I recently bought a 1980's Bridgestone 700. I have trouble feeling confident on this bike between the narrow drop bars and the downtube shifter. This is my all-steel commuter and I'd like to put either wider drop bars or possibly even flat bars on it. The current bars are 25.5mm diameter (hope that's close enough to an inch) by 16 inches wide. The fork/ stem is 22.2mm diameter. My modern road & mountain bike forks and stems make sense to me but this is a whole different era. I'm also thinking of changing the shifters. Everything is Shimano 600 currently. My questions are:

  1. Is there any way to get a modern stem with some rise in it on to this bike & what parts will I need?
  2. If I decide to add a more modern shifter/brake combo what should I look for to ensure that the new shifters work with my existing deraileurs?



2 Answers 2

  1. you should be able to get a variety of 22.2mm quill stems. For instance SJS have a fair selection (picked because they came up first in a search for 22.2mm quill stem, I have no connection with them). 22.2 is a standard size and still common.

  2. If it has indexed shifters you should have no problems, but Shimano 600 may not be indexed, and might be 6 speed. In which case you can look for thumbshifters with a friction mode or change the drivetrain. The cost of buying new 7 speed drivetrain parts is enough that I wouldn't suggest it - you'll spend a fair chunk of the cost a new cheap bike doing it. If there's a bike recycling group or tip shop in your area you should be able to avoid spending most of the money - old bikes with 7 speed indexed gears are pretty common.

  • 1
    Thanks. Now I know to search for quill stems. I find the hardest part is often just learning the names and sizes of these things.
    – Paul
    Commented May 9, 2011 at 0:22
  • you're right that the 600 group is 6 speed. It doesn't seem to be indexed as I don't feel any sort of click in the shifters when moving through the gears. I'll probably just start by bringing the bars up with a new quill stem and buying wider bars.
    – Paul
    Commented May 9, 2011 at 0:27
  • @Paul: perhaps also look for stem-mounted shifters if you're looking for a better position. Those are also common and not indexed (they dropped out of favour about the time indexing was coming in).
    – Мסž
    Commented May 9, 2011 at 0:38

There's an outfit that makes a device allowing you to mount conventional friction-shifters up on the handlebars... I'll see if I can find the link. I have been using downtube-mounted friction shifters for many years, second nature to me.
They are very forgiving as to what gears your running... I took my 5-speed freewheel up to an 8-speed freehub without changing any of the shifter parts.

Drop bars (standard roadster bars) are available in many different widths, depths, and so forth.

  • Yes, I really like the simplicity and forgiveness of the downtube shifters. They're so easy to tune. I think if I raise the bars, get wider bars and put some new tape on them (currently very thin and slippery) I'll be able to get a feel for reaching down to shift. Thanks.
    – Paul
    Commented May 9, 2011 at 14:52
  • Modern "brifters" are great, but downtube shifters are really style- and cost-appropriate to an 80's road bike. Here is my write-up on using down-tube shifters: bit.ly/jAxcaU
    – DC_CARR
    Commented May 10, 2011 at 20:02

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