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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 07-31-06, 12:14 PM   #1
Brian Sorrell
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Switch to drop bars -- what's involved?

I've been a commuter for a few months now after mountain biking for lots of years. So flat bars seemed just fine when I started this new biking life. Now I'm convinced, partly by many of the suggestions in these forums, that I *need* drop bars -- especially because I'm starting to ride further and further and my hands are going numb!

Here's my question: I've got a Trek 7200 FX (specs are here: http://www2.trekbikes.com/Bikes/City...0_FX/index.php), and I'd like to know if it's viable to swap out the flats with drops. If so, what is involved? What do I need to buy -- shifters, brakes, stem? What should I consider as a commuter / tourist when selecting new bars. I notice slightly different shapes and widths, and I'm not quite sure what to make of the differences. And is this something that I can tackle in an evening or two at home, or should I bite the bullet and ask the LBS to do it?

The budget for this is somewhere between a couple hundred bucks and a new bike. The wife thinks I'm nuts for wanting another bike already (and for how much I talk about the stuff I learn on BF). Is it worth trying to make this bike into a touring bike? I'm happy with how solid the frame seems and I'm happy with the maintenance on it so far, but I'm early on in this touring thing and I don't want to waste time and money trying to cobble something together.

Thanks in advance for your tips!
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Old 07-31-06, 12:30 PM   #2
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Welcome to commuting (formal HHCMF welcome forthcoming, no doubt).

Good choice going for drops. You say your budget is "somewhere between a couple hundred bucks and a new bike".... Get a new road bike! Keep the FX, which can now be your beater or bad weather commuting bike. If you are really committed to commuting daily (or almost daily) what -- you explain to your wife -- would you do if your single bike needed repairs?

Though someone will disagree, it will be complicated switching the hybrid to drop bars (wrong size, new brakes, new shifters, etc).
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Old 07-31-06, 12:35 PM   #3
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I actually took my Trek 7200 and slapped on some old road bars that I found in my garage and used the existing shifters and brakes. It looks goofy as all get out, but I'm trying this for a proof of concept to determine if the new geometry of the bike is conducive to road bars.

I'll post some pictures of my strange new ride later this evening.
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Old 07-31-06, 12:37 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Old Dirt Hill
I actually took my Trek 7200 and slapped on some old road bars that I found in my garage and used the existing shifters and brakes. It looks goofy as all get out, but I'm trying this for a proof of concept to determine if the new geometry of the bike is conducive to road bars.

I'll post some pictures of my strange new ride later this evening.
Oh, yeah. I forgot about those adjustable stems. Can you just throw any old bar (flat, drop, or other) in those and it clamps down securely?
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Old 07-31-06, 12:43 PM   #5
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I am happy with the switch I did on my Peigeot hybrid. I put Sora brifters on which work with my cantilever brakes. With your V brakes you will need 'Travel-Agents' to provide the cable pull. You will also need in-line cable adjusters, as you wont have cable length adjustment in the levers..
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Old 07-31-06, 01:03 PM   #6
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There's 2 very cheap solutions. 1. sell exising and get a used road bike, and 2. Trekking bars or moustache bars can help with aero and hand positions instead.

I don't think drop bars with your MTB gear is a good idea, because 1. There isn't a lot of real estate on drop bars, and 2. one of the main riding positions is holding the brake hoods from above, and that won't be present with the MTB stuff.

MTB and road deraillers are all different for some reason, so I'm unsure if brifters will also need derailleur changes. It definitely adds up to $200+, all without enhancing the bike's value any. You can find a used road bike for that amount, so if you have the storage space, a 2nd bike is definitely worth it. Set up the hybrid with rack and panniers and use it for groceries.
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Old 07-31-06, 01:20 PM   #7
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I did this recently - didn't finish but I started I should say. I ran into the following issues.

1) Handlebars diameter 26.0 and 31.8 and clamp diameters 25.4 didn't match. I solved this by buying some nitto drop bars that were the same clamp diameter 25.4 as my clamp. They were the only drops I found that were that way. I suspect my clamp would have worked on a 26.0 diameter handle bar but I don't know that.

2) V-brakes use long travel brake levers. Dia-comp is the only company that makes long travel brake levers for drop bars. It is not a brifter but just a brake lever. These levers use a road cable not a mountain bike cable so I ended up having to get new cables too. The difference is the orientation of the little knob on the end of the cable that attaches to the brake lever. Other options are to use a traveler like someone has already suggested but I read that such a traveler removes the mechanical advantage of v-brakes and I didn't want to do that. Or if your frame allows you could switch to cantilever brakes.

