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  1. #101
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    Quote Originally Posted by noglider View Post
    And by the way, don't be so modest. 35 miles is a plenty impressive ride. Many of us can do that, but most of us don't do it often. With the way we can talk endlessly about bikes, you may get the impression that we're hard core riders, logging hundreds of miles a week. Many of us actually spend more time talking about bikes and working on them than we do pedaling on them. When I ride more than 20 miles in a day, it's a big deal. I do a century ride (100 miles or more in a day) just once or twice a year, and there are many here who never do that. Don't let us fool you into thinking we're more hard core than we are. We're just devoted to bikes. Some of us are devoted to riding. This is more a bike forum than a cycling forum.

    Thanks! Although it wasn't 35 miles in one ride, but in three days of riding. I'll take some credit but don't give me too much! I usually do between 9 and 15 miles in a day of commuting and extra trips.

  2. #102
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    Quote Originally Posted by jyl View Post
    Beautiful bike.

    On the brakes: you could try adjusting the brakes so that the pads are very close to the rims, then they will make contact with the rims as soon as you start squeezing the levers. You could also try different brake pads, or new brake pads if yours are old. If you are still unable to brake hard enough from the hoods, then try a dual pivot caliper, but you only need it on the front.

    Thanks for the tip! I think the used bike store where I bought this replaced the brake pads, but I'll check with them. I'll also be asking them about these potential changes, see what they can do!

  3. #103
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    Quote Originally Posted by agmetal View Post
    This, this, this, a million times this. My first experience with drop bars (about a year ago), I didn't feel safe braking from the hoods, and the drops were just too low for me, so I swapped out the bars for something flatter. After a long ride on those, my hands were killing me, and a conversation with a friend got me interested in trying drop bars again. When I tried out some bikes with drop bars that had interruptor levers, and the bars set at a comfortable height for me, everything was better. I brake from the hoods to slow down, but if I need to make a quicker stop, I use the interruptors, and I feel much safer. I won't ride drop bars without them!
    Great to hear about someone else's experience getting used to drop bars. I kind of want to force myself to learn to deal with the hoods for now, but I'll keep in mind that interruptors may be a great addition for short stopping in weird city traffic situations.

  4. #104
    Senior Member PatrickGSR94's Avatar
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    When I first started out on my road bike, I had the bars rotated too high. I thought getting the hoods higher was a good thing. But then I never could reach the drops very well. I felt like I didn't have much leverage on the brake levers from the hoods, but then I couldn't reach them in the drops very well, either.

    Finally I rotated my bars down a bit, to bring the ends of the bars closer to level with the ground. Reaching the drops became much easier, as did the brake levers (and shifting since I have the combination "brifters").

    Also, when I started out I tended to try to brake from the hoods using only my index and middle fingers. I believe that was part of my problem. If I apply 3 fingers on the brake lever (adding my ring fingers) I can get more force on the levers from the hoods, and braking is much easier.
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  5. #105
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    I tend to like the bars rotated high as its more comfortable to ride with, but I also have to admit that its harder to get to the drops for a strong break... with my winter bike I have riser bars with bar ends which I have grown accustomed to... I am actually considering replacing my road bars with a set of moustache bars which would give that bar end feel but also allow for a strong grip on the break levers...

  6. #106
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    Quote Originally Posted by e0richt View Post
    I tend to like the bars rotated high as its more comfortable to ride with, but I also have to admit that its harder to get to the drops for a strong break... with my winter bike I have riser bars with bar ends which I have grown accustomed to... I am actually considering replacing my road bars with a set of moustache bars which would give that bar end feel but also allow for a strong grip on the break levers...

    Quote Originally Posted by PatrickGSR94 View Post
    When I first started out on my road bike, I had the bars rotated too high. I thought getting the hoods higher was a good thing. But then I never could reach the drops very well. I felt like I didn't have much leverage on the brake levers from the hoods, but then I couldn't reach them in the drops very well, either.

    Finally I rotated my bars down a bit, to bring the ends of the bars closer to level with the ground. Reaching the drops became much easier, as did the brake levers (and shifting since I have the combination "brifters").

