Upgrade Advice


New Member
Jul 30, 2011
Hello all,

I recently took up road biking as something fun to do with my uncle. At first I just rode an old bike that he had that fit me ok. I have recently come into a "vintage bike" (specs below) with downtube shifters. I am trying to find out how difficult (and costly) it would be to convert the down shifter to the modern brake lever shifters, if it is at all possible.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

[FONT= 'serif']Bicycle Type[/FONT]
[FONT= 'serif']Road[/FONT]
[FONT= 'serif']Sizes[/FONT]
[FONT= 'serif']62 cm Seat Tube (center of BB to top of seat collar)[/FONT]
[FONT= 'serif']58 cm Top Tube (center seat tube to center of head tube)[/FONT]
[FONT= 'serif']Colors[/FONT]
[FONT= 'serif']Yellow / Blue (Custom Paint Job)[/FONT]
[FONT= 'serif']Crankset[/FONT]
[FONT= 'serif']Superbe 170 mm 42/52 T[/FONT]
[FONT= 'serif']Rear Derailleur[/FONT]
[FONT= 'serif']Shimano Ultegra 6500[/FONT]
[FONT= 'serif']Front Derailleur[/FONT]
[FONT= 'serif']Suntour Superse PRC[/FONT]
[FONT= 'serif']Brakes[/FONT]
[FONT= 'serif']Shimano Ultegra 6500[/FONT]

[FONT= 'serif']Shifters[/FONT]
[FONT= 'serif']Down Tube Suntours (14 Spd)[/FONT]
[FONT= 'serif']Brake Levers[/FONT]
[FONT= 'serif']Dura Ace AX[/FONT]
[FONT= 'serif']Seat[/FONT]
[FONT= 'serif']Selle Italia Flite[/FONT]
[FONT= 'serif']Wheelset[/FONT]
[FONT= 'serif']Shimano 600 hubs / Matrix ISOC Rims[/FONT]
[FONT= 'serif']Pedals[/FONT]
[FONT= 'serif']Standard Black Platform Pedals[/FONT]
[FONT= 'serif']Cassette [/FONT]
[FONT= 'serif']13-21[/FONT]
[FONT= 'serif']Headset[/FONT]
[FONT= 'serif']Shimano 105[/FONT]
I recently got back into riding after 20+ years away from it. I dragged my old touring style bike out that had downtube shifters and it's non indexing shift system. A local bike shop helped me out with some upgrades. I didn't want to spend the money for the new style shifters so I went with bar end shifters and upgraded the rear to index shifting. The front is a triple and I don't see an immediate need to change anything there.
After spending more than it cost me new in the mid '80's I'm pretty happy with it. (it still weighs about 30 pounds though, not much can be done about that)
I agree with BadWolf, I wouldn't upgrade to brifters either, their prone to breakdown too and will cost a mint to get the drive-train converted. Personally I would go with it as it is, I several bikes with downtube shifters and love them, one of my downtube shifter bikes has the first generation index shifting system.

So if you want or need to upgrade you now have two options, BadWolf's with his suggestion of barend index shifting which means taking off the downtube shifters and replace with barend and swap the rear derailleur for an index derailleur; or the cheaper way by staying with the downtube and changing it to index and the derailleur; or cheaper yet and keep it as it is.

If you really want to upgrade the bike and make a noticeable difference is to scrap the wheels and replace with a better wheelset.
Sounds like a well equiped bike just the way it is. Unless one of the components is causing you problems and needs to be replaced, I'd just ride it like it is.

Edited to add: I would probably upgrade one thing if I was going to ride it: the pedals. I'd go with a set of clipless...
I like the idea of the clipless pedals.

Oh.............and Bad Wolf is a woman. (not "'his' suggestion") /img/vbsmilies/smilies/wink.gif