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  1. #1
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    What's w/ the Short Flat Bars?

    I guess it is the fixie crowd, another thing I don't get (how is it different than SS?), but what is the purpose of the narrow/short bars? Seems like it'd be pain to steer and not very comfortable. I assume it is essentially just a fashion statement or I am missing something?
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  2. #2
    Tawp Dawg GriddleCakes's Avatar
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    Fixed is markedly different than SS, where the lack of a freewheel pretty drastically alters the ride, both in feel and function.

    While there is some utility to having narrow bars in the city, short/narrow bars are pretty much a fashion statement. The look was copied from bike messengers, who chopped their bars to better fit through traffic. But anyone who chops their bars narrower than their hips is sacrificing function over form (if the bars go through a space, the hips are going to have to fit through the same space).

    Still, I'd rather see people using bikes as fashion statements than cars.

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    I think it's pretty much a fashion statement, too, though I cut mine down a couple of inches when I was riding in city traffic a lot. My first singlespeed was made from an old Trek road bike with drops, and i couldn't see well in town. I put on flat bars, raised them a little and brought them back toward the saddle, and it was much nicer. I kept whittling away at them until they were about 16 inches wide, then threw those away and bought some new ones....

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by GriddleCakes View Post
    Still, I'd rather see people using bikes as fashion statements than cars.
    Agree.

    I was just looking at some of the bikes and was like, huh? Ime green bar grips, orange rims, pink frame, narrow bars, etc. I even saw on CL blasphemy, a Trek 520 as a fixie.
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    I like upswept bars that curve back. The Nitto Albatross is for me, the perfect all-around bar.

  6. #6
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    It is amazing to see how narrow a bar some people run and the funny thing is that most messengers don't run uber narrow bars as you sacrifice control and comfort.

  7. #7
    Tawp Dawg GriddleCakes's Avatar
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    How much fun would it be to crank this thing up a hill.

  8. #8
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NormanF View Post
    I like upswept bars that curve back. The Nitto Albatross is for me, the perfect all-around bar.
    Same here. I do run drop bars on my road based tour bike, and flat bars with a bit of bend on my MTB. My fixed gear has mustache bars, it is also further camouflaged with fenders, a rack and brakes

    Aaron
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    Graeme Obree raced for a while with narrow bars like that - setting world records for distance covered in one hour. The advantage is the low frontal profile and consequent aerodynamic effect.

    Why anyone would use those bars on the street is beyond me.
    -----------------------------------------
    While others have labelled me antisocial at various times, it's actually not true. I just don't like people.

  10. #10
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    Kind of weird. My goal has always been to be comfortable and safe on a bike. I thought maybe there was something I was missing. I am considering Salsa Woodchippers or the like for the Casseroll build I was thinking about.

    I also see monkey bars on beach cruisers with the white trash around here. Talk about worthless, unsafe, and just plain stupid on a bicycle.
    '09 Salsa El Mariachi

  11. #11
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    How do these short flat bars compare to drops with the drop cut off? Seems like the lengths would be comparable.

  12. #12
    Senior Member clasher's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by drmweaver2 View Post
    Why anyone would use those bars on the street is beyond me.
    It's the same crowd that rides brakeless track bikes on the streets... more money than sense for the most part. I guess short bars would be nice if you do lots of tricks? I don't generally see BMX bikes with super-narrow bars though, and they're bikes that basically designed to do tricks... so who knows. The few people I've met that claimed to be messengers in some past time all had normal geared road bikes, so who knows.

  13. #13
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Graeme Obree was, after all on a Velodrome/bike track..
    one of his setups had him chest down on his hands
    which were on those stubby bars.

    Then UCI changed the rules , hated that technique,
    and he had to try a different plan to conform
    to those new restrictions.
    Last edited by fietsbob; 12-18-10 at 03:46 PM.

  14. #14
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    I've cut my bars from somewhere around 60cm down to 38cm (almost the width of my hips).


    Let me ask you this: do you ever think whether your body will fit through a gap while walking? Do you ever wonder where any part of your body is, while walking? I know I don't.

    As you and I perceive our bodies, I perceive my bike. It now feels like an extension of my body.


    I can now ride through a crowd of people, shoulder to shoulder, and they won't notice that I'm on a bike. I can filter traffic like I never thought was possible (HOW I LOVE THIS!!) and I can get around obstacles more easily. Everything feels natural!

