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  1. #1
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    Flat Bar Road Hybrid v Traditional Road Bike

    Hello

    I have recently taken up cycling so that I can do an 80 mile charity bike ride next month. I have been doing 50 mile training rides and have caught the cycling bug. I am riding a Specialized Cross Trail and have switched to road tyres to make it a bit more suited to road cycling. I also switch the front suspension off. At the moment I'm averaging 15 mph and I'm getting fed up of being overtaken by fat blokes on road bikes who are chatting to their mates whilst I huff and puff away (I'm a Personal Trainer and Thai Boxer so I like to think that I'm fit)!

    This post relates to the benefits that I would or wouldn't gain by changing bikes at some point in the future. In an ideal world, I would just go out and buy a road bike. However, I have a lower back problem which means that I cannot round my back for any length of time. If I did, there would be a danger that I wouldn't straighten back up! This makes me think that I wouldn't be suited to a road bike but those of you who know infinitely more than I may tell me otherwise.

    If I'm not suited to a traditional road bike, would a flat bar road bike provide me with a quicker, easier alternative to my very slightly modified Cross Trail?

  2. #2
    Certified Bike Brat Burton's Avatar
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    If you've already switched to road tires and are riding with the lockout on maybe its time to stop blaming the equipment. its very possible some of those 'fat blokes on road bikes' have a better cardiovascular system than you give them credit for.

    There's some stuff you can do to improve perfirmance, but bikes aren't fast and tires aren't fast - riders are fast. And some riders are faster than others.

  3. #3
    Senior Member GTryder's Avatar
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    Fast = Engine + Equipment

    More info here:
    http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...d-bikes-can-be

    You are into fitness and your cardio level will increase with more riding. A cross sport bike, even with road tires and suspension locked, cannot compete with a road bike over the long haul. A flat bar road bike will be much lighter, much faster and much more efficient. It may even be less costly than a traditional drop bar bike at the same model level or offer better components, wheels or even frame - Trek FX (higher end), Giant Rapid, Jamis Coda, etc. You will gain the most from weight reduction, decreased rolling resistance, geometry/frame stiffness and drivetrain/gearing/foot retention (clips or clipless pedals).

    I have lower back issues and ride a Giant flat bar, but...with bar ends and trimmed the width of my bars by 2". The distances you are doing will require changes in hand/riding position, so bar ends almost become a necessity. The only thing drop bars will give you is a slightly more areo position in the drops, but if your back can't handle it...there is no real advantage.

    There are other road bar options, but will require customization by the bike shop - bullhorns or mustache bars - again main advantage is multiple hand positions over aerodynamics.
    Last edited by GTryder; 06-23-13 at 09:57 AM. Reason: more info

  4. #4
    Senior Member GaryPitts's Avatar
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    I started with a hybrid 2.5 years ago. Added a flat bar road bike just under a year ago. It didn't change any of my performance even though it was 10 pounds lighter. I was no faster on it, and was pretty disappointed even though I loved the bike and it became my standard, favorite ride. A month ago I got my Domane and the performance benefits were immediate. I also was concerned that a drop bar bike would be uncomfortable for me as I'm older and not real flexible. Not the case at all. I am more comfortable on the Domane than I am on either of the flat bar bikes.

    I would recommend you look at the endurance line of bikes instead of the road race line. Most vendors have them now. Domane, Roubaix, etc. Hopefully, you can find one at your local bike shop and they'd let you take it for a spin.
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    Thanks Gary Pitts and GTryder for your really helpful responses. The time that you have taken is genuinely much appreciated.

  6. #6
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    One of the things that those fat blokes may have on you is many, many more miles under their belts. You need to build the muscles required to ride at the level you want. Your background as a trainer/kick boxer are good for overall fitness, but maybe not so great for cycling. Remember when Michael Jordan quit basketball for baseball? He was arguably the best basketball player in history, but only a mediocre baseball player.

  7. #7
    Senior Member xoxoxoxoLive's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pjbennett View Post
    Hello

    I have recently taken up cycling so that I can do an 80 mile charity bike ride next month. I have been doing 50 mile training rides and have caught the cycling bug. I am riding a Specialized Cross Trail and have switched to road tyres to make it a bit more suited to road cycling. I also switch the front suspension off. At the moment I'm averaging 15 mph and I'm getting fed up of being overtaken by fat blokes on road bikes who are chatting to their mates whilst I huff and puff away (I'm a Personal Trainer and Thai Boxer so I like to think that I'm fit)!

    This post relates to the benefits that I would or wouldn't gain by changing bikes at some point in the future. In an ideal world, I would just go out and buy a road bike. However, I have a lower back problem which means that I cannot round my back for any length of time. If I did, there would be a danger that I wouldn't straighten back up! This makes me think that I wouldn't be suited to a road bike but those of you who know infinitely more than I may tell me otherwise.

