Integrated Brake Shifters - Install on my 40 yo Schwinn?


I've got an old Schwinn Travelor that is nothing to look at but it has gotten me through 4 STP's and has been my commuter.  I'm looking to get integrated shifters (currently has down tube) on the bike but I'm not sure how much it is going to cost, how difficult it will be and if it's worth it.  

The bike cost $70 5 years ago and I'm only willing to do this if I can get it done for around $150. 

Any thoughts or resources I should look into? 


Tim...    I know you said your budget is $150 and I love that you bought a bike for $70 and it had gotten you thru 4 STPs and most certainly a lot of training.  That said, as we get later into the fall, there can be some deals to be found in bike shops.  I know at Performance, they are selling a Fuji Sportif which has new STI shifters for a little over $400.

Clearly, you are a guy who can get a lot out of a bike so if the budget is set, stick with it, but if the bike is not able to accept STI shifters or it would cost other money to get it up and running, at some point it's worth looking at something like I mentioned above.

Rob is correct.

Your aged Schwinn is not the best candidate for the change you're thinking about.

Along with finding brifters which are in good working condition (one major brand is viewed as "disposable" because their internal parts are neither user- nor mechanic-servicable), for the price you're seeking, there is the whole business of coordination with the rest of the gear-changing system.

Indexed shifting - which is what the brifters are all about - requires a lot of other parts to work right.  Your old Schwinn likely has at most a 6-speed rear cluster.  You'll need to have a cluster which matches the brifter's number of speeds and matches the spacing for the cluster, which is likely to now become a cassette.  That cassette will need to mount on a newer hub, which may take you into a new rear wheel.  By the time you get it to an 8-speed rear, to go along with 8-speed brifters, you'll be looking a a new, narrower chain.

With care and patience, you can probably find a suitable rear wheel with a cassette hub and with a rim the same size as the old Schwinn (I'm guessing it's got 27" tires / 630 mm rims, not 700c / 622's).  (Same size is important for your brakes, if not also for the convenience of having the same tire size front and rear -- the tubes are essentially interchangeable.)  You may be able to pick up brifters from eBay or Craig's list (others are upgrading toward 10- and 11-speed rears).

Another thing to consider is that your Schwinn may have rear drop-outs spaced at 126 mm apart.  The new cassette hub will probably be 130mm; will probably fit in with a bit of grunting, but could also need some spreading (check out Sheldon Brown's site for how to do this on your own).

Not exactly the same as brifters, but bar-end shifters (friction-based, or ratcheted as pioneered by Suntour, now copied by others) might be another way to go, if you're trying to get away from the downtube.

disclaimer:  I have 2 bikes with down-tube, 2 with bar-end, and one with brifters.  I'm not much of a brifter guy, I guess.

-- Joel

I'm going to rock this Schwin as long as I can.  When Bike Swap comes around I'll get a bike w/ either bar-end or brifters. Thx! -- Tim 

It can be done but will take some thinking and careful parts hunting, but you will spend more than the bike is worth. But hey, we all have a bike that we won't part with. Locate a wheel set. Shop craigslist. Get familier with your local bike shop. I would bet the owner or an employee has a used set around. Set it up with 8 or 9 speed cogs. Buy a new chain. You'll need a set of deraileurs made for whatever speeds you want. Then the brifters....$$$$. I've used some Microshift brand and they were pretty good and a lot cheaper than Shimano. So now you're at $350-$400. How bout that new bike now? So unless you find those parts for next to nothing, do what was suggested before, Bar-end shifters set on friction mode. They will work with everything you have now and keep that cool retro look of a classic Schwinn.

In any case, here is a conceivably better thought: barcons. Barcons, short for bar end controls, are basically the same as your downtube shifters, yet are in the finishes of the drop bars. Do My Essay For Me. Visiting cyclists have sworn by them for quite a long time in light of current circumstances. They are basic and plain work.