You know those quick "I'll just pop out to the garage for five minutes" jobs? Well I've just done one.
I wanted indexed shifting on my Peugeot. Today I remembered that parked at the back of the garage is a Dawes Sterling I haven't used since I got it. This one came with a Hyperglide six speed cassette so I thought I'd have the shifters off it. Easy job right?
OK so off came the original shifters. Off came the shifters from the Dawes. On went the shifters from the Dawes. In went the cables from the Pug. Adjusted front mech and cable no problems. Then I moved to the rear mech. Lined it up on the small sprocket with the cable with the slightest bit of tension. Shifted down one and spun the cranks. It shifted but only just and sounded a little off. OK, no problem, tighten the cable adjuster. Shift down one and again it shifted but not quite right. By the time I got into third I knew I had a problem.
Did the rear block have odd spacing? I couldn't see why, I mean the only oddly spaced six speed blocks I've ever heard of are the Suntour ones. So I slackened the cable off and checked the shifter. Click, click, click, click, click, click. What? Try the other way. Yup, six clicks; these are seven speed shifters. Then I remembered something; I was pretty sure the rear wheel wasn't original when I got the Dawes. And the previous owner had said something about the gears needing attention because they didn't shift properly in indexed mode. At the time I thought it just needed a little adjustment, now I realise it's because somebody had fitted a wheel with a six speed cassette where once had been seven sprockets.
What to do? I have an unused Altus mech waiting to go on the Dawes, but that would look awful on the Pug. A modern-ish MTB mech would look fine on a tourer like the Dawes which came with an older Altus originally, but out of place on a skinny old road bike like the Peugeot. Could there be a seven speed freewheel in my box of bits? Yes, albeit a mountain bike one with quite a range. Did I have a freewheel removal tool to suit the OE freewheel? Would it be seized on? Would the extra sprocket foul the frame? Could the Sachs Huret Aris Rival Sport (enough words in there?) mech cope? The answers to those questions were yes, no, no and yes. Don't you just love it when a complete lack of planning comes together?
The old freewheel came off easilly. The new one slipped between the stays without incident. The mech clears the big sprocket no problem. I slackened the stop on the mech, connected and tensioned the cable and the whole thing indexed perfectly.
The extra teeth ought to look as obvious as a very obvious thing, but they don't. There is however one big advantage. I was going to fit a compact 50/34 chainset to make the bike more versatile, but I suspect that such a thing would have looked more out of place. I also wondered if the rear mech could have coped with the extra range, it would almost certainly have needed a new front mech.
So for no outlay I've ended up with a working setup that doesn't look particularly non-original or non-period and gives me a useful increase in gears and the range of gears. OK so it took a bit longer than the planned five minutes, but quite a result even so.