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Putting STI drivetrain on old Paramount Frame??(13 posts)

Putting STI drivetrain on old Paramount Frame??teetopkram
Jul 9, 2002 1:02 PM
Hi to all:

I have a 1991 Schwinn Paramount handmade frame out of the Waterford factory. It is made of Columbus SLX tubing and has relatively few miles on it as I have taken several years off (family, career, etc.). On it now is 7-speed Shimano Ultegra hyperglide with downtube shifters...old stuff (I actually use Gripshift for the rear derailleur...I'm cool!).

My situation is this...I am getting back into racing and definitely need to buy more wheelsets...however, I can't find any old 7-speed hyperglide cassettes on the market. I'd be fine keeping the drivetrain as is, for I am not serious or good enough to think technology will make me into a winner. but, I think the lack of 7-speed cassettes is now forcing me to upgrade my drivetrain to 9 or 10 speed STI.

The guy at the local bikeshop however, made the process of upgrading a drivetrain sound arduous. Not only was he not sure it would work on my bike, or if it would work right even if it fit, he indicated it may be almost as expensive as a new bike.

My question is...has anyone else here upgraded their drivetrain in such a manner? Did you encounter any problems? What do others think of the idea of upgrading vs. buying a new bike? Does anyone know of a place ot buy old 7-speed cassettes and avoid this whole mess?

thanks in advance for your input.

Jul 9, 2002 1:16 PM
Yes, upgrading an older bike to STI from 7 speed is expensive and fairly involved. Items that you need to buy are: crank, BB, front and rear der., shifters, cogset, chain, AND rear hub. Essentially you are talking about a new bike since it'll cost around $700 for Ultegra stuff - maybe more depending on what you decide to do about the wheels. You will need to spread the rear dropouts on your frame and then use the tools to get them parallel - not a big deal on a steel frame, just another thing to do. The only way it really makes sense is if some one is giving you a full set of drive train componenets. In the end you may have some chainline issues and you might need a BB that can be shimmed (i.e. Dura Ace). You could save money by using friction shifters.

While seven speed stuff is harder to come by you should be able to find stuff on the internet. It's going to be easier and cheaper in the long run - then you can save your money for a newer bike - you may find it hard to believe how much bike you can get for money - especially as you get closer to the end of the year.
Jul 11, 2002 7:50 AM
Depends on exactly how much you want to "upgrade." This spring I "upgraded" my '91 Bianchi from 7sp 105 (with downtube index shifters) to 8sp 600 STI. First thing you have to do if you go the "upgrade" route is to determine your rear triangle spacing. Is it 126 or 130mm? A LBS will need to do the frame re-alignment. Basically they are spreading out the triangle the width of a spoke on both sides. You do not have to get a new crank, BB, front der, or front shifter.

To go the bare minimum route you will have cost outlays of the following:

Frame re-alignment, if necessary (my shop did it for about $30)
New rear-derailleur
New rear hub
New rear sti shifter
New cassette
New chain

Ebay is your best option to find specific pieces (like only one shifter) at good prices. When I upgraded, I found a whole set of shimano 600 stuff (which I thought was appropriate for my bike) on ebay that included essentially new 600 right and left sti shifters, front derailleur, rear derailleur, crank arms, chainrings, entire mavic wheelset, and 8sp cassette. I got the whole lot for $373. Perhaps I overpaid, but not in my eyes, it was EXACTLY what I was looking for. I have not installed the new front derailleur or the new crainrings or crank arms yet. Everything works great.

You do not have to replace your left (front) shifter, but if you do, you do not necessarily have to replace your front derailleur. You might though, they key will be how the front derailleur cable enters the front derailleur. If it is at a 90deg angle, you are fine with your current front derailleur.

Hope this helps. I'm glad I upgraded! I even rode this bike on the group ride last night. What an anchor! The bike weighs close to 6lbs more than my "good" bike.

Jul 11, 2002 12:38 PM
There's the full-monty to get everything working it's best and as designed then there's the "cob things together approach." Something new, something old, something borrowed, something stolen....

A lot of it depends on how well you want things to work. However, I do think it's misleading to say that you can mix 7 speed with 8/9 speed stuff and say everything "works great". Due to the sensitivity of the tollerances this approach is a compromise. Some people may never notice that things aren't quite right while others (like myself) would go nuts trying to get things working perfectly.

If you buy stuff used (eBay or similar) you run the risk that some of the components are fairly hammered and may never really work that well. In the end you will not find too many shops that will be willing to do a partial conversion or work with used stuff - most shops have reputation they want to maintain.
Bike not "cobbed together" thanks...Wannabe
Jul 12, 2002 6:34 AM
Granted, you have to be careful about what you buy on ebay. I was, and it turned out great. The bike was ridden HARD in the group ride. Not one missed shift. It does work GREAT, thanks. In fact, much better than I thought the older Shimano 600 stuff would. Since the bike came with some 600 stuff as stock, I thought it would be an appropriate to the bike. Overkill ($$$) to me to put brand new Ultegra group on this bike.

As for mixing 7sp and 8sp, yeah, that would seem to be a bad thing. But where did I "mix" 7sp and 8sp on my bike? I have not. I have an 8sp cassette, a new chain for an 8sp drive system, and an 8sp rear shifter. No mixing. And if you are referring to the front derailleur, that was a double before, and is a double now.

