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I just moved to UK for my masters and was looking for a road bike. I found a pretty old ribble 631 road bike taht was barely used. Its supposed to be around 20 years old but still has decals intact. The seller said that the bike was too large for him so he just used it on a turbo trainer. I paid £560 for it.

Rear derailleur - Shimano 105
Front derailleur - Shimano 600ex brand on 
Brakes - Shimano 105
Brake levers - Shimano 105
Gear levers - Shimano index RX400
Rear cassette - shimano 12 - 24 ( 7 speed )
Wheels - Mavic MA3 rims on Shimano 105 hubs
Headset - Shimano 105
Stem - SR quill 
Bars - Richey Pro T6
Seat post - Titanium with alloy layback clamp
Seat - San Marco Ponza
Tyres - Michelin axial sport
frame - ribble 631 reynolds road.

Although the bike is in pretty pristine condition, I am not used to downtube shifters.

The shifters are downtube, the front is friction, the rear is indexed. . I am thinking, I'd upgrade parts of the groupset, to a 10 speed cassette, bar end shifters and rear derailleur. The cost comes to another £250 if I source the items as cheaply as possible.

Here are my concerns -

  1. Did I overpay for the bicycle ? I do have a feeling that I did :(
  2. Should I spend the extra on the upgrades?
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    Not a complete answer but the spacing for the rear dropouts may be different than a modern bike so it might not be possible to move to a 10 speed cassette without bending (cold setting) the frame – GageMartin Jan 24 at 1:01
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    @GageMartin Which would require a new rear hub/wheel too, wouldn’t it? – MaplePanda Jan 24 at 1:15
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    For that vintage, the rear wheel is probably 130 mm, which is the current standard (for road bikes with rim brakes). We don't do valuations here on bicycles.se. I've bought a bike of similar vintage and quality for less, but there's a major bike shortage right now, so maybe that's what the market will bear. Check the frame carefully for rust: a lot of corrosive sweat has dripped on it if it lived on a turbotrainer. – Adam Rice Jan 24 at 1:30
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    Are you really going to be happier with bar end shifters? You’ll still have to move your hands for shifting (and just as far/deep, unless you are already on the drops). The great thing about brifters is that you can shift from the hoods and drops and even while braking. – Michael Jan 24 at 7:16
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    I'll just note that the bike is way older than 20 years. In 2001 integrated shifters were standard and 600ex and 400rx were long discontinued. If the seller is lying about its age they might be lying about other things too. – ojs Jan 24 at 9:50
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That's a nice enough bike, but it's not something to upgrade, you bought the wrong bike. Either you want a vintage bike in which case it sounds great, or you just want a road bike, in which case something with Shimano Claris R2000 would be suitable.

Assuming you have 400EX, then this dates from 1990-1992. 600EX would be pre 1988, so it's possible you actually have Exage Sport, which is more contemporary with 600EX.

631 tubing however suggests more 1990s than 1980s

I would suggest a value maybe £200? https://www.facebook.com/Retrobicyclesrecycle/posts/3754668234607817

There is nothing special about those components, though they aren't bad.

I had a look on fleabay and you could buy a generic modern(ish) bike such as a Triban 540 with 2x10 speed 105 and carbon fork for about £300. Or you could buy a new 2 x 8 speed bike such as the RC 120 for £400.

Not much to do with it except buy some new tyres if they've perished. Sell it if you don't like it. Buy a more suitable bike.

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I would not worry too much at this point if you over paid unless the seller is willing to adjust the price.

I personally would not upgrade the bike as part of having the bike of that vintage is it being unique and different than today's STI shifting road bikes.

I would probably use the bike as a starter bike until you figure out what you want out of riding. At that point you can go buy the right bike for you.

Alternatively, you could go a local bike shop, check out some endurance fit road bikes, and see how much they would give you on a trade in with the bike you have now.

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Consider: What sort of terrain will I use it on? Do I live in Cambridgeshire (flat), or Plymouth (hilly)? The 1x revolution in gravel bikes (made for hills, the traditional reason for more gears) suggests that bikes have long been encumbered by too many gears, but often of insufficient range at the lower end.

Overall, you got a nice bike, with a very nice butted steel frame likely to last you till you sell, give it to a friend, or it gets nicked.

If the groupset isn't worn out, use it till it is. 105's fine. Ultegra's better, and SRAM's Double-Tap (D.T. - see what they did there?) is a work of intelligent simplification - but they're expensive, and finding vintage parts or figuring out how to fit new parts to vintage bikes is a bit of a hobby that will eat into your time on the saddle (writing as a seasoned bike-fiddler with a burgeoning tummy).

I live in Hong Kong, which is about as hilly as it gets. I have an old Merida road bike, 105, with a much more primitive frame than yours. It's pretty heavy. I took off the 52T ring and run it 1x7, and still only use the fastest gear for a few minutes at a time, racing through evening traffic. One day things will start to wear out, and I'll look into lower gearing in the form of a smaller ring yet, or larger sprockets. Do you really ride that fast? How often do you actually use the highest gear, and for how long?

Down-tube shifters take getting used to, but it's not insurmountable. Bar-ends are a good alternative, but my next 'project' will be an experimental remounting of the remaining shifter onto the top tube (keen to avoid more cables poking from the bars). More simply, you can hack your down-tube shifters with an extension (plunge-pole unscrewed from a shattered French press coffee-pot lashed on with Sellotape, in my case, but half a stout chopstick would do just as well).

