Installing road bars and shifters on a TT bike - Need advice


New Member
Jul 5, 2011
Hi guys, I hope this is the right forum for this.

I have a felt s32 TT bike that I really like, however, I've accomplished my triathlon goals for the time being and will not be doing long distance tri's for many more years while I finish school.

I feel I would get a lot more use out of a road bike at this point now that I'm not training nearly as much for triathlon. I would like to commute on my bike, and I just moved to a place that is literally all hills. I am probably going to cut swimming time down significantly because I hate it, but I'd love to compete in more cycling races just for fun. These are the 2 options I'm considering:

#1 Sell the tri bike, and buy a road bike. I can't afford to own both right now. I will have to sell the TT bike and buy a less expensive road bike. My TT bike cost me about $1400, and I think I could get around a grand out of it, which would put me around the range of a Felt F95 ($850). It has cheaper components (9 speed tiagra/sora combo). My current bike has a 10 speed 105 drivetrain. The F95 looks significantly less cool than the s32.

Here's a link to the 2010 felt s32, the geometry can be found here:

#2 Keep the TT bike and modify it. Buy some road bars and some 105 shifters off a friend or ebay. I'm okay with doing this as I will not have to ship a bike, but there will be a significant amount of work involved. Things I think I'll have to do is get new cables, and a new fit. I'll keep the TT cockpit for years down the road when I want to compete in Triathlon again, or if I want to sell the bike and bring it back to stock. Things I'm not sure about is if this bike will ever be a decent road bike. I know I can adjust saddle height and move it back (it is currently as far forward as it goes, I'm sure I have 5+cm that I could move it back). I've heard that the TT fork might be too short, and I may not be able to bring the handlebars up enough to be like a road bike. I can also not change certain angles, like seat tube and head tube (I think). I would like to try some hill climb events, and maybe some crits just for fun. Would this bike not be competitive, or do you think this will not be a limiter at all for a beginner?

Here's a link to the 2011 felt f95

What do you guys think? I would really appreciate your advice, and constructive criticism.

Also I just checked the gearing on the 2 bikes, the TT bike has a 54/39 front 12/25 rear 10 speed. The road bike has a 50/34 front, and the rear has a 11/25 rear 9 speed. Are these differences going to make road riding/racing difficult, and should I think about changing them?
You shouldn't have any problems converting the Felt S32 for road use. Its angles aren't really very steep for a TT frame with a 76 to 77 degree seat tube angle depending on the frame size. Likewise the top tube length isn't as short relative to seat tube length as many dedicated TT frames. The slack head angles and short fork rake implies the bike will be very stable but may not be as quick to initiate turns as a dedicated road racing frame but it should be plenty rideable.

The real issue IMO is that you'll sink an awful lot of money swapping out the front end when you consider the price of integrated brake/shifters, bars and stem. It'll still be less initial investment than buying a new road bike but it won't be cheap. You'll also likely want to find a setback seat post so you can get more road like seat tube angles but again the felt isn't all that steep to begin with.

In terms of gearing, standard road race gearing these days is 53/39 up front and something in the 11-23 or 12-23 to 11-25 12-25 range so you're pretty much fine there. You could always exchange your 54 tooth big ring for a 53 but it's hardly worth the effort as it doesn't impact your low end climbing gearing and when riding the big ring it just means you might tend to select one cog lower for similar situations (e.g you might ride a 54x16 instead of a 53x15 at a given speed on the flats).

Basically the road bike you're comparing is equipped with compact gearing (50/34) which is great for getting more low end gearing out of a double crankset with little or no penalty on the top end. If you live in a very hilly or mountainous area the compact gearing can be very useful but if you live in flatter to rolling terrain and have plenty of low end gearing with the 39x25 combo then the compact isn't so useful.

The 10 speed group is newer and most new road bikes are also set up 10 speed so your TT bike already is set up with more modern components. If you decide to road race that's useful as it means your bike is running the same number of gears as most other bikes in the peloton which means most wheels in the spare wheel vehicle will fit (assuming you match Shimano/SRAM vs. Campy when you grab a spare wheel).

Bottom line, you can definitely convert the bike, the handling may change a bit but in general should if anything be more stable and a little slower at turn initiation but not squirrely or hard to handle. The head tube height on the TT bike isn't extremely low so you're probably o.k. on bar height but you'll likely need a positive rise stem when you convert it to road use but modest rise stems are pretty much standard these days on road bikes anyway. You'll obviously need to buy new handlebars, probably a new stem to get the correct fit, new brake/shifters compatible with your derailleurs and will need to recable everything, and you may or may not need a seat post with additional setback to achieve a good road fit. That'll set you back a bit but it can certainly be done.

Good luck,
That was extremely helpful!

I understand it seems like a large investment. I still havent decided what to do for sure, but it seems like having paid $1400 for this bike and probably only getting $1000 for it, and having to ship it, and then having to wait a few weeks to order another bike, it might be worth the hassle. Also considering I wont be able to afford a bike that has this level of components, wheels, frame, etc. Of course it is also of value that I will be able to switch the bike back to TT form in case I would like to compete in TT's or Triathlons in the future.

Looking on ebay at some used 105 shifters, and I'm sure the road bars and cables cant be too expensive, plus the cost of a fit, and possibly a new stem, it seems like I could get this done for just a few hundred dollars. My seat as I mentioned before is as far forward as it will go, I can move it back 7cm from where it sits. That sounds like a lot of adjustment to me, so hopefully I will be able to use the stock seat post.

If it makes any difference, I'm 6'2", 170 lbs, 34" inseam, and the bike is a 58cm. I am pretty lean and my legs are long proportional to my upper body.

I do live in a very hilly area, I've only lived here a week however, so I will have to just ride around and see if I need to lower my gearing.

Thanks very much for the information!
Originally Posted by MaxPowers .
....I do live in a very hilly area, I've only lived here a week however, so I will have to just ride around and see if I need to lower my gearing.
If it turns out you'd like lower gearing for the steep hills you'll ride then you've still got a few options. You can go to a wider range cassette like an 11-27 to give you more low end and there's nothing preventing you from installing a compact (50/34) crankset on your Felt.

You might consider these as an economical alternative to used 105 brifters:

Hey Dave,

The rear 11/27 cassette might be a good investment as well, I could have 2 gearing options if I need to change for a specific race.

Those Forte shifters look pretty cool, however I've never heard of them so I'll read some reviews. They're only a few bucks more than the used one's I've seen, sounds like a good deal!

Again thank you very much for your info!


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