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Old 01-03-14, 05:26 PM   #1
16Victor 
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Handlebar orientation / brake lever locaiton

The below reply on this thread about the 1978 Colnago Super reminded me to get some opinions:

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Originally Posted by lowgear45 View Post
..BTW, your handle bars are angled over too far, The flat of the drops should never go past being parallel to the top tube. In-the-day, many coaches said have the drops point at the rear axle. YMMV.
I locate the first part of the bends in the same plane as the stem. This always look normal and is generally comfortable...for me. The above advice is different. And old Trek catalogs show the drops parallel to the ground which looks very dorky. What's "correct" (and yes I know it's highly personal, to each his own, whatever's comfortable, etc.)

Adding on...brake levers...some have said the bottoms of the levers should be on the same plane as the drops, which is too far forward for me.

Just seeking input.
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Old 01-03-14, 05:34 PM   #2
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I always fit mine with the drops parallel to the ground, and the bottom of brake lever flush with the bottom side of drops. I have large hands so reach isn't a problem.
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Old 01-03-14, 05:49 PM   #3
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I look to these guys for advice on setting up a bike.
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Old 01-03-14, 05:51 PM   #4
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I set mine so that the ramps are in-line with the extension of the stem, letting the drops end up where they may.

The bottom tip of the brake levers are set 5mm above a line projecting up from the bottom edge of the drops.

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Old 01-03-14, 05:52 PM   #5
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I set mine up with the tops of the bars parallel with the stem extension too. Roughly. Drop flats point at the rear brake. Or thereabouts. The slight declination feels more comfortable when in the drops. As do the flat tops, giving comfortable access to the levers.

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Old 01-03-14, 05:58 PM   #6
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Or...you can go a bit crazy and use one of these...


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Old 01-03-14, 05:59 PM   #7
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16V, on your opinion of what is dorky? I agree. To my eyes the forward throw of the bar, i.e. the part right behind the brake levers and where the tops start to bend forward, should be parallel with the ground. If the lower flat of the drops is parallel to the ground the flats behind the brake levers are angled away from me. And look dorky.

But I suppose it depends on how one rides. I spend very little time on the bottom of the drops but lots of time on the hoods or the forward bends, and some on the tops. (I don't have the flexibility to ride the bottoms very long.) If I were racing I might spend more time down there, but I don't race.
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Old 01-03-14, 06:01 PM   #8
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I am somewhere in between parallel to the ground, and pointing at the rear dropout. In my mind, this is completely "legit." However, I tend to keep my levers mounted fairly high up on the bars. It may be treasonous to purists, but it's comfortable to me.

I ride all my bikes, and don't enter them in shows. Comfort reigns, end of story. I'm fine with being a Philistine....

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Old 01-03-14, 06:18 PM   #9
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It may be treasonous to purists, but it's comfortable to me.

I ride all my bikes, and don't enter them in shows. Comfort reigns, end of story. I'm fine with being a Philistine....
+1000
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Old 01-03-14, 06:43 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Angelo View Post
Or...you can go a bit crazy and use one of these...



One of the most silly tools I've ever seen. The clip on Schwinn tool was so much easier....
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Old 01-03-14, 06:49 PM   #11
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I always set mine up so that the ramps and the drops split the difference from (or are the same angle from) horizontal. Then I set the brakes so that tips of the levers just touch a straight edge held along the bottom of the drops. That gets me in the ballpark anyway, and after a test ride, I fine tune from there. There was a great article in an early Rivendell Reader about the pros and cons of different brake lever placements. I could look up which one it was if anyone's interested.


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Old 01-03-14, 06:49 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bibliobob View Post
I am somewhere in between parallel to the ground, and pointing at the rear dropout. In my mind, this is completely "legit." However, I tend to keep my levers mounted fairly high up on the bars. It may be treasonous to purists, but it's comfortable to me.

I ride all my bikes, and don't enter them in shows. Comfort reigns, end of story. I'm fine with being a Philistine....

Yeah. Bar plugs pointing at the rear brake caliper. That aint Philistine. That's good sense.
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Old 01-03-14, 06:52 PM   #13
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In the end, it really depends on what you are comfortable with.
I set the bottom of my drop bars close to parallel, and in some cases, depending on the bend of the particular bar, parallel to the ground. I then set my brake lever tips to be flush to the bottom of the bars. A classic setup that's a bit more "radical" than how modern cyclists set their bars at....but I'm used to it and more importantly, comfortable with it.....

