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Old 11-02-08, 12:00 PM   #1
Caleab
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To Drop or Not to Drop... that's my question.

ok, so I'll try to make this as simple and clear as I can.
I've had a Trek 7200 since June 2008 and this was purchased as my starter-bike. I want something different now, something better suited for me. Mainly, I think I want to shed some of the weight, get more speed and keep the comfort.

So I've talked to the local LBSs and researched online. My favorite LBS has a Trek 7.3fx (2008 model) left that just happens to fit me. This is where I lean mostly. But I struggle with whether or not to get something with drops. I looked at the OCR / Defy series from Giant, but I don't think I can handle the extra cost involved (for the 1 series). I've not been able to see it yet, but I'm very fond of the Kona Dew Drop. The LBS said they wouldn't have them until Dec or so.

So since I can get the Trek 7.3fx at last year's price (which is about 20% less than this years) and it's one I really like. What do you guys suggest?
Money is an option. I'm on a pretty tight budget these days, but the lady also understands that me riding a good bike is no different than her driving a nice coffin.. I mean.. car.

My current thought is to get the 7.3fx (only need to add a rack and computer when I can... have collected my panniers, trunk, etc already) and sell the 7200 locally on CL or wherever. Then this spring, purchase a 2nd bike - Kona Dew Drop.
This would give me time to use both and decide if drops will work for me or not. Since I've not ridden a bike with drops, I'm just not sure it really makes a difference to me. My commute is through the city and about 10 miles each way, depending on my route. Lots of good hills, crappy roads, stoplights and stop signs in between. Drops aren't gonna make much difference are they? Hand positions won't matter because there's so much stop and go, right? Am I right here? Thinking the 7.3fx will give me a much lighter bike with better components (my 7200 is also 2008 series) and easy to maneuver, etc.

My huge struggle here is the drops. To Drop or not to Drop. (or wait to use drops once the weather gets nicer - I'm not planning on riding in the percipitation).

Thanks in advance. It's awesome for the experts out here to offer advice to us n00bs.
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Old 11-02-08, 01:05 PM   #2
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I don't have any experience of drops, but looking at your plan, wouldn't it make more sense to buy a bike with drops off CL to see if you like it, and then it sell it again for the same price once you have made up your mind?

Alternatively, would your LBS let you borrow the 7.3fx for a week or so?
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Old 11-02-08, 01:18 PM   #3
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It seems like a lot of folks want to turn their 7xxx bikes into drop bar versions these days and it would be nice if Trek could offer this option at a lower price than what the Portland sells for... I think the price sits close to 2k.

I converted my '99 7500 into a drop bar bike and simply love it for it's versatility... I commute with it, use it for utilitarian purposes, off road it, and even hang on road rides with it.

This is not an inexpensive conversion though.

If you want fast, light, and comfortable I would start looking at ready to ride touring or sport class road bikes and adding a nice used one to the stable would probably cost much less than forking over money on a new bike.
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Old 11-02-08, 01:32 PM   #4
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Well I've done a few handlebar experiments on my Soma Smoothie, so here goes:

First: On One Mary bars. Very comfortable and provide good arm/wrist alignment. Coupled with the right grips/shifters, they are a pretty solid choice if you're ok with 1 hand position.

Second: Flat bars with clip on aero bars. Horrible, only made one ride with this setup before going back to the Mary bars.

Third: Trekking Bars. Lots of hand positions, comfortable and lots of room for accessories. Dorky looking on some bikes, good looking on others. Rode 800 miles with this setup.

Fourth: Drop bars. Expensive conversion (for me, I changed a lot), but totally worth it. Riding the "hoods" is the position my body wanted to be in all along. Coupled with flat top brake levers, I have the perfect upright "traffic" position on the tops. Did seem to make me a little faster, but that could be placebo.

Since you're on a budget, I'd try the trekking bars. $30 investment will make a huge difference on your current bike, and will still work on the new bike. Nashbar trekking bar plus bar tape is all you need. Your current brakes/shifters should work fine.
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Old 11-02-08, 01:56 PM   #5
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My first starter bike was a mountain bike, a raleigh mojave 2.0. I fell in love with cycling again and wanted something faster and more efficient. At the time, I wasn't ready for a road bike so I bought a 08 Trek 7.3 FX. Overall, the 7.3 FX is a dream to ride. Very efficient in power transfer and one fast bike.

I am now wondering how much faster I can go with a road bike with all the hand positions a drop bar can offer. I also ride in the city and all i can say The 7.3 FX is an ideal city commuter. I haven't tried very long distances yet but I do not get any hand numbness when riding. I am happy with my 7.3 FX and in the future will buy an all out performance road bike (trek madone). It is worlds better than my mountain bike, the 7.3 fx is very rigid but it is a good compromise for the power transfer it gains compared to the power sucking front suspension mountain bike.

