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How to Convert Friction Shifter to Index Shifter

How to convert friction shifter to index

Converting a Friction Shifter to  an Index Shifter

The gear shifter is the component that is used for controlling the gearing mechanisms and also to choose the desired gear ratio. Gear shifters are among the crucial part of a touring bicycle because of its reliability. If your bike does not have a working gear shifter, it means you will only be using one gear for biking.

Here is a video on how index shifting works on bike (credits to RJ The Bike Guy):

Difference Between Index and Friction Shifters

With indexed shifter, riders can change rear gears into only the pre-defined positions while with friction shifters, riders change gears by feel and will know how accurate it is by listening carefully.

Index shifting gear change will move a certain amount of cable. This means the rear derailleur will move to a certain distance for each fixed amount of cable that you pull. Whereas, a friction shifter can pull any amount of cable that you want.


Advantages and Disadvantages of Friction Shifters


  • Friction shifters can pull the derailleur to the right position when changing gears.
  • Friction shifters can be easily adjusted as you need to set the right and left limit screws on your derailleur for avoiding over shifting.
  • You can quickly service and change the shifting cable of friction shifters.
  • Friction shifters are very durable as most types are made out of metal. Index shifters are usually made of plastic.
  • You can use the front friction shifter with double and triple chainrings.
  • Friction shifters feature simple parts, which means it is pretty hard to break down.
  • Friction shifters are usually very affordable


  • It will take some times before you get used to friction shifting
  • Few companies are making friction shifters, and it will be quite hard for you to buy it in your local bike shop.
  • Friction shifters are bar-end shifters, and if you want to install them on a flat bar, you will need a conversion clamp before you can install them.

Steps to Convert a Friction Shifter to Index Shifter

  • Start by removing the handlebars tape
  • Cut all the cables
  • Remove the old brake levers on the handlebars with an Allen key
  • Mount the shifters and make sure that the little part where the shifter cables come out goes to the inside.
  • Slide the shifters on the handlebar where you want it and use the straightedge to line the shifter with the bottom of the bar.
  • Tighten the shifters using the Allen head screw.
  • Replace the rear derailleur with a derailleur such as the Shimano SIS Style
  • Remove the downtube shifters and replace it with cable stops
  • Cut a new piece of cable housing for the front brake
  • Stick the cable through the cable stops into the cable housing and ensure the end of the cable fits in nicely.
  • Tape the cable housing down after you have fitted it perfectly.
  • Test the brake to know if it works perfectly.
  • Use the same method to fit in your shifter cable and the go around the brake cable and then into the barrel adjuster
  • Fix one of the cables into the front derailleur and then test to see if it works perfectly.
  • Fix the second cable into the rear derailleur

Here is a video on how to convert a friction shifter to Index shifter (credits to The Velo Collective):