3) I planned to use my trigger shifter only to find that it didn't fit on 26 mm handle bars. I have a SRAM derailer which doesn't work with shimano compatible indexed shifters so I have to switch to a new derailer, use none friction shifting or I could get a twist grip shifter and one of these bar ends. I haven't decided what to do yet.

If you are lucky enough that your existing levers and controls work on drop bars, then you can use those.

Other options include trekking bars, and drop style bar ends etc. etc.
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Old 07-31-06, 01:43 PM   #8
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I posed a similar question here and got a wealth of information you would find useful.
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Old 07-31-06, 02:17 PM   #9
Brian Sorrell
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Very helpful information -- thanks tgarcia2 for the link to your similar question -- I hadn't seen that discussion.

I'm starting to lean toward the additional bike option. I've already got the Trek outfitted for the grocery store and I see the clear value of having a backup bicycle, as I am committed to commuting daily and I want to start doing some touring.

Thanks, and further information won't hurt if you've got ideas!
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Old 07-31-06, 03:28 PM   #10
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Get a different bike ... once you go roadbike you never go back
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Old 07-31-06, 08:31 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Sorrell
The wife thinks I'm nuts for wanting another bike already (and for how much I talk about the stuff I learn on BF).


I remember being there!

OK, here's the issues.

Shifters and brakes: Your flat bar is 22.2mm, and the components are made to fit that. A drop bar is 23.8mm.

Clamp: You've already addressed the 26.0 v the 25.4 clamp on a flat bar. HOWEVER, it is possible to find drops with a 25.4 clamp...they are usually at least 5 years old, so possibly used...but they can be done.

Brakes: The short pull/long pull thing has been addressed. I used Dia-Compe 287-V with V brakes at one time, before switching to cantilevers and brifters. I wasn't as pleased with the 287-V. VERY long reach and travel for my rather small hands. So, if you want to use the brake bosses that are on your fork and seat stays, you will need to get brake cable hangers ($2.00 per!), and some Avid Shorty 4 cantis. (opinion there on the make.)

The rear derailleur will present no problems. The front derailleur SHOULDN'T present any problems, but there may be cable pull geometry issues with brifters.

If your bike is an ATB, I would absolutely recommend getting a new bike, and saving this one for short casual trips. You'll still love it, it just won't be the bike for distance or commutes. If the bike is one of those "Flat Bar" road bikes (Which mine used to be!), the conversion can be made effectively and well, but realize the prohibitive cost issues involved.
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Old 07-31-06, 09:14 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by godspiral
MTB and road deraillers are all different for some reason, so I'm unsure if brifters will also need derailleur changes. It definitely adds up to $200+, all without enhancing the bike's value any. You can find a used road bike for that amount, so if you have the storage space, a 2nd bike is definitely worth it. Set up the hybrid with rack and panniers and use it for groceries.
For what it's worth, *Shimano* mountain bike derailers will work FINE with *Shimano* road-bike brifters. The only substantive difference between the shimano MTB derailers and the road derailers is the gearing that they're designed for: for example, the LX front derailer is designed for 26/38/48 chainrings or thereabouts, while the 105 triple front derailer is designed for 30/42/52 chainrings. Likewise, the MTB rear derailers are designed to accomodate the larger range between the large-large and small-small gear combinations (known as the capacity).

In other words, if you keep your chainrings and cassette, you can keep your derailers as well.

However, I agree with others that it probably isn't worth the expense of changing to drop bars and integrated brake/shift levers. Major problems:
  • Probably one reason you want a more "roadlike" bike is so that you can go faster. However, the gearing on a flat-bar hybrid may not be very suited for going fast on pavement. Your high gear may be only 48/13 or so, which is around 20% lower than the 53/11 you would get on most road bikes.
  • Shimano brifters *do not work* with V-brakes, which your hybrid probably has. You would need either to switch to straight canti brakes ($20-50), or to get those little "Travel Agent" adapters (don't remember the price, but seemed unreasonably high)
  • The geometry of most hybrid is set up to make you sit quite upright, whereas on most road bikes you lean forward quite a bit more even when your hands are on top of the bar. This improves not only your aerodynamics but your ability to apply force to the pedals. If you replace your flat bar with a drop bar, you probably won't get these advantages fully, even if you put on a longer stem. However, I don't know the geometry of your particular hybrid

