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1962 Varsity - Move Stem Shifters Ok? [Solved]
#1
        Hi. This is my first post.
I have a 1962 Varsity that I've enjoyed riding since I was 10. I'm in my 60's now and just want to putz around the neighborhood.
In order to make the bike more comfortable I put a super big seat on it and 12" high handlebars. It's my Lazy-Boy on wheels.
As I hope you can see from the pictures I'd like to move the stem shifters (is that the right term?) up from their present position to the main bar. Since my handlebars now keep me up high when I want to shift I have to bend over pretty far to reach the shifters.
Can I safely move the shifters up to the main bar by the handlebars? It would be a lot easier to shift them if they were there. I do realize the wires wouldn't be tucked up against the tube as they are now. That's ok with me.
Will this modification affect the structure of the bike? I would have a bike store do this.
Is there a better idea for moving the stem shifters up or doing something else?

Thanks for any help or suggestions!

Mike Gallery
Bull Valley, Illinois
  Reply
#2
(04-03-2021, 10:15 PM)Mike Gallery Wrote:  Hi. This is my first post.

Can I safely move the shifters up to the main bar by the handlebars? It would be a lot easier to shift them if they were there. I do realize the wires wouldn't be tucked up against the tube as they are now. That's ok with me.
Will this modification affect the structure of the bike? I would have a bike store do this.
Is there a better idea for moving the stem shifters up or doing something else?

Thanks for any help or suggestions!

Mike Gallery
Bull Valley, Illinois

Welcome Mike,

The shifters you presently have are braze-on mounted downtube shifters ("suicide shifters"), and you will not be able to use them (without "extreme" modification) mounted as handlebar stem or top tube mounted shifters. Your present shift levers pivot on a threaded braze-on bosses that would have to be cut or ground off of the frame's down tube and welded back on to the position of convenience (top tube or bar stem). You should be able to find an old style (60s-70s) set of levers that can clamp onto the bar stem; probably $10-$20 or so, plus labor for mounting. They were very common in the 70s; my '75 Schwinn Varsity is set up that way from the factory. most bike shops have some old parts kicking around, Schwinn, Suntour, Huret; that should work. Or your can mount new or used bar mounted clamp-on thumb shifters just in front of your grips; cheap, easy to install, very convenient location. Both options are fairly inexpensive, and can be done quickly and cheaply at a bike shop or at home if the parts are available. You would probably need to get new cables and/or cable housings due to the length change when changing shifter locations.
Take care,
Jesper

"I am become Death, the destroyer of bicycles." NJS
  Reply
#3
Hi, Jesper.

I really appreciate your response. It is most educational! I'll be sure to share this with my bike place and see what they can do. When I get this done I'll be sure to share a picture out here.

Thanks again!

Mike


(04-05-2021, 08:56 PM)Jesper Wrote:  
(04-03-2021, 10:15 PM)Mike Gallery Wrote:  Hi. This is my first post.

Can I safely move the shifters up to the main bar by the handlebars? It would be a lot easier to shift them if they were there. I do realize the wires wouldn't be tucked up against the tube as they are now. That's ok with me.
Will this modification affect the structure of the bike? I would have a bike store do this.
Is there a better idea for moving the stem shifters up or doing something else?

Thanks for any help or suggestions!

Mike Gallery
Bull Valley, Illinois

Welcome Mike,

The shifters you presently have are braze-on mounted downtube shifters ("suicide shifters"), and you will not be able to use them (without "extreme" modification) mounted as handlebar stem or top tube mounted shifters. Your present shift levers pivot on a threaded braze-on bosses that would have to be cut or ground off of the frame's down tube and welded back on to the position of convenience (top tube or bar stem). You should be able to find an old style (60s-70s) set of levers that can clamp onto the bar stem; probably $10-$20 or so, plus labor for mounting. They were very common in the 70s; my '75 Schwinn Varsity is set up that way from the factory. most bike shops have some old parts kicking around, Schwinn, Suntour, Huret; that should work. Or your can mount new or used bar mounted clamp-on thumb shifters just in front of your grips; cheap, easy to install, very convenient location. Both options are fairly inexpensive, and can be done quickly and cheaply at a bike shop or at home if the parts are available. You would probably need to get new cables and/or cable housings due to the length change when changing shifter locations.
  Reply
#4
(04-05-2021, 08:56 PM)Jesper Wrote:  
(04-03-2021, 10:15 PM)Mike Gallery Wrote:  Hi. This is my first post.

