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  1. #1
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    Making my handlebars shorter

    I have a 2006 Schwinn Mesa GSD, which I recently roadified (though on a very tight budget, I'm only 15, don't have a job yet.) Anyway, that's done, but the only thing that's bothering me is the handlebars. I bought Origin 8 road ends, and I put them on, but now my handlebars look really funny, with long MTB handlebars and drops at the end. Unfortunately, my shifters and brake levers won't go any farther toward the center, so I can't cut off any significant amount of my handlebars.

    So my 2 solutions are to either

    A. find a handlebar that doesn't get fatter until the very center

    or

    B. use alternate solutions for my brake levers and shifters (bar end shifters, road brake levers, maybe?)

    Please help me find a solution that is on the cheap side, I don't have much money to spend. (I can afford up to $50, but the absolute max is $100) I'm hoping to chop off an inch off each side.

    Anyway, the sticky said to tell where I live. I live in Cupertino, which is near San Jose, which is in the Bay Area, and if you still don't know where that is, it's in North California.

    Origin 8 road ends



    My bike (spent under $100 for the "roadification". It sucks, I know, but I'm faster than all my friends now ) Can you see my really awkward handlebars?



    Handlebar setup





    The reason for the mirror is because I was hit by a car 2 years ago, and my dad doesn't want that happening again.

    If it helps, my shifters are SRAM sx4 and my brakes are Hayes mechanical disc mx2. I have 24 speeds, and my rear derailleur is SRAM sx5.
    Last edited by Vaio_s; 09-03-08 at 11:22 PM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member z415's Avatar
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    Well, a flat mtb bar can be had for less than $25, BUT as far as I know all bars get wider in the middle. For sure with a flat bar you can move everything in more because it lacks the bend, but I don't know if you will be able to get an inch.

    And thanks for reading the stickies, you may be a newbie but you are already taking a good first step towards being a valuable member on here.
    Last edited by z415; 09-03-08 at 08:04 PM.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member z415's Avatar
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    Here: http://www.pricepoint.com/detail/127...ebar--2014.htm

    2014 is decent grade Al, I guess somewhat dependent on the process and I have read good reviews about this bar. Keep in mind that flat bars are generally already less wide than riser bars. A very crude guesstimate from looks and experience... I might say that with this Sette bar you might get 0.5 - 1" of the two inches that you want.
    Falling is learning...[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]...learn to not fall in a box.
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  4. #4
    Senior Member z415's Avatar
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    You might want to get a new stiff mtb fork next although it would just be best to buy a road bike and is your front tire larger (circumference) or is that just the angle playing tricks on my tired eyes?

    Your other option will probably cost you more than $50 I would think. I remember my roommate wanted to get bar ends shifters and was told most of them are higher end unless you find NOS.

    On the other hand, having road brakes lever - I would have no idea how you would route the cables - would make you worlds safer because you can have brakes while in your pseudo-drops.
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  5. #5
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    Not sure what you're comfortable with, but it looks like you could definitely chop off some more of the flat bar. Then just cut your grips to fit and pop those bar ends on.

  6. #6
    Senior Member BCRider's Avatar
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    Most of your issue seems to be the MTB grips forcing the controls in further. What I'd suggest to complete the roadification process is to remove the grips.

    Next is to find the best feeling spot to put the road drops. Mount then in a little from the ends and then go riding. Play with how far in or out you want them. You're just running bare bars at this point, no grips so some gloves may help with adding friction and padding to your hands. Work the ends until you're really happy with the feel of their position. At that point the bars from outer edge to outer edge should be somewhere around 40 to 45 cm across. Use a hacksaw to cut off the bits of flat bar sticking out.

    You may also want to play with turning the bars upside down and run with them "dropped". Or as mentioned you can often find really light flat bars for cheap since they are generally out of style.

    Finally once you're happy with the geometry of the setup put your brake levers as far in or out as you want to where you can get at them and they don't get in the way. When happy with all the control arrangements wrap the bars from the brake lever bases out and around the clamp on ends and then around the drops to the very end. Using bar tape removes any limitations on where you mount all the stuff since you just wrap around it however you want.

