downtube->STI (several questions)



grizzlybxl

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Jun 18, 2014
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Hi everyone! I am new to this forum so forgive me if this is in the wrong place.
So. Recently I've gotten more and more into cycling.
I have a bike but it's a city bike and it's rather heavy and I've gotten a taste of my brother's Merckx Corsa and the difference was astonishing.
Now, the thing is, this bike I have is, by city bike standards, a good bike and so obviously my folks wouldn't understand why I would need a new bike.
Well, we have a bike lying around somewhere with a relatively light frame and drop handlebars and the whole thing and I was thinking I could fix it up, so here are my questions:

- can any bike with downtube shifters be converted to an STI shifting system?
- can this be done without the help of a bike repairman (so as to minimize costs)? In other words, can anyone do it?
- seen as I also want to change the wheels and the chain probably needs replacing, would the costs outweigh the cost of a new road bike? Maybe this would be a good time to add that I live in what some people would call cycling paradise: Belgium - point being that there's a lot of people who want to sell their old bikes here and they often don't know how much their bikes are worth.

Thanks a million,
Jay
 
The basics of going from DT shifters to brifters is to replace the DT shifters with cable stops.
There are at least two versions of downtube shifter posts. On one bike I had to file the inside face of the cable stops a little to get them to fit nicely. No big deal to me and my Dremel, but I don't know what you'd think of it.

What I suspect may be a bigger hurdle is that the number of speeds of the brifters(and to a lesser degree, the make) should preferably match the number of speeds and make of the rear cassette. And DT shifter would indicate an older bike, with an old rear wheel, which may not match the speeds in a less old brifter.

When your shopping list swells to include brifters AND wheels AND chain, then it'll probably make sense to look for a complete bike instead.
 
Quote by griz:

"- can any bike with downtube shifters be converted to an STI shifting system?"

Theoretically speaking, yes. Practically speaking, finding the correct and/or obsolete or used pieces parts necessary for the conversion can be a challenge. eBay or swap meet finds and trades may take some time, but it does save some money. You would need new shifters, cables, derailleurs, chain, cassette or freewheel at a minimum and possibly a crankset. The rear triangle may neey spread and you may want to upgrade wheels.

"- can this be done without the help of a bike repairman (so as to minimize costs)? In other words, can anyone do it?"

'Anyone' with the correct, common tools and a bit of mechanical abilities and perhaps a guiding hand. It's not difficult to swap components on a bicycle, but it does require common sense, an eye for detail and some level of skill.

"- seen as I also want to change the wheels and the chain probably needs replacing, would the costs outweigh the cost of a new road bike?"

Very likely. At the point of re-using just the frame and a few components you are very close to the cost of a new bicycle...unless you shop for really good deals on those replacement components. Everything is possible though and only you and your ability to negotiate can get to an estimated bottom line before proceeding. Scope out your market. Odds are you can find a reasonably priced STI-equipped complete bicycle that fits you perfectly and be dollars and time ahead in the long run.

"Maybe this would be a good time to add that I live in what some people would call cycling paradise: Belgium - point being that there's a lot of people who want to sell their old bikes here and they often don't know how much their bikes are worth."

Oh Hell! Go beg to Eddy Merckx!
big-smile.png
You're probably knee deep in used bikes! Dress poorly and keep a large wad of Belgian...er...Euros in your pocket! When you finally find a screaming deal on that road bike that fits you perfectly...spend wisely and peel off those Benjamins...er...Leopolds so fast Boonen couldn't move any faster.

Good luck!
 
You can do it!!

Your cost should be < €300 if you DIY ... half that amount if you are a wise shopper ...

  • 10-speed (or, 11-speed!) CAMPAGNOLO shifters you can buy a used pair in VERY GOOD condition off of eBay for < €100
  • the Campagnolo shifters will give you the most future configuration flexibility that is, a different/contemporary wheelset
[*]you can ALWAYS move these to another bike in the future, so think of the cost on a 5-to-10 year basis
[*]Shimano rear derailleur (see matrix, below)
  • try your bike's current rear derailleur, first
[*]ANY front derailleur
[*]7-speed SunRace Freewheel (about €15)...
  • the Cogs are Ramped
[*]chain? (I recommend a Shimano chain -- 8-speed or 9-speed )
  • a 9-speed Shimano chain can be used with a broad range of configurations ... you WILL need a "contemporary" chain tool which is spec'd for 9-speed or narrower chains
[*]an inexpensive 9-speed Shimano chain will work as well as their expensive variants

And, you'll be good to go ...

