Non drop bars for LD
I have been back at riding regularly for 4 years and have done a few centuries, signed up for the National 24 hour challenge last year and got sick the night before, never started. I have a type of arthritis call Ankylosing Spondylitis that effects my lower back, neck, elbows and wrists. Sometimes no issue, sometimes very stiff and painful. My bikes have drop bars, I never have used the drops for more than 2 seconds. Are there any other bars that work for long distance? I am planning on a 200k in June and a 300K in July.
I would suggest that if you've never used the drops, your bars are simply too high. Try raising them so that the drops are at a functional level for you.
But there's nothing magical about drop bars. Most folks like 'em because they give a variety of hand positions, which is quite important on long rides.
You could look at some albatross bars, or north roads, or moustache bars. All will give multiple positions if wrapped.
I have ditched drop bars and bought bullhorns years ago. I also never really got in the drops and I really like the better hand grips of the bullhorns better for climbing (I ride SS, so I have to stand and grind up climbs). Bullhorns still offer variety of hand positions and for me, have been comfortable enough for centuries. I'm planning to ride a 250k route this year.
Aerobars are fairly popular, not sure if they'd be better or worse for you than drop bars.
Recumbents are fairly popular in the local rando scene, and might help with some of those issues.
The main advantage to drop bars is if you're trying to go faster than your comfortable speed, or grinding into the wind. Otherwise, I don't use them.
Be sure your bike fits and is properly set up. Historically, I rarely have used drops because they were never comfortable. I ride a Cannondale Synaspe, which is comfort oriented. I put Ritchey Bio Max bars on and now I can ride the drops comfortably for extended periods.
I did a 300K on a bicycle with bullhorn bars, and that was fine ... and actually, my spot on the tandem has them too, and I've done lots of long distance rides on the tandem.
Thanks for the responses. Bike fit is not the issue. With my condition bars too high and lower back hurts, too low, neck hurts. I need to be in the zone, usually drop bars even with the saddle. I spent a month or so tweaking stem length as well.
I had not considered bullhorn bars, but that is probably what i effectively have with the way I use my drops.
You may also consider "compact drops" with less drop, or "dirt drops" where the ends are flared out. Both of these options would give lots of hand positions without causing a big change in your posture.
This is my favorite style of drop bar.
Originally Posted by ThermionicScott
The longest I have done on mountain style bars with bar ends was about 130 miles. Actually, so far that is the farthest I have rode in a day. Upper body and hands were comfortable, the only regrets I had from that ride were pushing to hard in the beginning after flatting and I learned my saddle was no good for 100+ miles. I would try a 300k with the same set up but no idea about rides longer than that.
I have heard of some people using butterfly bars. Not my cup of tea but it would give you some more hand positions. :)
I'm using compact handlebars and aero bars. It provides five very distinct hand and arm positions. Being able to rest my hands while on the aero bars is critical to avoiding discomfort.