If you got your sets on a drop bar bike, go for it. You will always crave for something better...
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Old 11-02-08, 02:42 PM   #6
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Nashbar trekking bar plus bar tape is all you need. Your current brakes/shifters should work fine.
I guess my gripshifts could work on the trekking bars, but doesn't look like it would be very efficient or user friendly.

Hmm?

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Old 11-02-08, 02:47 PM   #7
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The thing is, if your intention is to ride with some reasonable amount of efficiency and comfort, the ideal you must aim for is to have whatever handlebars you are going to use at about the same height below saddle level that you would have with drop bars on a moderately-fitted road bike. That's usually an inch or so below. This gives you more efficient use of your pedaling stroke, more efficient aerodynamics (which contrary to popular internet forum opinions, is very important even at lower speed -- fairly ordinary winds add to it). But in addition to that, you get more comfort from being better balanced for proper weight distribution between your arms and your rear end. So it works better all round once you just bite the bullet and accept it.

Ok, assuming the above is true, you may as well have the drops, because the tops will be in the same place anyway, and even if you hardly ever use the drops, they are there when you can make use of them. It's a win-win all around.

You know, ideas about how to ride are all over the frigging place nowadays, as new generations forget what was already learned by previous ones, and the internet propagates every stupid idea anyone can ever think of. But if you do want to ride with reasonable efficiency, ease and comfort, and certainly for longer distances, there is really only one basic way to ride. You can do it in other ways, but you will just be fighting yourself, the bike and the wind more while doing it. There is a reasonable happy medium between the two extremes of the current "modern" racing ideas and the current saddle back, handlebars high and tires wide way of thinking. But you do need a certain level of fitness and flexibility, which is what people who want to cycle as you do should be aiming for.

I know some people who will contort their bodies in all kinds of way in a gym they pay to go to, but yet, they want a bike to be a comfy couch. The bike is both a vehicle and a fitness machine. Luckily, it's not that hard to try different things on a road bicycle. I can't say I've known too many people go back from a moderate position as I describe to riding beach cruiser style. The loss of efficiency is dramatic and you can tell the difference within a few hundred yards. You can also tell the difference in terms of comfort after a few miles, because the cruiser position puts all of your weight on your butt. It's impossible to ride longer distances like that without turning your derriere and pedaling muscles into useless mush.

Last edited by Longfemur; 11-02-08 at 02:52 PM.
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Old 11-02-08, 03:24 PM   #8
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I guess my gripshifts could work on the trekking bars, but doesn't look like it would be very efficient or user friendly.

Hmm?

I used gripshifts on mine, they worked great.

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Old 11-02-08, 03:40 PM   #9
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Get that 7.3fx. Keep the old one as a backup until you get a 3rd bike. See if any LBS has rental bikes. Take a drop bar for a long spin...

You get the idea. Ultimately, the decision (right or wrong) is yours.
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Old 11-02-08, 03:56 PM   #10
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I say drop, but only when the asphalt is dry. I really prefer a hybrid (or any flatbar) over a dropbar at any rainy day.
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Old 11-02-08, 04:04 PM   #11
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using the drops (as opposed to hoods or top of the bar) doesn't really seem to speed me up on a long trip because you aren't really going that fast, i'm sure they help a little, but i really only use them in a headwind if i'm taking it slower. the best thing i can say for drops is that it's one more hand position. if you ride them too much you'll just hurt your back.
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Old 11-02-08, 04:11 PM   #12
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if you ride them too much you'll just hurt your back.
Nope. You'll hurt your back if your bars are not correctly positioned. But, if you are in good shape and sufficiently flexible (and I'm not talking Romanian gymnast flexibility here), you should be able comfortably to ride in the drops for long stretches. I've ridden for two hours in the drops into a headwind without any problems.
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Old 11-02-08, 07:10 PM   #13
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I started with a hybrid, then bought a drop-bar bike off Craigslist to see if I'd like it. I fell in love on the first ride. I discovered that I really, really like brifters.

And the first ride home from work (which is uphill) into a strong headwind cinched the deal. Now I only own drop-bar bikes, (one of which is the aforementioned Trek Portland).

If you're ready to dump the hybrid now but aren't sure about drops, get the FX. Then keep an eye on Craigslist. The FX will make a fine backup bike, or if you decide to sell it, will be quick to sell at a price representing not-painful depreciation.
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Old 11-02-08, 07:28 PM   #14
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I must confess to not reading many of the responses, but here is my advice: go for the drops. I went to drop bars/STIs a while ago, on my first "performance" bike purchase, and I never want to go back.

If you are in decent shape and want to both beat the headwinds and have many riding positions available, just do it. You will not regret it.