Can I safely move the shifters up to the main bar by the handlebars? It would be a lot easier to shift them if they were there. I do realize the wires wouldn't be tucked up against the tube as they are now. That's ok with me.
Will this modification affect the structure of the bike? I would have a bike store do this.
Is there a better idea for moving the stem shifters up or doing something else?

Thanks for any help or suggestions!

Mike Gallery
Bull Valley, Illinois

Welcome Mike,

The shifters you presently have are braze-on mounted downtube shifters ("suicide shifters"), and you will not be able to use them (without "extreme" modification) mounted as handlebar stem or top tube mounted shifters. Your present shift levers pivot on a threaded braze-on bosses that would have to be cut or ground off of the frame's down tube and welded back on to the position of convenience (top tube or bar stem). You should be able to find an old style (60s-70s) set of levers that can clamp onto the bar stem; probably $10-$20 or so, plus labor for mounting. They were very common in the 70s; my '75 Schwinn Varsity is set up that way from the factory. most bike shops have some old parts kicking around, Schwinn, Suntour, Huret; that should work. Or your can mount new or used bar mounted clamp-on thumb shifters just in front of your grips; cheap, easy to install, very convenient location. Both options are fairly inexpensive, and can be done quickly and cheaply at a bike shop or at home if the parts are available. You would probably need to get new cables and/or cable housings due to the length change when changing shifter locations.

Hi.
That's a lovely looking bike!

I signed up to the forum just because of the above reply.

  1. You DON'T have to grind those bosses off! Seriously, please don't.
  2. You can fit similar-looking thumb shifters to the handlebars - one on each side
  3. Your current set-up will be 'friction shift', and you can replicate this, or go for a newer 'indexed' version of the shifters (this will click from gear to gear)
  4. You'll need to fit bolt-on cable stops, which go onto those existing frame bosses - something like these: https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Jagwire-STI-Downtube-Shift-Cable-Stops-Barrel-Adjusters-for-Shimano-Campagnolo/164545956900?hash=item264fb40c24:g:na8AAOSwVyhfR~ag
  5. You'll then add a length of outer cable housing to go from them to the new shifters on your handlebars. Make sure this is in a nice curve, and not too tight.
  6. Then fit new gear cable inners. Job done. Smile

Your local bike shop should be able to do all this for you - it's about half an hour's work for them, so budget something like $15 for the cable stops, $20 for new shifters (more expensive, shinier options are available - I'm assuming budget parts are OK. If you want something shiny, and 100% age appropriate, you'll find it on Ebay. Otherwise, Velo Orange make mounts that mean you'll be able to re-use your existing shifters on your handlebars. They're absolutely gorgeous, but they also cost Velo Orange prices $$$: https://velo-orange.com/collections/shifters/products/vo-thumb-shifter-mounts-22-2-23-8), $10 for cables, $20-30 for labour(?) (Local rates will vary - last bike shop I ran (UK), we'd charge something like £10-£15 for each shifter's labour).

Oh, and one last thing. Did I mention that's a lovely looking bike? Wink

Karl.
  Reply
#5
[quote='Karl McCracken' pid='40996' dateline='1617791229']

I agree with Karl about not removing the shifter bosses as they should be used for the cable stops if you modify the bike. Cutting them off is an extreme case situation and you would still need some sort of clamp on cable housing stop or guide. I hate classic frames that have had the bosses removed for a "fixie"/single speed mod.

