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Old 05-17-11, 08:50 PM   #1
SurlyLaika
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Drop Bars--Discuss.

Why use them? I know they have more hand positions than flat bars, but I rarely use the drops. When I do use the drops, I don't stay in that position for long. Mostly I use the tops and hoods. Bonuses are that I have cross top brake levers, the bar end shifters are nice, too, and the hoods are useful for hanging market bags off of.

How can drops be made better use of? Anyone out there just passionate about riding the drops? Anyone like another handlebar they like better? I think if I'd might like to try moustache handlebars to save myself some back strain.

I'm asking because I recently replaced the crappiest, most unsupportive Brooks leather handlebar tape with some Deda foam handlebar tape. I had to take my German Bike Mirror off. I haven't had a chance to put it back on and I've been experimenting with riding the drops, but I'm not sure how I'd rather use it, for one more hand position or to mount a bike mirror.
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Old 05-17-11, 08:53 PM   #2
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Here's a Sheldon Brown link to start this off.
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Old 05-17-11, 09:20 PM   #3
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Even Sheldon got it wrong wrong when it comes to bars since not everyone likes being bent over when they ride.
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Old 05-17-11, 09:42 PM   #4
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I enjoyed being bent over, but it got to be a pain in the neck, so to speak, to see where I was going. My personal issue was not being able to get a solid grip on the brake levers. I finally went with a moustache bar. All problems solved.

True, the moustache gives only one hand position, but it is a really good position.
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Old 05-17-11, 09:51 PM   #5
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I like riding on the top flat part for city traffic, and that's where cross levers really shine IMO. It lets me sit up straighter to see more and be seen. Everywhere else, the hoods for most of it. Sometimes I rest on my forearms like I have invisible tri bars. Drops are only for downhill and headwinds. Sometimes I'll put my palms on the hoods, fingers going over the top, sometimes I'll put my palms on the first curve, so my thumbs are pointing forwards. Variety is nice and keeps your arms from getting tingly.
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Old 05-17-11, 10:02 PM   #6
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I like riding on the top flat part for city traffic, and that's where cross levers really shine IMO. It lets me sit up straighter to see more and be seen. Everywhere else, the hoods for most of it. Sometimes I rest on my forearms like I have invisible tri bars. Drops are only for downhill and headwinds. Sometimes I'll put my palms on the hoods, fingers going over the top, sometimes I'll put my palms on the first curve, so my thumbs are pointing forwards. Variety is nice and keeps your arms from getting tingly.
As far as cross levers and hood levers, I really don't even notice anymore which ones I use. Sometimes I think I even mix the two. I really like that aspect of the drop bars. I know moustache bars would have only one position and one set of brake levers, but it's still appealing to sit up straight. Are the drops really only uses for downhill riding and riding against headwinds? Hmm, well maybe my mirror would make better use of that space, then. When I have ridden the drops around the neighborhood, I've noticed that I've been able to pick up speed up to 20mph whereas on the hoods I can only get up to 15mph. I have try mashing the gears while on the hoods and see if there's a drops placebo effect.
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Old 05-17-11, 10:09 PM   #7
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I enjoyed being bent over, but it got to be a pain in the neck, so to speak, to see where I was going. My personal issue was not being able to get a solid grip on the brake levers. I finally went with a moustache bar. All problems solved.

True, the moustache gives only one hand position, but it is a really good position.
From rivbike:
Get the Moustache Handlebar if: You want the upright position and immediate access to the brakes that a flat bar provides, but want a bar that offers you multiple hand positions. The Moustache H'bar is a fine all-around shape, but get it at least level with the saddle, and a bit higher is even better


BUT they got it way wrong on the handlebar tape. I hate leather and I hate cloth handlebar tape. Absolutely no support. I had issues with hand pain and I went through adjustment after fitting and so on. Finally, I gave up the Brooks handlebar tape and voila, no more palm cramps. Gel/foam handlebar tape FTW (with a good fitting)
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Old 05-17-11, 10:59 PM   #8
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I don't use drops much myself, but met a woman at a bike rack who said she rode enough that it just seemed natural to be in them. I hadn't even known that was possible. I always thought it took discipline or something like that.
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Old 05-17-11, 11:18 PM   #9
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We had a 4.5 mile one-way fun club time trial into 17mph headwinds last weekend.
We are a small club, yet 10 seconds could change your final placing. Riding in the drops definitely helped.

I also get down in the drops when I rocket downhill. It allows me to scootch back on the saddle and get more stable and aero.

Finally, there are some bike paths with untrimmed tree branches overhead. Nice to not have them scratching up the helmet.

Bike fit and your body type/flexibility will determine comfort levels in the drops. YMMV.
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Old 05-17-11, 11:22 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Nightshade View Post
Even Sheldon got it wrong wrong when it comes to bars since not everyone likes being bent over when they ride.
I don't believe he ever said that drop bars were the only way to go... he was pretty open minded about such things.