So, adding a road bike to your stable, or exchanging/selling your hybrid for a road bike is probably your best best. After I got my first road bike, I kept my hybrid for a few months and continued to commute on it, but eventually sold the hybrid... so that I could buy another road bike. They're addictive
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Old 08-01-06, 06:22 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by moxfyre
[*] Probably one reason you want a more "roadlike" bike is so that you can go faster. However, the gearing on a flat-bar hybrid may not be very suited for going fast on pavement. Your high gear may be only 48/13 or so, which is around 20% lower than the 53/11 you would get on most road bikes.
Great post, but I dissagree on this one point.
I can spin out 48/14 at 47kmh. I guess if you need speed to outsprint a competitor or set downhill records, that's innadequate, but for commuting/getting somewhere/excercising with any distance its "fast enough".
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Old 08-01-06, 08:08 AM   #14
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take a look at these. a lot easier. and a lot less expensive.
http://www.nashbar.com/profile.cfm?c...eid=&pagename=
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Old 08-01-06, 08:13 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by feethanddooth
take a look at these. a lot easier. and a lot less expensive.
http://www.nashbar.com/profile.cfm?c...eid=&pagename=

Have you actually tried those Cane Creek speed bars? How do you like them? Did they clamp tight on your handlebar or did you need to shim - looks like a shim is needed from the picts. They are angled - how far do they jut out if you mount them on the ends?

Inquiring scotch drinkers want to know ....
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Old 08-01-06, 01:42 PM   #16
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I think the best bet with a straight bar bike is simply to put on bar ends. Those give you a second hand position that is further forward than the regular bar, and lets you be a bit more aerodynamic, at minor expense, and it doesn't require messing with the brakes and shifters.

I have found a bar-end equipped hybrid to be fine for shorter commuting distances of say, six to eight miles. I have used mine for my 13-mile commute, but would rather just use my road bike. There are other issues besides the type of handlebars. A true road bike is usually lighter as well.

If you take the advice given here to get a road bike, your old hybrid with bar ends will still be a backup bike that you can use to commute with in emergencies, and to work out with when your other bike is in the shop for some reason. The old hybrid will also be a handy bike to have around whenever you want to go biking on crushed rock bike paths.
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Old 08-01-06, 01:50 PM   #17
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minimum 3 bikes, man... didn't you read the sign?
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Old 08-01-06, 02:10 PM   #18
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minimum 3 bikes, man... didn't you read the sign?
Believe me, I'm part of the choir on this one. My mountain bike was stolen, and I gave up on off-road anyway, what with years of other injuries catching up with me. The trick now is to convince the other half of the household that I'm not obsessed. This is not easy. We have a long trip planned -- our first tour of sorts -- for Labor Day weekend, so after that I think I'll push the touring bike thing further.

I did my homework in the touring forum and it looks like the Bianchi Volpe and the Fuji Touring are quite good, and fairly affordable. For now, I'm going to keep this project on the cheap -- probably the bar ends, and some better grips -- and squirrel away cash for the next big thing

I really appreciate all the feedback and the fueling of my new touring obsession. ...My wife doesn't appreciate it quite so much however.
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Old 08-01-06, 07:53 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dalmore
Have you actually tried those Cane Creek speed bars? How do you like them? Did they clamp tight on your handlebar or did you need to shim - looks like a shim is needed from the picts. They are angled - how far do they jut out if you mount them on the ends?

Inquiring scotch drinkers want to know ....
havent used yet but going to get once im not poor from buying a third bike
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Old 08-01-06, 10:10 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moxfyre
However, the gearing on a flat-bar hybrid may not be very suited for going fast on pavement. Your high gear may be only 48/13 or so, which is around 20% lower than the 53/11 you would get on most road bikes.
I'll heartily disagree here, at the risk of a threadjack. 52/11 is pretty much impractical for anything but serious racing...and even then can be seldom used. 53/11, vis commuting, is just stupid.

52/13, 48/12, somewhere in that kind of ratio will get you all the speed you want for anything but a time trial.
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Old 08-01-06, 10:20 PM   #21
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I'll heartily disagree here, at the risk of a threadjack. 52/11 is pretty much impractical for anything but serious racing...and even then can be seldom used. 53/11, vis commuting, is just stupid.

52/13, 48/12, somewhere in that kind of ratio will get you all the speed you want for anything but a time trial.
Okay, okay... I probably shouldn't have added that point. 48/12 is probably fine unless you have a lot of steep downhill time on your commute. But if you maxed out at 44/13 as is common on an MTB, I'd say that was too low for commuting (at least for me... I use 52/12 a lot on my commute).
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