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    Grumpy Old Bugga europa's Avatar
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    What's the story with bullhorns?

    What's the story with bullhorns? Handlebars that is, not hard pointy things attached to grumpy male bovines.

    How are they different to drop bars with brake levers set in that slightly upright position?

    Richard
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    Senior Member BCRider's Avatar
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    Just got my first set a few months back. So far it's all love. I like the way I get most of the drop bar upper positions still and then some. For climbing hills I reach forward and wrap my hands around the kickups and it seems to help me breath better. One of the best parts though is the ease in using the brakes. No more pulling fingers sideways as in braking from the hoods. Instead it's a more natural simple squeeze action.

    Really the differences aren't huge other than the lack of the drop position that I only very seldom ever used for fighting serious head winds. Even then I didn't use the drop position much anyhow and instead chose to just lean forward with my hands still on the hoods. So for me at least bullhorns is all the bars I require.

    Now this is on a single speed so there's no shifters to worry about. I'm still wondering about the best way to use the time trial levers and incorporate shifters neatly on a multi speed bike. Or at least how to do it without adding unwanted extra mounting sub bars.
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    Quote Originally Posted by BCRider View Post
    Now this is on a single speed so there's no shifters to worry about. I'm still wondering about the best way to use the time trial levers and incorporate shifters neatly on a multi speed bike. Or at least how to do it without adding unwanted extra mounting sub bars.
    I am presuming that you have brake levers that plug into the ends of the bars. At least, when you're talking about sub-bars, that's the conclusion I draw.

    Anyway, use the bar-end shifters in the ends, and use aero brake levers underneath.

    I have just acquired a pair of b-e shifters, and dummy-fitted them to a second pair of bullhorns I have (this is for a long-term project that is so long-term, I am not quite sure of the outcome -- touring bike, rando bike or utility bike).

    Nevertheless, I think the arrangement with aero brake levers underneath, and bar-end shifters puts all the controls comfortably within reach.

    The interesting thing, I think, will be the ergonomics of it all. As you say, the brake levers are easier to squeeze hard compared with STI/Ergo style shifters. And, by holding the bars in front of me at my computer desk, the bar-end shifters just seem to fall naturally to the hand, and operate easily, particularly the right one where the index fingers pull up when shifting to the bigger cogs.

    As to europa's question:

    1. It's something different. I like different. Of course, now it's catching on, I'll have to look for something else.

    2. I don't use the drops much on my Fuji Touring, and when I built up my current fixed gear, the bullhorns seemed logical in deleting unwanted metalware. I did have cut-down and inverted drop bars on my first FG a few years ago, but they simply aren't the same -- the extensions just weren't long enough to be comfortable.

    3. The ease of using the brakes has already been discussed. Yen also can attest to the ergonomic benefits.

    4. The issue I raised in Point 2, about the length of the front extensions, actually is quite important for comfort in the sense that there is more room than on drops with hoods. This actually gives me some additional "micro" positional options, plus when I am climbing, I can wrap my whole hand around the bars and pull up -- which I cannot do easily with hoods.

    Like I said, it's something different, and heaven knows, we need different things in cycling to experiment with, and to keep the conversations active and fresh.
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    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by europa View Post
    What's the story with bullhorns? Handlebars that is, not hard pointy things attached to grumpy male bovines.

    How are they different to drop bars with brake levers set in that slightly upright position?

    Richard
    For other than the hard core time trial guys I think that it has to do with coolness points, europa. I can see why you of all people would have to ask because that's your anti-thesis.

  5. #5
    Grumpy Old Bugga europa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
    For other than the hard core time trial guys I think that it has to do with coolness points, europa. I can see why you of all people would have to ask because that's your anti-thesis.
    Oh no. They're 'cool'.
    Retro said so.
    Rowan said so.
    Oh NNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

    Actually, Rowan makes a lot of sense, which is really scary because he tours with a fixed gear bike

    I saw one photo of some bull horns where they weren't just flat but had some weird angles on the 'flats', similar to the Nitto Noodles (which I really like). Any thoughts on that? The thinking here is that I find straight bars really painful but ones, like the Noodle and the mtb bars on the Frankenbike that have a bit of an angle away from the straight, are really kind on my hands. With Rowan's suggestion about bar end shifters, am I looking at a good commuter set up here?

