, 04:09 PM
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so could I direct swap a 6 sprocket Suntour freewheel on the back?

BTW, the original 1982 drivetrain was all Suntour "blue", the crankset and front derailleur is original, while the rear derailleur has been replaced by a Shimano analog (long throw/arm, I replaced the chain, but came up a link or two short when I replaced, so it will lock up with the chain stretched to the top sprocket and top chainring -- so I really only have a nine speed right now)..
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Old 11-10-22, 04:28 PM
  #29  
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Yes, most likely you should be able to install an 'Ultra' 6 speed Suntour freewheel (must be Ultra spacing, not regular spacing) in place of your 5 speed freewheel. From there you can run the Shimano or Microshift brifters.

However, seeing that you are traveling long distances loaded, I think you really should ditch the freewheel hub and change to a freehub/cassette hub. Less chance of bending the axle. You can find 126mm HG cassette hubs on Ebay. Look for shimano A410 RSX, A550 RX100, 105 1055, and 600 6400 hubs. Especially the last two which have better seals.
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Old 11-10-22, 05:27 PM
  #30  
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Friction shifting is fine especially for 5 speeds.

Before going down the Suntour rabbit hole, you might want to look at IRD 5 speed freewheels.
https://www.interlocracing.com/shop/...4670#attr=3236

John
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Old 11-10-22, 06:21 PM
  #31  
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Originally Posted by austinbikebill View Post
so could I direct swap a 6 sprocket Suntour freewheel on the back?

BTW, the original 1982 drivetrain was all Suntour "blue", the crankset and front derailleur is original, while the rear derailleur has been replaced by a Shimano analog (long throw/arm, I replaced the chain, but came up a link or two short when I replaced, so it will lock up with the chain stretched to the top sprocket and top chainring -- so I really only have a nine speed right now)..
An ultra 6 freewheel is 6 cogs of 7 speed spacing that fits in a 5 speed envelope. So you should be able to swap it for a 5 speed freewheel and use a shifter derailleur system that indexes 7 speeds and it should work. You would set the low limit screw on the derailleur to lock out the 7th position.
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Old 11-10-22, 09:09 PM
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.
...an Ultra Six Suntour freewheel is expensive to buy used, at this point. And you can't buy them new any more, except for some old stock that shows up sometimes on ebay. Likewise some of the other stuff that's been proposed for you to look at as a possible way to accomplish brifters on this bike. What's readily available in indexed stuff is mostly 8 speed, which requires a 130 mm hub and spacing in the back.

There are probably all sorts of theoretical ways to do this, assuming you have access to an endless budget for ebay parts. None of them are going to give you more gear range than your current setup. Some of them will be harder to repair on tour. I'm not 100% anti brifter. But having worked and reworked a few of my own, they have a lot of teeny little parts, some of them tend to be hard on cables, anything much below Ultegra in quality is a little dicey in terms of reliability, and on a touring bike, where you're not riding in a paceline, they have little or no advantage over barcons.

Likewise spending the money on a Ultra Six freewheel seems like waste effort to me, and it means that you will have just a tiny more difficulty finding the rear cog you want to shift onto, because the spacing is narrower, and the cogs are closer together. I put one on a Holdsworth Pro, just because I had it and it wasn't doing anything. I'm thinking about changing it back to a standard 5 cog freewheel, just for this reason. The five, I know I can friction shift by feel. The Ultra Six is harder to get right (but it would be easier with Suntour barcons than with Campy DT shifters.)

Anyway, good luck with your project, and your ride.
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Old 11-11-22, 07:36 AM
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I would break this project into two parts. Part 1, get the shifting onto the handle bars. Part 2, change the shifting to index shifting. So for example, invest in bar shifter pods or gevenalle brifter mounts. You may be able to reuse your existing shifters with the chosen mounts and would keep using the existing derailleur, wheel and cassette. Try the new shifter position and see if it solves your issues. If so then invest in an index system. The cheapest route is probably getting a shimano 6 speed SIS and a period approximate shimano SIS derailleur. This would work with the existing wheel and cassette. A more aggressive option is to cold set the frame to 126 mm or 130 mm and then get a new wheel that takes a 7 speed cassette (126 mm) or an 8-10 speed cassette (130mm) along with the appropriate n speed shifters and rear derailleur.

Last edited by kommisar; 11-11-22 at 08:31 AM.
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Old 11-11-22, 08:05 AM
  #34  
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You might want to consider first installing friction stem shifters and see how you like it. That alleviates the body shift needed to reach downtube shifters on a tall frame.

You can get something like the Sunrace SLR-03 (https://sunrace.com/product/slr03-ff/) for about $15, including new cables and the extra housings needed for stem shifters.