There ARE some bicycle specific tools ...

The skill level, in general, is comparable to removing-and-replacing the cap from an old-style (i.e., glass) ketchup bottle -- some dexterity is required, but not much ...

  • 99% of the information you need is available on www.parktool.com + YouTube.
The biggest hassle may be acquiring the downtube stops PLUS cutting/trimming the cables & housing -- the "stops" used to be supplied with the shifters ... if your frame does not have braze-on bosses, then you will need the cable stops commonly used for stem/bar-end shifters ... if your frame has cable guides on the downtube, already, then so much the better.

The most time will probably be spent wrapping the handlebar tape!

IMO, the people who should NOT work on their own bikes are surgeons/dentists/dental-hygenists/hand-models OR people with arthritis because if a tool should slip (unlikely, but ...) and they are out-of-commission for a day-or-longer, then it is potentially lost income.

Don't be in a hurry ... consult YouTube or www.parktool.com when you need to ... after you have the tools & components it's a "weekend" project.

Now, is it worth it?

Many will say "no."

I say that presuming the fork is not damaged, then for 1/4th the cost of a comparable, new bike from an LBS you can cobble together a better bike with an existing frameset + parts + DIY time-and-effort.

You can do it!!!
 
If bending your frame to accommodate an 8-, 9-, or 10-speed axle sounds daunting, 7x2 sti levers are still available--http://www.amazon.com/Shimano-ST-A070-Shifters-7-Speed-Black/dp/B007Q4MM1I. To make this work you will need 126 mm rear axle spacing, a Shimano 8x2 speed road derailleur set (2300 or Claris), a 7-speed freewheel, an 8-speed chain, cables and housing, and adjustable cable stops that attach to the frame where the shifters were.

If your rear axle is 120 mm, write back on how to convert it to 126. Also, ask about how to spread your frame 6 mm. Also, be aware of largest-cog capacities of the rear derailleur. I believe 2300 is 27t and Claris is 32.
 
You got a bunch of good answers, but I have a question for you...WHY? Why do you want to change to STI? The cost to change over would probably be a lot more money then the bike is worth.

So I have another thought, I can hear the moaning already from the crowd. Why not instead simply upgrade from friction to SIS and you can maintain the current downtube shifters and brake levers, and the weird thing about doing it that way...SIS shifts faster and better than STI with less constant fiddling. Now you think I'm kidding, how could older technology be faster, well it is! I have a couple of bikes with SIS and couple with STI (one is Ergo), and before I bought my last bike last year I test rode a bunch of bikes and some had Dura Ace, and my SIS stuff was faster and more surer shifting. You can pick up Shimano 105 SIS for a song, you can also leave the front derailleur friction since neither SIS or STI shift the front any faster than friction, so the only purchase you would have is a 105 SIS rear derailleur and SIS shifters (which you would convert the one that would operate the front to friction mode), this will cost you around $80 on E-Bay prices.

If you want to be able to shift from the levers, there is yet another bizarre idea I have for you, you can go with bar end shifters so you never have to take your hands off the handlebar, again the these shifters are cheap at around $45, than like above, change the rear derailleur to 105 SIS and leave the front friction.

Look man, it's just a thought, don't shoot the messenger.
 
Exactly. DT shifters aren't rocket science. Friction DT shifters were all we had when I started riding 40+ years ago. After awhile you get the feel for the right distance to move the lever for one cog shift without having to trim for chain rub.

Every so often I take my old Schwinn LeTour out just to keep my hand in. Like driving a clutch.
big-smile.png


And indexed DT shifters are even easier to use. No harder to shift than it is to reach down with your hand and grab, then replace, your water bottle.
 
Originally Posted by mpre53
Exactly. DT shifters aren't rocket science. Friction DT shifters were all we had when I started riding 40+ years ago. After awhile you get the feel for the right distance to move the lever for one cog shift without having to trim for chain rub.

Every so often I take my old Schwinn LeTour out just to keep my hand in. Like driving a clutch.
big-smile.png


And indexed DT shifters are even easier to use. No harder to shift than it is to reach down with your hand and grab, then replace, your water bottle.
I too got my feet wet over 40 years ago and I started out on friction and still have three bikes that are friction and I too take them out about once a month and get back into the friction thing again. The funny thing I noticed with this STI nonsense is that it doesn't shift any faster than the fastest friction shifting system ever invented...Suntour, and I have their top of the line Superbe stuff and it shifts just as fast as STI. Again I'll probably catch flak for that comment but most of the flak givers are people who either young and never rode friction and think it's caveman stuff, or they rode cheap friction gear and got a bad taste for it. And like you said, shifting friction or SIS is no harder, if not easier, than reaching for your water bottle.

