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Old 04-21-06, 03:55 PM   #1
baj
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How far is too far with flat bars?

My wife wants to get a bike for rides on an extensive system of bike trails we are lucky enough to live near. Some of this will be pretty casual, but she wants to do some longer rides also, including some possible credit card touring. Not all of the paths are paved, and she is interested in flat bars, so she is looking at the performance hybrid or fitness type bikes (lower bars than most hybrids, V-brakes, more tire clearance than the true flat bar road bikes, Trek FX, Jamis Coda, Cannondale Road Warrior 400, etc.).

I'm wondering if for longer rides a touring-ish drop bar bike would be more comfortable, something like a Jamis Aurora or Bianchi volpe that still has V-brakes and can take non-racing tires. She is a little intimidated by the idea of drop bars, but I think if she tried one with higher bars and a more relaxed feel than my racing bike she might not think it's so bad. But I don't want to push her this way if it's not really necessary.

I'm wondering how far you can go on a flat bar bike before it stops being fun. Will adding bar ends make a big difference?

Thanks for your opinions!
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Old 04-21-06, 04:07 PM   #2
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Did RAGBRAI with a mountain bike with riser bars and bar ends, pulling a BOB. Actually more comfortable than my Olmo. 523 miles in 7 days.
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Old 04-21-06, 04:33 PM   #3
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She will be fine on a flat bar bike. A friend of mine has a Cannondale Road Warrior as his only road bike and he does rides of 75 to 100 miles comfortably. He uses 700 x 28 Continental Gatorskin tires.
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Old 04-21-06, 05:06 PM   #4
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My admitedly bigoted opinion is that flat bars have no place off the trails. If drops are too intimidating, then north road or trekking style bars make much more sense because the wrists can be in a more neutral position. Granted, fashion dictates that few bikes actually come with them, but they aren't really hard to retrofit.
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Old 04-21-06, 05:13 PM   #5
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one of my riding partners rides flat bars exclusively - easier on his back and neck, he says. he's also consistently faster than me. we just did a an organized metric century two weeks ago, and he averaged over 16 mph. so i wouldn't think any distance is "too far" for flat bars.
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Old 04-21-06, 05:14 PM   #6
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My GF has no problem riding centuries and more with her flat bars...since I put good bar ends on for her, she likes them better than drop bars. I'd like to fit her up with some trekking bars, which would give more positions and a bit more elegant look. I prefer my drops...it's hard enough lugging this bod around without adding more wind drag to the equation.
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Old 04-21-06, 06:06 PM   #7
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I just stumbled onto a couple of bars that I haven't seen before while I was searching for a Japanese bell for my bike. I plant to look at them in person tomorrow. They have the bell I was looking for, too. It's an expensive shop, but their prices on the bars and bells aren't too bad.

http://jitensha.com/eng/bars_e.html

The flat bar fits road stems, but takes mountain size brakes and shifters. I don't think I've seen that before, either.
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Old 04-21-06, 06:42 PM   #8
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I had flat bars on my commuter and I could not go for more than 1 hour before my hands got tired, but this seems to be a personal thing. I would do some tests with some shorter riders before I did longer. I put trekking bars on my bike, which I have not used for very many miles yet, and like them a lot better. I think that is the way to go.
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Old 04-21-06, 06:50 PM   #9
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Nitto makes a handlebar that can handle some offroading, and yes, its part of the North Road Family. If you do not like the mre upright posture(that is arguably more appropriate for casual touring), you can flip it over and have a slight drop, but still have the much more comfy wrist position. The only downside is that they only sell it through rivendell and can be a bit expensive.

http://www.rivendellbicycles.com/web...ape/16127.html
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Old 04-21-06, 08:16 PM   #10
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My wife has the Nitto Dove bars on her bike and she loves them:

http://community.webshots.com/photo/...8014369QQAdCs#

I prefer the more angled hand position of a true North Road bar:

http://community.webshots.com/photo/...8014369ZkhXGG#

Both bikes have Nitto Dirtdrop stems to get the bars up higher. The one on my Gitane is shortened about 1 1/2".
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Old 04-22-06, 09:24 AM   #11
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I would think handlebar comfort, especially for long rides, starts with bike fit. If her legs are long relative to her height, something that is common with women, then it will cause her to raise her seat relative to the handlebars. Counteracting this trend would be the place you need to start if you want to sell her on drop bars. Spend more time thinking about the frame, especially if the bike she likes has a threadless stem, which are difficult to adjust. You also might want to consider a frame designer that specializes in fitting women.

