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  1. #1
    In the right lane gerv's Avatar
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    Comfortable road bar setup

    I've set up a number of road bars on older bicycles. But I'm confused about how most people set up them up.

    Usually I see the shifters being placed so that the bottom tip of the shifter will touch a flat edge that runs along the bottom of the drops.

    This doesn't seem comfortable to me. So on my last build, I tipped the bars up slightly so that the ramps up to the levers were fairly flat.

    As a result I could move the handlebars ahead about an inch. This also helped the setup because the stem didn't quite reach enough.

    But now I'm looking at another bike I'm building. The bars are set up at a steep angle and I'd like to make that angle less steep. However, the top tube + stem length is now adequate. So flattening out the ramp might place the bars too far out for me.

    What guideline do you follow here?

  2. #2
    Quirky Grifter LesterOfPuppets's Avatar
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    There are some bars on which you can meet both criteria you've mentioned. Ramps-to-hoods being a continuous flat surface and lever tips touching a straight edge held against the bottom of the ends of the bars.



    As for your second to last paragraph, I'm not sure what you mean by "bars set up at a steep angle."
    1980ish Free Spirit Sunbird fixed * 1996 Mongoose IBOC Zero-G * 1997 KHS Comp * 1990-ish Scapin * Lemond Buenos Aires Triple

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by gerv View Post
    What guideline do you follow here?
    The guideline is whatever works for you is right. Everybody is different, as is everybike. Differences in the relative height of the saddle and handlebar, top tube & stem extension, torso length, body angle, etc. all make trying to use a one-size-fits-all formula impractical. If it works, go with it. Later on you might tweak it a bit, and dial it in a bit better, but it's still a personal issue.

    FWIW- while most shops set road bike bars up with the bottoms level, I've never been happy there. For 40+ years all my bikes have had the bars rotated forward a bit so the bottom slopes down at about 10 degrees. The brake levers are positioned a bit further down to compensate. That arrangement doesn't work well with anatomic bend bars, which is one reason I never liked them.
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  4. #4
    Quirky Grifter LesterOfPuppets's Avatar
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    I like my bars rotated up, with the ends pointing down a bit also. If your ends are pointing at your bottom bracket (is that what you mean by "bars set up at a steep angle"? Maybe pics are in order), I think you've gone to far and should reevaluate.
    1980ish Free Spirit Sunbird fixed * 1996 Mongoose IBOC Zero-G * 1997 KHS Comp * 1990-ish Scapin * Lemond Buenos Aires Triple

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    I'm not sure what model bars Lester has illustrated but they seem very similar to the FSA Wing Pros I have on three of my bikes. The reach can be set up nearly dead flat and in line with both Campy Ergo and Shimano STI brifters but the drops remain parallel to the ground. To me this is the ideal positioning.

    BTW, FSA specifically recommends mounting the brifters so the tips of the brake levers are about 3-5 cm ABOVE a flat edge along the bottom of the drops. This is a bit higher than I actually place mine but the concept of the lever tip even with the bottom edge isn't sacred.

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    check this out:

    http://velonews.competitor.com/2011/...dlebars_197289


    here are two of my bikes:



  7. #7
    In the right lane gerv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LesterOfPuppets View Post

    As for your second to last paragraph, I'm not sure what you mean by "bars set up at a steep angle."

    I've had some bikes set up like this one and my wrists and thumb joint are soon reminding me of my age.

  8. #8
    Quirky Grifter LesterOfPuppets's Avatar
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    It's been a LONG time since I've ridden with those kinda levers but I'm sure my thumbs would be rather displeased if I tried to ride on those non-existent "hoods".

    I'm not sure what part of the setup you're targeting in the pic. Lever placement or bar angle.

    For more comfy hoods, Cane Creek makes some levers that have big ol' slabs of hood for your hands to rest on that clicky levers have. They come with black hoods also: Scr-5

    Last edited by LesterOfPuppets; 11-21-11 at 10:19 PM.
    1980ish Free Spirit Sunbird fixed * 1996 Mongoose IBOC Zero-G * 1997 KHS Comp * 1990-ish Scapin * Lemond Buenos Aires Triple

  9. #9
    In the right lane gerv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thirdgenbird View Post
    check this out:

    http://velonews.competitor.com/2011/...dlebars_197289


    here are two of my bikes:


    Am I imagining this or does this setup give you about an extra inch or so? Perhaps a short top tube?

    Actually this is the bike I am working on


    And this is one I set up recently


    I find the latter setup much more comfortable and will probably make a similar adjustment to the green bike.

  10. #10
    Quirky Grifter LesterOfPuppets's Avatar
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    Oh, yeah, that blue bike setup is pretty reasonable. Those brake levers seem ridiculously long on that thing. I'd ignore the straightedge advice and would probably place the levers about a centimeter lower on the bars personally. That'll probably give you a couple or three centimeters of lever below the straightedge, but whatevs.

    I've got pretty small hands and I think a lower lever position would bring the levers closer to the drops.
    Last edited by LesterOfPuppets; 11-21-11 at 10:27 PM.
    1980ish Free Spirit Sunbird fixed * 1996 Mongoose IBOC Zero-G * 1997 KHS Comp * 1990-ish Scapin * Lemond Buenos Aires Triple

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    do you mean an inch extra reach? i guess it would make the reach longer than having them rotated up further but this is how i have always built bikes.


    you dont happen to sell bikes out of down town des moines do you?