    For the final touch if you're not riding on any dirt paths that may have some loose spots you can go even more narrow in the tire department. Panaracer Pasela 26 x 1.25 road tires roll like greased lightning and if you get the TG versions for a little extra money they are highly flat resistant as well.

    A setup like it is about as fast as you'll go on a mountain bike.

    Flat bars used shouldn't cost more than $20. Heck, if you were in Canada I'd send you one I've got for the cost of shipping. Bar "cork" tape is around another $10. If you opted for the Pasela or other really narrow road slick you're looking at around another $50 for the pair if you shop frugally. Finally something that may work better than narrower tires for building your road speed would be to dump the suspension forks in favour of some rigid forks. Look at both MTB and 29'er rigid forks with disc brake mounts. Either will work in your case since you're not worried about the rim size thanks to using discs. The rigid fork will bob less so more of your effort gets to the tire contact patch to go faster.

    Of course all these mods is really limiting the ability to ride offroad on loose surfaces. It'll be fine for hard packed walking trails but as soon as you're faced with some rocky trail climbs and loose mud or sand you'll be back to wishing for knobbies and more upright bars. But if it's all road for you at this point I can see you getting this set up with a flat bar, bar tape and rigid forks for less than your $100 budget. Then later narrower tires for the final cherry on the sundae. But the real meat and potatoes here is the bar setup and going over to rigid forks. Oh, the rigid forks will be a little lighter than the suspension forks. And while I don't recomend doing it right away in case you change your mind about how you want to ride if you find you really love the road and don't do trails then you can sell the suspension fork to get most of your $100 back.
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  7. #7
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    Wow! Thanks for the quick reply. I was considering a flat bar; I will talk to my LBS about this.

    Of course, I really want a cyclocross bike, but that's wayyyy above my budget of $100.
    I considered getting a rigid fork, but I jump off curbs, and I don't want my wrists dying. Also, my tires are exactly the same size, so just a trick there.

    I want road brake levers, because I hate switching from the handlebars to my drops whenever I come to a stoplight.

    Anyway, I need more opinions before buying something.

  8. #8
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    Oh thanks for more replies.

    To clear things up, I have bar tape, I got rid of my grips when I got the drops. Also, pics of my handlebars.




  9. #9
    Senior Member BCRider's Avatar
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    From the closeups I see what you mean about the bars swelling out and limiting the lever travel. A set of flat bars won't swell out that far out so you should be able to get the controls in further and position the ends in further as a result.

    Something else to try.... Measure the diameter of the drop ends and comparte this to the levers. If you're lucky you may just find that the levers will fit on the drop ends. Don't worry about the levers beeing too much of a reach. That can be fixed. It's the clamps that need to be able to swivel around and mount where you want them. If it works you'll need new cables and housings for the front end. Use the rear cable as the new front and get one new cable for the rear. Only the front sections of the housings would need changing so you same on both counts there.

    The lever clamps may need just a hair of wedging open to go around the curves. But if it's more than just some gentle twisting with a screwdriver then don't force it. No more than the force you'd use on a 5 mm screw or you risk snapping the lever clamp. You should be able to slide the lever on until it hits a curve and then get it around with only a very little opening up of the clamp with some levering. If it seems to need more than a little to moderate force then it isn't meant to happen.

    But if it does fit you'll be able to really get aggresive with the drop end positioning.

    I'd leave the gear shifter pods in by the center as far as they'll fit. They're fine there and it would get really crowded on the drop ends even if they did fit.

    Yeah, you sound like prime cyclocross material. In the meantime all the best with the mods to this one.
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  10. #10
    Senior Member z415's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vaio_s View Post
    I considered getting a rigid fork, but I jump off curbs, and I don't want my wrists dying.
    Not to convince you to spend more, but rigid forks are fine. A curb is only several inches and you can easily absorb that shock with your elbows. Cyclocross racers sometimes hop obstacles instead of running over them and they are fine. The key is to relax/bend your elbows and maybe to pop the front end up a little so you can spread the shock over the two tires or just land back wheel first.