    If I'm not suited to a traditional road bike, would a flat bar road bike provide me with a quicker, easier alternative to my very slightly modified Cross Trail?
    If your averaging 15 mph over 50 miles, (solo) then you need to pat yourself on the back. Or recalibrate your cyclometer..
    2013 TREK 7.6 FX

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    Quote Originally Posted by xoxoxoxoLive View Post
    If your averaging 15 mph over 50 miles, (solo) then you need to pat yourself on the back. Or recalibrate your cyclometer..
    Thanks very much. Yes, my GPS and cyclometer both put me at 15 mph on average. Slightly lower on hillier routes. A friend of mine who is a triathlete reckons that he gets 17-18 mph over a similar distance on his road bike and used to do about 14-15 mph on a hybrid. That was one of the things started to make me think about what I could do bike wise. Logic suggested to me that if 2 people were getting similar average mph out of a hybrid and a switch to a road bike by one of them yielded better results, then maybe a change in bike, as well as improved cycling techniques and fitness would yield similar benefits for the other.

  9. #9
    Senior Member loneviking61's Avatar
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    I'd say go ride both types (hybrid and road) and see what you think. I have lower back problems and the Specialized Roubaix and the Secteur were both very uncomfortable for me. Then I tried a Giant Escape and the Escape was very comfortable and just as easy to pedal. The A groups will beat you on a drop bar road bike because of the wind resistance of the upright position on a hybrid, but if you aren't racing where seconds count--who cares?

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    I'm also impressed with the "averaging 15 mph over 50 miles". I'd love to be able to do that, but as is said, it's the engine not the equipment that makes the difference. I've tried everything to get faster, but with a bad back, I'm limited. pjbennett, you're doing better than you think you are.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Notgrownup's Avatar
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    Will your local bike shop let you test ride one of the road bikes? just try...SOme of the carbon frames are so light that it is bound to give you a little more speed but the legs... the legs....I test rode a carbon Cannondale before i decided on the Quick 5 flat bar Hybrid to start...I knew i couldn't afford the Carbon one but wanted to try... WOW...it does go well but i am sure the overall components have something to do with it also...Good luck.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GaryPitts View Post
    I started with a hybrid 2.5 years ago. Added a flat bar road bike just under a year ago. It didn't change any of my performance even though it was 10 pounds lighter. I was no faster on it, and was pretty disappointed even though I loved the bike and it became my standard, favorite ride. A month ago I got my Domane and the performance benefits were immediate. I also was concerned that a drop bar bike would be uncomfortable for me as I'm older and not real flexible. Not the case at all. I am more comfortable on the Domane than I am on either of the flat bar bikes.

    I would recommend you look at the endurance line of bikes instead of the road race line. Most vendors have them now. Domane, Roubaix, etc. Hopefully, you can find one at your local bike shop and they'd let you take it for a spin.
    This has been my experience almost verbatim. I started with a mountain bike when the wife and I both bought them. Mine actually saw a lot of use and I bought a Cannondale Road Warrior flat bar road bike/hybrid (like a Quick) a few years later. Only lasted a little over a year on that before I bought a entry-level REI road bike and saw immediate performance improvement. Rode that for 5 years and just rewarded myself for a 25-lb weight loss with a Trek Domane, which I love.

    I went from the mountain bike to the flat bar road bike instead of a drop bar because I was worried about my not-great lower back and didn't think I could take the positioning of the road bike. That was a mistake. Biking is surprisingly good for my back, and the endurance positioning is more upright than it looks. Interestingly, going from the Cannondale to the Novara (REI bike) was a step-down in components and price, yet my performance was way up. Going from the Novara to the Domane was another step up in performance, but not nearly as much as it was a step in price! I'm still happy I did it though - the bike rides like a dream.

    The Cannondale is now relegated to towing my kids. I guess I'm glad I have it for that reason, but as fun as it can be to ride, it's clearly the error in my line-up.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jcg878 View Post
    This has been my experience almost verbatim. I started with a mountain bike when the wife and I both bought them. Mine actually saw a lot of use and I bought a Cannondale Road Warrior flat bar road bike/hybrid (like a Quick) a few years later. Only lasted a little over a year on that before I bought a entry-level REI road bike and saw immediate performance improvement. Rode that for 5 years and just rewarded myself for a 25-lb weight loss with a Trek Domane, which I love.

    I went from the mountain bike to the flat bar road bike instead of a drop bar because I was worried about my not-great lower back and didn't think I could take the positioning of the road bike. That was a mistake. Biking is surprisingly good for my back, and the endurance positioning is more upright than it looks. Interestingly, going from the Cannondale to the Novara (REI bike) was a step-down in components and price, yet my performance was way up. Going from the Novara to the Domane was another step up in performance, but not nearly as much as it was a step in price! I'm still happy I did it though - the bike rides like a dream.

    The Cannondale is now relegated to towing my kids. I guess I'm glad I have it for that reason, but as fun as it can be to ride, it's clearly the error in my line-up.
    Even as I was buying my Cannondale Quick 4 I knew this will happen to me in a year's time. But I went ahead and bought the hybrid because my muscles are not conditioned at all and I want to develop them before switching to a raod bike with drop handlebars. I did try one of them and it was faster but the visibility was poor and I slipped and fell. If I was in better shape I could have avoided it and that is what I hope to become in a year. So the money invested in a hybrid is a learning exercise for me.

