If the minor weight difference isn't a big deal, you could continue to use the STI's just as brake levers and use the barcons as shifters. Just don't hook the STI's up to the shifters.
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I had 1700 miles on a Shimano Ultegra chain and the LBS mech said they are only good for like 700 miles.
I've been told the benefits of drop bars, and because of that, I plan on giving them a shot, but to automatically put people into a category of being goobers who don't know any better is wrong. If I try the drop bars and still decide that I like the flat bars better, that's what I will use when I tour. It doesn't make me any less of a cyclist.