How (Not) To | Convert an Old SRAM Shifter Into a Dropper Post Switch

Note: We also have an article & video on how to convert a Shimano shifter to a dropper post switch.

A large percentage of riders with dropper posts are also running 1×10 or 1×11 drivetrains. That means that there are a thousands of front shifters lying around doing nothing, and there is an empty spot on the handlebar next to the left brake lever on each of these 1x bikes. In this video we’ll show you how to modify that old SRAM front shifter in your parts bin to work as a dropper post switch. Of course this will void your shifter’s warranty, so after you make this mod, do us a favor and don’t try to warranty it when you either do it wrong or decide you don’t want it anymore! There are a ton of different shifters out there from SRAM, and they are all a little different, but the general internal designs are very similar. 

Before you dive in, make sure that your dropper post will work with this type of switch. You need a post that is made to have the cable head installed in the switch, rather than in the post. Examples of compatible posts are the Kind Shock LEV and the 2nd generation Kind Shock LEV Integra with the fixed cable housing stop style of cable attachment assembly at the bottom, and all versions of the Specialized Command Post.

Now let’s look at the shifter we’re modifying. Here’s a SRAM X5 shifter that we’ve already done but I’ll run through the process step by step with this SRAM X7 2×10-speed front shifter; but any SRAM front trigger shifter can be modified by using essentially the same instructions.  There are a few ways to convert a shifter like this one into a dropper post lever, but I’m going to show you the easiest way to do it. Some of the other methods will result in a lighter switch, but this method is quicker and doesn’t require any additional parts, washers, or tape to make it function like a pro level component.

Let’s get started. First, remove the top cover and remove the secondary return spring on top of the shifter mechanism. At this point it’s a good idea to use a set of vice grips to clamp the shifter mechanism to the shifter body so that it doesn’t separate, otherwise you may have to rebuild the bottom end of the shifter as well if it falls apart. Then use a pair of 5mm Allen wrenches to remove the bolt that is holding the shifter internals to the cable uptake lever.

Now remove the plastic cable pulley assembly. At the base of this assembly is a metal plate with teeth on the edges that serve as the indexing mechanism in the shifter. These teeth need to be removed. Remove the metal plate from the shifter. Now use a bench grinder or a file to remove the tooth on this side, including these two lobes. Once you’ve removed the tooth and lobes, deburr new edges so that they don’t cause drag when moving inside the shifter.

Now we can turn our attention to cutting off the cable release button. This next step isn’t necessary, but I like to do it to make the finished part look a little more pro. Remove the pivot pin holding the release button into the shifter. Then pop the button up and out of the top of the shifter. Clamp the shifter into a vice and then use a hacksaw or Dremel cutoff wheel to cut the button flush with the shifter body. Clean up the cut edge with a bench grinder, file, or sandpaper. Reinstall the switch being careful to put the return spring back in the way it was so that the button doesn’t rattle. Then slide the pivot pin back in.

Now we can finish reassembling the top-end of the shifter. Reinstall the plate onto the plastic cable pulley and apply grease to the plate so that it slides smoothly inside the shifter. Line up the wide slot in the plate with the tab protruding up from the cable uptake lever. Then reinstall the main bolt followed by the secondary return spring. Reinstall the shifter cover and check your work to make sure that the switch functions smoothly and without any rattles.

You now have a killer dropper post switch that didn’t cost a dime and that you can be proud that you made yourself.

2015-12-16T16:17:00-08:00