    Richard

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    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by europa View Post
    Any thoughts on that? The thinking here is that I find straight bars really painful but ones, like the Noodle and the mtb bars on the Frankenbike that have a bit of an angle away from the straight, are really kind on my hands. With Rowan's suggestion about bar end shifters, am I looking at a good commuter set up here?
    Assuming you have the typical box of old bike junk it's cheap and easy to try out. I took an old road handlebar, hack sawed off the drops, and installed them on my fixed gear bike upside down. I definitely like the feel better than the Cinelli road bar that I had on that bike before but I think that most of that is due to the higher handlebar position.

  7. #7
    Yen
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    I converted from drop bars to bullhorns on my Specialized Roubaix. I almost never used the drops, and when I did my wrists didn't like 'em for even a very brief time. I could squeeze the brake levers from the hoods, but that's not helping (in fact, may be hurting) my bad wrists. No coolness factor involved in my decision (except for adding the red bar tape), just greater comfort for my hands.

    So far, I love the bullhorns. I kept the brifters which are mounted on the ends and are directly beneath the sides, giving my hands a very natural angle to squeeze them with very little effort.

    If the moustache bars don't work out on the LHT then I'll probably go this route, with the bar-end shifters on the ends.

    For me (and others like me who never use the drops or can't for whatever reason), bullhorns are like drop bars minus the drops -- only better.
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    For me , it all depends on the bike and what I'm using it for. I prefer drops on one bike and bullhorns on another.

    As for climbing I like the feel and the position the bullhorns give me over hoods on drop bars.

    Coolness aside, bullhorns are very functional bars even though drops provide more hand positions.
    Last edited by roadfix; 11-16-08 at 10:55 AM.
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    Grumpy Old Bugga europa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by roadfix View Post
    Coolness aside, bullhorns are very functional bars even though drops provide more hand positions.
    This was the thought that had occured to me. I only use the drops when playing boy racer or fighting a head wind and then only for short periods. Does leaning forward and resting your forearms on the flats work for fighting a head wind?

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    hello roadfix's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by europa View Post
    This was the thought that had occured to me. I only use the drops when playing boy racer or fighting a head wind and then only for short periods. Does leaning forward and resting your forearms on the flats work for fighting a head wind?

    Richard
    Some bullhorns extend further out than drop bar hoods so yes, in a sense you can stretch out somewhat to get a more aero effect.
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  11. #11
    www.ocrebels.com Rick@OCRR's Avatar
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    I have bullhorns on my fixed gear bike and like them a lot. Just have plugs in the ends though! My brake levers are kind of cyclo-cross levers fitted close to the stem.

    Rick / OCRR

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    As to getting down in a headwind, for example, I have occasionally used the brake levers as sort of drops; they are a bit thin to hold on to, and I am a little nervous about pulling up at an inappropriate moment.

    On other rare occasions, when I have a handlebar fitted to drops, I have rested my forearms on the bars and wrapped my hands aside the bar bag. It seems to help to have something to stabilise the hands, and the bar bag is the ideal thing.

    In both uses, it has been more of an experiment that, for me, doesn't really work.

    I am not a fan of getting down in the "aero" position such as above to emulate the use of aero bars, for general riding. I had aero bars fitted in my naive days to my first bicycle, a hybrid, that I rode across the Nullarbor Plain, and rarely used them. I think there are certain seating issues going right back to seat tube angle that need to be addressed before aero bars become useful and comfortable and safe, for me.

    PS: I like the flags on the downtube, Rick... a great idea to reflect the countries you have ridden in!
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  13. #13
    www.ocrebels.com Rick@OCRR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
    PS: I like the flags on the downtube, Rick... a great idea to reflect the countries you have ridden in!
    Well, no, actually . . .

    You see Rowan, the bike is a MASI Gran Criterium and Mr. MASI put those on to indicate the countries in which the national championships had been won using one of his bikes. I've only been to U.S., Canada, Mexico, France and England.