As with this bike where the rounder than usual radius bend of the Cinelli Campione del Mundo bars presents a higher location for the brake levers, I have the bar pretty much level with the ground. For my French bikes with bars that usually drop quicker, I have them angled up slightly to raise the brake lever location so they are more comfortable when I ride the hoods...

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Old 01-03-14, 06:54 PM   #14
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I gotta say, this varies alot for me.... different handlebar bend varieties, different frame geometry, different intended use, etc all play a part. As others have stated, comfort trumps all other considerations. I'm building a drop-bar mtb with a stem that's got a lot of rise; my usual angle for the rando bars looked wrong during a mock-up, so I rotated the bar upwards. Once I build the bike for real and ride it, i'll readjust if I'm not happy with the comfort yielded by that position when I'm actually on the bike.

In the end, as with most junctures where cycling and fashion intersect, there will be lots of preferences and many will call others' preferences "dorky". My strategy is to try not to think about it too much, and just accept the notion that most of y'all think I'm a dork.
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Old 01-03-14, 07:27 PM   #15
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I have also found that it depends a lot on the stem bars and levers, bike and style of riding. The classic european racing postioning with the brakes slightley lower intended for riding almost entirely on th bottom of the drops with clasic bars and levers is very differnent than the more casual upright postioning with the levers slightly higher as in most of the above pics. Which is also different than the postioning of vintage areo levers and modern areo bars with modern areo levers. Basicaly within reason I would say try several different postionings till you find one that is comforable for you.
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Old 01-03-14, 07:31 PM   #16
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On a bike with the right reach for me, riding in the drops with my elbows slightly bent, my upper arms at ~90 to my upper body, and keeping my wrist straight usually puts the drops roughly pointing a little below the rear brake bridge. That's the position most comfortable for me, and is similar to the position in the Schwinn assembly instructions given to dealers in the early seventies. I line up the lower end of the brake lever with the lower end of the handlebar.

Andy Pruitt suggests that this handlebar position is best for comfort and control while providing a number of hand positions. Being comfortable with your hands on the tops, on the hoods, or in the drops is crucial since leaving your hands in one place almost guarantees numbness and tingling in the fingers. He also suggests that your wrist should be in a neutral, handshake position as much as possible. If your wrist angles toward the thumb or the little finger, you'll experience numbing nerve pressure.





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Old 01-03-14, 07:32 PM   #17
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I guess as long as they are not "Hobo" style inverted drops (as rootboy taught me to call them), you won't get too many sighs and groans from this forum....no matter how you wish to angle your bars or locate your brake levers..
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Old 01-03-14, 07:54 PM   #18
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HA! "Hobo" drops!

I've quickly learned that comfort reigns supreme. For me, that has the top part of the bars level with the ground and the drops end up pretty much wherever. I've also developed a real liking for the randonneur-type bars with a less extreme drop and slight flare to them. Heck, I'm not racing anybody, so that extra inch of aerodynamics be damned.
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Old 01-03-14, 08:03 PM   #19
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Decades ago, I was advised to align the drops to point at the rear caliper. In the 80s, I began positioning the drops parallel to the ground. That was the racer look.
But I've returned to pointing the drops toward the brake caliper with all my later builds. It yields more positions I find comfortable. This is for classic bend bars.
Now, you have modern shallow drop bars designed around brifters. Don't quite apply to these bars.

And I also like positioning the brake levers just as Scooper displayed.

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Old 01-03-14, 08:18 PM   #20
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+WNG I would agree with this on bikes with classic bars the Schwinn dealer info that Scooper is very good in presenting basic setup.
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Old 01-03-14, 08:33 PM   #21
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I do it strictly by feel, and they always end up like on bilibob's blue Bianchi, pictured above. Although, I've had some (to me) irregularly shaped bars, or ones that are too deep or too shallow in the drops, so that changes it a little.
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Old 01-03-14, 09:23 PM   #22
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Someone wisely mentioned that it depends on the bars, and I notice that there a lot of differences in how many degrees of bend that a road bar can have.
Traditional Brampton-bend bars have about a 180-degree curl, so tops and drops can be comfortably parallel. I like this and also the longer foreward reach that puts the top portion of the Brampton bars further back on a well-fitted bike, allowing for abdominal recovery between efforts.

