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Old 10-20-10, 11:08 PM   #1
phillycommuter
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Switching to drop bars. Possible on a cheap hybrid bike?

I know this is a noobish question but I'm still pretty clueless about most DIY bike work. I'm currently riding a hybrid bike with flat bars and shimano trigger shifters. What information do I need to know in order to determine if I can change my flat bars to drop bars and whether I can use the same brakes and shifters. I'm not looking for a total road conversion but I find that riding upright really slows me down in heavy headwind.

I have a Target Store Schwinn Tourist Bike. Its nice for what it is but before I get another bike I'd like to know if it is possible to alter this one.

Thanks for any feedback.
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Old 10-20-10, 11:52 PM   #2
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You will need new brakes and shifters. The brake levers won't fit on a drop bar. The top tube on Hybrids are long because it is meant for flat bars. Compare the geometry between the road bike originally built for drop bars and a hybrid and you will know what I am talking about. You could do it, but you will need a much shorter stem and/or drop bar with short reach like a Ritchey Biomax or Salsa Poco. I did this on a 90s Specialized Mountain Bike and I found the handling not to be optimal because I had to use a really short stem to compensate for the long top tube that are characteristic on mountain/hybrid bikes and the long reach on drop bars.

Not worth it. Get a real road bike to start with the geometry optimized for drop bars.
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Old 10-21-10, 12:17 AM   #3
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A drop bar conversion will run you a fair bit of money... trekking bars will give you more hand positions and allow you to use your same shifters and brake levers and the cost is pretty nominal.

You will probably need a longer stem to adjust for the position of the trekking bars.

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Old 10-21-10, 12:27 AM   #4
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It is possible but not worth the effort or money. If you are willing to give up the STI shifters it can be done but you will need specific parts to do the job. Your bike has linear pull prakes so most road brake levers will not work for these brakes, the only 2 levers I know of that will work without modifying the brakes are the Dia-Compe SCR-5V or the Tektro L520. You can also use other levers but you will have to replace your brake's noodle with a Problem Solvers Travel Agent. For shifters you can use the Shimano Ultegra SL-6480 shifters (if you can find them), your other option if you are willing to give up indexed shifting is to get Dia-Compe Silver shifters.
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Old 10-21-10, 12:49 AM   #5
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Instead of drop bars if you want more of a lean forward exchange the stem for a lower rise stem or flip the current stem over so it doesn't angle up.
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Old 10-21-10, 01:50 AM   #6
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The low-tech approach is to get a pair of drop bar ends, and leave everything else in place. Maybe go for a pair of long-pull aero brake levers eventually if the build turns out reasonably functional for your needs.

This option will have its shortcomings, but it will slam your upper body right down when you need it.
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Old 10-21-10, 03:04 AM   #7
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i think it is possible
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Old 10-21-10, 05:15 AM   #8
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Not worth it. Trekking bars or N+1.
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Old 10-21-10, 05:16 AM   #9
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Just bolt on a set of aero bars; Profile Design's Century aero bar should work fine. It comes with the necessary adaptor shims to fit on your flat bar. More aerodynamic than drop bars, and you don't give up the comfort of the upright position. I use this setup for two of my commuting bikes, and I never miss the drops.
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Old 10-21-10, 05:38 AM   #10
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Shimano barcons can be run friction, so s/he not stuck with the silvers + friction shifting. Used stuff is available, too, with used suntour and shimano barcons coming up on ebay regularly. Brake levers'd be about $30 for long-pull dropbar levers. That stem might be stumpy enough as is, but i'd try it with enough latitude in the cable lengths to allow for a switch to a short, positive-rise stem in the future.

