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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 11-17-22, 12:55 PM
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...I would not pay extra for the old Suntour barcons. They work well, but not any better than any of the modern offerings in the friction mode. I agree you don't want to drill your bars, although you see such things done a lot in the past.
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Old 11-17-22, 12:58 PM
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3alarmer, thank's for the routing pics. You still need a little slack at the stem to allow for turning radius, how did you decide on how much housing to leave before cutting them. Or am I overthinking this?

mstateglfr, this is really useful information that the micro-shift indexed bar-end shifters can be dumbed down to analog. Changes my calculus about new, more modern bar-ends.

To be honest, I was kind of digging on the vintage shifters, but new is better.

And yes, I still have top-cable brake levers, and while I get the point about comfort, I gotta draw the line somewhere.

Sorry for driving you crazy on the cheap-skate mentality, by if I don't put hard limitations on myself, after $100 here and $100 there, I could end up with $1,000 worth of stuff on a $200 bike (though I did go out and google the Raleigh Super Course and restored examples are going for almost $1,000: I hope who stole mine is still enjoying it; don't think Nisikis are ever going to enjoy the same collectibility).
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Old 11-17-22, 01:44 PM
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Originally Posted by austinbikebill View Post
3alarmer, thank's for the routing pics. You still need a little slack at the stem to allow for turning radius, how did you decide on how much housing to leave before cutting them. Or am I overthinking this?

.
Yes, you do need a little slack, but it's not very much. I just take a cable (before installation, and sort of use it to measure the run from the shifter, up along the bar, and down to the stop on the down tube. Then I use that to measure the housing and cut it. If you are doing it for the first time, you should probably co a little long, then shorten it as needed once you have the bar tape installed over the housing, at the end near the down tube stop. Then reinsert the cable.
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Old 11-17-22, 02:39 PM
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Good idea, in the spirt of measure twice cut once -- and better to cut too long than too short.
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Old 11-17-22, 06:41 PM
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...also, you will need to source a double sided cable end clamp for the down tube attachment. They look like this:

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Old 11-17-22, 06:45 PM
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...if your frame has braze-ons for the DT shifters, they make and sell little adjuster ends that fit on over them and bolt on. They're the same ones used for brifters, at the downtube.
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Old 11-17-22, 10:34 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).
Drilling the handlebar for aero brake levers used to be somewhat popular too but drilling a handlelbar often resulted in a handlebar breaking at a very inopportune time. A suddenly breaking handlebar can dump you into traffic or just cause you to crash. I strongly recommend to NOT drill your handlebar.

Cheers
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Old 11-18-22, 01:11 AM
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one thing to keep in mind is inflation. I bought a Raleigh Professional in 1973 for about $500. a bike of similar quality today would cost 10 times as much. Keep that in mind when you worry about the cost of updating your $200 bike. Everything today costs more than it did back then
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Old 11-18-22, 08:21 AM
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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?
These should index a 5 speed freewheel as both 5 speed and 6 speed use a 5.5 mm cog to cog spacing:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/255792017716

You will also need a shimano non dura-ace SIS rear derailleur to do so. Lock out the 6th position using the low limit stop on the rear derailleur. See here for how I determined this:

https://sheldonbrown.com/cribsheet-spacing.html

Last edited by kommisar; 11-18-22 at 08:36 AM.
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Old 11-18-22, 09:07 AM
  #60  
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My only comment in buying older well used index DT/Stem/Bar End is that once they are used enough they wear out and are no better than friction. I think you can swap out the shifting cartridge(?), but good luck finding one.

If you buy older index, buy NOS, or one with little use; which is basically trusting that a seller knows the history.

John
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Old 11-18-22, 09:52 AM
  #61  
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Originally Posted by austinbikebill View Post
mstateglfr, this is really useful information that the micro-shift indexed bar-end shifters can be dumbed down to analog. Changes my calculus about new, more modern bar-ends.
To be honest, I was kind of digging on the vintage shifters, but new is better.

And yes, I still have top-cable brake levers, and while I get the point about comfort, I gotta draw the line somewhere.

Sorry for driving you crazy on the cheap-skate mentality, by if I don't put hard limitations on myself, after $100 here and $100 there, I could end up with $1,000 worth of stuff on a $200 bike (though I did go out and google the Raleigh Super Course and restored examples are going for almost $1,000: I hope who stole mine is still enjoying it; don't think Nisikis are ever going to enjoy the same collectibility).
Take the roll of cable housing and tape it to the bars in a few places from the end of the bars up to the stem. When routing the right(rear) cable, turn the bars to the right as far as they go and see how much housing is needed to reach the cable stop on the down tube. Mark that point with tape. That is how long the housing needs to be to ensure there is no limitation in turning the handlebars.