    Also, when I started out I tended to try to brake from the hoods using only my index and middle fingers. I believe that was part of my problem. If I apply 3 fingers on the brake lever (adding my ring fingers) I can get more force on the levers from the hoods, and braking is much easier.

    So are my bars rotated high? Can you tell from looking at the picture? I was more thinking about moving the bars higher by changing the height of the stem, or moving them closer by having a shorter stem. If I can get really comfortable on the hoods, I'm not super concerned about not being comfortable in the drops. Maybe my comfort with the drops will change as I ride more on these bars, but for city riding, or for riding on busy trails like around here, I don't often feel the need to really get down and increase speed. I'd rather be fully comfortable where I spend the most time, on the hoods.

  7. #107
    Senior Member PatrickGSR94's Avatar
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    They look a tad high to me (rotation-wise) but that's purely subjective. Normally this type of bars is not associated with being even with or higher than the saddle. My opinion is that upright riding and drop bars don't really go together. Something more swept back is usually more suited with upright riding. But again that's just me. No one but you can tell you what is comfortable.
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  8. #108
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    Quote Originally Posted by PatrickGSR94 View Post
    They look a tad high to me (rotation-wise) but that's purely subjective. Normally this type of bars is not associated with being even with or higher than the saddle. My opinion is that upright riding and drop bars don't really go together. Something more swept back is usually more suited with upright riding. But again that's just me. No one but you can tell you what is comfortable.

    Hmm, interesting. I've definitely read about/seen people using drop bars even with the saddle, and to me that doesn't feel "upright" but as you say, different people find different things comfortable. Thanks for your opinion!

  9. #109
    Senior Member PatrickGSR94's Avatar
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    What type of stem is it? 1" threaded/quill? Threadless?

    My wife's mixte came with a 1 1/8" threadless steer tube and adjustable stem, but the bars weren't quite high enough for upright riding. So I got her a stem riser which brought the bars up another 4 inches or so. Had to replace the cables in the process to make them longer, but all in all it was worth it.

    I don't have a pic of it with the riser installed, but this is the bike/wife:

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  10. #110
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    Quote Originally Posted by PatrickGSR94 View Post
    What type of stem is it? 1" threaded/quill? Threadless?

    My wife's mixte came with a 1 1/8" threadless steer tube and adjustable stem, but the bars weren't quite high enough for upright riding. So I got her a stem riser which brought the bars up another 4 inches or so. Had to replace the cables in the process to make them longer, but all in all it was worth it.

    I don't have a pic of it with the riser installed, but this is the bike/wife:

    Can't say that I know the answer to which kind of stem, but I'll look when I get back to the bike. I don't want to raise them as dramatically as four inches. I haven't measured, but I think they are less than an inch below the level of the seat, and I think I'd prefer if they were level. I don't want to lower the seat as it felt too low before I raised it to this height. I'm committed to the drop bar, non-upright position, but the hoods do feel kind of far away. Maybe I'll stretch out and get a bit more flexible.

    Nice bike!

  11. #111
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jyl View Post
    Beautiful bike.

    On the brakes: you could try adjusting the brakes so that the pads are very close to the rims, then they will make contact with the rims as soon as you start squeezing the levers. You could also try different brake pads, or new brake pads if yours are old. If you are still unable to brake hard enough from the hoods, then try a dual pivot caliper, but you only need it on the front.
    The hand itself has more leverage when the fingers are closer to the palm, so tightening the brake will not help; it will make it worse.
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  12. #112
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    Quote Originally Posted by unaleona View Post
    Hmm, interesting. I've definitely read about/seen people using drop bars even with the saddle, and to me that doesn't feel "upright" but as you say, different people find different things comfortable. Thanks for your opinion!
    To add a counterpoint to that, there is something of a movement to use taller stems with drop bars and get the bars up higher. Not for racing, of course, but most people don't race. If you check out the bikes on Rivendell's site, you see them almost all set up that way. Personally I like drop bars to be about even with the saddle. Here's an example from Rivendell of higher drop bars.