You would also need housing stops of some fashion at the downtube location. You can try this out without changing anything about wheels, frame spacing or drivetrain.

I am running stem shifters on both of my bikes and they work just fine. Bar end shifters are really nice too if you want to stick with drop bars. Bear in mind that they are rather exposed, being out on the bar ends and subject to accidental damage from bumps and falls, which is different from both downtube and stem shifters that are somewhat shielded by their central locations.

If on the other hand, you wanted to go to a swept touring bar, trekking bar or other flat bar, there are both friction and indexed thumb shifters, even 5-speed indexed thumbies and 5 speed grip shifts.

Otto
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Old 11-11-22, 01:35 PM
  #35  
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I've 2-3,000 miles on an indexed 7-speed drive train. I occasionally miss shifts that I'm pretty sure would have worked fine with friction shifting. Also, I can't stay on my biggest cog (28 teeth) when I want it. Sure, that's probably due to my lack of mechanical skill, but my bet is that I could make it work fine with friction shifting. I'll probably go back - 'probably' because I can live with the glitches.

Around here, I never need the 28 cog. In the Spring, I expect to go to the East coast, where I will have to walk up hills without the big cog - maybe even with the big cog - so I'll probably make the change this winter.
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Old 11-11-22, 01:35 PM
  #36  
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Originally Posted by austinbikebill View Post

(guessing campy isn't state-of-art any more).
Campagnolo is still very much state of the art as long as you are looking at their current offerings. If you are asking about the stuff made when your bike was new, then no
I must say that if you want to update your bike don't follow advice about things like "ultra 6" freewheels, they are a dead end. Don't look at trying to find products that are so far out of date that the companies that produced them are no longer in business. You like your bike? The look into having your rear dropout spacing updated to 130 mm. That give you the option to using components that are still being produced. You could then update to 8, 9, 10, or even 11 speed cassettes. If you want indexed shifting you would need indexed shifters and new derailleurs. This depends on how much you like this bike. You can upgrade it so that you will love it even more or do an ersatz upgrade that won't help

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Old 11-12-22, 08:56 AM
  #37  
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Do you have a bicycle co-op near you? That could be a great place to find inexpensive parts and also qualified help in getting them put on your bike and adjusted properly.

I have a MIELE UNO LS that I converted to 9-speeds by cold-setting the rear triangle and going to 700C wheels instead of 27" ones. It has Campagnolo 9-speed Mirage brake/shift levers and a Campagnolo 9-speed Mirage rear derailleur. I can run those with Campagnolo, Shimano or SRAM 9-speed cassettes. I'm not sure when I did that final conversion. That bike still is in use with this conversion.

In June 2006 I converted that bike to 7-speed cassette with a Suntour long-cage rear derailleur and Shimano indexed 8-speed Ultegra bar-end shifters.




Around September 2012 I converted it to a Shimano Acera Rear derailleur with the Shimano Ultegra 8-speed indexed bar-end shifters.


Incidentally, if you decide you need lower gears with a double crankset, you can use a 34-50 crankset like I did in the image of the red frame above. No need to change the bottom bracket or even the bottom bracket spindle that way.

Good luck.

Cheers
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Old 11-12-22, 06:43 PM
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Retro roadies- old frames with STI's or Ergos
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Old 11-15-22, 05:20 PM
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Wow, what a lot of advice. Thanks everyone.

After seeing all the other old-school touring bikes, I am seriously thinking about friction bar-end shifters, but boy are they expensive -- even used ones (Suntours are going for $50+ on eBay).

And I searched for an Ultra 6 freewheel but all the one I've found seem to have a very narrow gear range: more for a racing bike than a tourer. Did they make wide gear range Ultra 6s and should I just keep looking?
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Old 11-15-22, 09:03 PM
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$50 seems to be about the going rate for a set of barcons; whether it's new-production like MicroShift (which are quite nice, and have a friction mode) or used, which are now subject to the "vintage tax"
I've seen an mtb-style thumb shifter mounted behind the brake levers on an older road bike as well; similar to the old SunTour "Butterfly" shifter, but it takes some modifications to the shifter mount to get it to work right.

I'd also give up on chasing down an Ultra6 freewheel as well, unless you already have the shifter and derailleur to go with it. It's a 40-year old tech that's been out of production for almost as long. The old heads here think it's still 1986, and there's still tons of these kinds of parts just lying around in the back room of the bike shop.

