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Old 07-20-07, 10:47 AM   #1
Tom Bombadil
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Report your long rides on non-drop-bar bikes

A take off on the thread about flat-bar vs drop-bar. I'm expanding this topic to go beyond just flat vs drop.

I'm interested in reading about those of us who have made longer rides using handlebars other than drop-bars. "Long" rides in the sense of riding for 2 or more hours. Someone who takes 3 hours to ride 30 miles would have approximately the same hand, arm, and shoulder issues as someone riding 60 miles in 3 hours.

What type of handlebar did you use, how long was ride (in hours, miles or both), how comfortable were you, do you have any alternate hand positions set up on the bars like bar ends or aero bars. Share the pics of your handlebars.

Some alternate handlebars include flat bars, trekking bars, riser bars, Albatross bars, Dove bars (the Nitto ones, not the chocolate ones), Mary bars, North Road bars, cruiser bars, etc.

Please note that my purpose is to not to criticize drop bars, but only to gather some data from 50+'ers about what works for them. We know drop bars work for long distances, and we know that most bike forums strongly recommend them for such. But some of us have difficulty being comfortable on drop bars and so are interested in what is achievable using alternatives.

If someone has ridden 3-4 hours on non-drop-bars and had a negative experience, feel free to report that too.

I thought it might be valuable to collect these experiences into a single thread.
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Old 07-20-07, 11:17 AM   #2
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I regularly ride 35 to 45 miles on a Giant Cypress DX hybrid without a problem. The bike has 2 inch riser bars with bar ends. Tires are 700x40c pumped up to 80 psi.

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Old 07-20-07, 11:34 AM   #3
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We have flat bars on the tandem. We installed bar ends on the stoker compartment and I put them inboard toward the shifters on the captains bars. We have just over 4000 miles on the tandem starting in the first of November. We have done 5 centuries. The longest time was 7 hrs, 30 min. The shortest was 6 hrs, 50 min. We have done one Time Trial and the flat bars hurt our time, although we did finish a 34K TT, averaging 22.51mph. This last week we put in 152 miles so far. The fastest ride was last night where we did 33 miles at 22.4 mph overall. The flat bars work okay although I would like drop bars. On my next tandem I will have drops. I sometimes have numbness in my left hand and on a couple of centuries my shoulders and neck were a little stiff. I don't think that is a bar issues so much as a posture one. I tend to stiffarm the bar after a while and if I loosen up my shoulders I can make that go away.

Hope this helps the debate.
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Old 07-20-07, 11:59 AM   #4
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You've seen these before, they are my own personal compromise between flat bars and drop bars. They feel great for now but I will have to acquire more data on long term riding to be sure. Except for the drop position, they offer a multitude of hand positions and are more aero than straight flat bars. They really are like a flat bar with bar ends (or a drop bar cut off beyond the hoods.) They serve my desire to have the brake levers more laid back than is possible with STI Shifters.

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Old 07-20-07, 12:02 PM   #5
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I had only a stock flat barred MTB when I started training for my first double century. Past 50-60 miles several parts on my body started to hurt. I clamped a set of drop bars to the flat bars and turned out a 130 mile ride the next weekend with no pain.
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Old 07-20-07, 12:18 PM   #6
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I have done tours from a couple of weeks to several months on both drops, and Straight "Comfort" bars, with bar ends.

Riding anywhere from 6 to 12 hours a day, over hill and dale, tarmac and rough roads.

For faster, single day rides (Audax and centuries) I also use both types of handlebars.

No difference, IMHO.
for pics of the bikes

http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/imjibi/Bikes

On my time trial bike with ITM Aerobars, I do get back pain when I do 50 or 100 mile time trials.

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Old 07-20-07, 12:31 PM   #7
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When on Ocracoke Island, I regularly take my daughter from the inn to the pony pen and back, using a rented Solar Cruiser and either a child trailer or a Trail-A-Bike. It's about an hour each way, and perfectly comfortable.

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Old 07-20-07, 12:35 PM   #8
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I have half-a**ed bars in my stoker spot, but since I don't really have to do anything, I guess it doesn't really count. They're not comfy, and if I don't pay attention to changing position I get numb.

I wonder if flat bars with ends would be better.
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Old 07-20-07, 12:45 PM   #9
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My bike is a Cannondale Road Warrior 500 with a flat bar. Yesterday I rode 53 miles in 4 hours. My hands and wrists were tired but not a real problem. I regulary ride it for more than 30 miles and 2 hours. I have only had it for two months but I am considering getting bar ends just to provide an alternate hand position. I don't experience any numbness just the fatigue, of course, after 4 hours everything on my body was suffering from fatigue.

