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Upgraded old 7 speed to STI shifting(6 posts)

Upgraded old 7 speed to STI shiftingKillerQuads
Aug 10, 2002 2:33 PM
I commute to work on an old Fuji Roubaix which has full Shimano 600 Ultegra with a 7 speed freehub with 126mm rear spacing. The down tube shifters work fine but lack the convenience and safety of having STI levers. Upgrading to 9 speeds would mean spreading the steel stays to 130mm and lots of money (new rear wheel/freehub, new 9 speed cassette, new STI levers, new chain, probably new derailleurs, probably new chainrings or crank.

I decided to stick with the 7 speeds and just upgrade to STI shift/brake levers. I bought and installed a Shimano Sora STI 7 speed (double) shift lever kit ($92). The kit came complete with everything to make the conversion: right and left STI shift/brake levers, all brake and derailleur cables and housing, and even adjustable cable stops that attach to the down tube lugs (for the old down tube shifters).

Set up was easy. The most tedious thing was rewrapping the handle bar tape. Retape after the brake cables are attached but before the derailleur cables are attached (they get in the way of taping). The front shifter intially would not hold position after shifting to the big ring. The 600 Ultegra front derailleur cable is supposed to have a bend just before the clamp (creating some slack that the new shifter could not handle). So instead, I attached the cable at another position on the clamp with no slack, and the new STI shifter then worked great. The cable stop barrel adjusters are great for fine tuning both cables.

I just finished a 35 mile test ride and did not have a missed shift or require any adjustment. Shifts were crisp and snappy. It performed rear double up shifts and rear double down shifts if needed. There is a front derailleur trim function. Unlike other Shimano STI shifters, the down shift (to a smaller cog/chainring) is performed with an inside thumb operated lever (like Campagnolo). Also, unlike other Shimano STI shifters, the brake lever is reach adjustable (good for small hands). Everything is very ergodynamic when on the hoods. The only bad thing is that I could not reach the down shift levers when on the drops because the down shift levers were too small and too high. I only ride on the drops a small percentage of the time so it's no big deal to me, but this would not be good for racing.

It is very good to have better control over braking and shifting without having to take my hands of the bars in traffic during my commute. Riding high speed downhill and shifting is also safer (I dreaded taking my hands off the bars to shift at 35 mph on bumpy narrow roads with down tube shifters). This would also be a good upgrade for group riding, since you will keep a straighter line when shifting.

I highly recommend this upgrade if you have an old 7 speed bike with down tube shifters.

The Sora STI kit comes in either 7 or 8 speed and in front double or triple.
re: Upgraded old 7 speed to STI shiftingmojo2367
Aug 10, 2002 6:06 PM
thanx for the detailed info! did you buy your sora 7 speed from LBS or mailorder- if mailorder where ?
re: Upgraded old 7 speed to STI shiftingKillerQuads
Aug 11, 2002 5:38 AM
It was not easy finding the Sora 7 speed shifters. I think Shimano is phasing them out and what is left is being bought up by 7 speed bike owners. I ordered them on line from (Mud Sweat & Gears). The cost was $91.00 plus $8.00 shipping. They are in Oklahoma but it only took 5 days for the parts to be delivered to me in Virginia. Some other places are charging $120.00 for the same set.

Another time when the STI levers come in handy is when climbing. I can get up off the saddle and shift to a harder gear at the same time. Once I reach the peak, I can sit down and shift to an easier gear without taking my hands off the bars.

The quality is very good and the Sora set seems sturdier and less delicate than the Ultegra set on another bike.

I have another 7 speed bike (old Dura Ace) with indexed down tube shifters. It has Campagnolo Chorus brakes with the quick release located on the brake levers. If I convert this bike to Sora STI, I will have to do without the brake quick release.
what about the derrailleur-mine is non index?mojo2367
Aug 11, 2002 9:05 AM
My rear derailleur is 7 speed non index so I will need to come up with a rear derailleur. Can I use current modern shimano 8/9 derailleurs? I know you can use current 9 speed shimano MTB on old 7 speed MTB systems
what about the derrailleur-mine is non index?KillerQuads
Aug 11, 2002 10:16 AM
If I forgot to mention, my rear derailleur (RD) is a Shimano 600 Ultegra with indexed 7 speed shifting. It shifts well with either the old down tube indexed shifters or the new Sora STI shifters.

You will need a new RD since Shimano indexed RDs have the correct geometry, cable take up, and floating upper pulley for indexed shifting. Assuming you have a Shimano or Shimano compatible 7 speed cog spacing, any new or recent vintage Shimano road derailleur should work with the 7 speed Sora shifters.

According to the Peformance Bicycle Catalog, the current Shimano RDs they sell (Dura Ace, Ultegra, 105) are 7,8,or 9 spd Shimano shifter compatible. I imagine Tiagra and of course Sora RDs would be compatible with the 7 speed Sora shifters too.

If you can find someone who has upgraded to Dura Ace or Ultegra, you might get a compatible RD for next to nothing.
Another option...Andy M-S
Aug 12, 2002 12:08 PM
Is to use 8-speed Campy Ergo. I've done this on my daughter's bike, which is otherwise complete 7-speed Shimano, and it works quite well. One extra click, you can put it at the top or the bottom, but the indexing is great.