    And I didn't sacrifice any control, nor comfort.



    Lastly, I also enjoy the looks I get on my now exotic looking bike (only the bars' length changed and the whole bike looks very different), albeit I never considered this when hacking the bars.



    Oh, and considering that the narrowest gaps are those between two cars' rear-view mirrors and that my hips are higher that those mirrors, I could hack the handlebars even more and squeeze even better. (by also squeezing my legs)
    I don't do it because I'd lose the comfort and possibly the control, but it could work for someone else.



    To conclude it, the new riding style (discovered through the Internet and made possible by narrow bars) brought me more pride and joy and sharpened my skills more in half an year than the last 7 or 8 years of normal riding did. (I forgot when I started)



    I definitely recommend doing it! (fun fact: whenever he sees me, a friend of mine insists to convince me that they aren't actually better, lol)

    Cheers!
    Last edited by variety; 12-18-10 at 04:29 PM.

  15. #15
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    Not trying to start a fight but here's my gut reaction to your post:
    Quote Originally Posted by variety View Post
    Let me ask you this: do you ever think whether your body will fit through a gap while walking? Do you ever wonder where any part of your body is, while walking? I know I don't.

    As you and I perceive our bodies, I perceive my bike. It now feels like an extension of my body.
    Um, you're delusional. You've never DELIBERATELY turned sideways to squeeze through a narrow gap? If you did, then you were THINKING about your physical body - more or less at some conscious level. Ever hit your hand on a doorjam, post, fence or chair as you walked by? Ooops. You weren't REALLY aware of your body then, were you?

    I can now ride through a crowd of people, shoulder to shoulder, and they won't notice that I'm on a bike.
    The delusion continues and deepens. How YOU think about your relation to your bike has little or no effect on how others perceive you - and I know I damn sure am aware of someone "squeezing by" me in a crowd on a bike.. been there and curse them out for doing so.
    I didn't sacrifice any control
    Physicists would dispute that.

    Lastly, I also enjoy the looks I get
    Okay.. there it is. It's a EGO thing.

    End of story.

    Cheers!

    ((I repeat, this was not meant to start a fight or to be insulting. It's an honest reaction to what was written, not an evaluation of you as a person.))
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    Not trying to start a fight, either.
    Quote Originally Posted by drmweaver2 View Post
    Um, you're delusional. You've never DELIBERATELY turned sideways to squeeze through a narrow gap?
    I did, but I (usually) instinctively know whether I must turn sideways or not. It's the same on the bike: I can naturally figure it out.

    If you did, then you were THINKING about your physical body - more or less at some conscious level. Ever hit your hand on a doorjam, post, fence or chair as you walked by? Ooops. You weren't REALLY aware of your body then, were you?
    Heh, this is going to the extreme. I also found my saggy clothes dirty from rubbing on obstacles.
    But, again, you're going too far; this is what I meant: I instinctively know whether I'll fit through a gap or not and where the wheels will roll over. Not so before, with my arms spread wide AND still more handlebar to stick out.

    The delusion continues and deepens. How YOU think about your relation to your bike has little or no effect on how others perceive you - and I know I damn sure am aware of someone "squeezing by" me in a crowd on a bike..
    No. I've really done that and noone noticed, nor was bothered. You can SEE these things.

    been there and curse them out for doing so.
    You should relax. Unless they're doing extreme slaloms or come close to hitting people, I can't figure out why the ones cycling near people are such an annoyance.
    I'd expect a curse from a grumpy, bitter, old man, but not from a sane person. (don't take it as an insult)

    Physicists would dispute that.
    I am riding the bike, not some physicists.

    Okay.. there it is. It's a EGO thing.
    I chose to be completely honest and "let it all out". I did it for the gaps. You can either believe me or think stereotypically and talk cliches.

    ((I repeat, this was not meant to start a fight or to be insulting. It's an honest reaction to what was written, not an evaluation of you as a person.))
    Me too; no anger or grudge on my part.
    Last edited by variety; 12-18-10 at 05:35 PM.

  17. #17
    Quirky Grifter LesterOfPuppets's Avatar
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    If I rode a flat bar or riser bar road bike, I'd probably chop 'em down to about 44cm. I ride 42cm drops.

