I have a Raliegh falcon touring frame, which I've been upgrading gradually as it's in good nick, putting modern componants on it.

I've got to the point where the next thing I need to do is upgrade from down tube shifters, ideally to combined brake/shifters. I've got a triple chainring on the front (sora) and 6 speed on the back, with 27 x 1 1/4inch wheels. The rear shifter is indexed, whilst the front is not. I'm aware I'll probably have to install a new rear derallier at the least.

So I have two questions. Can I get any more gears on the back? Do they make 7speed rear cassettes for older bikes?

And secondly, looking at sheldon browns website, the Campagnolo "Ergo" set would let me keep the front unindexed -am I correct? And is the rear shifter modfiable to a 6speed, if I can't upgrade the rear cassette?


  • 1
    I'm guessing you have a freewheel rear wheel instead of a freehub (correct me if I'm wrong), which would mean you need a freewheel assembly rather than a cassette. You can definitely buy 7 speed freewheels. They may be wider than your 6 speed freewheel, however: I'm personally not familiar with the spacing/chain width issues. Jan 17, 2014 at 23:33
  • There are lots of considerations here, not limited to rear dropout spacing (for a 6sp freewheel it could be 120 or 126mm); shifter indexing (I've never heard of modding a modern Campy brifter to work with anything but 8 or 9 sp); possible wheel selection (you'll find that tires in 27" are limited). It may be more cost effective to buy what you're really looking for.
    – WTHarper
    Jan 17, 2014 at 23:48
  • So I'll have to go down the "spread the forks" and 700C wheel route? I'm keen to keep the frame, as I've done a lot of miles on it, it's the right size for me, and it's a good old style lugged Raleigh touring frame.
    – 7thGalaxy
    Jan 21, 2014 at 16:11

2 Answers 2


Not brifters, but you can take your downtube shifters and use retroshift levers to get combined brake and and shifting. Essentially, they bolt a downtube shifter onto the hoods. Pretty cheap and reviews are generally positive.

As for fitting more gears, you may be able to get a 7 speed freewheel, but you may better off taking your 6 speed freewheel to the LBS and swapping it one with better spacing between the cogs.

Tires in 27" aren't too limited (Conti makes gatorskins in 27 inch, panaracer has some, etc.). But if you need to move to 700C, you need to make sure you can move your brakes down by 4 ish due to the 700c diameter change. The selection of new 27" wheels is more limited though (Sun CR-18, etc.), though can be found.

  • Thanks - Definatly an interesting option, if they ship to the UK. I notice they're mostly for 9 speed freewheels - which I can source: sjscycles.co.uk/… However - will that fit into my forks? Or does it take up the same space as the 7speed ones?
    – 7thGalaxy
    Jan 31, 2014 at 8:46
  • 9 speed? In this case, youd buy the retroshift levers, remove your old downtube shifters and bolt them on the retroshift levers. You can get them with or without the shifter installed.
    – Batman
    Jan 31, 2014 at 17:15
  • eek! i'd avoid having a shifter lever right where i'd grip to break in a panic. I pass.
    – gcb
    Feb 1, 2014 at 0:33
  • Aside from bar-ends, its probably the easiest way of getting the controls near the hoods though.
    – Batman
    Feb 1, 2014 at 1:01
  • It also looks rather good... Unusual solution. I've got large hands, should be able to reach round it easily enough.
    – 7thGalaxy
    Feb 1, 2014 at 8:11

You can indeed upgrade an older frame to more gears, by installing a cassette hub wheel. It's generally more expensive to rebuild a wheelset on an existing hubs than to buy a decent pre-built set, so it's likely you'll want to replace the wheels with a 700c set. Then you can install brifters to shift the cassette, though you'll probably also want to replace the rear derailleur with one designed for indexing. You'll probably need to cold-set the frame, as well.

A simpler way to bring shifters onto the bars is to use an old set of Suntour friction barend shifters. Installing a modern freewheel with ramped teeth also makes for simpler shifting.

  • If I do go to 700c I understand I might have problems with the reach of my brakes - do you have any advice on a brake set which will reach from a bike designed for 27 1 & 1/4 to 700c?
    – 7thGalaxy
    Jan 31, 2014 at 22:05
  • The answer to this question depends as much on the placement of the cantilever studs as the brakes themselves. 27" rims are 630mm diameter and 700c rims are 622mm diameter, so you can judge if you'll have trouble with your current brakes by trying to position the pads 4mm further toward the center of the wheel. Feb 3, 2014 at 17:31

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