Perils of upgrading the gearing on a vintage 10 speed road bike

Morning all After some sound advice from @alexpink and @kuxi, I just picked up an old 10spd (2×5) steel frame tourer. It came fitted with moustache bars so at minimum I’m going to replace those with some drop bars. I’ve never ridden a bike with downtube shifters before so my instinct was to look into modernising this with indexed bar shifters but understand that could get pricey (replacing wheels, derailleurs and such) and might not be worth it on a relatively cheap bike. Anyone got any experience of this before I start spending? Am I likely to get used to the downtube quite quickly, or maybe is there a halfway house that wouldn’t cost the earth? Cheers in advance for any tips n stuff


  1. Hey Phil,Sounds like my bike’s about the same as yours – a 10sp Raleigh Royale I had resprayed and then refurbed last year.  Though I’d originally intended to replace the shifters on the downtube with something more modern, I got used to them shockingly quickly, though I have to say I don’t use them much (in the city, I effectively ride it as a single speed.)  I went with bull bars for the handlebars (again, I find them more comfortable for city riding, where I’ll never be down on the drops).  Maybe ride around a bit with the bike as it is to discover how you’ll ride it, what you absolutely must change, and where you’ll be comfortable on it?  (For instance, how aggressive a riding position you’ll want – for me, this would be entirely dependent on how the bike handles.)Good luck!

  2. Its probably not worth it.  Can we see a picture of the bike as it is now?

  3. Thanks @leyn @euan @leyn – good to hear, and understand where you’re coming from for urban riding. I’m going to go for drops as I plan on doing some longer rides as well – and hopefully riding on the brake hoods will be similar to the upright bull bar position. @euan I’ll stick one up this aft

  4. @philsheard I started out with shifters on the downtube you soon get used to them and will change gear without having to look down. I have a modern road bike now with gears on the brake levers the big advantage is if you are riding uphill out of the saddle you can change gear, but with levers on the downtube you can’t. To convert the gear shifters is probably gonna cost you more than the bike is worth!

  5. I say embrace it. You’ve brought an older bike, so enjoy it. And as @traxcitement said you’ll soon get used to it (and it’ll be an expensive job to upgrade). Besides how many times will you change gear around town anyhow..However, if you do upgrade make sure you buy a complete chain set (rather than mixing and matching). Often with home conversions people buy the wrong size components – which results in all sorts of problems.Talking of upgrades, has anyone tried the electronic shifters? (there’s a video under description).”

  6. Embrace it indeed! I ride an old Puch / Austro Daimler with I’m not entirely sure how many gears, but I’d guess around ten – with stem shift. At first it did feel little weird reaching down but you soon get used to it. I love the fact that I can adjust the gears and I’m not reliant on ‘clicking through’ the gears which can get misaligned quite quickly over time. Like you, I’m considering different handlebars as I never go down on the drops and use the, erm, ‘suicide levers’ far too often. But I’m reluctant to change the original bike as it’s so lovely.

  7. After a bit of reading (thanks for the tips) I’ve embraced it 100% – helped by learning how much it would cost for new gearing and STI levers! I might put bar-end shifters in one day but for now I’m set and loving it. @katybeale if you’re interested in something more leisurely, I’ve still got the old ‘mustache’ bars and brakes from before the conversion which might suit your bike. I kept them as a backup but I’m not attached to them.

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