Convert from flat bars to drops
I've been toying around with the idea of converting my flat-bar hybrid (which I use for commuting) to drop bars. Primarily because I'd like to press it into service as a winter road bike, as it has full mud-guards. The bike is a Ridgeback Comet, which has a Shimano triple front and 8-speed rear. I've looked around the net, and there seem to be a few considerations and options, and I'm wondering what people think.
Hoping people will correct me if I'm wrong, but this is what I've learned on the net so far:
Most road levers won't work right with side-pull/linear-pull v-brakes. So I either need to fit cantilever brakes (not as good as v-brakes?), or I need to get "mini" v-brakes that work with road-levers like the TRP CX9 or the Tektro RX5, or I need to use road levers designed for long/linear pull (which?). Another option seems to be a "travel agent", which adapts long-pull v-brakes to work with short-pull levers, but they're more expensive than new brakes, and there seem to be a few stories about them causing early brake-cable wear.
STI is an option, if I change the brake to work with short-pull levers. However, it seems to be near impossible to find 8-speed STI levers, other than Shimano Sora - which are expensive - and I'm not a fan of the hard to get to down-shift button. The other options I'm aware of are Microshift (but the 8-speed seems very hard to find) and SunRace (read mixed reviews on SunRace shifters though). Another option could Retroshift. A little pricey, but no 8-speed option. So I'd have to upgrade the drive-chain to 9 or 10 speed (rear mech, chain, sprocket).
The other option is separate shifters. I don't have bosses on the down-tube, so I guess I'd have to go with bar-end shifters. But not sure I like them (seems like my knees could knock them).
I'll also likely have to change the stem to match the bars.
I think I'm looking at roughly, at least for the 8-speed SunRace STI option:
shifters: circa £110
mini v-brakes: £25
gear & brake cables: £20
quill road stem: £15
LBS to bail me out when I'm stuck: £40
That's £200 to £240, depending on how stuck I get! Anyone tried anything like this? Got any advice?
The LBS said I should just buy a new bike - but they would say that.