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Discussion Starter #1
I've been thinking about this all day long...

So I have a '93 Giant Nutra hybrid bike, cro-mo main triangle, big frame that I was fitted to 13 years ago, cantilever brakes, rapid fire shifters controlling a triple up front and 7-speed rear cassette, all low-end Shimano. Chain stay's a good 17-18 inches, plenty o' eyelets for rack, etc (in fact, test fit a rear rack and fenders w/o issue). Flat bars, a couple inches below my seat. Bicycle was $300 stock.

I want to use this short term for just group rides, now dusted off, and long term as my do-anything bike that is good for commuting should I live in such an environment, light dirt road usage and most importantly, touring - combing cycling with my love of travel. I figure I'll probably buy a dedicated road bike in a year or two, and it'll cost a lot more than any planned upgrades for this old boy and I'll use it for faster group rides, centuries, etc.

I've found two ways to go with upgrades, learning the mechanics and doing it myself:

$100: Install drop bars, get friction shifters on the downtube, and of course non-shifting brake levers for the bars.

$300: Install drop bars, replace the entire drivetrain with the good stuff -- go to Shimano 105 derailleurs, rear cassette, bottom bracket, shifters/brake levers, with Nashbar Trekking crank and rings for lower gearing and price than the 105's. If I'm going to replace the drivetrain, I'm not going with super-cheap parts.

These are both less expensive than running out and buying a touring bike, and both figures are fairly conservative new product costs. I'll probably scour eBay for the more expensive stuff but don't know exactly how much I'll save. The other option is to leave it alone, do as well as I can in flat but windy Dallas with flat bars, not learn how to disassemble and reassemble my bike (but that's hard because I've given up making autos faster ($$) and yearn for the wrench again, plus love making things better and upgrading the underdog!)

I don't have experience on a true road bike and have never ridden past 60 miles or so on a single ride, and never in a group -- I want to get active in cycling this year and need it to motivate quitting smoking. I do have plenty of experience on the bike on the road and really like it, partially because it fits pretty well and I'm used to it, partially for sentimental reasons (old friend and what not). Which biases me and shows my inexperience with even drop bars in the first place.

So guys and gals with some experience under your belts, what do y'all recommend?
 

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What about borrowing $ and getting a fully built, ready to go Surly Cross-Check?

IMO, they're the best bang for the buck and this bike does many things really well - commuting, long rides, blah, blah, blah.

Have you tried the classified section of roadbikereview.com for a great used one? I think you can find them new for less than $800. I know that might seem like a lot of $, but if you justify better health, less money for commuting and smudge the math, it all makes perfectly good sense to borry $ for a decent bike. How much is it worth when you walk by it everyday as it hangs from your ceiling in the living room - or as it sits next to your bed?

That, my friend, is what they call "priceless"!

Somehow borrow some cash then find your best deal on a Cross-Check then ride, ride, ride. You'll never regret it, I promise.
 

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What size are the wheels? Some of the Giant hybrids had 700C wheels, others had 26X1.38" tires which were built for classic 26" ATB wheels, 559mm.

If'n I were you, I'd go BOBish on the Nutra. Get a set of moustache bars (www.nashbar.com has them cheap), foam or cork handlebar tape (also from Nashbar), some used bar-con shifters (http://tinyurl.com/s3gqn), and a cheap pair of road brake levers (also from Nashbar). The whole set would cost you ~$100. When you were done, you'd have a really nice, comfy road bike that could keep up with all those drop-bar hooligans but which would earn double bonus style points with the hip-but-not-racy bike crowd.

Check out some nice examples of what I am talking about at http://www.cyclofiend.com/cc/

Good luck!

- FBB
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Wow, some of those rides look just as user-friendly as user-friendly gets - thanks! I'm not sure I want to go the mustache route when I'm a pretty traditional kinda guy and joining the drop-bar hooligans sounds all the more enticing when you phrase it that way, heh heh, but those are still really neat.

The bike has 700C wheels, and I even put 23mm Michelin Carbons on them to try out and see how it responds last weekend though I haven't had a chance to try 'em out yet.

