I have an Apollo Envoy hybrid bicycle. I'm planning on converting it to a road bicycle. I will buy a stem adaptor, stem, and new dropped handlebars.

The thing that really confuses me is the gear shifter and brake levers. It seems like most shifters are made for 10-speed bicycles. I can't seem to find anything about 18-speed gear shifters.

Since I'm on a budget, are there any good 18-speed gear shifters for drop handlebars?

Any input would be very useful.

  • 5
    Converting flat bar bikes to drop bars is usually not a good idea. The geometry will be wrong, and it won't save any money vs. selling the old bike and buying a used one of the type you want. Commented Sep 9, 2015 at 10:38
  • 3
    +1 for it being cheaper to sell your current bike and buy a new one (second hand) with the right configuration. Commented Sep 9, 2015 at 11:49
  • Part of your confusion, I think, is that these days 10-speed refers to a bike with a rear cluster/derailer with 10 cogs. If the bike has 3 chainrings in the front it would actually have 30 possible gear combinations. An 18-speed bike is a 6-speed rear with 3 chainrings in the front. A long time ago 10-speed meant a 5-speed rear and 2 chainrings in the front…
    – dlu
    Commented Sep 9, 2015 at 11:49
  • This is a really cheap and low quality bike. It makes no sense to do a conversion to drops and you'd be better off selling it and buying a new one. This has a 3 x 6 drivetrain, which means you're going to end up either using two friction bar-end shifters, two stem friction shifters or 2 downtube shifters with a clamp (likely the first option).
    – Batman
    Commented Sep 9, 2015 at 14:43
  • 1
    If after all that comments you still want yo do it, simply find a 7 or 8 speed shifter, and adjust it properly for 6 gears to work, and the other 1 or 2 gears will be banned..
    – Alexander
    Commented Sep 9, 2015 at 19:12

1 Answer 1


You have several options:

  • integrated shifter/brake units (brifters) which are modern road bike style.


  • bar end shifters. These are not brakes

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  • Downtube shifters - these would be common on bikes from the 70s and early 80s.

enter image description here

  • Stem shifters - a relocated downtube shifter, mid 80s to early 90s. Image is a single, but duals were common.

enter image description here

  • rotary - this one I've never seen. It appears to be a MTB style "web-of-thumb" rotary control on a bracket mounted to the stem. Could be unique to Rolhoff IGH.

enter image description here

Another option is to not go to drop bars, but to shorten your existing flat bars. Its cheaper, but you won't get the variety of hand positions that a drop bar will give. Its also impossible to revert, once you've cut some off there's no going back. However you can use the existing controls, just shuffled inward a bit.

Any gear lever system you get will be either indexed or friction. If its indexed, it has to support the number of cogs on that end of the bike, probably 3 for the front chainring / left hand shifter, and 6 for the rear / right hand shifter.

If you chose a friction shifter, then its up to the rider to get the chain into the right place, and then friction holds the lever. Bar end shifters are often friction based. Brifters are always indexed.

Please do let us know what you ended up doing.

EDIT OJS makes an excellent point - road brake levers for caliper brakes than V-brake or a centerpull brake or a cantilevered brake; they will require more cable pulled than a caliper brake. So you may be fitting rim caliper brakes to your conversion as well. Does the frame have mounting holes straight over the tyre?

If you have hydraulic disk brakes, then this is getting really expensive quite quickly. Cable-operated disk brakes may or may not work with road brake levers... the cable pulled to activate them must be the same as the flat-bar brake levers.

So my suggestion is - don't. Look for a road bike that is like your requirements, and buy it. The red one in the first image is my bike, which cost $123 NZ. So I have a MTB still for towing the trailer or for wet weather or for biking on anything a little rough. Remember, N+1 is the correct number of bicycles to own.

  • 1
    What is missing from this answer is that most of road bike brake levers do not work well with V-brakes. There are a few models that do, and these are marketed especially for conversions like this. I know about the "we don't do product recommendations" bit but I'd still like to see where are you supposed to find 6-speed shifters.
    – ojs
    Commented Jan 3, 2016 at 11:20
  • @ojs very good points. I'll add this info. As for finding a shifter, a good LBS bas all this stuff. Its only the snooty "cyclist" boutiques that won't help. That's fine by me - I won't trouble them again. A proper bike shop will go out the back and find something to help.
    – Criggie
    Commented Jan 3, 2016 at 11:39
  • 1
    Also we rarely say 18 speed, since it's ambiguous whether you mean a 3x6 mountain bike or a 2x9 road bike. So try searching on 9-speed etc. You can use a 10-speed shifter with a 9-speed cassette if they're on the same system, i.e. Shimano SIS. Your shifter does need to match system with your derailleur and your cassette else it almost certainly won't shift correctly. Commented Jan 4, 2016 at 7:46

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