I have a bad back and don't know if I could handle drop bars.
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Old 07-20-07, 12:50 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by momof4greatkids View Post
late entry: I'm doing my first century tomorrow so I will have more to report then!
Wishing you a great ride and lots of fun! We'll be looking for the ride report!


I ride a Giant Cypress SX with the stock bars and stock adjustable stem adjusted all the way toward me. I've ridden 24 miles (2+ hours) with some hand numbness that I've been able to work out by paying more attention to my hand/wrist angle and position. I'm starting to briefly grab the end of each grip for a new position, so I think that signals that it's time for bar ends. (PS: I've decided to keep the bike and make whatever adjustments are necessary.)

Glad to see posts from long-distance Hybrid riders..... it gives me hope!
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Old 07-20-07, 12:54 PM   #11
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I routinely ride 30 to 40 miles on my Coda, and have done both a metric and imperial century on it this summer. The bar is a not quite flat MTN bike bar with barends installed inboard of the handgrips. It is very comfortable for me and I do not have numbness in the hands or pain in my shoulders.
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Old 07-20-07, 01:11 PM   #12
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I'll chip in to my own thread.

I have ridden my riser bar Trek hybrid on several rides from 2 to 5.5 hours. This bar has a 3" rise and about a 12-15 degree sweep. My hands, arms, and shoulders were comfortable on all of these rides.

I have recently added bar ends in a forward position configuration and have found them a good change of pace on a couple of recent rides.
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Old 07-20-07, 02:17 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Tom Bombadil View Post
A take off on the thread about flat-bar vs drop-bar. I'm expanding this topic to go beyond just flat vs drop.

I'm interested in reading about those of us who have made longer rides using handlebars other than drop-bars. "Long" rides in the sense of riding for 2 or more hours. Someone who takes 3 hours to ride 30 miles would have approximately the same hand, arm, and shoulder issues as someone riding 60 miles in 3 hours.

What type of handlebar did you use, how long was ride (in hours, miles or both), how comfortable were you, do you have any alternate hand positions set up on the bars like bar ends or aero bars. Share the pics of your handlebars.

Some alternate handlebars include flat bars, trekking bars, riser bars, Albatross bars, Dove bars (the Nitto ones, not the chocolate ones), Mary bars, North Road bars, cruiser bars, etc.

Please note that my purpose is to not to criticize drop bars, but only to gather some data from 50+'ers about what works for them. We know drop bars work for long distances, and we know that most bike forums strongly recommend them for such. But some of us have difficulty being comfortable on drop bars and so are interested in what is achievable using alternatives.

If someone has ridden 3-4 hours on non-drop-bars and had a negative experience, feel free to report that too.

I thought it might be valuable to collect these experiences into a single thread.
I did a tour into Baja on flat bars... basically on a bike I designed as a commuter. Earlier I had done a long tour on a Trek with drop bars... So I have seen the road from behind both bars and I see the advantages of both.

On the drop bar bike I had down tube shifters, on the flat bar bike, thumb shifters that were made for a very short time... they are on the top of the bar and look quite a bit like DT shifters but mounted horizontally. (I love them)

On the tour had numb hands every day. And frankly I missed the positions of drop bars, however as a commuter, the shorter distances of about 11 miles either way plus the easy ability to hit the shifters or brakes and the upright riding position make flat bars good for a commuter.

But for longer rides, I prefer drop bars for the ability to change hand positions.

JMHO.
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Old 07-20-07, 02:39 PM   #14
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I haven't been more than 3 or 4 miles on a drop bar bike since I weighed well under 200 pounds. I have completed at least 2 metric centuries and several rides over 50 miles on my Sedona DX in the last few years with semi-slick 26 X 1.5 tires and riser bars. I did have to get a little creative with hand positions, but it really wasn't too bad.