    I think the advantages might be worth it for you. The fork, especially yours that does not seem to have a lock out, will always be available to compress and such. With every pedal stroke the fork will move a bit and that siphons power from going to your drivetrain and wheels. This is especially evident when pedaling out of the saddle. My commuter is a mtb with slicks and lockout and I can definitely feel the difference.. just a thought, though you should probably save your money.
    Falling is learning...[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]...learn to not fall in a box.
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  11. #11
    Senior Member z415's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BCRider View Post
    Don't worry about the levers being too much of a reach. That can be fixed.
    OP, I don't think BCRider said how, but all you do is screw that little threaded rod on the inside of your brake levers. It think it is either a 2 or 3 mm hex.

    Good luck.
    Falling is learning...[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]...learn to not fall in a box.
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  12. #12
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    Thanks for the thought BCRider, but I have a couple of problems/questions.

    Edit: saw your second post.

    Before, I left enough room "on the top" because I thought I would ride up there a lot, but turns out I can cut some room from it, so I'll do that.

    However, there is a dirt trail that I sometimes use, and my 1.5" handles it fine, so I think I'll stick with those. Now I'm considering getting a rigid fork.

    How hard is it to change out handlebars and a fork?
    Last edited by Vaio_s; 09-03-08 at 09:16 PM.

  13. #13
    Senior Member z415's Avatar
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    Oh, and if you want more aggressive positioning, you can always flip your stem down for a more aggressive angle, a homage to me being a college aged bike racer wanna be.

    You should post pictures when you are done.
    Falling is learning...[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]...learn to not fall in a box.
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  14. #14
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    Haha, I'll definitely keep you guys posted. Thanks for being so helpful!

  15. #15
    Senior Member BCRider's Avatar
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    If you get the levers out on the ends you'll have lots of room on the flats so don't worry about the shifters at that point. But yeah, with flat bars you'll be able to push them in closer to the center.

    And just to tease you here's a set of Tektro road bike levers that would likely fit nicely onto the drop ends.....

    http://www.jensonusa.com/store/produ...ke+Levers.aspx

    They don't have a decent picture and the Tektro site is down at the moment but it seems to me that you could upgrade to road levers for $20 plus shipping. And these would be compatible with the Hayes mechanical calipers. Back when I ran a set of HMX's before going hydraulic they worked best when I used the least cable pull and most leverage setting on the levers I used on them. So road levers on HMX calipers sounds just perfect to me.

    If you want to retain the levers on the tops then a similarly cheap set of cyclocross inner levers and run the cables that way would give you drop levers as well as retaining upper brake levers for handling the trails.

    Something to think about is not to make the drop ends in TOO much if you're still riding on some dirt where you may want the leverage. Compromise here a little. And remember that you can always saw off more bar metal later but it's really hard to stretch the bars BACK.... Try some dirt riding with your hands in slightly on purpose. If it doesn't feel good then don't cut to that point. If it feels fine for the style of dirt riding you do then by all means move the drop ends in more and cut off the stuff sticking out. Always err on the side of leaving them a little longer than you think you need and work down to the ideal in steps.

    One rigid fork option that seems pretty good what with being suspension corrected to better retain the bike's geometry....

    http://www.bikenashbar.com/profile.c...reid=&pagename=

    There's a couple of others around at $60 to $65 but they go up from there REAL fast.

    That should give you something to think about..... Since you're pretty tight on the money for reasons of youth try playing with what you have already before buying something. If you can modify to make somehting work without spending it's always best. And fine tuning is part of tinkering so don't be afraid to experiment. Just leave the bar tape off until you're fairly sure about how you want to go.
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  16. #16
    Senior Member z415's Avatar
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    I have those levers... they are very nice for the price considering I originally wanted Campag carbon brake levers that are about $200.

