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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 08-02-08, 09:38 AM   #1
daedalus8
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Advice on converting "road racer" to commuter

Hello All,

Seeking advice on "converting" an old "ten speed" (Schwinn Le tour or voyager sort, lugged steel frame Drop Handlebars) to a more comfortable riding position-read: need a more upright position as my back went out riding with the drop handlebars that i've ridden for 40 years. My questions are concerning swapping out the handlebars, stem, and brake levers-the bike has a Wald sort of wedge stem-can I use a " higher " handlebar and levers for non drop handlebars? The traditional touring sort of bar would be fine, It would be nice to have decent control and the most upright position possible, I don't care about wind resistance or anything like that. I have been scouring the second hand stores, and there has been a complete dearth of adult sized bicycles (which is probably a good sign in that people on a budget may have to budget even more, and have chosen to get out of their cars to do so) that I could use or swap out the parts. Will the more traditional brake levers have the proper travel to use the center pull brakes that my bike is fitted with?

TIA!!

genn
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Old 08-02-08, 09:53 AM   #2
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Suggest that you use the search function to find one of the many thread that
has addressed this same question many times before.

Best of luck & ride on!!
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My preferred bicycle brand is.......WORKSMAN CYCLES
I dislike clipless pedals on any city bike since I feel they are unsafe.

Originally Posted by krazygluon
Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
Aluminum: barely a hundred, which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?
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Old 08-02-08, 09:58 AM   #3
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Why don't you try the brake levers from your drop bars on the new set of bars?
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Old 08-02-08, 10:04 AM   #4
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You don't say how far you want to ride.

I suggest you replace the drop handlebars with mountain bike bars and brake levers. I have done that with an older road bike, leaving everything else as it was, except removing the front derailleur. It's a nice ride, but I wouldn't want to ride too far since I ride a road bike for distance.

The big problem with doing that is whether the straight handlebars fit the handlebar stem or whether a different handlebar stem will fit in the fork tube.

If you want to buy a Goodwill mountain bike, you're pretty safe that the brake levers will fit. You might go to a local bike shop and find a good, inexpensive straight, flat handlebar.
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Old 08-02-08, 10:27 AM   #5
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converting "road racer" to commuter

Thanks for the advice; commute is ten miles one way. The MTB style brake levers-did you have to change the brake cables to the work with the old brakes or how did you change the brakes as well?
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Old 08-02-08, 12:22 PM   #6
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Can't you just raise the handlebars?
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Old 08-02-08, 01:23 PM   #7
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Can't you just raise the handlebars?
There. That solves everything.
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Old 08-02-08, 01:27 PM   #8
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Genn,

I was in exactly this situation a while ago, and swapped handlebars with another bike:



It worked fine, but later I realized that all I had to do was raise the handlebars as Thirdin suggested. I recently switched back to drop handlebars (but raised) and I now have the best of both worlds.



Hope my mistake will save you some time.
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Old 08-02-08, 02:23 PM   #9
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@TromboneAl-

How do you guys do those mountain bike brakes? I've seen that several times now, but can't figure out if it's a jerry-rig, or special cables or brake handles. I'm already looking at drops for my trekking bike, and this would be a handy addition. TIA

-Jon
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Old 08-03-08, 07:25 AM   #10
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Advice on converting "road racer" to commuter

Hey Al,

Thanks for the great pictures. Your first solution was pretty much what I had in mind; raising the original bars did not seem to provide an upright position, like when you ride "no hands", which is what I was looking for. I intend to at least try some sort of setup that would allow that, and see how that all goes commutingwise. I've searched for threads discussing back pain, and most of the posts seem to suggest PT and exercises, the latter which I do already, hence the hardware solution.

Thanks to all,

genn
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Old 08-03-08, 08:17 AM   #11
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Right. I do a lot of upper body exercises, but I'd still have neck pain if my handlebars were lower.

The trick is to buy an adjustable stem. Then you can play around and find a position that will work. I can make my drop bars just as high as the flat bars. They are slightly lower now, but I could change that if I want. When you install the brakes, try to add a little more cable housing than you otherwise would, so that you can raise the handlebars if you want.

With the adjustable stem, you can adjust the fore/aft position of the bars as well as height (by adjusting depth in headset and angle in tandem).

The disadvantage of the adjustable stem is that it is a little heavier, and it can come loose. Mine has gotten loose twice, but not catastrophically. Not a problem really. I've put loctite on to prevent this.

I now think of drop bars as a flat bar, but with optional drops.

Quote:
How do you guys do those mountain bike brakes? I've seen that several times now, but can't figure out if it's a jerry-rig, or special cables or brake handles. I'm already looking at drops for my trekking bike, and this would be a handy addition. TIA
I'm not sure what you are asking, but the brake levers are different. They take a barrel shaped end rather than a funnel-shaped end. You buy a cable with the different types at each end, and cut off the one you don't want.

Last edited by TromboneAl; 08-03-08 at 08:22 AM.
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Old 08-03-08, 08:26 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post

I'm not sure what you are asking, but the brake levers are different. They take a barrel shaped end rather than a funnel-shaped end. You buy a cable with the different types at each end, and cut off the one you don't want.
Thanks, I discovered what I'm looking for accidentally in another thread. They are called cross levers (after cyclocross?). Interesting concept. :-)

-Jon
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