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Upgrading gears: friction to indexed thumb levers?
#1
Hello,

I've just gotten my 1980s road bike running again. I'm loving it, except that after over a decade of integrated gear levers, I'm finding the old-school stem-mounted friction levers quite awkward. I've just become too used to being able to change gears while braking, which feels essential for manoeuvring in real-life city traffic.

I'm wondering how realistic a task it would be to upgrade them to use combo style levers. I know I'd probably have to replace the entire gear system, but I think it'd be worth it. But do indexed gear systems take up more space on the axle? Might they be incompatible with a 1980s frame? Are there any other gotyas I should consider?

I've seen instructions on this site and others for changing between different types of indexed gear systems, or moving levers around, but I haven't found anything that's quite as much of a leap as what I'm proposing. But maybe I just don't know the best keywords.

Other ideas?

Thanks,
MikZ.
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#2
It's an expensive undertaking. Without knowing what level bike you have (esp. frame) it's not possible to know whether it's "worth it," but you're probably better off selling the bike and purchasing a good used index equipped one. I would note though that I've never found the need to shift simultaneously while braking, though certainly the stem shifters pose a big problem in even shifting immediately after braking.
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#3
(10-29-2014, 11:25 AM)cny-man Wrote:  It's an expensive undertaking. Without knowing what level bike you have (esp. frame) it's not possible to know whether it's "worth it," but you're probably better off selling the bike and purchasing a good used index equipped one. I would note though that I've never found the need to shift simultaneously while braking, though certainly the stem shifters pose a big problem in even shifting immediately after braking.

Yeah, well, the only 60cm frames I've seen come on the second-hand market have been for bikes with even less conveniently located levers. Without knowing what 'expensive' is, it's not possible to know whether a new bike would be worth it, but I reckon 'expensive' could be worth having a bike I feel safe on and not have to possibly wait another month or two.

Changing gears while braking means I can get going again quickly if, say, lights change in my favour, and having gears on the handlebars makes it easier for me to maintain my balance when changing gears in a roundabout. I've probably ridden less than 100km in New York City, but my impression is that it's a relatively flat city with quite straight bike routes. Sydney, where I currently live, is hillier and somewhat of a maze, with doglegs in cycleways all over the place, to get around awkward traffic arrangements. (I've also clocked up several thousand kilometres each in Amsterdam and San Francisco, which are at opposite extremes as far as hills go—I'd ride quite happily with these sorts of levers in Amsterdam.)

Cheers,
MikZ.
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#4
I merely meant that one tends to focus on the more critical function of braking before shifting. Indeed when the levers are right there it's much easier to shift more quickly, as I recognized with the comment about stem shifters.

CNY stands for Central New York - Syracuse, specifically. We have hills here.
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#5
Mikz;

A bit over $100- will do it for 2x7 or 3x7 using Shimano A070 or A073 shifters. Plan on a new 7 speed freewheel or cassette, and new chain (suggest KMC X8.93)

If you provide more details about the bike, we can get a lot more specific and detailed.
Nigel
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#6
(10-29-2014, 01:12 PM)cny-man Wrote:  I merely meant that one tends to focus on the more critical function of braking before shifting.

Indeed. It seems I came across as dismissive of your comment, and I apologise.

(10-29-2014, 01:12 PM)cny-man Wrote:  CNY stands for Central New York - Syracuse, specifically. We have hills here.

Thanks for the clarification. I've never made it quite to that part of the state—touring New York State by bicycle would be lovely.
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