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Old 02-15-09, 01:30 PM   #1
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50+ bars again, once more, redux, repeated

Here in 50+ we've had an ongoing set of threads about handlebars and comfort. (never mind the title, in 50+ we're more into pies than bars........unless they serve pie).

This thread is about refining the fit for drop bars on a daily rider. This is not about racing or aero, it's for general use. (Drops are still good aero for the ever present into the wind rides). We have folks here for whom tradition doesn't work. Yen is one, with prosthetic wrists who just can't get her hands around the drop bar setup. I've always been bothered by a perceived lack of braking force for my hand position on drop bars.

I've tried moving the hoods up down while rotating the bars up or down with little positive result. (positive by my desires......don't go nuts yet). There is a traditional pattern for drop bar setup. As with all traditions it varies by rider preference, but here goes anyway. The bar is set up on a work surface with the flat portion behind the drop level on the surface. The brake levers are set up vertically and the hoods are on the same line as the bars when viewed from above. On a classis bar shape, this usually leads to the tips of the brake levers touching the surface when the flat part behind the drops is parallell with the surface. The bar width is the same as the shoulder width of the rider so the hands are parallell and straight ahead in the drops or on the hoods.

Over the last 2 years, I've been working with bullhorns on road bikes and bullhorns and aero bars on TT bikes and I've discovered some things that I like better than the hand position on traditional drops. This year I started playing around with dirt drop bars and they have some interesting features that make the hand position different from traditional drops also. I've discovered that I am more comfortable when my hands are more open or rotated slightly outward (fingers out, wrists in). This was counter intuitive from my MTB experience untill I held my hands out in front of me and rotated them 90 degrees from palm flat down to vertical in.

To make a long story shorter, I am in the process of experimentint with the hoods on my drop bars pointing outward slightly (maybe 15deg) from the centerline of the bike. I've never done that before and I've never seed it done but at first blush it seems to have some promise. I find it easier to wrap my hands around the hoods when I want a full hand of brake lever.

Anyone else ever try something like this?
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Old 02-15-09, 02:58 PM   #2
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For reference, both my bikes have short-drop ergo bars, but are set up in the classic manner, including their rotation with the "tails" level with the ground.

I really like the feeling of sliding down the ramps and settling in on the hoods. I can't imagine I'd feel that way with the current style of flat ramps and kicked-up levers, with joystick-like hoods.

Anyway, I prefer my levers rotated in, sort of pigeon-toed. It causes my weight to be borne by the meaty part of the hand at the base of the thumb. When they're straight, I can't ride more than 10 miles or so without pain in the middle of the base of the hand, which I think is called the medial nerve.

When it comes to braking, I rotate my hands out and down a bit and generally use the outer three fingers. Don't know why, it just feels right. When I want a full hand of lever, it's already there.

However, the best visceral feel when braking is when I'm in the drops and braking with the first two fingers at the very end of the lever where it flares out. There are times I wish I were a more flexible and faster rider and rode in the drops more, simply because braking feels so good from the drops.
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Old 02-15-09, 03:34 PM   #3
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Maxx, if I'm following you correctly, it seems to me that you would like the Nitto Randonneur bar, like George recently put on his Jamis.

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Old 02-15-09, 04:48 PM   #4
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Maxx, if I'm following you correctly, it seems to me that you would like the Nitto Randonneur bar, like George recently put on his Jamis.

Yes. The picture there shows the brake levers outside of the hood. This would allow my hand to rotate slightly fingers out. What I find uncomfortable is the opposite move as described by TSL of rotating the hands...wrist out fingers in. I do agree with his apprasial however that the body weight may be supported by the wrong part of the hand.

My fix is how to get the levers out there on a straight drop handlebar. Its only temporary and ultimately I may indeed change to a flaired bar. 2 years ago I used the bullhorn on the road bike with the TT levers flaired out for comfort, not aerodynamics.

I enjoy these tests as I am attempting to learn exactly what changes do when fitting the human body to the machine.

Edit: yes, after all these years of advice on using these bars, I am finally coming to the same answer for different reasons.......or their the same reasons that I didn't see because they weren't mine?.....Who knew?

Last edited by maddmaxx; 02-15-09 at 05:11 PM.
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Old 02-15-09, 05:12 PM   #5
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I took a 25 mile ride with the set up and it didn't go as well as I hoped. The bars are just to narrow for my big hands. I thought about the bracket for the bag and the computer and I moved my hands to allow for it. That put my hands when on the flats twisted outward, which made it very uncomfortable.