Now supposedly electronic shifting is very fast, I haven't tried it but would like to for fun but not to own. Why wouldn't I want to own one? Because I don't want to be dependant upon a battery and motors to keep me shifting, if a battery or a motor fails you're not going to shift anymore, plus it's a lot more expensive to repair. Maybe if they ever come out with a lightweight CVT transmission and I'm 90 years old I might want to try that.
 
Originally Posted by Froze
You got a bunch of good answers, but I have a question for you...WHY? Why do you want to change to STI? The cost to change over would probably be a lot more money then the bike is worth.
Good point. My main ride has combination levers because its 10-speed cassette helps me get over the climbs I used to do with a 7-speed freewheel, and the indexing is pretty essential when the cogs are so closely spaced. On flatter rides I love the 34 year old Masi that I wouldn't dream of changing. I have to say most of my enjoyment of the newer bike is because of having more gears, not because the shifters are on the handlebar. My enjoyment of the older bike is because it handles better, looks prettier, and starts conversations.
 
Originally Posted by Froze

Now supposedly electronic shifting is very fast, I haven't tried it but would like to for fun but not to own. Why wouldn't I want to own one? Because I don't want to be dependant upon a battery and motors to keep me shifting, if a battery or a motor fails you're not going to shift anymore, plus it's a lot more expensive to repair. Maybe if they ever come out with a lightweight CVT transmission and I'm 90 years old I might want to try that.
I demoed two bikes with electronic shifting today. It's pretty slick, but the levers (switches) were programmed differently and I was always hitting the wrong gear.

Then I got on a bike with SRAM Red-22, the new 11-speed version. Always hit the right gear, the tactile feedback was just right, there's no worry about charging batteries, and there's nothing to program. Just cable tension and limit screws. What's not to like?
 
Originally Posted by oldbobcat
I demoed two bikes with electronic shifting today. It's pretty slick, but the levers (switches) were programmed differently and I was always hitting the wrong gear.

Then I got on a bike with SRAM Red-22, the new 11-speed version. Always hit the right gear, the tactile feedback was just right, there's no worry about charging batteries, and there's nothing to program. Just cable tension and limit screws. What's not to like?
I agree with you. I don't see why I should complicate things and make it more expensive to repair. Bikes was suppose to be all about a non complicated, easy and inexpensive to fix form of transportation, it seems the cycling industry is trying to take us in another direction, why is that? I have an thought on that...more money. The cycling industry is taking it's cues from the auto industry.

Speaking of autos, my neighbors 3 year old Toyota Prius dash LCD touch screen went bad, and without she can't work a lot of functions like fan speed, switching from air condition to vent to heat, etc, plus monitor all the fuel usage junk. So she takes it to the dealer, the part is $1,200 and the labor is $350. So much for saving money on fuel.

I like the concept of KISS.
 
Originally Posted by mpre53
For the same reasons, I doubt that I will ever warm up to the idea of hydraulic brakes---rim or disc.
exactly, but unsuspecting buyers who run out and get bikes with disk brakes don't realize till after the purchase that those brakes cost a lot more to maintain and are much more complicated to adjust. Disk brake pads last anywhere from 100 miles to 1200 miles depending on riding conditions, rim brake pads will last 6,000 to over 20,000 miles; good disk pads cost about $23, good rim pads cost $9 (for the best Kool Stop Salmon pads)...do the math. Some argue that the cost of the disk pads is cheaper in the long run vs replacing the rim when they wear out, Mostly false. My rims last an average of 45,000 miles, paying $23 per pad means I could buy a single $865 dollar rim, problem is I would never spend that much for one rim. And the cost of the disk pads doesn't even include the cost of the rotors that last about 12,000 miles if they don't get warped from excessive heat first, and those rotors cost around $50 which adds another $900 to final cost.

There are all sorts of negatives the industry is not telling people about disk brakes because they want your money, and most younger people don't have a clue as to how long things last they just think that since it's new school it's got to be better. Negatives like having to break in the brakes; too much heat on the rotors will not only warp them effecting your braking badly, but will destroy hub bearings that are not made to take that kind of heat, and rotors heat up faster than rims do; they put more stress on spokes; if oil accidently get on pad the pad is gone; if you are putting disk on a bike that didn't have them the conversion is lot more expensive than you think, have to beef up fork, dish the wheels, will weaken the rear wheel, stress the spokes more, much more finicky about adjustment and keeping them adjusted..