  12. #12
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Blue bike has an older bend style bar with a newer type brake lever.

    the bar in #2 has a shorter ramp. which are an adaptation to the lever bodies getting longer
    and the angle they meet the bar, note how the top example is rather a continuation of the bar.

    when the shifters were elsewhere, longer ramp, then the hand grasps that portion
    sliding forward to brake. whose hood portion was shorter..

    but with the brifters staying on the lever hood is common,
    so the bar bend brings it back towards you a bit.

  13. #13
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    Even those cheap old non aero brakes can be made pretty comfortable for the hoods position. They're too short by themselves so they need to become an extension of the bars. They and/or the bars probably need to be angled up a bit, and it can take some extra tape to get a good transition from bars to brakes. I think turning the brake levers inward also helps in a couple ways. It allows the hands to rest in a more comfortable position and more on the outsides of the hoods, and turning them in also tends to turn them down, smoothing the transition. If they have those additional levers for braking from the tops, I take them off and tape right over the nub they attached to. If they have hoods, I'll tape over the hoods.

  14. #14
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    #7 looks like steel bars too . a shopping trip is in order.

  15. #15
    Quirky Grifter LesterOfPuppets's Avatar
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    I used to run these bars with the ends parallel with the ground, which made the drops more comfortable but that made the ramps a ramp downward a bit much for my taste. So I rotated the bars up just a smidge and this is the happy medium:

    1980ish Free Spirit Sunbird fixed * 1996 Mongoose IBOC Zero-G * 1997 KHS Comp * 1990-ish Scapin * Lemond Buenos Aires Triple

  16. #16
    Senior Member Kanegon's Avatar
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    After years of only riding flat bars, I recently began riding drops. I must have readjusted the brakes and angle 10 times, i just can't hold'em like the pro racers. But I sure appreciate thm when riding against a 15mph headwind. Think the compact bar and big hood are one thing recent bikes got right, they look a lot more comfortable than vintage bends.


  17. #17
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    gerv, I initially set the brake lever position with a straight edge and adjust from there. I like my drops level, or nearly so, and I ride on the hoods quite a bit so generally my brake lever's final position is slightly higher than the initial position to obtain a comfortable hood position.

    The only handle bars I was able to leave the brake levers in the traditional position while keeping the drops where I like them were a set of Cinelli 64s. Next easiest are the handle bars that are roughly equal in reach and drop and hardest are some ergo shaped handle bars. I try to have the bars set up before taping using test rides in the neighborhood and comparing with a proven well fit bike, but recently had to untape and adjust my touring bike.

    Bottom line is don't worry about the traditional aesthetics, make it comfortable.

    Brad

  18. #18
    In the right lane gerv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    Blue bike has an older bend style bar with a newer type brake lever.
    Yes.. the blue bike is a cobble of various parts. The bars are steel Nittos from the early 1980s. 25.4 diameter. With modern Tektro levers.

    The bar setup is pretty comfortable though... perhaps due more to the shape of the levers.

    Quote Originally Posted by dnomel View Post
    Even those cheap old non aero brakes can be made pretty comfortable for the hoods position. They're too short by themselves so they need to become an extension of the bars. They and/or the bars probably need to be angled up a bit, and it can take some extra tape to get a good transition from bars to brakes. I think turning the brake levers inward also helps in a couple ways. It allows the hands to rest in a more comfortable position and more on the outsides of the hoods, and turning them in also tends to turn them down, smoothing the transition. If they have those additional levers for braking from the tops, I take them off and tape right over the nub they attached to. If they have hoods, I'll tape over the hoods.
    Unfortunately, a lot of older bicycles are set up with rather steep ramps and they are very challenging for older hands. I'm guessing they would have come set up that way. But... yes... you can improve the comfort somewhat.

  19. #19
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    The bars I've had the best luck with, as far as getting comfortable on the hoods with old brakes, are the ones that bend up along the tops, and then angle out a bit to the drops. I'm not sure what they're called, but they seemed fairly common on older inexpensive bikes. The outward angle of the drops combined with turning the brake levers inward (a lot, like 30*) can create a nearly flat horizontal transition that allows the hands to rest on the bars and the outsides of the hoods in a position that feels more comfortable to me. Plus a lot of tape of course.

  20. #20
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    My road bar setups were top Ramps horizontal, 2 Dirt Drops ,
    shop take offs from MB1's

    my touring bike I put together 2 narrow Randonneur bend bars
    to make one wide one.
    a custom stem clamps the 2 sections.
    whose respective former centers were about 4" apart.

    after the long overseas tour, I got a wide Nitto 'noodle'.
    it's set up flat ramped as well..

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    My road bar setups were top Ramps horizontal, 2 Dirt Drops ,
    shop take offs from MB1's

    my touring bike I put together 2 narrow Randonneur bend bars
    to make one wide one.
    a custom stem clamps the 2 sections.
    whose respective former centers were about 4" apart.

    after the long overseas tour, I got a wide Nitto 'noodle'.
    it's set up flat ramped as well..
    Hey, thanks. I just googled randonneur and dirt drop. I think randonneur was more like I was trying to describe, but the dirt drop looks like just what I want. I'll have to keep an eye out for them now. Had no idea. Thanks again.

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