Swap down-tube shifters for combined brake ones?

lemmy

New Member
Hi,
I'm looking for a steel frame road bike to do up as a commuter. Lots of these old 531 bikes have down-tube shifters. Is there any way to tell if a bike will be compatible with shifters combined with the brakes? (What are these type of shifters/brakes called?)
Thanks.
 

amasidlover

Veteran
Location
Gatley
They're STI shifters - I did exactly what you're planning a few years ago; I think it just needed a new cassette and rear hub (the original was only 6 speed) and the new set-up was 8 speed. I think they had to re-set the rear triangle a bit wider too, but that's not generally an issue on a steel frame.

I originally went with Sora STI shifters which was an expensive mistake - instead of a smaller lever under the brake lever (which moves with the brake lever) to change down they had a little thumb 'switch' to shift down; making shifting down while on the drops impossible and very often that's when I want to shift down. Since bought some second hand 105's and they're much nicer...
 

amasidlover

Veteran
Location
Gatley
Forgot - think they had to do some funny braze-on to replace the old shifter mounting points with cable stops - but I believe there are adaptors that do the same job.
 
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lemmy

New Member
That's useful info... I was wondering about changing from 6 speed cassettes too, and how easy that would be. So is it possible to change the hub without needing a new wheel? (I'm new to this stuff...)
 

palinurus

Legendary Member
Location
Watford
You'll have to upgrade from 6 speed if you want to use STI. The earliest STI shifters were 7 speed (and they are still available), newer designs are 9 and 10 speed. You will need a new hub, if the rims are in good condition then you could have the wheel rebuilt with a suitable hub for an 8/9/10 speed setup. As amasidlover mentioned the new hub will be wider than the dropouts on your frame- it is possible to cold set the rear triangle of a steel frame to take a wider hub.

Alternatively, and more cheaply, you can learn to live with downtube shifters. I ran an 8 speed setup on my last commuter bike using a downtube shifter. I liked it. The only problem I had with it is I got so used to it I was always hunting around for the gear lever on the downtube of my other bikes.
 

RecordAceFromNew

Swinging Member
Location
West London
Another alternative is to use bar end shifters like this. They generally allow you to choose between friction (any speed) and indexed (7, 8, 9 and 10 speed are commonly available).

If your current setup is 6 speed and you want more, I would recommend getting a suitable new rear wheel rather than rebuilding it with the old rim (when you will have to buy a new rear hub, new spokes, nipples and then pay for rebuilding...). Obviously you will need to buy a new cassette too, and most probably a new chain (and definitely a new chain if you are going for 9 speed or above).
 

amasidlover

Veteran
Location
Gatley
As palinurus says it would need a wheel rebuild if the rims are worth keeping - mine were Mavic MA3s in decent condition so worth keeping. Otherwise it will mean a new rear wheel.

palinurus mentioned cost - the fact is I had bought a very cheap 531 framed bike that fitted me and was comfortable a couple of years earlier as a student and had been replacing stuff as it wore out with better quality components. This meant I did the upgrade at the point I needed a new rear hub anyway making it reasonably cost effective. BUT if I'd been starting from scratch, I think it would have worked out cheaper to start off by spending 2 or 3 times more on the original bike and start with STIs etc.

This, for example (not my listing, just the first one I found), will be most of the way to want you want already, providing what you want is a decent road bike with STI shifters - if however you want a really nice steel framed bike then its going to cost you more...

Alex
 
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lemmy

New Member
Thanks all, this is exactly the kind of info. I was looking for.
I know what you're saying about the Trek bike. It looks good. (Too big for me but I'm sure there are more similar ones out there.) I've just got an idea that I would like a bike with a bit more character, and it would be nice to customise something. I prefer the look of thin tube steel bikes too. I'm looking at a Holdsworth 531 12 speed for £100 - maybe I'm crazy and that's not such good value? By the time I got a new cassette, back wheel, chain, STI levers etc., I wonder how much I would have spent? (any ideas?) And a cold set would probably be required too...
 

palinurus

Legendary Member
Location
Watford
It can work out expensive to fit new shifters- really depends on which ones you go for.

You could save money by obtaining a donor bike with useable STI bits on and swapping the stuff over and selling what you don't need or looking for S/H shifters and other parts (sellers sometimes break bikes down- often they can sell the bits separately for more than a complete bike)

£100 doesn't sound unreasonable for a 531 bike in fair condition.
 

RecordAceFromNew

Swinging Member
Location
West London
lemmy said:
Thanks all, this is exactly the kind of info. I was looking for.
I know what you're saying about the Trek bike. It looks good. (Too big for me but I'm sure there are more similar ones out there.) I've just got an idea that I would like a bike with a bit more character, and it would be nice to customise something. I prefer the look of thin tube steel bikes too. I'm looking at a Holdsworth 531 12 speed for £100 - maybe I'm crazy and that's not such good value? By the time I got a new cassette, back wheel, chain, STI levers etc., I wonder how much I would have spent? (any ideas?) And a cold set would probably be required too...
+1. IMHO they offer superior ride quality too.

This and this and their links will help you plan to get exactly what you want if you have not read them already, and many folks on this forum are highly knowledgeable and generous with their advice.
 

amasidlover

Veteran
Location
Gatley
OK - so given that you're not doing it as the cheapest option, then I would guess you'd be spending £100 at least on the shifters even second hand. My LBS charge about £70 - £100 for a complete rebuild so maybe half that for recabling and cold set. Would think new wheel and cassette would be £70 for something reasonable. Chain Reaction Cycles are doing 3 Mavic 10 speed chains for £30 - just ordered some myself, but not received yet.

£100 sounds reasonable value - you do hear of fluke finds and huge bargains on 531 bikes, but I've not personally seen one...

I bought mine as a student when it was all I could afford - I'm 10 years older now, not as desperately poor and have access to cyclescheme. I'm doing over 100 miles a week commuting on it and I do keep looking at a Planet X with SRAM Rival or similar but actually the 531 bike (now with Carbon Fork) is pretty comfortable, reasonably fast and doesn't look particularly seductive to thieves so I've simply kept maintaining and upgrading it...
 

nuovo_record

Well-Known Member
palinurus said:
It can work out expensive to fit new shifters- really depends on which ones you go for.

You could save money by obtaining a donor bike with useable STI bits on and swapping the stuff over and selling what you don't need or looking for S/H shifters and other parts (sellers sometimes break bikes down- often they can sell the bits separately for more than a complete bike)

£100 doesn't sound unreasonable for a 531 bike in fair condition.
just fitted 9 speed mirage ergo's to my holdsworth. i'd already put a 8 speed on the back some years ago. they were £69 including cables from ribble.
think it all depends on how long you'll keep the bike as to what to spend on it
(i sold my record d/t levers for £40 so the extra was worth it)
 
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