Yes, Karl; it is a lovely bike. Those Schwinns had some nice fillet brazing or welding on the frames; very smooth!
Take care,
Jesper

"I am become Death, the destroyer of bicycles." NJS
  Reply
#6
Hi, Jesper and Karl.

Thank you so much for your comments and helpful advice. Once I realized this was easily doable (thanks to both of you) I took the bike to a local bike shop in a nearby town called Wonder Lake. The owner runs a one man operation out of his garage.

https://www.wonderlakebicycle.com/

It took him a couple of days to get the parts in but the results were, as you said, easy to obtain and inexpensive. Here are the pics. I'm real happy with these modifications. I wish I'd done them 50 years ago!

And yes, he removed my old stem shifters and put a mounting cap of some type on them, so nothing had to be drilled.

Thanks again!

Mike Gallery

           
  Reply
#7
Nice ride @Mike Gallery. Good job with the changes. I have used that same thumb shifter before. It works great, but depending on how tight it is adjusted, and/or the terrain you're riding; you make have to tighten up that friction adjustment bolt with the "D" ring on the top of the body occasionally.
Love the color and form of those frames even for mass-produced bikes.
Take care,
Jesper

"I am become Death, the destroyer of bicycles." NJS
  Reply
#8
(04-05-2021, 11:00 PM)Mike Gallery Wrote:  Hi, Jesper.

I really appreciate your response. It is most educational! I'll be sure to share this with my bike place and see what they can do. When I get this done I'll be sure to share a picture out here.

Thanks again!

Mike

Here's your bike in its original garb; notice that the shifters are already stem mounted from the factory, but it's a '75 model. My bike, but too large (26"/66cm); trying to sell it.


Attached Files Image(s)
   
Ride Fast, Be Safe!
Howard
  Reply
#9
Hi, Howard.

I love the look of that bike. The shifters on the stem were a great improvement from what came with mine. I didn't know that happened. How did you get the chrome so shiny? Did you replace the pedals? That's a nice looking bike, for sure!

Mike

(05-04-2021, 01:43 AM)Criminal Wrote:  
(04-05-2021, 11:00 PM)Mike Gallery Wrote:  Hi, Jesper.

I really appreciate your response. It is most educational! I'll be sure to share this with my bike place and see what they can do. When I get this done I'll be sure to share a picture out here.

Thanks again!

Mike

Here's your bike in its original garb; notice that the shifters are already stem mounted from the factory, but it's a '75 model. My bike, but too large (26"/66cm); trying to sell it.
  Reply
#10
(05-04-2021, 09:35 AM)Mike Gallery Wrote:  Hi, Howard.

I love the look of that bike. The shifters on the stem were a great improvement from what came with mine. I didn't know that happened. How did you get the chrome so shiny? Did you replace the pedals? That's a nice looking bike, for sure!

I only did a little polish on the aluminum parts to remove some 45 years of oxidation (although minimal); the chrome just needed cleaning at the time I refurbished it. It is 100% original except for the tires and inner tubes, and it looks it up close. It has a couple of very minor scratches, but they are hard to see at arm's length. Not much more can be done on it except it had a small piece of chrome flake off on the crank spider; not sure why since there it no damage and no rust. It has an original rear rack also that is not mounted. I need it to find a good home to some giant rider out there, but it is hard to sell a varsity of any size and try to get some reasonable dollars for it. I'm already prepared to sell at a loss or take a trade for one in about the same condition (and same color [chestnut] would be great too!), but in a much smaller frame size. I could not even test ride it with the saddle and post installed.

Like your bike, I love the look of the frame conjunctions and the depth of the paint. My bike probably has more alloy parts since Schwinn was trying to lighten up the bike and improve performance with some European parts during the peak of the bike boom in the '70s (just like all the manufacturers at that time).
Ride Fast, Be Safe!
Howard
  Reply


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