    But, some of the super short stuff is pretty ridiculous, more for looks than function, if you ask me.

    One more bonus not mentioned - bikes with narrower bars are easier to lean up against a wall (see griddle's pic). My MTBs with 60cm bars are a little tricky to lean up against a wall, you need to push the rear wheel in 'til the saddle or pedal contacts the wall and even then sometimes it still won't stay put.
    Last edited by LesterOfPuppets; 12-18-10 at 05:18 PM.
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  18. #18
    Insane Bicycle Mechanic Jeff Wills's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by drmweaver2 View Post
    Graeme Obree raced for a while with narrow bars like that - setting world records for distance covered in one hour. The advantage is the low frontal profile and consequent aerodynamic effect.

    Why anyone would use those bars on the street is beyond me.
    Definitely good for aero. See below... result here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PMUNOLwW0io

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  19. #19
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    There is a principle in bike fit that the handlebars should be as wide as the shoulders. Admittedly, this is more for road bars, but I have tried the same principle for MTB bars. I suppose that if your hips and shoulder width are the same, you've solved the issue. For me, 38cm is not such a big shift from the 42cm bullhorns that I have run on my fixie.

    I find it a little amusing to see people riding flat-bar MTBs on the road with standard width handlebars that make them look like a goony bird coming in to land. They would do themselves an aerodynamic (and probably a physiological) favour by cutting the bars in a bit.

    I quite like the look of narrow bars on the bikes we are talking about. It sets them apart. And I do ride quite a bit with hands on either side on the stem on road bars, so again, it would not be a great leap of faith for me to use narrow bars like those described... for certain, non-strenuous-climbing conditions, though.
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  20. #20
    xtrajack xtrajack's Avatar
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    That is one of the nice things about the whole cycling world. You can pretty much do it your way.
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  21. #21
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    Variety, shrug. Argue with the laws of physics concerning bicycle handling using your own perceptions/beliefs all you want. In the real world, the laws of physics win.

    Only other comment relates to biking "through a crowd of people, shoulder to shoulder". Look at your own words here. Shoulder to shoulder leaves no room for yourself or others to move out of the way or avoid getting their pants rubbed by your tires, chain, pedals, etc. I've been in such crowds, with and without kids and dogs - never works out well for the pedestrians as the cyclist tends to feel "MY right of way is more important than anyone else's". That's why I have cursed out such cyclists. You may have God-like bike-handling skills, but you wrote "they won't notice that I'm on a bike" which is what I disputed and responded to. Everything about a cyclist makes him stand out in a crowd - head height, posture, the length/amount of fore-aft space required in comparison to a pedestrian, balance and speed. Not notice? Heck, even a blind person would notice due to the sound.

    My gut reaction remains - actually it's been reinforced by your response. Road-use of shortie bars is an EGO thing.
    -----------------------------------------
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  22. #22
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    The problem with this type of 'bar is that it offers only one position (ie is tiring) and all it offers in return is 'cool'.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by drmweaver2 View Post
    Variety, shrug. Argue with the laws of physics concerning bicycle handling using your own perceptions/beliefs all you want. In the real world, the laws of physics win.
    Well of course wider bars allow finer control. Since that's the case let's all get 1.5 meters handlebars and have the ultimate steering resolution.
    But, alas! We don't need that! 1.5m bars would be just as useful as your 60 cm.
    And for my needs (i.e. cycling on the roads, not the woods, not the mountains) the 38 cm are just as good (steering-wise) as the 60 cm. I can do everything I did before, just as good.
    It's funny how a stranger on the Internet knows better about MY experience than I do.


    You're clinging to the "laws of physics" to hide the fact that you're clueless about the situation. (practice IS different from theory, believe it or not)

    And do these "laws of physics" take into account "bike fit"?


    Do this exercise: find some old bars, hack them to 38 (which is very close to what the roadies are using - 42, mostly - those guys are complete idiots, eh? Enlighten them with these "laws of physics", as well ) and try them from 2 weeks. Speak after that.
    The bike WILL be harder to control in the beginning, but that's just because you're not "tuned in".