Oh, no, wait--- No, i wouldn't. I'd sell the low-buck hybrid that didn't suit my riding needs on craigslist for $25, and i'd buy an old 10- or 12-speed roadbike with 1/2 decent components for around $150 or so. You live in philly; the used market's pretty nice round here. I picked up a totally serviceable bridgestone 300 for $90 a few weeks back.

don't buy anything without doing at least some cursory research, though. Unless you're truly strapped for cash, i'd suggest buying the replacement bike before i sold the hybrid.

hth,
-rob
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Old 10-21-10, 07:58 AM   #11
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Here's the easiest, cheapest way to do this: Drop bar-ends. Sure, they don't look too hot, but for an entry-level bike it's about the only option that makes financial sense. I converted a stripped-down specialized sirrus I was given and if I had to buy all the parts it'd be around 200$ for that I reckon, but I already bars, stems and the v-brakes levers. I think tektro RL520 are the linear-pull/v-brake levers.

Even buying all used stuff off ebay is going to cost you way more time and effort than a decent used bike. I'm pretty jealous of the philly craigslist offerings today, so for the money you'd spend on a decent bar, shifters and brake levers you can get something that suits your needs perfectly.
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Old 10-21-10, 08:13 AM   #12
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Done it to a base model Sirrus. You'll need pretty most of the same parts as me if you wanna go bar end shifters. If you wanna go brifters, get travel agents.
http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...s-to-Drop-Bars
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Old 10-21-10, 08:25 AM   #13
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You can also save a few bucks on bar-end shifters if you have some decent DT shifers already and use these bar end pods from rivendell.
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Old 10-21-10, 09:03 AM   #14
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i think it is possible
Useless posting. Of course it's possible. It's just too expensive to consider for the quality of the bike involved.
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Old 10-21-10, 09:14 AM   #15
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+2 on the trekking bars. I just installed a Nashbar trekking bar on on my flat bar road bike. It installed very easily and now I have lots of hand positions. Big improvement.

http://www.nashbar.com/bikes//Produc...2_175533_-1___

Last edited by JPMacG; 10-21-10 at 09:18 AM. Reason: added link
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Old 10-21-10, 09:23 AM   #16
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I'll ad a +1 voice to swapping for trekking bars, and a longer stem.
not mechanically inclined ?, you won't even have to mess with the shifters and brakes at all.

because of the bend of the trekking bars you need a longer stem to keep the relative position of what will be the back of the trekking bar.

Having the bar in hand you can measure the difference. and once you have set the new bars and stem on the bike the brake controls
just slide on the open end of the rear portion of the bars.

so the front portion of the bars , being further away from you gives you the desired body position,
leaning into the wind with your body lowered, to present less surface , functionally like drop bars.

for the cost of bars, new stem and some handlebar tape to wrap over the figure 8 shaped trekking bars ...
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Old 10-21-10, 10:01 AM   #17
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Here's the easiest, cheapest way to do this: Drop bar-ends.
Did not work for me. They are too small and did not provide any useful hand position.
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Old 10-21-10, 10:55 AM   #18
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Having just completed converting my flat bar bike to a drop bar one, I would say.... if you already have the parts and are hankering for some challenge, go for it.
Having said that, be prepared to not have your a functional bike for a few days as you discover parts imcompatibility. Mine was tough because the bike is a hardtail mtb. Therefore the cable routing was totally not in line with drop bar STI brifters. While I have now manage to get the bike working (been commuting with it for the last coupla days), it still requires fine tuning.

STI brifters do not play well with V-brakes. Either use Cantis, Discs or Travel Agents
STI shifter has different pull ratio than MTB derailleurs.
Using friction shifters will save you a world of pain. But I like a good challenge and I already have the parts on hand due to hand me downs....
Drop bar fit is important. I was fortunate that mine fits really nice. It feels like a touring bike set up.
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Old 10-21-10, 12:59 PM   #19
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My Trek used to run drop bars... swapped the v brakes for cantis and conventional drop levers and used Suntour Barcons and this was also a nice set up.

Since I had all the parts and the skills it was a pretty low cost switch.

The Trekking bars are wider and let me stretch out and only lack the low drop position... changing to these warranted the use of MTB STI's but I had some NOS XTR kicking around that I used and they are the mates to the XTR cantis I had already installed.

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Old 10-21-10, 04:14 PM   #20
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wow thanks so much for the feedback everybody. That was a ton more information than I expected. I think adding some trekking bars would be the simplest solution. I'm not afraid of a challenge but I paid just $240 for this bike brand new and despite it being the "nicest" bike i've ever ridden, its not exactly worth a large investment. I've been commuting for a few years through all weather but I'm just starting to learn more about the hardware and culture of cycling.