Are downtube shifters independently adjustable? The guy I talked to online through Nashar yesterday said any of them can be used in friction mode ... can you set the front to friction and the rear to click? He only suggested that click wouldn't work on my MTB front derailleur, but would on my rear one. I'm leaning heavily towards downtube shifters now - are they okay for touring?
 

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Zaurusman said:
Are downtube shifters independently adjustable?
What kinf of derailleur/cassette do you have? You will have to match the shift levers to the rest of the drivetrain in terms of brand and no. of gears. I've never seen an indexed front DT lever. All the rear ones made since 1987 or so can be switched back and forth between friction and index mode.

Have fun!
 

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Why not bar ends or bullhorns?

fbagatelleblack said:
What kinf of derailleur/cassette do you have? You will have to match the shift levers to the rest of the drivetrain in terms of brand and no. of gears. I've never seen an indexed front DT lever. All the rear ones made since 1987 or so can be switched back and forth between friction and index mode.

Have fun!
I converted a mountain bike to similar duty a few years ago. I found some GT-branded wide bullhorns (for mountainbikes, in short supply now probably) on clearance (probably nashbar) and mounted my mtb brake lever/shifter combo (thumbies!!), wrapped with some nice Cinelli cork for flair and rode it like the wind. Plenty of hand positions. I think I have all of $30 in the conversion. It somehow lost it's shifters and derailers and spins now just one cog, good rain bike and no more money in the hole.

Note: please don't take my use of Nashbar's name as an endorsement. 15 days to ship two tires across Ohio my eye. From now it's LBS (hour away) or eBay for me!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
You know, I could always just look a little odd and use the friggin' shifters I have already, huh? Less of a stretch than to the downtube, too - I could shift out of the saddle! Jeeze, why didn't I think of that?

What's better on a dropped bar bike -- shifters hanging from the flat, or downtube shifters? Is it easier to reach downtube shifters when in the bars?
 

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DT braze ons?

Here's the $64,000 question, can your bike use downtube shifters?

Most hybrids don't have the required braze ons on the downtube that are necessary to mount a set of downtube shifters.

I've seen the adapter bands on 70's era road bikes, but I'm not sure if there is an adapter band available that will work with modern DT shifters.

If you don't have the braze ons, and definitely want to make the component upgrades, you will have to use STI or barcons.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
beaker said:
Here's the $64,000 question, can your bike use downtube shifters?

Most hybrids don't have the required braze ons on the downtube that are necessary to mount a set of downtube shifters.

I've seen the adapter bands on 70's era road bikes, but I'm not sure if there is an adapter band available that will work with modern DT shifters.

If you don't have the braze ons, and definitely want to make the component upgrades, you will have to use STI or barcons.
Nope. I assumed that because the shifters I was looking at required that I specify narrow or wide tube, they came with the clamp but maybe not. What is the downside to MTB style shifters hanging under the flat part of the bar, that road bikes came with downtube shifters instead?
 

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Zaurusman said:
Nope. I assumed that because the shifters I was looking at required that I specify narrow or wide tube, they came with the clamp but maybe not. What is the downside to MTB style shifters hanging under the flat part of the bar, that road bikes came with downtube shifters instead?
Standard mountain shifters will not work on road bars. MTB bar diameter is 25.4mm (1 inch), whereas road handlebars are either 25.8 or 26.0 mm.
 

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achiral said:
Standard mountain shifters will not work on road bars. MTB bar diameter is 25.4mm (1 inch), whereas road handlebars are either 25.8 or 26.0 mm.
I bet you could use the cheap thumbies out of the Rivendell catalog. They have a flexible clamp rather than a molded piece, so you could probably absorb the extra 0.4 or 0.6mm. I've been using them for a few months and they work well.

http://www.rivbike.com/webalog/shifters_derailleurs/17097.html

- FBB
 

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Zaurusman said:
Nope. I assumed that because the shifters I was looking at required that I specify narrow or wide tube, they came with the clamp but maybe not. What is the downside to MTB style shifters hanging under the flat part of the bar, that road bikes came with downtube shifters instead?
I would assume that that came from racing. You can shift a DT shifter without widening your position on the bike. Just a guess, and I don't much care for the answer. I've always been comfortable with DT shifting, but since it's not an option, I would go with bar-end shifters on a road drop bar with Cane Creek or Tektro brake levers. I've never used bar-ends, but at this point, it's the only thing that makes sense to me. It'll come in under $100, and you shoud be able to use them with existing derailleurs (in friction mode) if you need/want to put off other upgrades.
 