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  13. #113
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    Quote Originally Posted by lostarchitect View Post
    To add a counterpoint to that, there is something of a movement to use taller stems with drop bars and get the bars up higher. Not for racing, of course, but most people don't race. If you check out the bikes on Rivendell's site, you see them almost all set up that way. Personally I like drop bars to be about even with the saddle. Here's an example from Rivendell of higher drop bars.

    Yes, exactly the kind of thing I was thinking of. Who knows, I may become a racer someday, but I'm certainly not now. And not on my commute full of unexpected drivers/bikers/pedestrians popping out of unexpected places. I guess this brings me back to the question I asked on the last page, but that got somewhat obscured in a flurry of posts: does it make more sense to fiddle around with the bar height/stem reach first, and see if that gives me more leverage on the brakes from the hoods, then think about changing for a dual caliper brake after that? Or just do the brakes first, and keep testing out the bars for a bit longer and then start experimenting with height independently from brake function. See below quote for the way I asked the question earlier.

    Quote Originally Posted by unaleona View Post
    This is all so helpful everyone! It seems like there are three major functional changes that I may want to make, and I think both of them could help with getting leverage on the brakes. One is changing to dual pivot brakes, one is adding interceptor levers, but another that we haven't talked about here yet is raising the bars. The bars can't go any higher (or at least not much higher) on the current stem. To my eye, they aren't quite up at the level of the saddle yet. I can definitely reach the hoods, but I'd like the resting position there to feel a little less stretched out. I figure if they could be a bit higher, and if the stem were maybe even a little shorter, I might have more leverage on the levers.

    What do you all think? And does it make sense to change the brakes first or the bar height/distance? I'm hesitant to mess with changing the stem until I've gotten a little more used to drop bars, because maybe I'll just get more used to stretching out. It hasn't been hurting my neck or back, though I definitely feel like I'm still adjusting. On the other hand, I don't know if it makes sense to change the brakes until after I've tried out the current ones with the different bar position.

    The interceptor levers seem like a separate question, just as a matter of personal preference whether I want that other option. Either way I want to be able to brake comfortably from the hoods.

  14. #114
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    Quote Originally Posted by unaleona View Post
    Great to hear about someone else's experience getting used to drop bars. I kind of want to force myself to learn to deal with the hoods for now, but I'll keep in mind that interruptors may be a great addition for short stopping in weird city traffic situations.
    It really made a huge difference. I went from not liking drop bars at all, to quite liking drops with modern-style hoods and interruptor levers. I'm in the process of building up a single-speed backup to my Volpe, starting with an old 10-speed that a friend gave me, and I put a full complement of modern levers on it. I did something similar with another old 10-speed I rebuilt for a friend last summer.

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  15. #115
    johnliu@earthlink.net jyl's Avatar
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    Having your bars a couple inches higher or lower won't make much (any?) difference to your ability to brake from the hoods. Those are independent issues.

    To adjust the bar position, you would use a different stem.

    The classic solution is a tall quill stem like http://store.velo-orange.com/index.p...6-0-clamp.html or a riser quill stem like http://www.outsideoutfitters.com/p-2...FUOSfgodWHcAuQ I think the tall stem is better-looking than the riser stem and the horizontal part of the stem is a useful place to mount a light or computer, but either works.

    There are also adjustable quill stems like http://www.amazon.com/Kalloy-Adjusta.../dp/B003IR73NY which have a decidedly non-classic vibe but make it easy to experiment with different handlebar positions and swap handlebars.

    For determining what length stem you need (length is the horizontal dimension), an old rule of thumb for drop bars is to ride on the hoods and look down at the front hub, if the tops of the bar appear to be behind the hub axle line then get a longer stem; if it appears to be ahead then get a shorter stem. But this is just a rule of thumb, there are other rules of thumb too based on your forearm dimensions e.g.http://cyclingtips.com.au/2010/04/sc...-bike-fitting/

    None of those are the end-all-and-be-all. The real test is how you feel after longer rides on the bike, after you've becom acclimated to riding it. If cramped for space and always pushing your butt back in the saddle, longer stem (or, sometimes, move your saddle back); if stretching to to point of fatigue and pain, shorter stem.