    Maybe someday . . .

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  14. #14
    Grumpy Old Bugga europa's Avatar
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    In response to a thread in the SS forum about brake levers on bullhorns, one bloke was saying that aero levers don't work as well when mounted on the ends of the bullhorns because it produces too much curve in the brake cable. When you think about it, aero levers are designed to have the cable run AWAY from the brake lever whereas on bullhorns, the cable has to run underneath the lever (ie, in the same direction), so maybe he has a point.

    Does anyone have any experience with this?
    Yen? Did you have similar issues with your brifters?

    And with aero levers or brifters, wouldn't the levers curve away from the bars making the finger reach overly long?

    I'm currently thinking bullhors with bar end shifters as suggested by Rowan. The question then arises, what brake levers? So far, I've only seen brake levers that plug into the end of the bull horns ... which would make bar end shifters a problem.

    Richard
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    Grumpy Old Bugga europa's Avatar
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    The alternative is brake levers near the stem as used by Rick, but it seems to me like you'd always be moving your hands to another position to use the brakes and this would make it hard to just cover the brakes when coming into a corner - not a problem on a fixed gear bike but more of an issue with a freewheel. Any thoughts?

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    Almost every person who says they didn't or couldn't use the drops on a road bike were either sitting too far back and/or were sitting too low. In either case, the knees feel like they are coming up too high and it makes the drops very uncomfortable. The angle between the thighs as they come up, and the torso is too acute. Breathing is constricted and the gut just gets in the way too much. Too long cranks can exacerbate this effect. Or, the handlebars were just too low. You don't solve that by switching to bullhorns. You solve it by proper road bike positioning, or by losing the extra fat down there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Longfemur View Post
    Almost every person who says they didn't or couldn't use the drops on a road bike were either sitting too far back and/or were sitting too low. In either case, the knees feel like they are coming up too high and it makes the drops very uncomfortable. The angle between the thighs as they come up, and the torso is too acute. Breathing is constricted and the gut just gets in the way too much. Too long cranks can exacerbate this effect. Or, the handlebars were just too low. You don't solve that by switching to bullhorns. You solve it by proper road bike positioning, or by losing the extra fat down there.
    Since you said "almost" I'm assuming you mean there are exceptions; I am one of them. The fit of my bike is fine, I don't have any extra fat down there, the handlebars are level with the seat, and the cranks aren't too long. I just can't bend my wrist that way and I'd need a 6 inch stem riser to get the bars high enough to prevent the wrist bend. Maybe there is a solution out there somewhere that would enable me to ride in the drops, but I am not interested enough to pursue it and the bullhorns suit me just fine.
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  18. #18
    Grumpy Old Bugga europa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Longfemur View Post
    Almost every person who says they didn't or couldn't use the drops on a road bike were either sitting too far back and/or were sitting too low. In either case, the knees feel like they are coming up too high and it makes the drops very uncomfortable. The angle between the thighs as they come up, and the torso is too acute. Breathing is constricted and the gut just gets in the way too much. Too long cranks can exacerbate this effect. Or, the handlebars were just too low. You don't solve that by switching to bullhorns. You solve it by proper road bike positioning, or by losing the extra fat down there.
    Mate, I have two bikes with drops. On both bikes, I can ride in the drops quite comfortably thanks to careful setup, lots of research into MODERN thinking (Steve Hogg, Peter White and others) rather than slavishly following roadie fashions and old style paradigms such as KOPS. That has been backed by careful selection of components to make it all work. The reality is that they do not get used a lot because they don't really add much to the ride.

    This thread isn't an attack on drops, though you've treated it as such. Nor is it about bike positioning, about which you've made some injudicious claims. Nor do I appreciate your gibe at me about my own bike positioning - based on your post alone, my own bike set up has been backed by a bloody sight more research than yours.

    This thread is about bullhorn bars and how they affect your ride. As it happens, some people have found benefits from them while climbing, others have found that the only benefit is not having the drops any more while others have found that the 'benefits' lie solely in the overall style of the bike. I fail to see why you should feel threatened by any of that.