I've had good results with using modern Shimano 5- and 6-speed freewheels on older road bikes, even with friction shifters; Modern freewheels, even the inexpensive Tourney ones have the ramps and bevels that makes Shimano SIS indexing work. Couple that with a modern 7/8-speed chain, and you get a great bang-for-the - buck improvement in shift speed and quality, even with old friction derailleurs.
Depending on the frame clearance, you may be able to fit a 6-speed onto a 5-speed bike. Sometimes it requires a couple mm of shims on the axle, but most mid-level steel -framed bikes have enough 'spring' to make it work.
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Old 11-15-22, 09:20 PM
  #41  
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Originally Posted by 79pmooney View Post
Thanks. Gevenalle was what I meant, not Microchift. And it is Gevenalle that that framebuilder I know has used.
If it's any consolation, microshift bar ends are used on the Gevenalle product. So you were correct to begin with, even if you meant something else.
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Old 11-15-22, 09:24 PM
  #42  
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Originally Posted by austinbikebill View Post
Wow, what a lot of advice. Thanks everyone.

After seeing all the other old-school touring bikes, I am seriously thinking about friction bar-end shifters, but boy are they expensive -- even used ones (Suntours are going for $50+ on eBay).

And I searched for an Ultra 6 freewheel but all the one I've found seem to have a very narrow gear range: more for a racing bike than a tourer. Did they make wide gear range Ultra 6s and should I just keep looking?
It is unreasonable to expect this to be inexpensive. It is equally unreasonable to declare $50 for shifters is expensive.
You have clearly been out of the fame for decades, and that's awesome- memories are made, not purchased. With that said, be reasonable here. You may be able to scrounge some bar ends for $30, but $50 is quite normal.
And if $50 is expensive, don't look at the cost of Gevenalle shifters.

You should plan to purchase new shifters, chain, freewheel, and cables plus housing. That's at a minimum.
Best of luck, it's cool you have a plan for a big ride next year.
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Old 11-15-22, 10:15 PM
  #43  
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I have been outta it for a while (I still have the $199 receipt for the Nishiki from Redwood Cyclery from 1982). Guess I'll never own a $3,000 road bike (though I probably would go $1,500 for a mid-drive e-bike like a Yamaha Wabash).

So that's kinda setting my component cost baseline, and whoever mentioned the "vintage" tax is probably right about that.

But at least I've decided to stay "analog" with this bike/frame, and going with the end-bar shifters as it looks like the preferred shifter for tourers.
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Old 11-15-22, 11:32 PM
  #44  
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Originally Posted by austinbikebill View Post
I have been outta it for a while (I still have the $199 receipt for the Nishiki from Redwood Cyclery from 1982). Guess I'll never own a $3,000 road bike (though I probably would go $1,500 for a mid-drive e-bike like a Yamaha Wabash).

So that's kinda setting my component cost baseline, and whoever mentioned the "vintage" tax is probably right about that.

But at least I've decided to stay "analog" with this bike/frame, and going with the end-bar shifters as it looks like the preferred shifter for tourers.
There is a vintage tax on some things. Things that are in demand and scarce?...sure- higher priced.
Bar end shifters though?...not really something I think of when it comes to a vintage tax.
Look up how much 105 STI shifters are. Heck, look up how much entry level Claris shifters are. Does that mean there is actually a 'modern tax'?

Bar end shifters were a common component on touring bikes for years. I have some on my commute/touring bike. They are simple and cheap which is why I bought them.
Recently though, more bikes that are used for touring definitely have STI shifting.
Bar ends allow MTB and road components to be easily mixed for drivetrains, which helped give touring bikes the wide gear range needed to climb hills with loaded weight. Now though, road and MTB components largely dont intrrmix and you have wide range 2x11 drivetrains that take care of 95% of the old kludged together drivetrains which needed bar end friction shifting to operate.
Shift with whatever you want, just providing some context and background for why it may seem like bar end shifters dominate touring bikes.
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Old 11-17-22, 10:54 AM
  #45  
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Re, bar-end shifters, once I find a decent friction set set (some NOS Suntour just popped up on eBay for $85 -- vintage is indeed hot!), what's the recommended/preferred cable routing: underneath the the bar wrap tape? I was thinking of drilling a couple of holes thru the bars and routing it that way but have never seen that done before so guessing it doesn't work (my Raleigh Super Course had bar-ends but I only had that bike for 18 or so months before it was stolen in the winter of '81 in Ann Arbor, so I don't remember much about them).
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Old 11-17-22, 11:05 AM
  #46  
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An earlier commentor mentioned Suntour Command shifters that mount inboard of brake levers on drop bars. They would work on a 5 speed freewheel in friction mode. The people I know who use them seem to like them (not me, alas - I only use flat or bullhorn bars for now). I might have a set around here. (starts rummaging)
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Old 11-17-22, 11:13 AM
  #47  
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Originally Posted by austinbikebill View Post
Wow, what a lot of advice. Thanks everyone.

After seeing all the other old-school touring bikes, I am seriously thinking about friction bar-end shifters, but boy are they expensive -- even used ones (Suntours are going for $50+ on eBay).