    Drop bar or upright bar (NorthRoads, porteurs, etc)? The advantages of drops are multiple hand and wrist positions, and a range of upper body positions from low in the drops to high on the tops. When you're just riding along, your hands might be on the hoods. For upright relaxed riding, hands on the tops, perhaps with inline (interrupter) brake levers. To go faster or push through a headwind, hands in the hooks or on the drops which gets your upper body low for less aero resistance. Upright bars have one or at most two positions, and if you want to get low you have to bend your arms sharply into a tiring crouch. For shorter and easier rides, none of this matters much.

    Oh, don't forget to add good lights, either on your bike or on your helmet or both. As a commuter who needs to be seen by drivers, that is really important.
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  16. #116
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    +1 to the adjustable stem for experimentation. I keep that Kalloy adjustable stem around just for fitting bars and stems to rider. Once it's dialed in I install an appropriately sized stem. Leona, just by eyeball your bars look pretty low and far away. It also looks like it would be tough for a small hand to get good purchase on those levers. BTW the bike looks great.

  17. #117
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    Handlebar height and brakes are different experiments. You can do them independently, in either order.
    Please email me rather than sending me a private message. My address is noglider@pobox.com

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  18. #118
    johnliu@earthlink.net jyl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by noglider View Post
    The hand itself has more leverage when the fingers are closer to the palm, so tightening the brake will not help; it will make it worse.
    The thing is, when braking from the hoods, your hand isn't doing a simple close/squeeze. At least for my brakes and hands, it is a weird combination of close/squeeze + pivoting your fingers sideways relative to your palm + twisting your wrist. To make it worse, your strongest fingers (index+ring) don't have the opportunity to do that much, your weakest fingers (ring+pinky) have to do most of the work. And your fingers are acting on the upper and middle part of the brake lever's blade, rather than the lower (tip) part where they would have greater leverage. Braking from the hooks, you can place your index + middle + ring fingers on the lower part of the blade and simply close/squeeze.

    Of course, in an emergency, we can usually exert more force than we'd normally do.

    Maybe we need a brake lever blade with an auxiliary, roughly horizontal, blade specifically for braking from the hoods.
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  19. #119
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    Good points, jyl. My wife and I took a couple of rides this weekend. She rode her new (to her) All-City Macho Man for the first two times, beyond the test ride. She did keep her hands on the hoods, and she braked from there. But the bike has Paul V brakes, which require very little pressure. That's why it works for her.

    unaleona, you can't put V brakes on your bike because you need studs brazed on the fork and frame to install them. Dual pivot brakes also don't require much pressure, which is why I recommend them.
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  20. #120
    johnliu@earthlink.net jyl's Avatar
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    Tom, will centerpull Mafac racers install on unaleona's frame, and do they require less hand pressure than dual-pivots? If so, I may have a set she can have. She'd need the cable housing stops, but those are cheaper than new brake calipers.

    That presumes that unaleona decides she needs better brakes, and likes the way Mafacs look. Pictures all over the web, including http://www.google.com/imgres?start=1...CKIBEK0DMDQ4ZA
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  21. #121
    Senior Member CrankyOne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by unaleona View Post
    I haven't been able to figure out if that had to do with hand position, or just lack of strength having never braked from that angle before, or just not being used to picking up much speed. But is there a possibility that this feeling of it being difficult to brake to a stop is related to the brakes themselves?
    This is one reason, among many, that many women prefer upright bars since they place your hands in a more natural position and make it much easier to pull on the brake levers.

  22. #122
    Senior Member CrankyOne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by unaleona View Post
    I'm committed to the drop bar, non-upright position
    Just curious, why?

  23. #123
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    Quote Originally Posted by jyl View Post
    Having your bars a couple inches higher or lower won't make much (any?) difference to your ability to brake from the hoods. Those are independent issues.

    To adjust the bar position, you would use a different stem.

