Touring - Drop bars vs Flat bar
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01-27-08, 04:13 PM
I have a 1997 Santana Vision that currently has drop bars on it and Iam considering changing it to a flat style bar. Can everyone give me their oppinions and the pros and cons to this change. I ride typicaly short 5-15 mile rides and some 50 mile and maybe more at times.
01-27-08, 05:17 PM
Warren, Welcome to BF. I recently recall this question being asked. Perhaps you could find your answer in one of the many forums. This may give you some additional options, or completely confuse things beyond all recognition!
Definitely get some bar ends as they give you some extra hand positions. :)
01-27-08, 05:28 PM
Drop bars give you many different hand positions that reduce hand numbing and other types of fatigue. However, drop bars keep your weight too far forward for safe steep descents - the kind that you'll much more likely find touring off-road. If you're thinking that going to a flat bar will help with a back problem, you're better off trying to make the rest of the bike work better before you change handle bars - such as adjusting seat height or changing stem length. If you must go to flat bars definitely consider bar ends or even a trekking bar to increase the number of hand positions.
Oh, another watchout. Brakes, brake levers, and/or brifters that work with a drop bar do not work well with flat bars.
01-27-08, 05:31 PM
You must be new here. This topic has been debated ad nauseum on this forum.
Here is my summary of the top nine responses on the topic:
1. Drop bars are so comfortable!
2. Flat-style bars are all you need!
3. My fingers used to get numb during long rides, so I switched to drop bars, and the problem is much better now.
4. My fingers used to get numb with flat bars, so I added bar-ends. Now everything is groovy!
5. Forget drop bars and flat bars. Butterfly bars are the cat's meow!
6. Drop bars cause neck and shoulder strain.
7. Flat bars cause arm and hand strain.
8. Whatever kind of handlebar you use, combine it with a Brooks saddle and a Long Haul Trucker and you will be set for a long life of cycling Nirvana.
9. Try both, and see which style of handlebar you prefer.
01-27-08, 06:08 PM
I realize Id need to change the **** and brake levers to do this. My idea to do this comes from my mtb I presentley ride. The brake and shifting is very convienient where I never use to ride with my hands down on my drop bars in the past.
Flat bars make sense when you are struggling to control your bike on rough ground, they combine a wide powerful stance with the basic position we hit the deck when we fall. Otherwise they make no sense at all. They cause you to adopt an unaturally pronated position from the elbows to the wrist, or to flair the elbows out to catch a lot of wind. The drop bar retains the natural anatomical position through a wide range of hand and body positions. It even allows a pronated position on the tops. What is natural varies from person to person though, and people have different pronation types.
Drops also allow the widest range of hand placements that also reconect with the brakes without releasing the bars. The only place that probably won't happen from is the tops unless you run extra brakes or levers.
While drops can be set high or low, they do allow one to gain a reasonable aero position, and while this is not comfortable for some of us, in windy conditions it is one of the few ways of getting substantial relief from the wind. Triathelon bars are another way of getting low in the wind, but are less controlable still, and work best with a more upright seat tube than touring bikes are normally fitted with.
Trekking bars, give you two poorly pronated positions and one poor grip position, which is progress all around.
01-27-08, 06:21 PM
I have flat bars with bar ends on my Cannondale T2000. I rode the Southern Tier this past summer and, for me, it is the only way to go. It is very comfortable for me and I will never go back to drop bars. But, opinions vary.
"The brake and shifting is very convienient where I never use to ride with my hands down on my drop bars in the past."
You are correct there. MTBs got it sorted with easy access, cheap and rugged parts decades ago. The issue is between different kinds of convenience, that of the best body, lung, aero, road control, etc... vs the best access to the buttons. I don't really need drops for my regular riding, I am far from a roady, but on a long ride on the road touring, I see the wisdom. Wouldn't not be so clear on rough terrain.
Warren, as you will see, the bar choice is a very personal and sometimes confusing issue. The only issue that I know of that has been talked about more than 'which bar' is 'which saddle...Brooks or no Brooks'.
If you do change, and I think you should, keep all of your leftover parts. Don't sell any of your old parts unless you are sure you won't change back. I've ridden with just about every kind of bar you can think of.
Right now I ride with a Mustache bar on one bike and a Scott AT-4 Pro on my tourer. Good luck with your adventure in finding 'the right bar'.
01-27-08, 07:12 PM
I've been riding flat bars on a Jamis Coda for about the past seven years. After two years, I added bar ends, and even though they present a nice alternative hand position, their distance from the brakes makes me a bit nervous. Worse yet are those aero bars on tri bikes, and part of the reason they're not usually allowed on club rides.
For me, the bottom line is that for rides of less than 25 miles, my flat bars are just fine, although as somebody pointed out, they do make your body less aerodynamic. Into the wind, they flat out suck. For rides of more than 25 miles, I can't stand my flat bars. My hands go numb...even wearing biking gloves. Drop bars give me FOUR different hand positions: on the flats, at the curve, on the hoods, and down in the drops. Ya really can't beat that.
01-27-08, 07:16 PM
Supertick !!! What type of brake handles and shifter are you using > Or what do you recomend
01-27-08, 08:23 PM
What kind of derailers and brakes are you current using? If you have Shimano road parts, you need to get a *R* type shifter, like the R440. Unlike MTB shifters, these shifters have little half shifts to trim the front derailer like your brifters. It's an easy swap. Shimano brake levers that start with *R*, like the BL-R550 are short pull brakes (cantilever abd caliper)
Moneywise, it will cost between $150 and $300.
Good luck and PM me if you have any trouble
01-27-08, 08:27 PM
I have Shimano V brakes and levers on my T2000. I have XT thumb (Rapidfire type) shifters. This combo works well for me. But everyone is different. The person who suggested you save your old parts for awhile is right. Make sure you are happy with which ever setup you go with. I was very comfortable on my 3150 mile tour this summer.
01-27-08, 08:31 PM
You might want to get some auxiliary/cross brake levers for your drop bars: http://harriscyclery.net/itemdetails.cfm?ID=1679
That way you can use the tops like it's a flat bar, and still have the multiple hand positions.
acantor is right. There's several pat responses, and it's all going to come down to you trying a few bars and picking one. I started riding with old-style, swooping handlebars, that I'm not sure what you call them these days. I switched to a bike with drops, and was never really comfortable with them. Eventually I turned the drops around and twisted them up, so I could ride more upright. My latest bike had flats, and I thought that might be the answer, but my hands get numb after a while. I know I'm not comfortable with drops, so I picked up some trekking bars. Tomorrows the first real test of them, although on my few quick trips this weekend to make sure they were functioning, they seemed good. In addition to some different hand positions, I can play with the angle and get a higher or lower position, but none as low as "in the drops," but that's just fine with me.
There's really all kinds of bars out there. Flats and Drops are the two most popular, but there's variations off of both of them, so definitely try them both, and if you find you like different aspects of both, you might look around and find someone has made a handle bar that combines the features you like. But step one is to figure out what features you do and don't like.
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