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first post here. Getting in to road cycling, bought an old Ross 294S steelie with downtube friction shifters. Want to switch to a brifter system. I’ve watched a bunch of vids and googled but can’t find exact info I need.

I’m pretty sure the group set currently is Shimano SIS, the drivetrain is 2x6. So I bought new Shimano Tourney 2x7 brifters, bar tape, cable stops, etc. Then I realize oh man will the 2x7 brifters even be compatible with a 12 speed? I thought I could just have a ghost gear on the 7, but now I’m not too sure and I don’t want to cut cables until I know. Also would the ‘friction’ element of the downtube shifters matter? I think the SIS has capacity for index shifting... I watched a guy on Youtube put 3x7 on a Trek 14 speed and he had a ghost 3.

If any other info needs to be had let me know. Any help appreciated ahead of time. Cheers!

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You're on the slippery slope of upgrades here - be leery of tipping money into parts for an old bike that might require other replacement parts.

In this case I think you'll be okay, assuming the parts are as-described.

6/7/8 speed cassettes all share the same spacing and cable pull, so if your brifters are really 7 speed, it should work with the drawback of the one extra click. I suggest you tune it so the missing gear is higher than your top gear (ie, harder than the hardest gear with the smallest-tooth cog at the rear) This will reduce the chance of you clicking into the ghost gear and sending the chain "over the top" into the wheel by accident.

To clarify - "friction" means that your gear levers can be set in any position, including between gears. Brifters and indexed shifters have detents and stops and rests so that each click should put the chain in the right place. Either is fine, some people prefer the "feel" of being able to adjust shifters precisely, others prefer the speed of press-click-change. Raciers in the last 20 years have not used friction shifters, they were last used in the Tour in the 90s, and often just on the front derailleur.

I think you can do this. Take your time and work through it. Pick a window when you don't need the bike immediately so if something crops up, you're not under pressure.

Lastly, save your old parts. Clean them, oil, and dry-store them for some future day. Decent retro parts are hard to find.

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    Replace the 6 speed cassette by a 7-speed, if you really have a cassette hub, not a freewheel. And probably easier to find than 6-speed once you need a replacement. 6/7/8 speed chains and front rings are the same anyway. – Carel Apr 4 at 7:04
  • @carel excellent point, but a 7 speed cassette would be wider than a 6 speed cassette so it may not fit. Depends if there are spacers under the existing 6 speed. And if its a freewheel..... – Criggie Apr 4 at 11:10
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    @Carel- no way that a Ross 294 had a cassette on it. 6spd cassettes are extremely rare. It's still possible to get 7spd freewheels, though, so the idea of switching to 7 is a good one if it will fit. – Andrew Apr 4 at 11:31
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    Hey guys, thanks so much for all this info. I’m pretty sure it’s a 6 spd freewheel. Ross 294S came stock with a SunTour Ultra-6 freewheel or something like that and I’m pretty sure that’s what it is, I’ll double check once the sun is completely up. I asked elsewhere and the majority response seems to be to make it a 14 spd. If that is the case.... damn! A whole other can of worms. Criggie, if it is a 6 spd freewheel do you think it would still be possible? – Mason Rogers Apr 4 at 13:21
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    Am I correct in assuming that, if there was hypothetically enough space, considering that freewheel is 14-28t it would be best to upgrade to something like the Shimano MF-TZ500, it’s a 7 speed freewheel 14-28t? – Mason Rogers Apr 4 at 15:19

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