As for the pricing of things, again- you do you. This hobby has all sorts of people with different goals/limitations/interests. I have bikes where I have set an arbitrarily low budget and built them up accordingly to see what I can end with, so its not like I personally demand all bikes to have expensive components. Ive just been trying to point out that what you view as expensive or as a vintage premium is really just normal pricing, and actually inexpensive compared to other options in that category.
Your bike was $200, but that was 40 years ago. The value of $1 then is hardly the same as now.
Perhaps look at the conversion cost not as a comparison to how much the bike was when new, but rather as a comparison to doing nothing. You could spend $150 and have new shifters, chain, freewheel, cables, and housing. Sure, thats 75% of what your bike cost new 4 decades ago, but its also only $150 to make your bike perfect for you for the next number of years. This is a bike you use for touring and memories- that hardly seems like an excessive amount of money to ensure you are comfortable and happy while experiencing those memories.
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Old 11-18-22, 11:29 AM
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Originally Posted by 3alarmer View Post
.
...if your frame has braze-ons for the DT shifters, they make and sell little adjuster ends that fit on over them and bolt on. They're the same ones used for brifters, at the downtube.
Hey, thanks for this idea.

I already bought a clamp-on downtube cable guide, but if I could just re-purpose the DT shifter stub-outs as guides instead, that would be great.

Do you have a link to an example of these so I could search them out.

And the guy with the Suntour NOS friction shifter just offered me a discount on them, so I think I am going to take them and get moving on this shifter conversion before I think about it anymore.
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Old 11-18-22, 11:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Miele Man View Post
Drilling the handlebar for aero brake levers used to be somewhat popular too but drilling a handlelbar often resulted in a handlebar breaking at a very inopportune time. A suddenly breaking handlebar can dump you into traffic or just cause you to crash. I strongly recommend to NOT drill your handlebar.

Cheers
Not to worry, I am off of the idea of drilling the bars to pass thru the cable housing.

Your point about not wanting to have handlebar break and then crash into traffic is a good one. In fact, after my long touring hiatus (30+ years) I am now terrified of riding on a shoulderless road. I did literally thousands of miles on shoulderless roads, counting on the cars to see and avoid me and never got hit (only time I ever got hit was when I was 10-11 years old and it was my fault).

Now with everyone texting and otherwise driving distracted, the likelihood of getting creamed seems inevitable.

From now on, I am only riding in bike lanes, wide shoulders (Austin has lots of roads with 6-10' shoulders) or bike trails. I am done with sharing a lane with cars. I made it this far (including that ride in Africa, where people don't even have licenses), so why tempt fate any further.

Last edited by austinbikebill; 11-18-22 at 11:39 AM.
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Old 11-18-22, 12:14 PM
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Originally Posted by austinbikebill View Post
Hey, thanks for this idea.

I already bought a clamp-on downtube cable guide, but if I could just re-purpose the DT shifter stub-outs as guides instead, that would be great.

Do you have a link to an example of these so I could search them out.

And the guy with the Suntour NOS friction shifter just offered me a discount on them, so I think I am going to take them and get moving on this shifter conversion before I think about it anymore.


https://www.ebay.com/p/1000685201?iid=334038210931

...the Suntour bar-cons are pretty good. I have three or four sets I run on bikes, and all of mine came to me used. They show no signs of wearing out. Much better than the first generation CAmpy and Shimano bar-end shifters.
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Old 11-18-22, 12:47 PM
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Thanks for turning me on to these, they are really cool/clever. Now I won't have those useless looking appendages sticking out of the downtube on my bike.

I never would have found these on my own (housing, stops, etc. were not keywords I would've searched on).
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Old 11-18-22, 01:12 PM
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Originally Posted by austinbikebill View Post
Thanks for turning me on to these, they are really cool/clever. Now I won't have those useless looking appendages sticking out of the downtube on my bike.

I never would have found these on my own (housing, stops, etc. were not keywords I would've searched on).
You can go to a shop and ask for em too. Any shop that's been around for a couple decades should have at least a handful of these, and probably more, in a drawer. They used to come with STI shifters in case a frame needed them.
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Old 11-18-22, 03:08 PM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
You can go to a shop and ask for em too. Any shop that's been around for a couple decades should have at least a handful of these, and probably more, in a drawer. They used to come with STI shifters in case a frame needed them.
I probably have a couple of sets in my parts drawer, I hold onto them in case I need them for a future upgrade on an older bike
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Old 11-18-22, 05:14 PM
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Originally Posted by alcjphil View Post
I probably have a couple of sets in my parts drawer, I hold onto them in case I need them for a future upgrade on an older bike
Ha, I just thought about it and yeah I have 2 spare sets in a drawer. Mine are the type with the indexed wing tab for the right DT brazeon.
I wonder why the design changed.
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Old 11-19-22, 11:46 AM
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Originally Posted by austinbikebill View Post
Are there other options?
Sorry I'm late. I rarely venture outside the C&V forum.