The last couple long rides, and many shorter rides have been with bar ends.
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Old 07-20-07, 02:47 PM   #15
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Wow! They make bikes without drop bars?!
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Old 07-20-07, 02:57 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by jibi View Post

On my time trial bike with ITM Aerobars, I do get back pain when I do 50 or 100 mile time trials.

george
100 mile time trials???!!! Wow!
I use riser bars on the mtb and have done 8 hour rides on them. I have tried flat bars on different mtbs and don't like the angle of them. Riser bars feel more like motorcycle bars, which I like.
All my road bikes have had drops.
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Old 07-20-07, 03:00 PM   #17
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Most of my rides are over 4 hours but there are the ocasional long rides that I get in. Most of my past riding has been offroad and these are straightbar bikes. Well not really as they both have riser bars fitted--And both are a bit unusual in that they have wider than average bars fitted to them.

The Bianchi solo was bought in 2000, the year after my bypass as I had to admit defeat and go for a suspension fork. At the same time the Wide risers went on and I reversed the stem to get the bars above seat level. The bars are 27" wide and are a generous sweep. Made of Aluminium- they do flex a fair amount so give me Extra suspension other than the forks.

Then The Tandem. Now this thing breaks any ordinary equipment and after I broke the Straight bars-and I am the stoker- I got a pair of full downhill wide riser bars for me. The pilot took one look at them and said that they were going on the front. He admitted that he was getting worried about the amount of flex he was getting when steering. Checked his bars and They were flexing- They were also cracked and bent. He got the Dowmhill wide bars and I got a cheaper replacement. Not quite as wide at 25" but I should not be steering on this thing.

Now as to bar ends- On the T the pilot has them but I do not need them- If I need a change of position I can move inboard- Ride with just the fingertips on the bars or even no handed, As to the solo- Short stubby bar ends. In 2000 it was sacrilidge to fit bar ends on risers- according to the Style Council-but I had always used them so I compromised and got the stubby's. Nowadays you see a heck of a lot of riser bars with short Bar ends.
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Old 07-20-07, 03:10 PM   #18
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I have both a drop bar road bike (LeMond Buenos Aires, don't ya know) and a Cannondale Road Warrior 1000 with flat bars. The flat bars have nice bar ends (it came with them) and I find the entire arrangement quite comfortable. I am old and overweight and have only been riding regularly for about 3-4 years.

Today I took the Cannondale on my usual Friday group ride, so can report my most recent experience. The ride was 61 miles in just over 4 hours, almost entirely on roads in and around the USDA Agricultural Center in Maryland just outside DC. It is rolling with a few good climbs. I find virtually no difference in my level of effort, except the LeMond climbs noticeably better and goes measurably faster on fast downhills (due mostly to the aerodynamics of getting tucked down in the drops, I suppose). On a ride like today's I prefer the LeMond, but in the city and on MUPs the Cannondale is more at home--I like the thumb shifters and the brakes are more readily at hand. I have no issues with my hands, arms or shoulders with either bike.

So why do I ride the LeMond 10 times as much as the Cannondale????? It is like the difference between a good sports sedan (say BMW M3 or and Audi A6 Quattro) and a sports car (say Corvette or a 911 Carrera 4s) The sports cars (and the LeMond) just make the driver/rider feel more connected to the road. I wish I could explain it better. I don't think it is quantifiable.

If you want to argue that a flat bar hybrid will do all sorts of good things and be a fine bike, I can't argue. But when it comes to the pure pleasure of riding--not the going fast, not the smelling of the roses, not the seeing of the scenery--just the pure pleasure of turning the pedals, leaning into a corner, cresting a hill, the pure exhilaration of cycling......I think that only a true road bike can deliver that sensation......IMHO

That help??
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Old 07-20-07, 03:21 PM   #19
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Last week my teenage son, wife and I did the Erie canal ride,
traveled 682 km in 8 days. My bike- a Surly cross check with
1x9 gearing and Albatross bars. The whole set up worked well,
have the bar ends pointed slighly upward to fit the slope of my
hands as i reach the bars, bars are just slightly above the seat.
i can lean into the curve of the Albatross bar to create a slightly
more aero profile or for peddling up a steep hill.
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Old 07-20-07, 03:40 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Bombadil View Post
Some alternate handlebars include flat bars, trekking bars, riser bars, Albatross bars, Dove bars (the Nitto ones, not the chocolate ones), Mary bars, North Road bars, cruiser bars, etc.
Are there pictures somewhere of all these bars? I don't know what I've got. I ride a Raleigh Passage 4.5 and the bars are kind of straight......
Anyway, I did 67 miles today with it. Hands didn't hurt too bad, but I was thinking of looking into some bar ends. I had a bike once with drop bars and I NEVER used the drops, so it would be senseless for me to have them.
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Old 07-20-07, 04:26 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by cgallagh View Post
We have flat bars on the tandem. We installed bar ends on the stoker compartment and I put them inboard toward the shifters on the captains bars. We have just over 4000 miles on the tandem starting in the first of November. We have done 5 centuries. The longest time was 7 hrs, 30 min. The shortest was 6 hrs, 50 min. We have done one Time Trial and the flat bars hurt our time, although we did finish a 34K TT, averaging 22.51mph. This last week we put in 152 miles so far. The fastest ride was last night where we did 33 miles at 22.4 mph overall. The flat bars work okay although I would like drop bars. On my next tandem I will have drops. I sometimes have numbness in my left hand and on a couple of centuries my shoulders and neck were a little stiff. I don't think that is a bar issues so much as a posture one. I tend to stiffarm the bar after a while and if I loosen up my shoulders I can make that go away.