    Another plus about true road levers instead of using your mtb style ones is that you will get one added position to put your hands: the hoods (not to mention cablng, but I still haven't figured out how that would work cleanly yet). I personally find that position the most comfortable and safe feeling when taking my road bike over patchy ground so that might make up for the leverage issue BCRider was mentioning.
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  17. #17
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    Ok, I'll work on moving my brakes tomorrow. I would really jump for the brakes that BCRider mentioned, but I'm afraid it may not fit my road ends (since it may not be standardized, Origin 8 is the only brand of road ends I saw, excepting for a weirder design I saw somewhere else), and I would have wasted 30 some dollars.

    I'm 90% sure I'll get flat bars from my LBS this weekend. And a rigid fork sometime later.

    Thanks for the help!

    Also, how do road brake levers mount onto a regular road handlebar? I never figured that out. A picture would be nice.

  18. #18
    Senior Member BCRider's Avatar
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    Road levers mount by using a loop that pulls the lever body against the bar rather than clamping like MTB brake levers do. So unlike the MTB ones road levers are not fussy at all about minor variations in bar diameters. So while it'll be a little sloppy a fit you can fix that with a few layers of electrical tape to "fatten" up your drop ends. It'll all be covered later with the cork tape.

    The housing runs along the bars usually. Now you've got a 90 degree corner rather than a nice smooth curve. Even so I think if the housing wraps along the drop end and sort of up and over you'll be able to keep the curve radius more open that you'd think. It'll still be tight but with some creative routing I think you'll be able to get around the 90 with the housing having a decently open bend. I'll have to try it with a bar, bar end and some housing and take a picture of what I mean if it works.

    And I believe you're likely right Z415 I'll bet a lot of the cyclocross riders just get a good grip on the hoods and jump over all sorts of things when they need to keep their weight back over the rear. Otherwise the front end would be too heavy with them in the drops.

    With those tires and even with rigid forks I would not worry about hopping curbs as long as you unload so they don't drive hard into them.
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  19. #19
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    Ok, cool. So say I do go for the road levers, what would I do with the cables? Do they ship with cables, or do I disconnect them from my current brake levers?

  20. #20
    Senior Member z415's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vaio_s View Post
    Ok, cool. So say I do go for the road levers, what would I do with the cables? Do they ship with cables, or do I disconnect them from my current brake levers?
    Oh, totally forgot about that...um, shift cables are universal but brake levers are not. The head that hooks inside the levers are different. Some come with cables and housing, some do not. You could go to a bike shop and ask for road brake cables:

    Brake Routing Trouble

    The right one is road and the left is mtb.

    You can use the same housing, but if it is old, you might as well get new.

    The cable will cost less than $5. Like BCRider said earlier, you would need new housing for at least one cable not matter what due to length, however, I can't imagine how I would cleanly route the housing. Usually brake housing runs under the bar tape, but with your add-on drops, that 90 degree angel is too extreme

    I suppose you could just let it hang out but because they come out where the lever clamps onto the bar they would be awfully close the to bar itself and might be annoying.
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  21. #21
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    Ok, moved my bar ends and brake levers today, gonna go to Performance bike on the weekend to pick up a flat handlebar and maybe a new brake cable.

    The road ends are 42 cm apart, including the width of the ends themselves. This amounts to about ~4'' of chop on each side! Though I have little room on the top, (not to mention no brake levers) I think the flat bars will remedy this somehow.





    Not going to chop my current bars; I'll chop my new flat ones.

    Thanks for the tip on adjusting the brake levers z415! Really helped.

    I'll eventually get a rigid fork.
    Last edited by Vaio_s; 09-04-08 at 07:27 PM.

  22. #22
    Senior Member BCRider's Avatar
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    Hey! That looks pretty decent. The MTB levers don't even look too bad mounted like that. Of course you're still missing out on the hoods for one of the primary grip positions. How does it feel when you go riding with it that narrow?