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Old 04-22-06, 10:11 AM   #12
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What makes you think there's a problem with flat bars?
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Old 04-22-06, 10:28 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bkrownd
What makes you think there's a problem with flat bars?
Only one hand position, two with bar ends but from my mountain biking experience I'm not sure how comfy that is for an extended period (I always just used them for climbing).
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Old 04-22-06, 11:39 AM   #14
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Wear a good quality padded cycling gloves. Make sure that you have good grips on the flat handlebars. Then you should be fine.
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Old 04-22-06, 11:45 AM   #15
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Well, that's a bit of an oversimplification. The problem I've found with "drop" bars is that none of the (not as many as you imply) hand positions are very comfortable, and only one is practical most of the time. The flat bar positions are a bit closer to ideal for me. It's a very personal thing.
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Old 04-22-06, 12:23 PM   #16
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I've gone too far with flat bars. As i've mentioned in other posts, I did a century last year with a flat bar hybrid, and the bent angle of the wrists and the single arm position caused me to develop some serious wrist and elbow problems. The medical staff suggested surgery, but after months of physical therapy and a change to carbon drop bars I seem to have the problem in check. I'm a pretty heavy guy, though, so I was putting a lot of weight on those joints.
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Old 04-22-06, 01:30 PM   #17
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80 miles is the longest on a single ride, so far, with many more rides in the 60's and 70's. Trek 750 with bar extenders, gives me at least 3 positions. No hand problems on the long rides, just a little shoulder stiffness sometimes. It's still fun. Will probably ride a century on my hybrid soon.

It's depends on what you are (or get) used to.

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Old 04-22-06, 01:38 PM   #18
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Flat bars make my butt and lower back hurt. Contrary to some folk’s experience, I have found the upright position puts all of my weight onto my seat. This fatigues my back, as well. When I try to put more weight on the bars to take the load of the saddle, the single hand position available makes my wrists scream bloody murder.

I don't know what is too far as it is likely more a factor of fit and physiology, but she should try several kinds of bars if she can.
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Old 04-22-06, 03:15 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by barba
...I have found the upright position puts all of my weight onto my seat.
"upright position" is determined by a combination of frame size, stem size/angle and seat height/setback, and not the handlebar style.

OK, I counted and I usually use about 5 hand positions on my flat bars. I've also been thinking of getting some aero attachments with the armrests to add the ability to stretch out my back and rest/coast in a more relaxed way. (Which I'd use with my "drops" equipped bike for the same reason, as well.)
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Old 04-22-06, 03:24 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by barba
Flat bars make my butt and lower back hurt. Contrary to some folk’s experience, I have found the upright position puts all of my weight onto my seat. This fatigues my back, as well. When I try to put more weight on the bars to take the load of the saddle, the single hand position available makes my wrists scream bloody murder.

I don't know what is too far as it is likely more a factor of fit and physiology, but she should try several kinds of bars if she can.
I ride a mountain bike and it is offroad with just a few forays onto the road- Like tomorrow where I will be on a 40 miler. It does not matter what type of trail, road or track I do. I use flat bars- or risers to be precise. Last year I borrowed a road bike for a charity ride. Other than when I was braking- My hands were on the top of the bars all the time. Then many years ago I used to do several 100milers on the road- Only used the mountain bike but I had a 7deg rise bar stem. For mountain biking it was up and all I had to do for a road ride was reverse the stem to lower the bars and fit slicks. Made it more aerodynamic and it did shift.

Saddle position, is critical on all bikes- height- fore and aft position and nose tilt all come into the comfort stakes- then the saddle aswell. When you get this settled out for you- you only have to change the bars in position and you start all over again.
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Old 04-22-06, 08:04 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by baj
Only one hand position, two with bar ends but from my mountain biking experience I'm not sure how comfy that is for an extended period (I always just used them for climbing).
i get two hand positions without bar ends, on the grips and on the hoods as the drop riders call it. Here is a post with good suggestions on bar end positioning.

The "Antler" Bar
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Old 04-22-06, 08:16 PM   #22
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Get some bar ends to help with the hand position issue. You can ride any bike for any distance if you are comfortable with it.
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Old 04-23-06, 04:19 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by edp773
Heh - that's one busy handlebar!
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Old 04-23-06, 05:42 AM   #24
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It's too far when there's not enough hand positions on a flat bar causing any bunch of numbness problems.
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Old 04-23-06, 08:00 AM   #25
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You can add bar ends, aerobars or Spinacci style bar extensions to a flat bar if you want alternate hand positions.
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