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    I have a pair of Shimano aero levers that I picked up in France just prior to last year's PBP. I replaced the old non-aero levers I had on the bike with them, then went straight into PBP. The look is much cleaner, I think.

    I didn't not find any issue in getting the outer to follow the route out of the levers and along the handlebars, and it certainly hasn't affected the performance of the brakes one iota. You might have to jiggle and twist the outer a bit to get it to seat properly in its opening in the levers, but it was all of a 30-minute job to make the changeover from start to finish.

    The attached picture shows the position of the levers for my bullhorns.

    I'd say whoever told you about any problems probably hasn't done the job.
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    Grumpy Old Bugga europa's Avatar
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    Thanks Rowan, that illustrates it very well. I see what you meant about bar end shifters fitting in nicely with that setup.

    Fixed bullhorns and mudguards eh? Regardless of anything else I do with bikes, the Europa might just end up that way.

    Richard
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    Don't forget the Brooks! Or the Zefal!
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    www.ocrebels.com Rick@OCRR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by europa View Post
    The alternative is brake levers near the stem as used by Rick, but it seems to me like you'd always be moving your hands to another position to use the brakes and this would make it hard to just cover the brakes when coming into a corner - not a problem on a fixed gear bike but more of an issue with a freewheel. Any thoughts? Richard
    Yes Richard,

    You are quite right! When slowing for a corner I simply apply a bit of back-pressure and the bike slows down nicely.

    When riding into a headwind (which I seem to be doing a lot lately!) I move my hands as close to the stem as possible to make myself more "aero" (okay, not much, but every bit helps!). In that position my hands are very close to the brakes.

    I should also point out (though I don't have the photos to illustrate it) that there are three or four different hand positions available on bull-horns and (just like on drop bars) changing around every so often is a good idea.

    I do most rides on my fixed gear bike without using the brake levers at all. I keep the brakes fitted, however, because I do need an occasional "panic stop" when I'm unable to get enough back-pressure soon enough! Yeah, I know, the young cool kids just whip it into a skid . . . but that's not my style!

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    Grumpy Old Bugga europa's Avatar
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    Thanks for the feedback.

    I think the Europa will definitely go with bullhorns as soon as I can justify the expense, the front runner being the Syntace Stratos 200 though I'm still open to suggestions. I'll use my current aero levers as demonstrated by Rowan. Now all I need is the money, so don't any of you hold your breath.



    For the geared build, unless I can find wider bullhorns with the pull back and drop of the Nitto Noodle, I'll may go for the very wide Noodles, just to get the width. Although I've seen very wide bullhorns, they've been flat and straight which isn't nice on my hands.

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    hello roadfix's Avatar
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    ^^^ I have that same exact bullhorns on 2 bikes....

    edit: ...with slightly less drop.
    Last edited by roadfix; 11-23-08 at 10:02 AM.
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    Yen
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    Quote Originally Posted by europa View Post
    Mate, I have two bikes with drops. On both bikes, I can ride in the drops quite comfortably thanks to careful setup, lots of research into MODERN thinking (Steve Hogg, Peter White and others) rather than slavishly following roadie fashions and old style paradigms such as KOPS. That has been backed by careful selection of components to make it all work. The reality is that they do not get used a lot because they don't really add much to the ride.
    ...
    Richard
    I watched a U-Tube video of Steve Hogg explaining proper setup for optimum comfort on the bike. He said that unless someone has a "pathological condition" in their hands, most people should be able to get comfortable with drop bars. I wanted to throw my arms around him and say THANK YOU for pointing out that some people (those with a pathological condition in their hands, such as myself) CANNOT CANNOT CANNOT ride in the drops, in which case it is NOT NOT NOT always about bike fit -- unless I raise the bars 2 feet so my arms are straight out in front of me while in the drops, but that totally defeats the purpose of the drops and I doubt he'd recommend a 24" stem riser.

    When my husband was fitted on his Roubaix he told the fitter he'd like a higher-angled stem to help relieve pressure on his artificial shoulder joint. The fitter -- the FITTER -- said "that wouldn't look good". Oh PLEASE!!!
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