He was right when he said that most bikes that are equipped with drop bars have a race fit which is not conducive to long distance comfort and running drop bars in a higher position with the flat level or even above the saddle can make the drop position much more comfortable.

A good percentage of my bicycles have drop bars, most are level with the saddle as I usually ride for distance and comfort although there are a few exceptions.
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Old 05-18-11, 02:23 AM   #11
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If you don't like drops, look for bull horn (or cow horn) handlebars ... these are not moustache handlebars. I've got them on the tandem, and have used them elsewhere as well.
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Old 05-18-11, 03:40 AM   #12
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I can see drop bars being useful for long distances, where the ability to move your hands around would be good. However, this would only be true if you adjusted the handlebars to something higher than a race fit. If you have them already and don't use the drops much, consider raising them slightly. That way you'd be able to use the drops more for general riding, with the tops giving you a more upright position for negotiating city traffic.
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Old 05-18-11, 05:24 AM   #13
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Guys, it is not that much of a stretch. What is it, five inches?

The biggest problem I see is folks whose handlebars are set for aesthetics rather than practical use. Mine are set level with my seat so being 'on the drops' (as people that want to sound kewl would say it) is one of many comfy possitions to be in.

Never raced, never tried to maintain high speeds. I do like 80+mile days up and down mountain roads. When the winds feels like a wall, the ability to ride low is the best thing in the universe.
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Old 05-18-11, 06:11 AM   #14
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I only used the drops on a downhill or with a strong headwind. Then I got some FSA Omega shallow drop bars. Now I use the drops as just another normal hand position. I was really surprised how much difference it made. The Omega bars are around $40, and heavier than my old bars.

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Old 05-18-11, 07:31 AM   #15
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I reciently changed out my flat bar to drop bars, I like it a lot better and I just get in the drops only when I'm going over 20MPH. I dont mind being bent over, only when it's going fast.
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Old 05-18-11, 07:37 AM   #16
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Guys, it is not that much of a stretch. What is it, five inches?
Mine are set level with my seat so being 'on the drops' (as people that want to sound kewl would say it) is one of many comfy possitions to be in.
When you say "level with my seat" are you refering to the drop position, level with the seat, or the portion that ataches to the stem?
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Old 05-18-11, 07:43 AM   #17
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I'll be purchasing an LHT fairly soon, and keep thinking that trekking bars are the way to go, although I have tried the drop bars that are standard issue with the LHT and found them ok as well.
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Old 05-18-11, 07:51 AM   #18
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Drops come in handy to me when going for longer rides. Besides other things, I like to get on drops sometimes to relax my back and change the position.
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Old 05-18-11, 07:59 AM   #19
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When you say "level with my seat" are you refering to the drop position, level with the seat, or the portion that ataches to the stem?
The top of the handlebars are level with the seat.




And the bull horn bars look like this ...

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Old 05-18-11, 09:31 AM   #20
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i get down in the drops primarily for fighting nasty head winds, otherwise i'm on the hoods the vast majority of the time. my drop bars are a couple of inches below the saddle to begin with so even when i'm on the hoods i'm still somewhat bent over for better aero performance.

i put bullhorns on my hybrid because it's very similar to riding on the hoods of a drop bar. i find that having my hands parallel to the wheels is SO much more comfortable to me than the perpendicular hand position that a flat bar offers. i don't know why that 90 degree twist in the wrist makes such a big difference, but i can ride for hours like that, even with a good deal of weight on my wrists (my bullhorns are about 3-4 inches below my saddle).
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Old 05-18-11, 10:34 AM   #21
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albertmoreno, There are several styles of drop bars on the market. The Cinelli 64 is a favorite bend of mine and many others and I read that it may become available again new. It features a short reach and moderate drop with the ends extending rearward of the top tube.

I ride the hoods primarily, but I do use the drops and would hate to not have them.

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Old 05-18-11, 10:36 AM   #22
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"Drops" oh my aching back!
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Old 05-18-11, 11:18 AM   #23
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Consider also 'Trekking' bars.. a figure 8 like bend, rather than up and down,
they offer a near and far and sides grip..
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Old 05-18-11, 11:31 AM   #24
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I'm rarely in the drops, but have rotated my bars and used a long enough stem that if I were to raise my bars an inch or so and shorten the stem, I'd probably find them to be the same position I'm using now with the tops being much more comfortable. Hmmm, something to think about.
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Old 05-18-11, 12:51 PM   #25
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When the winds feels like a wall, the ability to ride low is the best thing in the universe.
This is where I am at.

On my commute I have about 15 miles of open terrain where the wind often blows. One way or the other it's a headwind.

I use my drops on those stretches, but I actually find my clip-on aero bars much more comfortable. I get comments about having a rear basket and aero bars, but that's the best way I've found to carry a full backpack in a headwind.
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