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  1. #1
    Senior Member Chris Pringle's Avatar
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    Tell us about YOUR favorite handlebar for long-distance riding

    We all know the importance of comfortable contact points. Curious about what's your current favorite handlebar for long-distance riding:

    1. Brand/Model/Size
    2. Is it narrower/wider than your shoulders?
    3. Riding style: tops/ramps/hoods/drops (feel free to use percentages for approx. time spent)
    4. Why is it so comfy to anything else you've tried?

  2. #2
    Randomhead
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    I like wide handlebars, but I am not picky otherwise. I have some "ergo" bars. I hate the way ergo bars feel in the drops, but I've been too lazy to change. I don't ride in the drops much at all.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Commodus's Avatar
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    I like my Noodles. They're the same size as my shoulders. I spend most of my time on the hoods, but I like the shape of the drops. There are about three distinct positions in the drops, which works for me as I move around a lot, and it lets stay in them whenever I'm in the wind.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Homeyba's Avatar
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    I have Truvativ bars on my bike, not sure the model. Since Sram bought Truvativ they pretty much stopped making road stuff so they aren't on the market anymore. They are 44cm wide and 32mm in diameter with flat tops.
    Wide handlebars work better for me and I prefer the thicker diameter bars too as I have large hands and the skinnier bars cause me to have numbness/comfort issues. I also prefer flat top bars because I spend a lot of time riding with my forearms on the bar tops. The flat tops make it more comfortable. I can ride forever in that postition. When I'm not on the bar tops I'm usually on the hoods. I don't spend a lot of times in the drops. Usually on descents, pacelines and when things get technical.
    It doesn't get harder, you just go slower.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Chris Pringle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Commodus View Post
    I like my Noodles. They're the same size as my shoulders. I spend most of my time on the hoods, but I like the shape of the drops. There are about three distinct positions in the drops, which works for me as I move around a lot, and it lets stay in them whenever I'm in the wind.
    Good to hear you like your Nitto Noodles. I've been running Salsa Cowbell on my current bike with great success. They are about 4 cm wider than my shoulder. My time on the handlebar is divided approx. 60% hoods, 30% drops, and 10% tops. The Cowbells seem to have a similar geometry to the Nitto Noodle. I am working, however, on a new build (retro-style) for my partner. I think the Noodles fit the bill functionally and aesthetically. People in general seem to love 'em, but wanted to hear this from L.D. riders specifically.

  6. #6
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    3T bars, set up exactly like the current photo on their home page:
    http://www.3tcycling.com/athletes/road-athletes

    I spend most of my time on hoods and tops, a little in the drops but not much. I like to rest my wrists on the top of the bar itself while holding the side of the hoods, with a good bit of elbow bend. Their bar geometry and this hood positioning allows me to do that. My bars are usually wider than my shoulders, but I find that doesn't matter so much. I ride a few different bar widths.

  7. #7
    Senior Member dwmckee's Avatar
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    I like drop bars with a short drop and shallow reach so all of the different hand positions are fairly close together. That way I have a fairly constant body position that is always comfortable regardless of hand position and I can use all of the positions any time for as long as I want. That way I can minimize hand numbness which is my main problem. I also like bars a little on the wider side as it makes steering more desensitized AND I have room for more junk to attach on the bar tops. I also prefer an anatomical bend and I use gel pads under the bar tape. The two main bars I ride lately are the Ritchey Biomax Pro and the Salsa Short and Shallow. The Ritchey bars are much nicer but are about 2.5x the price of the Salsas..

  8. #8
    Lover of Old Chrome Moly Myosmith's Avatar
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    I have a flat bar with Ergon GC2 integrated bar end grips on the touring bike I use for centuries and other distance rides. The bar ends place my hands slightly wider than my shoulders and the regular flatbar grip position puts them at about the same width as my shoulders. I know a lot of people knock flatbars, but I find this setup very comfortable even on long rides of several hours.

    My road bike has a Bontrager bar with fairly shallow drops, don't remember the model. I ride the hoods 80% of the time and my hands are at about the same width as my shoulders. The top is set at about seat level or just a cm higher which is comfortable for longer rides, but I'm a clyde and not as flexible as I should be.
    Lead, follow or get out of the way

  9. #9
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Some more things occurred to me after I made my first comment here. I climb with hands on bar tops almost exclusively. I'm not quite sure why, but I think I can breathe better that way. I use a strong elbow bend and keep my elbows in. On a normal brevet around here, there's a lot of climbing and thus descending. I probably descend about 5 times faster than I climb. Meaning that I spend really a lot of time on the tops.

    When I rando I run aero bars. Why wouldn't I? I'll never ride PBP and even if I did, I'd only abandon them on a PBP year. I'll be on the 'bars anytime I'm solo or pulling on the flat, on straight descents, and even climbing against a headwind. I don't bother with them on most training rides because there's too much time spent in close quarters to make the extra pound worth it. I haven't fitted them to the tandem yet, but I think I will this spring.