And I searched for an Ultra 6 freewheel but all the one I've found seem to have a very narrow gear range: more for a racing bike than a tourer. Did they make wide gear range Ultra 6s and should I just keep looking?
Bar end shifters are likely your best choice. These are easy to set up and will work with your existing wheel and freewheel. If you decide to change out the rear wheel (and likely spread the frame), it will work with 7 on the back. I'd shop around for the dia compe ENE bar end shifters. They're good shifters.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/12419500823...oaAiSJEALw_wcB
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Old 11-17-22, 11:17 AM
  #48  
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Regarding attachment to a bike one had owned for a long time:

In the summer of 1995, my then-girlfriend and I bough his & hers matching Ross Mt. Cruisers (cantilever frame with a 1x freewheel drivetrain). She put many hundreds of miles on hers, and I swapped components on mine, made it a 3 x 7 (or 2 x 7, or 1 x 7), and put many thousands of miles on mine as my primary bike (out of many). And it's the most comfortable and trustworthy bike I've ever owned in terms of handling (wouldn't race it in crits, though). And still have the girlfriend (now married for 20+ years).

In the summer of 2010 in the South Dakota badlands, the rear rack on the truck snapped, and my bike was dragged for miles at 65 mph (couldn't see it due to the truck shell). Trashed most of the componentry, destroyed the wheels and fork, and tweaked the frame. Not happy. Stripped it and put it on the wall.

But a couple months later, for some reason I decided that the story of that bike wasn't done yet. Bought a new fork, straightened the frame myself, wrapped the scraped tubes in many layers of electricians tape, and tossed parts on it from the various bins.

And it's been great for the ensuing 11+ years, although reassigned to city / commuting duty. I did ride it up South Mountain a couple weeks ago, and it responded well to the challenge (better than the nut holding down the handlebars, anyway).

So I can fully understand why a rider would want to upgrade instead of replace and stick with an old friend. Sort of like how the Raleigh Pro I've had since 1982 is still my primary fast bike, even after several component replacements.
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Old 11-17-22, 11:39 AM
  #49  
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Originally Posted by austinbikebill View Post
Re, bar-end shifters, once I find a decent friction set set (some NOS Suntour just popped up on eBay for $85 -- vintage is indeed hot!), what's the recommended/preferred cable routing: underneath the the bar wrap tape? I was thinking of drilling a couple of holes thru the bars and routing it that way but have never seen that done before so guessing it doesn't work (my Raleigh Super Course had bar-ends but I only had that bike for 18 or so months before it was stolen in the winter of '81 in Ann Arbor, so I don't remember much about them).
...when they first came out, the cable routing was usually under the tape for several inches, then out and free in a long curve, over to the downtube braze on or clamp where the DT shifters go. I find that routing less than optimal, because all that cable housing flying free tends to snag on things over the average daily encounters my bicycle experiences. I find it much more workable, now that we have super slick low friction cables and housings, to run the cable housings all the way up under the bar tape , and exit near the stem, running from there to the downtube. It's neater, and with the better cables and housings we have now, it works fine.



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Old 11-17-22, 12:25 PM
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Originally Posted by austinbikebill View Post
Re, bar-end shifters, once I find a decent friction set set (some NOS Suntour just popped up on eBay for $85 -- vintage is indeed hot!), what's the recommended/preferred cable routing: underneath the the bar wrap tape? I was thinking of drilling a couple of holes thru the bars and routing it that way but have never seen that done before so guessing it doesn't work (my Raleigh Super Course had bar-ends but I only had that bike for 18 or so months before it was stolen in the winter of '81 in Ann Arbor, so I don't remember much about them).
How much do you think NOS bar end shifters should cost? Again, that really doesnt seem excessively priced when compared to basically any other shifters- STI, new modern bar end, older used bar end, Gevenalle, etc.

You need new cables and housing so just buy modern housing and route the cables under your tape. Dont drill holes in the handlebars, good lord- why? Just tape the housing to the bars and place the shift housing next to the brake housing that runs under the tape. <-- this assumes your brakes are aero and dont exit out the top of your brake levers. If you have those older style brake levers, then cool. Perhaps look at some different levers since the hood shape of more modern brake levers is larger and more comfortable for many. But you do you.
Anyways, just route the shift cables under the bar tape and have them exit at the stem. Its cleaner and shifting works fine- especially friction shifting.

These are $67 with free shipping and come from a reputable online cycling retailer. They have a friction option. I think every bar end shifter I have ever used or even seen has a friction option, for what its worth. The left shifter is always friction and the right shifter can switch between indexed and friction. This is a quality brand and many touring bikes have used Microshift bar end shifters on their bikes.
https://www.ebay.com/itm/18514309482...Bk9SR7ajmO2QYQ
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