And yes, a shop might not appreciate putting parts on your bike that you didn't buy from them. Then again, I did the work myself. But a good shop would never turn down the opportunity to make a sale, even if it is labor only. A great shop would be happy to do the work in an effort to build a relationship with a customer. Sounds like you don't have such a shop in your area. Bummer.

You want to spend a premium on your bike to have someone else do the work, buy extra parts because you can't get only what you NEED, that's your prerogative.

Poster asked a question, I gave an option. It doesn't jive with yours. Bummer.

Jul 12, 2002 8:58 AM
So which question did you answer? Poster asked about upgrading from seven speed. We both wound up saying essentially the same thing - you have to do the whole system since mixing 7 and 8 speed isn't compatible. You took a risk and bought used 8 speed stuff off of eBay for ~$370 and did it yourself. That's cheaper than buying it new and having the LBS do it, but you need the tools and some experience. The poster doesn't have either nor does he have much money. His original problem was not being able to find 7 speed cogsets and how involved is the upgrade process.

We've got all sorts of shops in my area that will do anything that you want, but that's not typical for much of the country. In the end it doesn't matter to me since I do all of my own work and lots for my friends. But it's not about me - it's about the poster that asked the question. Your response was strictly centered around what you did, but it doesn't sound like you're volunteering to pack up your tools and travel to the poster's location and do the same for them. You have the experience and knowledge to pick your way through the potential mine field - the poster does not. Bummer.
Jul 12, 2002 11:10 AM
What was the original post about again???

But just to give some background, I bought a real basic toolset for about $35, a bicycle mech's book and this was the first real work I've ever done on my bike (aside from chain cleaning, etc). I just read carefully and went really, really slowly.

Jul 9, 2002 2:04 PM
I recently upgraded a friends 7 speed RSX to 9-speed Shimano for about $330. I replaced the RSX STI shifters with 105 9-speed STI shifters, cables, and housings; rebuilt the rear wheel using a 105 9-speed hub and threw on a 12-27 9-speed Ultegra cassette from my extra parts bin; replaced the chain with 9-speed Ultegra. The handle bars got new Cinelli tape. I decided to try it without replacing the derailleurs or crank set and was surprised how well the drive train shifted with the old RSX 7-speed derailleurs and chain rings, especially since it is a triple with short stays.
This bike is a 6 year old Giant and I checked to see that it had 130mm rear drop out spacing before I started. Since your bike is steel I would assume that you can cold-set the frame to a 130mm spacing if needed.
I don't know if your present derailleurs will work with a 9-speed or not but it may be worth a try. A 9-speed is a lot more versatile than a 7-speed.
You will need to replace your down-tube shifters with cable bosses, or whatever you call those things.
Let us know how it turns out.
not bad if you do the work yourselflaffeaux
Jul 9, 2002 2:41 PM
Assuming you like the bike, you know how to work on it, and you own tools, it's not a huge deal to make the upgrade. I recently did this, and it cost about $500 for an Ultegra group (minus the brakes - as the old brakes work okay), and I bought a wheelset for $250. So for $750 I was all set with new components. However if you have the shop do the work expect to pay full retail for the components and expect to pay quite a bit for installation. If you can't do it yourself, then it probably is about as cheap to buy a new bike.

Or buy a few backup 7 speed cassettes here:
even Performance has 7spd cassettes..dotkaye
Jul 10, 2002 2:00 PM
see a fair range at

I just bought some 7-spd cassettes from them for a 1991 Pretendamount (Japanese built Paramount). When the time comes, I'll upgrade to 9 speed using barend shifters for about $60, a new cassette for $40, and a new freehub. Everything else in the drivetrain will work. I believe this because I did it on another bike which was 6 speed and is now 9 speed - all the drivetrain components (Exage sport 6-spd, front & rear der, crankset & chainrings) work fine.

STI just flat-out costs too much for me to add it on to a bike. Barends work fine. But I admit I race triathlons, not road races, so my perspective might be different..

Also see Sheldon's page on converting 7spd to 8spd by using 9spd components,
You guys make it sound to complicated....853
Jul 12, 2002 8:00 AM
I hang around my LBS and tell the mechanics to keep a look out for me on groupsets(from people up-grading). I did this to put together a frame I had. Ultegra 9 speed - $300 max is what I payed - be patient on these things they do come up. The next thing you would need are wheels, you can get new 105 wheels at supergo for about $150 or go used and get better hubs for about the same price.
That's it $450.00 dollars in parts about $90 to put together. Like I said be patient, buy a 7 speed cassette so that you can ride and wait for the deals.
I am soon going to up-grade to Dura-ace (as soon as I sell my other bike) and will be selling my ultegra group, I do not expect more than $300 for it.
Good Luck
Jul 12, 2002 9:00 AM
I bet if you hang around the women's bathroom you can also get a date.
re: Putting STI drivetrain on old Paramount Frame??curlybike
Jul 14, 2002 5:10 PM
Several of the big distributors of parts (UBP and QBP) have 7 speed cassettes in sttock(NEW). Your LBS can get them no problem.