But yes, there are brifters that will shift a vintage 2 (or 3) x 5 transmission. What you need is a Shimano SIS rear derailleur and a pair of old (pre-2000, I believe) 9-speed Campagnolo Ergo brifters. That combination will give you the 5.5mm RD travel you need for a 5 or 6-speed cluster. The front shifter is not indexed, but uses a ratcheting system that will work with pretty much any double or triple crank set and a front derailleur that will have the right amount of travel.

Mount those, set the limit screws on the RD and Bob's your uncle. I have converted a handful of my bikes this way, and am quite pleased with the results.

One of the first I did was this 3 x 5 Roy Thame. $40 Chorus 9-speed brifters, XT RD and Deerhead FD from the parts box and a $10 set of cable stops:

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Old 11-19-22, 01:08 PM
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Originally Posted by non-fixie View Post
Sorry I'm late. I rarely venture outside the C&V forum.

But yes, there are brifters that will shift a vintage 2 (or 3) x 5 transmission. What you need is a Shimano SIS rear derailleur and a pair of old (pre-2000, I believe) 9-speed Campagnolo Ergo brifters. That combination will give you the 5.5mm RD travel you need for a 5 or 6-speed cluster. The front shifter is not indexed, but uses a ratcheting system that will work with pretty much any double or triple crank set and a front derailleur that will have the right amount of travel.

Mount those, set the limit screws on the RD and Bob's your uncle. I have converted a handful of my bikes this way, and am quite pleased with the results.

One of the first I did was this 3 x 5 Roy Thame. $40 Chorus 9-speed brifters, XT RD and Deerhead FD from the parts box and a $10 set of cable stops:

That is one pretty bike.

And finally someone how who appreciates "value" buying (i.e., cheap)

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Old 11-19-22, 02:32 PM
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Originally Posted by austinbikebill View Post
That is one pretty bike.

And finally someone how who appreciates "value" buying (i.e., cheap)
Thanks! And yes, being Dutch equals to being a cheapskate, I've been given to understand.

Here's another one of my 'brifterized' bikes, this time a 3 x 5 French Robust demi-course:

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Old 11-20-22, 07:12 AM
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The Dutch have nothing on the Schwabens.

Very nice vintage bikes.

South Holland wouldn't happen to mean Eindhoven (not much more of the Netherlands is south of that).
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Old 11-21-22, 05:36 AM
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Now that I've made a decision to stay friction/analog and go with bar-end shifters (decision now is whether vintage suntour or shimano), as I am in the process of working on the handle bars, are there any thoughts/advice on brake levers?

The bike has the original cable-out-of-top brake handles with the original 40 year-old aqua blue hoods that are showing their age.

Should I keep it simple and just buy new hoods (and replace the 40-year old cables as well while I am at it) or should I go for a set of the newer style levers with hidden cable housing routing (not sure what you call those: aero brake handles maybe?)
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Old 11-21-22, 06:25 AM
  #74  
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Originally Posted by austinbikebill View Post
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).
That was going to be my advice. Give up the idea of indexing and just get friction bar ends. It's a good idea for touring, where reliability and serviceability are everything, to keep shifters as simple as possible. Like down tube friction shifters, bar ends are bulletproof and reliable, nothing to adjust or fiddle with. I toured many miles on my '83 Trek 720, with that setup.

I have these DiaCompe ENE levers on two of my bikes. They're maybe a bit expensive, but I expect that they will last forever. There are certainly less expensive bar ends though.

https://velo-orange.com/products/dia...r-end-shifters
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Old 11-21-22, 07:25 AM
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'83 Trek. Nice. I wanted a Trek in '82 (I think back then they were still hand brazing frames in Wisconsin) but settled for a Nishiki as I was a poor student at the time.

Thanks for the encouragement/support on my decision to stay analog.

And thanks to everyone else who weighed in on this topic: it shows that with enough work, even a 2x5 drivetrain can be made digital (indexed).

Any thoughts on the brakes? Stay with my current levers and just get new hoods or upgrade to aero (hidden cabling) levers?

Last edited by austinbikebill; 11-21-22 at 07:29 AM.
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