When it comes to disc brakes, one important factor in their performance is the size of the rotor. All other things being equal, the larger the rotor, the more surface area it has, and the better it will handle heat, all of which mean better stopping power with less fade. One thing people overlook about rim brakes on bicycles is that functionally they ARE disc brakes. The wheel rim is the rotor, a huge rotor that is 622 mm in diameter (559 for MTBs), as opposed to 140 - 200 mm diameter as found on most disc brakes, and those disc brake rotors are only a couple of millimeters thick. One doesn't need to be descending mountain passes to overheat those rotors to the point of warping not to mention brake fade. A few hard stops, or dragging the brakes on even a moderate hill can heat the rotors up to the point that they will blister skin (so don't touch 'em!). That heat means warping and fade -- both of which are every bit as bad for braking and safety as a blown tire, and perhaps more likely to happen because the heat builds up so much faster. The manufacturers could make them to better withstand the heat, but that would mean making the rotors much thicker and larger and therefore much heavier and nobody would want them.

Disk brakes while offering better braking in mucky conditions offer degraded braking in all other circumstances, and they don't modulate as well.
 
^Try telling that to their loyal following.

http://www.cyclingforums.com/t/500807/disc-road-bikes-your-opinion
 
Originally Posted by AyeYo
^Try telling that to their loyal following.

http://www.cyclingforums.com/t/500807/disc-road-bikes-your-opinion
I know what you mean. The same thing is true with the new electronic components, if you have a Dura Ace Di2 system and lets say in 5 years the derailleur fails (which we don't know the life expectancy of these yet but according to industry trends it will be dramatically shorter than mechanical derailleurs), the unsuspecting person will have to dish out almost $700 for just the rear derailleur! And $400 for the front! A battery is $70, and we all know a battery's life expectancy is 3 to 5 years depending on use. Then of course there is a myriad of expensive parts that can fail on electronic systems like junction boxes that cost $140, charger that cost $130, one brake lever is almost $400, the list goes on.

All of this is great if you have an unlimited income source, but for the average ride who decides they want the newest greatest bike won't realize the expense of replacing parts when they go bad until something breaks then their in sticker shock.
 
It's the natural progress of a manufacturing industry. They're taking cues from the automotive and electronics industries. Making a simple and robust product that will last for decades will put you out of business in a hurry. Making complex, failure prone products that nonetheless cost a small fortune will keep the money rolling in and the shareholders happy. That's what the automotive indsutry does and makes bank on the fortunes people spend fixing their cars. The cycling industry reached that point awhile ago though. Now it's time to go one step further and take a page from the electronics industry playbook and start pushing hard for new/different/changed products that totally and utterly incompatible with existing products (so you can sell more of everything!), all in the name of fixing problems that never existed. Now instead of tried and true rim brakes on aluminum wheels, we have $3000 carbon wheel sets that you HAVE to buy because OMG they're SO AERO YOU'LL NEVER WIN WITHOUT THEM. Oh... but yea, just a side note, they can't stop. No worries! Manufacturers to the rescue with disc brakes! Now you just HAVE to drop thousands more on a disc brake road bike to use with your awesome aero carbon rims that can't stop (talk about putting the cart before the horse) and if you don't you'll die in a firey crash because everyone knows rim brakes don't work!!! But wait, that's not all!! Those awesome disc brakes just totally negated (and probably worse) the aero benefit of those $3000 carbon rims... oh and your old rims aren't disc compatible anyway so you have to buy a new set for another $3000! Now you're back to square one with a $4000 bike rolling on $3000 rims (with $3000 of obsolete rims in your shed) that's actually heavier and less aerodynamic than the $600 Chinese bike your neighbor got from Costco. Don't worry, the manufacturers will save you from this quandry too, just give it a couple years until they come out with the newest innovation... rim brakes!!! More powerful, more aerodynamic, and lighter than disc brakes (also allows use of lighter wheels!). They're a must have!!! Go buy your new, awesome rim brake equiped bike now and throw that $4000 disc brake road bike in the garbage!!!