I hardly ever ride on the hoods anymore, now that I am used to the drops. Maybe 5% of my ride is on the hoods - the rest of the time, I am down on the drops. I haven't found them uncomfortable in the slightest, on any distance - get fitted and make minute corrections if necessary.
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Old 11-02-08, 07:38 PM   #15
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Another vote for trekking bars. Love mine and it was a good and inexpensive compromise with my Carpel Tunnel. I did end up with a shorter stem.

I have a bike with drops and I just cant' ride it without pain. 20 years ago I rode that same bike 20 miles a day.

All the extra positions really help. I put on 20 miles in one shot today and never once had any wrist pain. I find I really like being on the upper corners. Its a similar positions to being on the hoods but you can place you palm wrapping your fingers of the top of the bar easing the load on your wrists. It allows you to tuck some like drops but its not a awkward position like straight bars. Was a BIG improvment on windy days. Climbing steep hills you can stand up and grab the top and get great leverage. On most days I have shaved almost 1-2 minutes of my 4.5 mile commute.



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Old 11-02-08, 07:47 PM   #16
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I have a bike with drops and I just cant' ride it without pain. 20 years ago I rode that same bike 20 miles a day.
That's scary.

The Jamis is a flat bar, the Forge has drop bars. Both have negative stem-saddle heights, but the drop is much steeper on the Forge. I like both. The Coda gives me a nice, stable ride in comparison without sacrificing much speed. The Forge allows me to change hand positions and reach higher speeds with less effort. If I had to do it over, though, I'd probably have bought two Forges instead of my current setup. The Forge cost much less than the Coda, is lighter, and is faster. Back when I bought the Coda, though, I'd never heard of the Forge, and I also didn't know it would be that easy to put it together myself and take it to the bike shop for gear/brake tweaks. But now I know, and I probably won't buy another bike in a physical store for a long time.
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Old 11-02-08, 08:01 PM   #17
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Noone has actually commented on the Kona Dew Drop bike itself. Kinda suprises me.
Are there comments? I never heard of Kona until I dove into BF.
(yah, n00b... I know)
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Old 11-02-08, 08:42 PM   #18
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My 7500...



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Old 11-02-08, 08:48 PM   #19
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Man, yer 7500 is sharp.
How much was the conversion?
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Old 11-02-08, 09:19 PM   #20
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Caleab - I work as a bike mechanic at our local co-op so have good access to parts and some skills... my cost is a fraction of what most people would have to pay unless they had access to the world's best co-op and the skills to do their own work.

It wasn't a hard conversion to do and I went the cheapest route as I went with a friction system instead of having to spend considerable money on brifters.

For a commuter / tourer the bar cons work perfectly.

The drop conversion requires a bar swap and you either have to get v brake compatible levers or travel agents or swap your brakes... I went with swapping the brakes to Avid cantis so I could use normal levers.

Anyways...

Used Suntour bar cons (in nice shape) go for $20.00 - $30.00.
The Ritchey bars run something like $60.00 new (I traded other parts for them).
Avid Shorty's are $60.00- $80.00 a set (but I paid $20.00).
My brake levers were pulled from our parts bin for $5.00... I want aero levers though.

The use of the bar cons also required a tandem length shifter cable for the rear d.

So... there is probably a few hundred dollars in parts one will need and this could increase greatly with the aforementioned brifters and if you needed someone to do the work you'd be looking at 2-3 hours of shop time.

I am at a point with this bike where the only original parts are the frame and fork... all the soft and squishy stock parts were swapped out for stiffer, stronger, and lighter bits.

I also build my own wheels so save a lot of money there... I actually scored the front wheel (NOS) for $40.00 and it is stellar.

My 7500 is a '99 and was the top of the line model back then (there was no FX series)... it's an American made model with an Alpha ZX frame and Trek steel fork.
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Old 11-03-08, 06:54 AM   #21
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The thing is, if your intention is to ride with some reasonable amount of efficiency and comfort, the ideal you must aim for is to have whatever handlebars you are going to use at about the same height below saddle level that you would have with drop bars on a moderately-fitted road bike. That's usually an inch or so below. This gives you more efficient use of your pedaling stroke, more efficient aerodynamics (which contrary to popular internet forum opinions, is very important even at lower speed -- fairly ordinary winds add to it). But in addition to that, you get more comfort from being better balanced for proper weight distribution between your arms and your rear end. So it works better all round once you just bite the bullet and accept it.

Ok, assuming the above is true, you may as well have the drops, because the tops will be in the same place anyway, and even if you hardly ever use the drops, they are there when you can make use of them. It's a win-win all around.

You know, ideas about how to ride are all over the frigging place nowadays, as new generations forget what was already learned by previous ones, and the internet propagates every stupid idea anyone can ever think of. But if you do want to ride with reasonable efficiency, ease and comfort, and certainly for longer distances, there is really only one basic way to ride. You can do it in other ways, but you will just be fighting yourself, the bike and the wind more while doing it. There is a reasonable happy medium between the two extremes of the current "modern" racing ideas and the current saddle back, handlebars high and tires wide way of thinking. But you do need a certain level of fitness and flexibility, which is what people who want to cycle as you do should be aiming for.

