Can you put modern brake / shifters on an old steel bike?
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  1. #1
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    Can you put modern brake / shifters on an old steel bike?

    I have an old steel framed bike in the shed that I'm thinking of doing up. The shifters are on the stem. Can you convert to integrated brake / shifters?

    Cheers

  2. #2
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    Yes

    It can be done. You should take it to your local LBS and have them determine if the chain stay spacing will accomodate modern components and whether it can be spread to the proper size pr if the chain and seat stays have to be replaced to get the frame to the proper size.

    I have a 1989 Schwinn Paramount with 128mm spacing and it needs to be spread to 130mm or 135mm depending on if I want the strongest wheel possible with less dish. If you have that old a frame it may have 126mm spacing. I would prefer to have Waterford replace the chain and seat stays as part of a total frame repaint if I decide to do it. Buying a whole new bike is much more economical.

    Some people like their old frames so well that they think it is the best investment for their money. I decided to buy a new Serotta Fierte Steel and relegate my old bike to rainy day status until a major frame/component failure forces me to make a decision. That may be a long time now that I will not be riding it that much since everthing is working flawlessly as of now since I have kept it in great shape.

    Hope this helps.

  3. #3

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    Not worth the money

    Unless it is a "classic" bike (and then, why would you want to put modern components on a classic!), then the bike itself is probably not worth the investment. You won't be able to just add the new levers...you will also need new derailleurs, chain, cassette (which means wheels), etc. Add up the cost and you have put quite a bit into the bike.

    Not to mention that older frames have a different spacing for the rear wheel (125mm vs modern 130mm). Someone else can correct me on this, but the 125mm spacing was last used on the 7 speed indexed shifting which used downtube shifters. When "brifters" came out in 8 speed the rear spacing changed to 130mm to accomodate the cassette.

    Bottom line is it will be cheaper for you to buy a new or used bike with more modern components.
    So, if I understand this, I am a Clydesdale Fred who is a borderline poser? I thought I was just slow!

  4. #4
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    There's your answer

    I think if you combine CThomas's comments with mine you have your answer. You have to replace a lot of stuff. You can buy a very nice new bike for the cost of refurbishing your old bike. Most people have told me to keep my bike as much original as possible since they think it may become a classic. Right now you can buy the frame used for $300 if it is pristine condition so I don't think there is too much danger of that. Good luck.

  5. #5
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    I see a bunch of problems.

    Stem mounted shifters were used on 70's bike boom bikes. The rear spacing is probably 120mm. You will need at least 126mm rear spacing to run 7 speed STI. To run the current STI shifters, you'll need 130mm rear spacing. Stretching the rear dropouts 10mm is a lot. If the shifters are on the stem, you probably don't have shift bosses on the downtube. You will need either shift bosses or some type of cable routing on the headtube to run STI.

    I'd leave it the way it is and ride it....
    Dave Hickey/ Fort Worth

    My 3Rensho Blog: http://vintage3rensholove.blogspot.com/

  6. #6
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    I went through the same dillemma with my 20 year old steel bike a couple of months ago. I was debating getting the bike re-painted and the rear dropouts stretched from 126 to 130, but that would have cost me around $1,000, without all the new parts. Plus, the frame doesn't fit me right. So, I decided to buy a new frame and build it over this winter. If money is good next summer, I'll probably send the old steel frame out to get it repainted, but I am going to keep it as is, with the exception of some vintage components that I recently bought off of e-bay. The old bike will be my backup bike.

    Dekindy,

    Does Waterford have a website? I wasn't able to find many websites that repaint frames. Thanks.

  7. #7
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    Painters

    Check with the manufacturer of your bike, they might repaint.

    http://www.waterfordbikes.com/
    You will have to check with them whether they paint non Schwinn/Waterford bikes. They have offseason pricing.

    http://spectrumpowderworks.com/index.php
    This is a powder coating painter that a custom frame builders use.

    http://www.campyonly.com/joebell/brochure.html
    Another custom painter used by custom frame builders.

    Just type in custom bicycle painting and you can find lots of them.

  8. #8
    imbasilical moreon
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    Quote Originally Posted by kiwiiceberg
    I have an old steel framed bike in the shed that I'm thinking of doing up. The shifters are on the stem. Can you convert to integrated brake / shifters?

    Cheers
    fixie..............

    old frame like that may have horizontal r. dropouts.......maybe a good candidate for a fixie / ss .....

    check out sheldon brown for info / parts at those two hot links above....

    g'luk
    b0nk

    "Totally INTP"



  9. #9
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    Key words

    Quote Originally Posted by kiwiiceberg
    I have an old steel framed bike in the shed that I'm thinking of doing up. The shifters are on the stem. Can you convert to integrated brake / shifters?
    The stem shifters are a dead giveaway - this is a clunker bike and was not that good to begin with. For what you are looking at in $$, you would be far better off to buy a decent used bike that's 3-5 years old. The only possible reason to contemplate what you propose is that you are one of those people who "just likes to prove it can be done" regardless of the cost or the functionality of the final product.

  10. #10
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    Thumbs up

    Thanks for the replies, yes it has 120mm rear space.
    I will leave it as is, and work at polishing it up and getting everything in good riding order.
    But I am getting an itch to build up my own bike. As a hobby.
    I'll see if there's something a bit more modern on the local version of ebay...

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