I'm not really strapped for cash, mainly because I save so much money by commuting by bike. Literally thousands of dollars I would have dropped on a used car/insurance/maintenance/inevitable repairs/gas I can now tuck away in savings.

Even though my bike was cheapish, it was a major purchase for me as most of my bikes have been craigslist beaters that I've ridden until a major part broke. I can actually enjoy riding on this bike so I feel a road bike would be even more fun.
Are there any older steel frame road bikes in particular I should keep a look out for?

Thanks again for all the input.
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Old 10-21-10, 04:45 PM   #21
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^ Don't be sheepish on your Schwinn Tourist hybrid. I've checked this bike out at Target and I think it is quite a decent bike. It's lightweight and quick. Hardly can be said for big box store bikes. Has decent components. I would say to get a similar like bike from LBS would've cost double of what you pay.
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Old 10-21-10, 04:45 PM   #22
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For $240 around here, you can get a really, really good vintage road bikes. Lots of good brands out there, too many to list. Suggest you spend some time going through the C & V valuation forum to see some good examples.
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Old 10-21-10, 07:25 PM   #23
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......Are there any older steel frame road bikes in particular I should keep a look out for?
.....
In my experience pretty much anything that has a label that says it uses some form of Chrome Moly or CrMo steel is worthy of consideration. From there you can get a feel for how far up the food chain it is by thwacking the downtube with a fingernail and listening to the sound. The lighter thinwalled butted and double butted tubes have very distinct sounds. Sounds that are worth paying for if the price is right. Also the lugs on the better frames will be more sculptered and the very best will be minimalist or highly artsy and often have cut aways to further lighten the weight of the frame.

Once you get past the frame tubing testing it's all about the components and their condition. And if you've done the Craigslist thing then you already know how to shop for that.

I've avoided any particular brands and models since there are just way too many to list that are very worthy. Anything by any of the major brand names could be a great bike if you know what to look for.
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Old 10-21-10, 07:47 PM   #24
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In my experience pretty much anything that has a label that says it uses some form of Chrome Moly or CrMo steel is worthy of consideration. From there you can get a feel for how far up the food chain it is by thwacking the downtube with a fingernail and listening to the sound. The lighter thinwalled butted and double butted tubes have very distinct sounds. Sounds that are worth paying for if the price is right. Also the lugs on the better frames will be more sculptered and the very best will be minimalist or highly artsy and often have cut aways to further lighten the weight of the frame.

Once you get past the frame tubing testing it's all about the components and their condition. And if you've done the Craigslist thing then you already know how to shop for that.

I've avoided any particular brands and models since there are just way too many to list that are very worthy. Anything by any of the major brand names could be a great bike if you know what to look for.
I've found that the best way to judge an aged steel frame is to ensure it has forged dropouts, and give the thing a l'il hoist to see how heavy it is. If you're fluent in the marketing lingo for steel bike tubesets from 20, 30, or 40 years ago, the tubing label might help. But, really, i don't think that's as important as many folks suggest. Often, the label refers to as few as one or two tubes. Other times, it'll be the "main" 3 tubes that are "super awesome steel tubing", with hi-ten or 4130 stays. Either way, none of that matters as much as how it feels on a testride. You don't want too heavy, nor do you want too whippy. But, hey, you know what you want more than i do.

I've had great success twice now on philly craigslist with "WTB" ads. I'll place and ad describing what i want, and what i'd pay. Just general parameters: steel frame, size XXcm, forged drop-outs, lots of tire clearance, what i'd pay, etc. I prefer frameset-only or a complete with trashed parts, b/c i tend to like frankenprojects. You probably don't, but either way, let the craigslisters know what you want, and watch the emails flood in. You'll need to sift through folks who send inappropriate bikes, or who read every single part of your ad aside from your price range, but i found a great old bike for me (bridgestone 300--$90) for me, and an old fuji mixte for my wife, $50. Try it.

-rob
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