Racers position their bodies much more forward relative to the bb, so their entire bodies are in effect rotated foreward.
Thus, all the body-contact points of all the bike's components will similarly need some rotating foreward.
A foreward rider position sounds uncomfortable, but does also allow the rider to be comfortably aero with less bend at the waist, since the leg angles are first tilted foreward, and the heave up to the out-of-saddle position becomes much less of an effort (and easier on the knees).

Modern riders, even racers, position their hands on the hoods of modern bikes much more than in the past, since the shifters are located there, the grip is more ergonomic than in the past, and since the brakes work to full effect from up there much more than they used to.

I prefer to mostly use the hoods only for out-of-saddle efforts, so have my bar position (height, reach, angle) optimised for these maximal efforts, then adjust my saddle to allow a comfortable reach to the bar's new position. This was Keith Bontrager's opinion and serves the racer quite well.

I picked up this nearly-stock 2004 model for myself for Christmas, for $700, and though I've got it pretty well fitted, it's still a slightly small frame for my 5'9", and needs the bars tilted down very slightly and the brake levers raised up on the bars by a good bit more than that (perhaps several degrees or 1/4" to 3/8" up the bars).
How it looks is purely a result of how it needs to fit this foreward-situated 53-yr-old rider. Not far from perfect as shown:




And this photo shows my ideal, very comfortable race fit on this very large, older-style (albeit touring) bike. I loved every mile of my training on this one, what a stiff and stable frame, yet still comfortable enough for errands runs across town (and across county) in trousers!

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Old 01-03-14, 10:07 PM   #23
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I set mine for comfort, what's a jig or formula know about how I ride, which is mostly on the ramps and hoods.
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Old 01-03-14, 10:38 PM   #24
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or...you can go a bit crazy and use one of these...


now thats what i need!
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Old 01-04-14, 01:37 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by surreal View Post
I gotta say, this varies alot for me.... different handlebar bend varieties, different frame geometry, different intended use, etc all play a part. As others have stated, comfort trumps all other considerations. I'm building a drop-bar mtb with a stem that's got a lot of rise; my usual angle for the rando bars looked wrong during a mock-up, so I rotated the bar upwards. Once I build the bike for real and ride it, i'll readjust if I'm not happy with the comfort yielded by that position when I'm actually on the bike.

In the end, as with most junctures where cycling and fashion intersect, there will be lots of preferences and many will call others' preferences "dorky". My strategy is to try not to think about it too much, and just accept the notion that most of y'all think I'm a dork.
+1

This sounds about right to me. More 'traditional' bars on road bikes in my typical size range usually end up fairly close to parallel with the ground (sometimes almost exactly parallel), but setup is not based on any abstract principle. I generally default to a position in which drops parallel the ground to start, and adjust on the spot from there based on my most comfortable hand position in the bends of the drops and on the hoods (considering also the tops if flared/swept as with a Nitto Noodle). Funky 'anatomic' bends throw things for a loop, but again it's a matter of setting an arbitrary position and adjusting as needed based on feel with reference to the style of riding intended for a given bike.

Inevitably, I adjust the precise angle repeatedly, often stopping at the curb mid-ride in the first few weeks (if not months) of rolling on a particular build. Indecisive type.

I am not unconscious of aesthetics, but frankly not likely to adjust on that basis.

I've recently encountered a bit of a conundrum with the modern Ritchey Pro Biomax bars on my new-to-me Breakaway Cross, which offer a wonderful hand position in the (very shallow and 'anatomical') drops and the (Noodle-style flared) tops, but place the hoods a bit far. No amount of adjustment arbitrates the issue to my complete satisfaction, and a chat with a very knowledgeable local LBS proprietor has me considering swapping the bars for shallow-drop alternative with less reach to the hoods (which might save me from non-C&V problems like swapping the fork for one with more steerer).

In the end, I'm probably happiest with the big, wide, and deep Cinelli Campione del Mondo bars on my Nishiki, drops angled roughly half way between the brake bridge and level.
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