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Zaurusman said:
Are downtube shifters independently adjustable? The guy I talked to online through Nashar yesterday said any of them can be used in friction mode ... can you set the front to friction and the rear to click? He only suggested that click wouldn't work on my MTB front derailleur, but would on my rear one. I'm leaning heavily towards downtube shifters now - are they okay for touring?
They're great for touring, and front DT shifters are always friction, and work for double and triple drivetrains equally well.

When I went back to DT a couple of years ago, I started with indexing, but fairly quickly went to friction. Simple, never needs adjustment, and if things sound noisy? A tiny tap to the shifter resolves it. But after a while, you won't need to do that because you'll make clean shifts (the brain auto-adjusts; SIS, STI, Ergo--no such luck).
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Bar-end it is, then.

Thanks for all the pointers, guys. I checked with Nashbar and, sure enough, no clamp. I could probably fit my shifters onto the bar, but it would look wrong, and be wrong. So, I'm looking at these:

Cool bar-end shifters?

Anyone have 'em? I'm thinking those are the best long-term bet.
 

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Zaurusman said:
Thanks for all the pointers, guys. I checked with Nashbar and, sure enough, no clamp. I could probably fit my shifters onto the bar, but it would look wrong, and be wrong. So, I'm looking at these:

Cool bar-end shifters?

Anyone have 'em? I'm thinking those are the best long-term bet.
I haven't used them, but I know folks who have, and they swear by them. You won't go wrong with the "Silver" bar end shifters! And they're just so darn pretty...

- FBB
 

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Discussion Starter #16
fbagatelleblack said:
I haven't used them, but I know folks who have, and they swear by them. You won't go wrong with the "Silver" bar end shifters! And they're just so darn pretty...
- FBB
Yeahhhhhh, that's what got me. ;)

Just two questions left, I think. It's a red bike, nice paint scheme on it (though obviously used -- adds character), very pretty IMHO. I'm mostly going to silver over matt black with it, though the crank has some black on it, the front ring gears are black, but the derailleurs and rear cassette and crank arms are silver. Brushed aluminum cages (grey). Bright silver aluminum seatpost. And now, bright silver barend shifters en route. Shiny aluminum brake levers. I'd love to go with a honey Brooks saddle and natural tape because it's oh so classy, but I don't think the brown would go well with the bright red - would kinda muddy the two and add a third color to confuse things if I'm picturing it correctly. Plus the red has black "string" in the paint, giving it an almost granite or igneous rock look. So I think I'm going with black tape and seat. Question is:

Go with a nice silver riser to compliment the seatpost, or play it safe with black?

And lastly, focused more on comfort than absolute die-hard aerodynamics, how much wider than my shoulders should the handlebars be?

Almost done with the planning stage. :)
 

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Zaurusman said:
Go with a nice silver riser to compliment the seatpost, or play it safe with black?
By "riser," do you mean stem? If so, I'd try to match your handlebars. In any case, polished, plain aluminum stem and bars are always classy looking.

Zaurusman said:
And lastly, focused more on comfort than absolute die-hard aerodynamics, how much wider than my shoulders should the handlebars be?
I like a nice, wide bar. I do believe in any hard-and-fast rule about handlebar width vs. shoulder width, but I'd recommend going with a 46cm Rivendell Noodle, base on how happy these bars have made other people. I haven't ridden them yet, but I am seriously thinking about swapping my current bars for a set of these.

http://www.rivbike.com/html/parts_noodlebar.html

Yours,

FBB
 

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Discussion Starter #18
That's nice! Yes, I'm referring to the stem. Stem, riser, yeah, what you said.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
fbagatelleblack said:
"Riser" is prolly one o' dem der new fangled terms coined after Moser won his last Giro. I don't put up with that kind of slang, young feller!
Knowing me, I could have flat-out made it up trying to think up a term for the part to explain it to a bicycle shop employee 12 years ago!
 
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