    There's a measurement the road racers use for deciding on the width of bars they choose. When I went in to buy some bars one time they measured across my shoulders and then handed me a set of 46 cm bars. I'm pretty tall and have wide shoulders though. 42 to 44 is far more common and if you're not fully grown yet the 42 may well be perfect (you didn't mention your age or size up to now). But I'm not sure what they are measuring since he did it "behind my back"

    Cables these days quite often come with two ends on them and you cut off the one you don't need and thread it. Up to now I said you could get away with only buying one cable since you can use the longer rear cable as your new front cable. But with a move to real road brake levers you'll need two new cables due to the end requirements. So make sure you're getting the road cables or at least getting the ones with siamese ends so you can cut off the one not needed.

    This thing is going to be a pretty custom machine by the time you're done.
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  23. #23
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    Well my handlebars are too close to my shifters, so I keep shifting by accident But I'm waiting for the weekend. When I buy cables, do they come with the housing? Also, how would I replace the handlebars?

    Edit: What's handlebar sweep?
    Last edited by Vaio_s; 09-04-08 at 09:10 PM.

  24. #24
    Senior Member BCRider's Avatar
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    Housing comes by the foot from a big roll in a box. So figure out how long they need to be and order then cut to length. Better yet as long as you have a grinder or a metal file to dress the ends order up a single length that is a foot or so longer than you're SURE you need. And you'll also need two end ferrules for each cable run you're re-doing. Hint, cut the housings an inch longer than you think you need. If they turn out to be too long for neatness it's much easier to shorten them than to go out and find a housing stretcher....

    Cables are separate. Bulk cables (as often sold at bike shops) will come with only one end so be sure to ask for the right ones depending on if you're still playing with the MTB levers or are getting ready for the road levers.

    Flat bars are not really flat. They do have a 2 to 4 degree bend to them called the "sweep". Normally this is angled back but in your case you may want to angle it up or down or forward or use it to the back as per normal Again, it'a pretty easy to loosen the stuff and try it different ways until you find the combo that feels best for you.
    Model airplanes are cool too!.....

  25. #25
    Senior Member z415's Avatar
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    Some people prefer narrower bars since its give them a more aero/agressive feel and some prefer wider for more leverage and ease in breathing. Either way, besides perfect size, puts some pressure on your shoulders. I prefer smaller at 400mm and I have adapted, but the only qualm I have now is that I don't get a lot of leverage when getting out of the saddle for something really short and steep (I sometimes hit my knees...).

    How do you like the levers that low? For reference my road brake levers are pointed almost out, so simulate my position on your set up I would move the levers/clamps up at least another inch. And, my horizontal ergo flats at the end of my drops are beyond parallel to the ground (horizontal) like yours but the other way so I would rotate both drop attachment out a few millimeters. If you haven't already you can tweak around until you find a perfect fit - what seems odd to me may work for you.

    If you do that and you tape up the area around the clamp you might find that you have a pretty nice "hood" position so you might not need to get the road levers, though the cables/housing will come up kind of high like the old non-"aero" brake levers. I still maintain that if you used road levers the cables might be uncomfortably close to the tops of your bars.

    Sweep can also be differentiated into back sweep and up sweep which should be self-explanatory.

    You can buy kits that include both cable and housing, but that usually comes out to be more expensive but I have heard good stuff (relatively) about Wal-Mart kits that are like less than $10 for everything plus tax.

    Replacing your handlebars is easy. I would assume you know how to loosen the stuff on the bars and move 'em around. You would just have to undo the four bolts on the face plate of the stem and your handlebars would come off. There is a fancy gizmo for holding your handlebar to your bike while doing this but I just use a bended up wire clothes hanger. Transfer all your stuff over, recable (if needed) and then put the bar on and tighten. You can even do those steps in different order, i.e. take stuff off first, then undo bar, etc. You'd might want to fiddle around with fit and comfort before you finally retape.

    A carbon bar would almost certainly need a torque wrench, but for here I would just tighten the stem bolts to the point where you physically cannot twist them from the place of most leverage such as your drops. Some say that is bad advice since in a crash you would subject it to more torque, but I have seen countless professional racers crash and have everything bent and I know they use torque wrenches everywhere.
    Falling is learning...[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]...learn to not fall in a box.
    Any good American will watch THIS -and- WHERE WAS MY BIKE MADE?

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