When I got home I jumped on the Roubaix and it was like heaven. Any way I sent the handlebars back and I have the Nitto Classic Handlebar coming. I'm having a hard time getting handlebars to fit the stem I have. I was kicking around to get the Noodle bars, but that takes a 26.0 stem. I started to look for stems that would fit the Noodle bars, but couldn't get the degrees of angle I need. The stem I have on there now has a pretty good angle, but I don't know what it is. It's angled pretty good and I still have about a 1" drop. Anyway I'm going to watch the race and cry.
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Old 02-15-09, 06:40 PM   #6
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What I find uncomfortable is the opposite move as described by TSL of rotating the hands...wrist out fingers in.
Yeah, diff'rent strokes, &c.

What I have found is that with my unusual configuration, I have to fend off bike mechanics with my frame pump. They're always swooping in with 5mm P-wrenches offering to "fix" my levers. I parry their thrusts, wielding my frame pump, and offer to return the favor by fixing their thinking.

So you may have to have your frame pump (or u-lock, again, diff'rent strokes) at the ready as you enter an LBS.

En garde!
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Old 02-15-09, 08:14 PM   #7
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I'm having a hard time getting handlebars to fit the stem I have. I was kicking around to get the Noodle bars, but that takes a 26.0 stem. I started to look for stems that would fit the Noodle bars, but couldn't get the degrees of angle I need.
I don't quite follow this, George. 26.0 is the most common size stem for road bikes, although 31.8 is becoming the new standard for both road and MTB. You should be able to find a stem with 26.0 clamp diameter in any combination of angle and length.
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Old 02-15-09, 08:26 PM   #8
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I don't quite follow this, George. 26.0 is the most common size stem for road bikes, although 31.8 is becoming the new standard for both road and MTB. You should be able to find a stem with 26.0 clamp diameter in any combination of angle and length.
I'm finding out a lot of things since I started working on bikes. The bike came with a adjustable 25.4 stem. I changed it out to a fixed stem a while ago. Now I find out that the 25.4 is for mountain bikes and most drop bars are for road bikes. So I'm sitting here right now trying to figure out what angle to get and get the 26.0 stem. The Ritchey adjustable stem at it's full up position appears to be 30 degrees.
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Old 02-16-09, 06:27 AM   #9
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Stem availability, especially in quill design, it a lot worse than it was. The Nitto series is still available with a range of heights (Pearl, Technomic Deluxe, Technomic in order of height) and of extension.

On randonneur bars: The width measured from drop tip to tip is a lot wider than if measured between the brake mount points or across the ramps. My set is around 38 cm brake to brake, and 45 cm drop to drop. Both are comfortable for a short enough time, IMO. I think I like Noodles and the B115 classic better.
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Old 02-16-09, 12:17 PM   #10
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Nope.......back to the drawing board. TSL was right about hand position on long duration rides. I have returned the hoods to the traditional position.

They are now parallell with the bars and the hoods are flat with the bars. The bars are rotated so that the top of the drops are level with the ground as are the rearward part of the hoods. This leaves the flats at the bottom of the drops angling downward and pointing more or less at the rear dropouts.

To the best of my knowledge, this is known as the "New School" bar position. It is listed along with the traditional position as one of the proper/normal setups.

With the bars rotated like this and a 4deg reach shim installed to bring the brake lever in to vertical I'm begining to get comfortable with a more traditional drop bar position.
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Old 02-16-09, 07:25 PM   #11
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Here's what works for me, which I guess is pretty traditional. I have debated going back to full-bar taping, but sprint (half-bar) taping is what's shown in the 1962 Capo catalog. Peugeot used to save money on the AO-8 economy model by sprint-taping the bars, not chroming the fork, and using wingnuts and solid axles instead of quick release.
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Old 02-17-09, 09:28 AM   #12
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TSL was right about hand position on long duration rides.
I wouldn't characterize it as right or wrong. Only reporting what works for me with my bikes and anatomy.
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Old 02-17-09, 09:48 AM   #13
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I want to try the classic Rando bars
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Old 02-17-09, 07:48 PM   #14
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I want to try the classic Rando bars
I wonder how those would be with barcons -- one might want to cut off the ends a bit.
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