It's the same with the MTB fads like wheel size and drivetrain. 26" is awesome.... oh wait, no it's not, bigger is better, go out and get a 29"... oh wait that's too big, smaller is better... go buy a 27.5"... what's next? Still too big? 26.1" coming to market soon!! Totally incompatible with all 650b parts! 10 speeds, 20 speeds, 30 speeds, more speeds is better!!!! Oh wait, no it's not... quick, go buy an 11 speed!!! In a market where everyone NEEDS to have the latest and greatest, just keep changing what the latest and greatest is and you'll continue to make a fortune. You can even recycle a previous latest and greatest (MTBs going back down in wheel size and number of gears are a good example) and it'll still sell because the average buyer is too stupid to question it.
 
Originally Posted by AyeYo
It's the natural progress of a manufacturing industry. They're taking cues from the automotive and electronics industries. Making a simple and robust product that will last for decades will put you out of business in a hurry. Making complex, failure prone products that nonetheless cost a small fortune will keep the money rolling in and the shareholders happy.
From the early '50s to the early '90s bikes were mainly about incremental improvement--a little lighter here, a little stiffer there, and two or three more cogs on the freewheel. My base of reference will always be the bikes the 1984 Renault-Gitane team took to the Tour de France. Columbus SL/SP frames, Super Record drivetrains, headsets, and hubs, Cinelli bars and stems, and steel-railed Concor, Turbo, or Cinelli saddles (relatively cheap Russian Ti wasn't available yet). The standard wheels were a hard-anodized Mavic GP4 rims (400g) laced 3-cross to Record hubs wiith 32 1.8 mm straight-gauge spokes, shod with Vittoria CX or CG tubulars. For time trials they used 24- and 28-spoke (double butted) wheels on the same bikes. The team directeur, Cyrille Guimard, said the idea was for the bike to finish the race with as few replacements as possible. And except for the rims, anybody could build this bike for less than $2000, which was steep but not exorbitant. And with the right tires, you could ride it anywhere that had a road.

I like modern bikes, but I'd say the most important technological developments since 1984 have to be
  • clip-in pedals and shoes that fit
  • 130 mm freehubs (and 9-, 10-, and 11-speed cassettes)
  • the slant-parallelogram rear derailleur

And despite the complexity, modern mechanical shifting systems are pretty darned reliable, if not exactly maintainable.
 
Originally Posted by oldbobcat
From the early '50s to the early '90s bikes were mainly about incremental improvement--a little lighter here, a little stiffer there, and two or three more cogs on the freewheel. My base of reference will always be the bikes the 1984 Renault-Gitane team took to the Tour de France. Columbus SL/SP frames, Super Record drivetrains, headsets, and hubs, Cinelli bars and stems, and steel-railed Concor, Turbo, or Cinelli saddles (relatively cheap Russian Ti wasn't available yet). The standard wheels were a hard-anodized Mavic GP4 rims (400g) laced 3-cross to Record hubs wiith 32 1.8 mm straight-gauge spokes, shod with Vittoria CX or CG tubulars. For time trials they used 24- and 28-spoke (double butted) wheels on the same bikes. The team directeur, Cyrille Guimard, said the idea was for the bike to finish the race with as few replacements as possible. And except for the rims, anybody could build this bike for less than $2000, which was steep but not exorbitant. And with the right tires, you could ride it anywhere that had a road.

I like modern bikes, but I'd say the most important technological developments since 1984 have to be
  • clip-in pedals and shoes that fit
  • 130 mm freehubs (and 9-, 10-, and 11-speed cassettes)
  • the slant-parallelogram rear derailleur

And despite the complexity, modern mechanical shifting systems are pretty darned reliable, if not exactly maintainable.
I am a big fan of the LOCK RING which now secures the Cogs on the freehub body rather than the earlier variants which used a threaded last Cog.

BTW. I think that SOME older, non-slant-parallelogram derailleurs are more than 'okay' with friction shifters ...

  • Of course, THAT impression may be a consequence of the Shimano Crane rear derailleur I installed on my bike being so much better than the low-end Simplex rear derailleur that had been using!!!
 
Originally Posted by alfeng

  • Of course, THAT impression may be a consequence of the Shimano Crane rear derailleur I installed on my bike being so much better than the low-end Simplex rear derailleur that had been using!!!
Simplex stuff was junk, they shifted like ****. I had those components on a Puch years ago and I hated it. Took the bike down to a LBS who adjusted it and said that was how they worked! Took it to another LBS who said it worked fine. But what a day and night difference I experienced in shifting quality when I got my first bike with Suntour V series derailleurs.
 

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