I know some people who will contort their bodies in all kinds of way in a gym they pay to go to, but yet, they want a bike to be a comfy couch. The bike is both a vehicle and a fitness machine. Luckily, it's not that hard to try different things on a road bicycle. I can't say I've known too many people go back from a moderate position as I describe to riding beach cruiser style. The loss of efficiency is dramatic and you can tell the difference within a few hundred yards. You can also tell the difference in terms of comfort after a few miles, because the cruiser position puts all of your weight on your butt. It's impossible to ride longer distances like that without turning your derriere and pedaling muscles into useless mush.
+1000

Well said.
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Old 11-03-08, 07:05 AM   #22
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I've got the 2007 Trek 7.3FX and I'm thinking about just switching the Crowbars for a cheap set of Nashbar drops with barcons and some cheap aero brake levers.

I really want a 520, but with I can't hang the extra expense right now.

The 7.3FX is really awesome. It's zippy enough (for a fat guy, anyway) on my 6 1/2 mile commute. In January, the ride will stretch to just over 11 miles, which is the drive for drops. I want something that'll be a bit more comfortable than the flat Crowbar.
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Old 11-03-08, 07:09 AM   #23
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Noone has actually commented on the Kona Dew Drop bike itself. Kinda suprises me.
Are there comments? I never heard of Kona until I dove into BF.
(yah, n00b... I know)
It's an old frame (same basic frame as the other Dew models), but the drop bar configuration is new. No one will have an opinion until the model is in stores and can be test ridden. The regular Dew models tend to get pretty good reviews.
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Old 11-03-08, 07:26 AM   #24
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It seems like a lot of folks want to turn their 7xxx bikes into drop bar versions these days and it would be nice if Trek could offer this option at a lower price than what the Portland sells for... I think the price sits close to 2k.

I converted my '99 7500 into a drop bar bike and simply love it for it's versatility... I commute with it, use it for utilitarian purposes, off road it, and even hang on road rides with it.

This is not an inexpensive conversion though.

If you want fast, light, and comfortable I would start looking at ready to ride touring or sport class road bikes and adding a nice used one to the stable would probably cost much less than forking over money on a new bike.
I've done it and it gave me a good year of riding in more comfort that I was having before.
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Old 11-03-08, 07:42 AM   #25
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ok, so I'll try to make this as simple and clear as I can.
I've had a Trek 7200 since June 2008 and this was purchased as my starter-bike. I want something different now, something better suited for me. Mainly, I think I want to shed some of the weight, get more speed and keep the comfort.

So I've talked to the local LBSs and researched online. My favorite LBS has a Trek 7.3fx (2008 model) left that just happens to fit me. This is where I lean mostly. But I struggle with whether or not to get something with drops. I looked at the OCR / Defy series from Giant, but I don't think I can handle the extra cost involved (for the 1 series). I've not been able to see it yet, but I'm very fond of the Kona Dew Drop. The LBS said they wouldn't have them until Dec or so.

So since I can get the Trek 7.3fx at last year's price (which is about 20% less than this years) and it's one I really like. What do you guys suggest?
Money is an option. I'm on a pretty tight budget these days, but the lady also understands that me riding a good bike is no different than her driving a nice coffin.. I mean.. car.

My current thought is to get the 7.3fx (only need to add a rack and computer when I can... have collected my panniers, trunk, etc already) and sell the 7200 locally on CL or wherever. Then this spring, purchase a 2nd bike - Kona Dew Drop.
This would give me time to use both and decide if drops will work for me or not. Since I've not ridden a bike with drops, I'm just not sure it really makes a difference to me. My commute is through the city and about 10 miles each way, depending on my route. Lots of good hills, crappy roads, stoplights and stop signs in between. Drops aren't gonna make much difference are they? Hand positions won't matter because there's so much stop and go, right? Am I right here? Thinking the 7.3fx will give me a much lighter bike with better components (my 7200 is also 2008 series) and easy to maneuver, etc.

My huge struggle here is the drops. To Drop or not to Drop. (or wait to use drops once the weather gets nicer - I'm not planning on riding in the percipitation).

Thanks in advance. It's awesome for the experts out here to offer advice to us n00bs.
I have a Trek 7100 and I understand your feelings... I thought I really liked the position on the bike (more comfy) but it has soured on me. I bought a bike with drops and I really haven't noticed it being any more uncomfortable and I don't feel held back when I ride... my suggestion? you should be able to find a decent 12 speed on craigs list that you could try out. and if that doesn't serve you, I bought a new bike off ebay that was inexpensive but durable. look for "chicabike" as the seller.
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