    The classic solution is a tall quill stem like http://store.velo-orange.com/index.p...6-0-clamp.html or a riser quill stem like http://www.outsideoutfitters.com/p-2...FUOSfgodWHcAuQ I think the tall stem is better-looking than the riser stem and the horizontal part of the stem is a useful place to mount a light or computer, but either works.

    There are also adjustable quill stems like http://www.amazon.com/Kalloy-Adjusta.../dp/B003IR73NY which have a decidedly non-classic vibe but make it easy to experiment with different handlebar positions and swap handlebars.

    For determining what length stem you need (length is the horizontal dimension), an old rule of thumb for drop bars is to ride on the hoods and look down at the front hub, if the tops of the bar appear to be behind the hub axle line then get a longer stem; if it appears to be ahead then get a shorter stem. But this is just a rule of thumb, there are other rules of thumb too based on your forearm dimensions e.g.http://cyclingtips.com.au/2010/04/sc...-bike-fitting/

    None of those are the end-all-and-be-all. The real test is how you feel after longer rides on the bike, after you've becom acclimated to riding it. If cramped for space and always pushing your butt back in the saddle, longer stem (or, sometimes, move your saddle back); if stretching to to point of fatigue and pain, shorter stem.

    Drop bar or upright bar (NorthRoads, porteurs, etc)? The advantages of drops are multiple hand and wrist positions, and a range of upper body positions from low in the drops to high on the tops. When you're just riding along, your hands might be on the hoods. For upright relaxed riding, hands on the tops, perhaps with inline (interrupter) brake levers. To go faster or push through a headwind, hands in the hooks or on the drops which gets your upper body low for less aero resistance. Upright bars have one or at most two positions, and if you want to get low you have to bend your arms sharply into a tiring crouch. For shorter and easier rides, none of this matters much.

    Oh, don't forget to add good lights, either on your bike or on your helmet or both. As a commuter who needs to be seen by drivers, that is really important.
    Thanks for the tips, especially the stem explanations. I'll run that stem length test tomorrow to see how it goes. In terms of the general feel test from riding around this week, my hands naturally fall an inch or two behind the rubber of the hoods. That makes me think I need the bars up and back. I rode the bike in the snow this morning, and it made me very convinced that the first order of business is figuring out better braking. The bike does not have adequate stopping capacity (at least not for me with my hands) at this point, and that's just dangerous.

    I do have great lights, especially my fancy front Cygolite Metro 360 lumens. I feel like a car with a headlight! My rear light is mounted to the rear rack for extra visibility and is very bright.

  24. #124
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    Quote Originally Posted by noglider View Post
    Handlebar height and brakes are different experiments. You can do them independently, in either order.
    Good to know! Seems like brakes need to happen right away (see above snow-braking power comment), and bars are a bit less urgent. I'm not in pain from the reach, and it would be good to see how my grip on the drops feels when I'm not busy trying to contort my hand to reach the levers.

  25. #125
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    Quote Originally Posted by jyl View Post
    The thing is, when braking from the hoods, your hand isn't doing a simple close/squeeze. At least for my brakes and hands, it is a weird combination of close/squeeze + pivoting your fingers sideways relative to your palm + twisting your wrist. To make it worse, your strongest fingers (index+ring) don't have the opportunity to do that much, your weakest fingers (ring+pinky) have to do most of the work. And your fingers are acting on the upper and middle part of the brake lever's blade, rather than the lower (tip) part where they would have greater leverage. Braking from the hooks, you can place your index + middle + ring fingers on the lower part of the blade and simply close/squeeze.

    Of course, in an emergency, we can usually exert more force than we'd normally do.

    Maybe we need a brake lever blade with an auxiliary, roughly horizontal, blade specifically for braking from the hoods.

    This makes so much sense to me, and explains what I've been figuring out these past few days while experimenting. Unfortunately, the brake levers feel so far away, it's difficult to even wrap my ring and pinky fingers around the levers. And then the index and ring can barely get and leverage. Braking from the hooks is also difficult, the levers feel even further away. I'm definitely going to need to make some changes!

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