    Only other comment relates to biking "through a crowd of people, shoulder to shoulder". Look at your own words here. Shoulder to shoulder leaves no room for yourself or others to move out of the way or avoid getting their pants rubbed by your tires, chain, pedals, etc. I've been in such crowds, with and without kids and dogs - never works out well for the pedestrians as the cyclist tends to feel "MY right of way is more important than anyone else's".
    You must be thinking about the situation when the sidewalk is looking like a nest of ants. What a surprise: you're going to the extremes to prove your point.

    Well, that's NOT what I'm talking about.

    And BTW, moving "shoulder to shoulder" means equal speeds, in the same direction, and some inches in between.

    That's why I have cursed out such cyclists.
    If you are thinking about the "nest of ants" / high speed, risky slaloms, then I (kinda) agree with you.
    "Kinda" because I can keep my cool more than most people; certainly more than you can.

    Otherwise, the only reason you cursed them is because you are a pretentious, bitter man.

    head height - a cyclist has the height of a taller man
    posture - true
    the length/amount of fore-aft space required in comparison to a pedestrian - true, but if your body is a foot behind the pedestrian and you're riding at walking speed and keep a straight line, people won't notice you
    balance - push yourself and you'll ride perfectly balanced, even at walking speed. Narrow handlebars help A LOT.
    speed - moving shoulder to shoulder = the same speed (and with some room in between )
    sound - what sound?
    See inside the quote. ^^^

    My gut reaction remains - actually it's been reinforced by your response. Road-use of shortie bars is an EGO thing.
    Say you get an alien-looking time-trial bike and you take it out for a spin. Heads WILL turn and most likely you'll get compliments on the bike.
    If that would be the first time when you got such attention for your rig, then you'd most likely feel a cozy feeling (UNLESS you are an uptight nerd).
    Nothing wrong with the fact that you appreciate the attention; it doesn't mean that you didn't buy the bike for FUNCTION.

    Of if you buy a nice car. If you get complemented and you like it, does that automatically turn you in an attention-seeking buyer?

    It's hard to grasp, I know.

    The problem with this type of 'bar is that it offers only one position (ie is tiring) and all it offers in return is 'cool'.
    3 positions, actually: near the stem, on the grips and on the side of the grips.
    And in return you get a whole lot more versatility.


    You people are so stuck on "cool" that it makes me wonder: do you ever do anything without thinking about coolness?
    Last edited by variety; 12-19-10 at 04:07 PM.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by variety View Post
    Well of course wider bars allow finer control.
    So, that point is "conceded" yet you then argue another point claiming it's the same one?.:shakes head:
    ...you're going to the extremes to prove your point. Well, that's NOT what I'm talking about.
    I'm sorry if you initially worded your post poorly and needed to clarify yourself - but actually redefining what you wrote and making different points doesn't necessarily further your initial argument.
    And BTW, moving "shoulder to shoulder" means equal speeds, in the same direction, and some inches in between.
    Sorry, it doesn't mean that in any of the six languages I can somewhat mangle with reasonable fluency. :wink:
    Otherwise, the only reason you cursed them is because you are a pretentious, bitter man.
    Ah argument by ad hominem, the refuge of a person making "a lost argument".
    It's hard to grasp, I know.
    Subtle? Not quite. Then again, I didn't have to resort to yet another ad hominem to make my point.
    You people are so stuck on "cool" that it makes me wonder: do you ever do anything without thinking about coolness?
    So others can't disagree with your point of view without being called "uncool"? And what does being "uncool" have to do with being able to have fun? I referred to bike handling with respect to short bar length. I didn't ever mention "fun" or even specifically practicality outside of the bike handling reference.

    Look, we all have egos. Some of us are more driven to satisfy them than others. Being "cool" through action or fashion is an ego-issue --- nothing insulting about it. Simple basic psychological theory. If that applies to you, it's not an insult.

    I'll repeat. I gave an honest gut reaction to your original post I responded to your response in the same manner - adding that your argument reinforced my gut reaction. Shrug. Why does my reaction bother you so much? No, no response is necessary.... It's a rhetorical question.
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    While others have labelled me antisocial at various times, it's actually not true. I just don't like people.

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    With a standard road bar... You can put your hands in that position if you like. And still have all the other positions available.
    If you're worried about braking you can get one of those little extra levers they're making now.

    On my patrol bike, I use a quite upright riding position and I installed a reasonably wide bar with a slight pull-back. This is much more comfortable on the wrists and I can hardly stand a straight bar now.

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