Hope this helps the debate.
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Old 07-20-07, 05:30 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by Tom Bombadil View Post
A take off on the thread about flat-bar vs drop-bar. I'm expanding this topic to go beyond just flat vs drop.

I'm interested in reading about those of us who have made longer rides using handlebars other than drop-bars. "Long" rides in the sense of riding for 2 or more hours. Someone who takes 3 hours to ride 30 miles would have approximately the same hand, arm, and shoulder issues as someone riding 60 miles in 3 hours.

What type of handlebar did you use, how long was ride (in hours, miles or both), how comfortable were you, do you have any alternate hand positions set up on the bars like bar ends or aero bars. Share the pics of your handlebars.

Some alternate handlebars include flat bars, trekking bars, riser bars, Albatross bars, Dove bars (the Nitto ones, not the chocolate ones), Mary bars, North Road bars, cruiser bars, etc.

Please note that my purpose is to not to criticize drop bars, but only to gather some data from 50+'ers about what works for them. We know drop bars work for long distances, and we know that most bike forums strongly recommend them for such. But some of us have difficulty being comfortable on drop bars and so are interested in what is achievable using alternatives.

If someone has ridden 3-4 hours on non-drop-bars and had a negative experience, feel free to report that too.

I thought it might be valuable to collect these experiences into a single thread.
Straight bar, with Profile Design Split Second fold up aero bars. Twist grip shifters, Brooks B67 saddle, Power Grip pedals.

Longest ride: 117 miles (8 hours).
7 centuries, too many 50- 60 mile rides to count.
I've gotten to the point where I don't really want to go out for anything less than 30.

Originally got the aero bars to get out of the wind. When I get a new bike with drop bars, the aeros are coming too- they just offer so much comfort. On a flat, I can "lay down", get into a comfotable cadence and cruise... With the geometry of the bike (Specialized Expedition Sport), when I'm on the aeros, I'm in about the same position as riders in the drops on a more conventional road bike geometry.
I put the flat bar on to get "stretched ou" a little- the orignal bars were swept back, and I got to where the upright position was just too upright.

Wife has bar ends on hers- about 10 inches long, with a bend (30 degrees?) about 4 inches from the end. She has them angled forward, bends in, about 10 degrees up from horizintal. She spends most of her time with hands on the bar ends.

Another data point- I can ride on the aeros for about an hour without sitting up and stretching. And I'm not all that flexible- I can't touch the floor ( can't come close).
If I'm sitting up, riding 14-15 on a flat, no wind, if I go to the aeros, I'll shift up two cogs (harder), pedal at the same perceived exertion level, and end up doing 16-17.
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Old 07-20-07, 05:48 PM   #23
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I've done double century fixie rides on bullhorns. Bullhorns are similar to riding on the hoods on drop bars so they are pretty comfortable.
I've also ridden moustache bars long distance but that didn't quite work out for me. They're fine for up to a couple of hours. I currently have one bike set up with these bars.
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Old 07-20-07, 07:01 PM   #24
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Back when I was a pup of 47, I rode a skinny-tired mountain bike pulling a bob trailer on Ragbrai, 500miles in 7 days. Very comfortably. Now at 55 all I ride is flat bar bikes. 70 miles is no problem. I prefer Titec Hellbents.
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Old 07-20-07, 07:13 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by sknhgy View Post
I don't know what I've got. I ride a Raleigh Passage 4.5 and the bars are kind of straight......
If you have the stock Passage 4.5 handlebar, then you a mild version of a riser bar. Probably has around 40mm of rise with a 10-12 degree sweep.
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