  14. #14
    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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    yes, with a drop bar road bike you will be more efficient, go a little faster and get passed less. try not to worry about those passing you. I know it can be hard when those that are passing you have a gut or whatever, but man, on a bike, you can't beat some legs.
    Last edited by rumrunn6; 06-25-13 at 09:36 AM.
    cycling is like baseball ~ it doesn't take much to make it interesting

  15. #15
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    IMG585.jpg

    Plan on 600km this weekend on that. I usually average around 25kmh (moving) not pushing it for long distance or at a max 28kmh average (moving) on 100 miles at max output. That bike cost $300 and is quite heavy. Not the bike... the engine.

  16. #16
    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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    nice one!
    cycling is like baseball ~ it doesn't take much to make it interesting

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
    yes, with a drop bar road bike you will be more efficient, go a little faster and get passed less.
    Is there more to it than being in a more horizontal position? I have never owned a drop bar road bike but have a flat bar road bike because my back can't stand to be stooped that low for so long. What do you mean more efficient?
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by themishmosh View Post
    Is there more to it than being in a more horizontal position?
    It's primarily aerodynamics, so yes more horizontal. Road bikes generally come stock with tires that have a lower rolling resistance than hybrids. I do think that the more stretched out position of a road bike, with hips rotated forward, is slightly more efficient but that could be more psychological. I just know that on my Jamis Coda I was constantly feeling like I wanted to get more aero/aggressive which led me to buy my first road bike. Road bikes with an endurance geometry can be setup to be fairly upright so I wouldn't write off all road bikes because you have back issues. If you do a search in the road bike forum lots of people who have bad backs ride road bikes.

  19. #19
    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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    don't think I'm the best one to explain but aside from the tires, saddle, and aerodynamics, the "geometry" of a road bike, allows more of your effort to be applied directly to forward propulsion. even if you raise your drop bars as I do I feel like I am a little bit more forward and so my thrusting is applied not just downward but also slightly back ward, kind of like the difference between treading water and swimming. on a MTB you are upright and your legs are doing the sewing machine thing up and down but on a drop bar bike you are pushing back and propelling yourself forward. it just makes more sense if want to really go anywhere. also the posture on a road bike doesn't hurt if you think of it as pushing your butt out and arching your back rather than hunching over. my back bothers me brushing my teeth sometimes because I can't hunch over but on a bike my back doesn't bother me because leaning forward isn't the same also my arms hold up my torso but not a lot because the thrusting of my legs actually takes the weight off my arms. you have to really try it to understand.
    cycling is like baseball ~ it doesn't take much to make it interesting

  20. #20
    Senior Member RollCNY's Avatar
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    Just my opinion, but it is almost impossible to compare a "flat bar road hybrid" to a road bike, because there is a huge variety in the definition of a "flat bar road hybrid". A hybrid with 2" knobbies, front suspension, and a bolt upright position will be less efficient than a road bike. A hybrid with 25's on 700c wheels, solid fork, and aggressive seat to bar drop may not be that different than a road bike. I have done many group rides on an aggressively set up hybrid, and noticed no appreciable disadvantage. But my hybrid was much more the latter then it was the former.

    Owning both drop bar road bikes and flat bar bikes, my longest ride ever was on flat bars, my fastest top speed on a hill was on a hybrid, my fastest sprint speed was on a hybrid. Weather conditions, hill size, and my willingness to suffer have had more general impact than what bike I was on.

  21. #21
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    I am assuming by "flat bar road hybrid" that it is a hybrid that for all intents and purposes is setup more like a road bike except for the flat handlebars. A Trek 7.7 comes to mind, or my own Marin Highway One. Both use road bike components, have 700x25c tires, etc. I have tried to imagine if my flatbars where drop bars and simulating the position can already feel the strain in my back. I have seen roadbikes with long headtubes or angled stems, but then what's the difference if you lose the "aero" positioning?
    Last edited by themishmosh; 06-27-13 at 04:25 PM.
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  22. #22
    Senior Member RollCNY's Avatar
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    I just checked out the Marin Highway One. Nice bike. There are differences between a "road hybrid" and a road bike, even an endurance road bike (taller HT, shorter TT). Using your Marin as an example, a road bike has shorter chainstays, steeper HTA & less rake, more BB drop, shorter wheelbase. So the steering is quicker, they feel more responsive when you accelerate, and the lower BB makes you set lower overall (again aiding aero). I equate it to feeling more "in the bike" than "on the bike". You definitely feel faster. Also, road bars are narrower, so another aero plus.

    However, I never found the magic speed increase that others have found. Road bikes are more aero, no doubt. But at recreational riding speeds, I have never found a remarkable speed difference.

  23. #23
    Senior Member Notgrownup's Avatar
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    That Marin is a nice bike...I must say i was not familiar with that brand...
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