    So I like my bar tops and a bar width that has top left over beside the aerobars. I like bars shaped to make it easy to ride the hoods. Descending, I'll ride the drops instead of the aerobars only on bumpy descents and sharper corners. All I need from the drops is good hand position for brake access.

  10. #10
    Dharma Dog lhbernhardt's Avatar
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    Back in the old days I used Cinelli #66 bars (the deep drop), 42 cm wide, mounted on Cinelli 1A stems. Now there is far more choice, so I have switched to 44 cm wide bars with a medium drop. I hardly ever/never get into the drops unless I'm riding track. During Paris-Brest-Paris, I spent a total of maybe five minutes in the drops out of nearly 65 hours total elapsed.

    I have a theory that people mistakenly set their drop bars too high (following Grant Peterson's admonition to set the bars at saddle height) because they want to be comfortable in the drops. I think this is wrong-headed. I think you are supposed to be uncomfortable in the drops, if you want to be in an aerodynamic position. Otherwise, you're sitting too high and not getting any benefit from being in the drops, other than a change in hand position. The bars should be set lower than the saddle, so that when your hands are on the brake hoods, they would be at the same level they would be in if they were in the drops with the bars set at the same height as the saddle. Capisce?

    I'm using 31.8mm carbon fiber bars in the summer, but it seems to me that the larger diameter at the stem offsets any vibration-damping inherent in the material vs. aluminum bars with the old 26mm stem diameter.

    And the one time I used bars with a flat section, I developed significant hand numbness (well, it was on a 1,000 km brevet), so since then I have only used round bars. But then I don't like riding with my wrists near the center of the bars (pro style); not enough control, especially with a slippery long-sleeve jersey. I do ride with wrists close to the sides of the bars, with fingers on the brake hoods. This alleviates pressure on the base of the palms.

    Luis

  11. #11
    7-speed doomsday prepper ThermionicScott's Avatar
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    Luis, I wouldn't just blame Grant -- the French influence may be at work here, too.

    Quote Originally Posted by chandltp View Post
    There's no such thing as too far.. just lack of time
    RUSA #7498

  12. #12
    Dharma Dog lhbernhardt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
    Luis, I wouldn't just blame Grant -- the French influence may be at work here, too.
    Touche!

    Yeah, the stem looks lower than the saddle, but those rando bars sweep up at the ends. Interesting angles, too: a very shallow head tube with a steep seat tube. And is the wheelbase actually 1,070 mm? Gotta love those old Rebour illustrations.

    Luis

  13. #13
    7-speed doomsday prepper ThermionicScott's Avatar
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    Yeah, they're beautiful.

    By having the top and bottom sections of the handlebars so close to parallel, they meet your hand nicely when tilted up a little like this. And with the slight amount of drop (maybe 1-3cm) pictured, the ramps/hoods and drops are both very usable. I've become a real fan of this setup, for short commutes or longer rides.

    (Full disclosure: At this point, I'm not fast enough on my commuting/randonneuring for aerodynamics to be a priority, but I do use drops on all of my bikes.)
    Last edited by ThermionicScott; 01-15-13 at 04:33 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by chandltp View Post
    There's no such thing as too far.. just lack of time
    RUSA #7498

  14. #14
    Senior Member Commodus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lhbernhardt View Post
    ...

    I have a theory that people mistakenly set their drop bars too high (following Grant Peterson's admonition to set the bars at saddle height) because they want to be comfortable in the drops. I think this is wrong-headed. I think you are supposed to be uncomfortable in the drops, if you want to be in an aerodynamic position. Otherwise, you're sitting too high and not getting any benefit from being in the drops, other than a change in hand position. The bars should be set lower than the saddle, so that when your hands are on the brake hoods, they would be at the same level they would be in if they were in the drops with the bars set at the same height as the saddle. Capisce?
    ...

    Luis
    This is my theory as well. The Noodles have quite a deep drop and I like that. I want to be nice and low when I'm in them, it's a completely distinct position from my regular place on the hoods.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Chris Pringle's Avatar
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    Interesting some of the thoughts being drawn from this discussion. That is about setting up the handlebars so they're comfortable on the hoods/tops for up to 90% of your riding, but uncomfortable on the drops for best aerodynamics. I guess this would also lower one's center of gravity giving you better control on downhill curves.

    I have mine unknowingly set up Ó la franšaise (Grant Peterson's style.) I have indeed noticed that there's not a significant difference in body position from riding on the hoods to riding in the drops (maybe because of my choice of handlebar, too.) How do you guys deal with stronger winds? Do you stay uncomfortable riding on the drops for hours? Do you simply bend your elbows more on the hoods? I really tried setting up my bars lower but, given my flexibility, my lower back was suffering after just a couple of hours of riding. I've read in several places that randonneurs tend to keep their handlebars level with the saddle. So, I tried it. I can now ride for hours without any discomfort.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Commodus's Avatar
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    Well, when I say 'nice and low' I mean at the limit of my flexibility. I want to be able to stay there for 15-30 minutes at a time without discomfort, let's say. In a randonneuring context.

    That gives me enough time to deal with long pulls on the front of a paceline. Headwinds are best handled with friends, in my opinion.

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