I have a 1992 Bridgestone MB-4 that I am converting to a cyclocross bike. It is a 3 x 7 (21 gears). I am going to put down bars on it and to change the older over shifters and brake levers. As it is an old bike, I am looking to keep the cost down on parts. Does anyone have a recommendation of combined brake/shift levers that will work with 3 x 7? I have Deore XT rear and front derailleur. Any other suggestions/recommendations for this conversion are also welcome.

  • 2
    Other than tires don't put money into it. Most local races will let you ride mountain bikes. In the US cyclocross season just ended. Look for a used cyclocross bike.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Jan 19, 2015 at 19:52
  • 1
    Switching to drops will change the geometry of the bike, so you need to know how to handle that. As for cost in parts, if you choose to go brifters, likely you can get a BikesDirect or similar cross bike for the price of them alone.
    – Batman
    Commented Jan 19, 2015 at 20:30
  • If cost is a concern, consider bar-end shifters instead of brifters.
    – digijim
    Commented Jan 19, 2015 at 20:35
  • Some races have a drop bar/ 40mm max tire width as the only rules. You may need to swap to 700c wheels. These should fit under the bridge on a 26" frame, but fork could be tighter.
    – DWGKNZ
    Commented Jan 20, 2015 at 0:29
  • Switching the wheel size would probably be a lot of trouble even if it fit in the frame since this bike uses rim brakes (cantilever from the google image results), and you would most likely have trouble getting the brakes to line up properly, especially without replacing them.
    – Kibbee
    Commented Jan 20, 2015 at 13:41

5 Answers 5


Integrated drop bar shift levers are inherently expensive, so I'm not sure how much you will be able to keep the cost down. Also, you will probably have a hard time finding 7 speed integrated levers. They would either have to be old, or low end. And even the low end stuff is quite highly priced. Based on the searching I've done around the web, it doesn't appear Shimano ever did 7 speed intergrated shifters above the Sora Level. When Dura-Ace and Ultegra were in 7 speed, they were still using down tube shifters.

  • You'll also need a new FD since mountain and road cable pulls are different.
    – Batman
    Commented Jan 19, 2015 at 21:18

Look up Shimano RSX brifters, 3x7 and compatible with your current derailleurs (any Shimano 7 speed should be). As @mattnz mentioned, they are often gummed up or jammed at this point in their life. If they are gummed up blasting them out with degreaser is a pretty simple process. Your LBS should know how to do this for you if you don;t feel comfortable. Another option is new tourney 7 speed drop bar shifters but those are junk. You'll have to stick to cantilever brakes. There's plenty of inexpensive high rise stems you can source from your LBS made by dimension or kalloy.

Additionally: as others have said, this is usually not really worth the time/effort/money. In addition to the new shifters, you will often need a new front derailleur, shift and brake cables, housing, handlebars, bar tape, and stem. Also, drop bars will change the fit of the bike, which could be accommodated to a degree with a shorter stem but you're sort of 'cheating' the fit of the bike.

All that said, if you're looking for a project, learning opportunities abound. drop bar mountain bikes can end up working out well. Just don't expect it to be much cheaper or easier than finding something on craigslist or saving up for a new bike.

  • 1
    Speaking form experience, RSX brifters are prone to dried out grease causing them to fail. They cannot be pulled apart. Its fixable by soaking them in degreaser, cleaning and then spraying in grease.
    – mattnz
    Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 5:57
  • @mattnz depends how far apart you want to pull them. I've restored my right side by getting the lever's head into some solvent overnight. Works great now. But I wouldn't take pawls or springs off the mech.
    – Criggie
    Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 19:33

With 7 speeds you can use bar-end shifters, that can be found used. The stem will need to be steep so it provides a big rise. Google for photos of drop-bar mountain bikes to see what I mean. Otherwise your weight will be too far forward and the bike will be hard to ride. I have a Spot Longboard 29" bike that I use drops on from time to time to change things up. Also, if the racing involves much portaging (carrying) the bike, that MB-4 might get heavy sooner instead of later. It is not and never was a high-priced bike, and allowances made to meet a price point equate to increased weight. Good luck, have fun.

  • Really cyclocross on bar-end shifters?
    – paparazzo
    Commented Jan 21, 2015 at 4:13

Converting a mountain bike to a drop bar bike isn't a process that is likely to save money unless you are very careful with parts selection so you don't make mistakes, and spend a lot of time hunting for just-right used parts at bargain prices. Moreover, generally one would desire a larger MTB frame for drop bar use than for a standard MTB setup. However, people have had good results with such a project.

Note that you can buy a decent-quality 8-speed cyclocross bike for $400 from Bikesdirect, and you can probably sell your MB-4 for $150, which would make the net cost of getting purpose-built 700c cyclocross bike $250. That should be your max budget if you're trying to save money, as opposed to build a cool bike on a frame that has sentimental value to you.

If you're committed to this project, watch eBay and Craigslist for cheap 7-speed brifters & drop bars. But be prepared for the bike to fit oddly, and potentially to have a heck of a lot of seat-to-bar drop unless you have a really upright stem: http://www.cyclofiend.com/cc/2007/cc337-chriscullum0707.html (Note that bike has relatively little seatpost exposed for an MTB— you probably only want to attempt the conversion if you have a similar amount or less seatpost exposed)

  • Are you sure there are 7 speed brifters?
    – paparazzo
    Commented Jan 21, 2015 at 4:13
  • Looks like it: ebay.com/itm/SHIMANO-RSX-039-BRIFTERS-039-3X7-/130769727644 Commented Jan 21, 2015 at 18:44
  • Though I reckon cheap old Suntour barcons would maybe be a better option. A 7-speed cassette would be pretty easy to friction shift. Suntour barcons are surprisingly expensive on eBay, but diligent Craiglslisting/yardsaling would probably reveal a beater with barcons for cheap. Or perhaps digging in a bike coops parts bin for decent downtube shifters that can be mounted on barend shifter pods. Commented Jan 21, 2015 at 18:48

I did this with an old '92 steel Univega frame. At first I put really cheap friction shifters on the ends of the bars, worked well for 7 bucks or so. I then found an old Giant Kronos on craigslist and got it for 50 bucks. Harvested the brifters, 7 speed and put those on, leaving the left friction to take care of trim. Added 26 x 1.5 road tires and new pads for the brakes. Works great and rides great.

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