Most Gears for Vintage Bikes
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  1. #1
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    Most Gears for Vintage Bikes

    I have a few vintage bikes (1987-1989) and want to find out what the maximum gearing I can run is. If I understand, these bikes have 126mm dropouts, vs the new standard of 130mm. What is the maximum number of gears I can run in the back with this setup? (I think 7, but want to check).

    What options exist for derailleur and integrated brake/shift levers? I have SRAM Force (2010 vintage) on a newer bike and would love to have these newer components on one of the older frames. I don't believe all the gears are necessary on the new bikes, just not sure the new integrated brake/shift levers and derailleurs can run as they should with fewer gears than they were designed for on a narrower-spaced stay.

    Thanks in advance for replies.
    Last edited by mml373; 01-03-2019 at 08:17 PM.

  2. #2
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    In short, I think a 7sp freewheel is the widest you can run w/o stretching the frame:
    https://www.sheldonbrown.com/cribsheet-spacing.html

    I ran 3x6 on my '74 Schwinn for many decades (120mm rear spacing was 2x5 originally):
    https://www.4crawler.com/Photos/104_pana/Schwinn/8.html

    Then went to 3x7 for a few years:
    https://www.4crawler.com/Photos/104_pana/Schwinn/9.html

    Then finally went to 3x10 on a 130mm hub and that worked fine. The frame had already sprung out to around 126mm with the 7 speed freewheel:
    https://www.4crawler.com/Photos/104_...chwinn/11.html
    It was easier to fit the 10sp cassette than the 6- or 7-sp freewheels as they had 13T small cogs that caused the wider chain to rub on the stays while the 11T on the 10sp cassette was small enough that the narrower chain cleared the stays. I run friction shifters on that and didn't have to change those. I didn't set the frame either, just spread it a little to squeeze the hub in place.

    On my new cross bike, I run the Retroshift/Gevenalle brake/shifter combo. With the, you just match up an indexed bar end shifter to the freewheel or cassette with the same generation RD and that should work. On mine, I have a 9sp MTB RD and a 10sp indexed road bar end shifter and that combination works a treat:
    https://www.4crawler.com/Photos/104_pana/CX700/3.html

    I haven't run any of the newer integrated shifters myself. I think if the cable pull ratio of the shifter and RD match up, you can set the limit screws to stop it from over shifting.
    Last edited by 4Crawler; 01-04-2019 at 07:25 PM.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by mml373 View Post
    I have a few vintage bikes (1987-1989) and want to find out what the maximum gearing I can run is. If I understand, these bikes have 126mm dropouts, vs the new standard of 130mm. What is the maximum number of gears I can run in the back with this setup? (I think 7, but want to check).

    What options exist for derailleur and integrated brake/shift levers? I have SRAM Force (2010 vintage) on a newer bike and would love to have these newer components on one of the older frames. I don't believe all the gears are necessary on the new bikes, just not sure the new integrated brake/shift levers and derailleurs can run as they should with fewer gears than they were designed for on a narrower-spaced stay.
    Steel frames can easily be spread to take wider hubs. I had a frame that "took a set" after a few thousand miles of riding with a slightly wider hub in it - I didn't spread the frame other than to squeeze the hub in, and after a while I didn't need to spread it. Aluminum frames don't take kindly to such treatment. A frame from the late 80s was made for 6 or 7 speed.

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    Appreciate the replies, all. Sounds like spreading the stays on one of the vintage frames might be a way ahead.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by mml373 View Post
    Appreciate the replies, all. Sounds like spreading the stays on one of the vintage frames might be a way ahead.
    Or slap a 13-28 six speed freewheel on it [about $25], down tube friction or 6 speed click shifters. With 52-39, that bike will go anywhere, no problem.

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    This guy has a great channel for all things bike.

    https://youtu.be/YdibmxBuMy0

  7. #7
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    On a steel frame you have options as mentioned above and is an easy update. I've seen a guy running 10spd Chorus on his Vitus 979 but I wans't that brave to attempt that for mine so it remains a 6spd.

    6spd down tube shifters are off-on finds. The Exage to me shifts pretty nicely and at those levels the prior owners were casual types so not as much use and prices decent. The SIS capable 105 and 600 are getting to be $ in good shape. NOS I've seen north of $70. With those prices on a steel frame may as well update to 9 or 10spd.

  8. #8
    Eye of the Bobke
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    I did the unthinkable and spread the stays on one of Ernesto's early 80s classics to put Campy 10 speed on. No issues after 15 years on the setup, though I did have to give up the smallest sprocket because of chain clearance limits.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kuma601 View Post
    On a steel frame you have options as mentioned above and is an easy update. I've seen a guy running 10spd Chorus on his Vitus 979 but I wans't that brave to attempt that for mine so it remains a 6spd.

    6spd down tube shifters are off-on finds. The Exage to me shifts pretty nicely and at those levels the prior owners were casual types so not as much use and prices decent. The SIS capable 105 and 600 are getting to be $ in good shape. NOS I've seen north of $70. With those prices on a steel frame may as well update to 9 or 10spd.
    Another option would be a set of Simplex Retrofriction shifters. They're the smoothest friction shifters I've ever used.

    bike 007.jpg
    Too old to ride plastic

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Overly View Post
    I did the unthinkable and spread the stays on one of Ernesto's early 80s classics to put Campy 10 speed on. No issues after 15 years on the setup, though I did have to give up the smallest sprocket because of chain clearance limits.
    If it kept you riding the bike, not so unthinkable. I did it to one of my DeRosa's, with no chain clearance issues.
    Too old to ride plastic

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by velodog View Post
    Another option would be a set of Simplex Retrofriction shifters. They're the smoothest friction shifters I've ever used.

    bike 007.jpg
    Beautiful! Period correct, too!

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Overly View Post
    I did the unthinkable and spread the stays on one of Ernesto's early 80s classics to put Campy 10 speed on. No issues after 15 years on the setup, though I did have to give up the smallest sprocket because of chain clearance limits.
    Would that be the 11 t. outer cog? With 52/42 rings? Does any rider actually push that gear under power for any length of time? . Good riddance.

  13. #13
    Russian Troll Farmer
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    I remember that Sheldon Brown managed to put a 7sp cassette on a 3-speed Sturmey-Archer internal 3-speed, and used a triple ring crank, to get a total of 63 speeds. Probably a record....
    "L'enfer, c'est les autres"

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fredrico View Post
    Would that be the 11 t. outer cog? With 52/42 rings? Does any rider actually push that gear under power for any length of time? . Good riddance.
    Yep. And not me. Not nowadays

  15. #15
    'brifter' is a lame word.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Overly View Post
    I did the unthinkable and spread the stays on one of Ernesto's early 80s classics to put Campy 10 speed on. No issues after 15 years on the setup, though I did have to give up the smallest sprocket because of chain clearance limits.
    Unthinkable? It's just a bike no matter who made it.
    I work for some bike racers
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    and a bunch of skateboards

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