Indexing requires more adjustment, so I turned it off. One less job to do at home.

These homebrew aesthetics may not instantly appeal to you, and your local bike shop will hate you, but you've spent a bit of cash on a good frame (the best part to have spent it on), so you may wish to consider the other end of the spectrum of options you have - hacks, sidegrades, and upgrading your skills. Down-tube shifters force you to shift your position every time you use them (reducing aches on longer rides), to read the road ahead and learn to shift anticipatitively rather than reactively, and to develop your strength and flexibility to feel at home across a wider range of cadences. Ride it for a bit. Then ask yourself very honestly what works pretty well or well enough, and what about it you really wish could be easier/ more comfortable/ more efficient/ more practical/ cooler/ flat-out faster, and so forth.

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  • The groupset is pristine, decals and all. I have always wanted to fiddle and did the best I can. I started with a btwin triban, and then on to a fuji tourer. Now I am in a different country, as a student, and was at fleabay checking used bicycles out. This really captured my imagination, the seller is a very affable person and I decided to take a stab in the dark with practically zero knowledge of pre 2000s mech. This frame is a 631 ribble reynolds with internal cable routing and smooth welds. the drivetrain and finishing kit are in almost pristine shape. – Swayam Siddha Jan 27 at 17:40
  • It sounds beautiful. Go out and enjoy it! – Dade McDade Jan 28 at 18:20
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  1. Did I overpay for the bicycle ? I do have a feeling that I did :(

Probably not. A new butted chromoly frame costs around 550 euros without the parts attached to it. If the frame is not broken, you paid just about right. About the only flaw I see in this frame of yours is that it uses a quill stem. Newer bicycles use an ahead stem. With this in mind, I'd say the frame is worth 350 euros. Convert that to pounds and see how much you paid for the parts attached to the frame. You probably can use the seatpost and the saddle, no need to buy new parts. The handlebars also are likely usable, even though newer 31.8 mm oversize bars (in the middle) are more durable.

Also, the 7-speed hub is probably narrower so you can't fit a modern hub unless you cold set the frame. Being made of steel, a professional bicycle mechanic can successfully cold set the frame to modern spacing.

I assume that your frame has 126 mm spacing. Modern road bikes use 130 mm and modern mountain bikes use 135 mm. Some touring bikes resembling more road bikes than mountain bikes use the 135 mm spacing instead.

The hub is probably a 7-speed freehub, so it only accepts 7-speed cassettes. If you cold set the frame, you can use a modern hub instead. A modern hub accepts 8-10 speed road and 8-11 speed MTB cassettes. Some modern hubs (but not all) even accept 11 speed road cassettes. It may be possible to transplant a 8-10 speed freehub body so your old 7-speed hub would accept 8-10 speed cassettes then.

  1. Should I spend the extra on the upgrades?

I'd say if you are not used to downtube shifters, try to see if you still can find some indexed 7-speed bar-end shifters on eBay. They are not anymore being manufactured so that's why I proposed eBay (having lots of NOS and used stuff), but this could be the move to make the bike accessible with minimum investment.

In a pinch, you could even use 8-speed bar-end shifters. The cable pull for 7 speed (2.9 mm per shift) is close enough to 8 speed (2.8 mm per shift). If you adjust a 8 speed shifter to be perfect in the middle gear, it has at most 0.3 mm errors in the ends (about ten percent of the cable pull per shift which is insignificant). So in case you can't find 7-speed bar-end shifters, 8-speed shifters are usable very likely.

Note that adding bar-end shifters, you need to solve the cable stopping problem at the downtube somehow if changing from downtube shifters to bar-end shifters. If these are braze-on downtube shifters, Shimano makes downtube cable stops that attach to the shifter bosses.

A negative comment criticized bar-end shifters, saying that "Are you really going to be happier with bar end shifters? You’ll still have to move your hands for shifting (and just as far/deep, unless you are already on the drops). The great thing about brifters is that you can shift from the hoods and drops and even while braking.". So let me comment something about my background. I used to have an 8-speed hybrid bike with Shimano Rapidfire Plus "MTB" shifters which I converted to drop bar bike with bar-end shifters. I couldn't observe any issue with the bar-end shifters. Then I built a new bike (based on Surly Long Haul Trucker frame) and used 8-speed bar-end shifters which in my opinion are perfect. Only recently did I purchase a bike that has "modern" brifters. I consider the use of the same lever for shifting and braking non-intuitive, and I found I cannot easily click the small lever for upshifting in the rear with thick gloves on. So I consider bar-end shifters superior to brifters.

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  • If you don’t like Shimano’s brifter style, there’s alternatives. SRAM’s DoubleTap eliminates the brake lever from the shifting operation. MicroShift uses two distinct paddles, one above the other. Campy uses one paddle behind the brake lever, and a thumb lever sticking out the other side of the hood. And some off-brand Chinese manufacturers have no shift paddle altogether and use the brake lever for a double tap system. – MaplePanda Jan 24 at 19:28
  • Thanks for the succinct answer. I am used to bar end shifters from a fuji touring bike I had. Ill be taking most of your advices to heart moving forward. – Swayam Siddha Jan 27 at 17:36

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