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  1. #1
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    bar height indecision

    Here's my bike:



    After (slow) rides of (mostly level) 160km, I'm tired. But no part of me is particularly tired. "If [the bike layout] ain't broke, don't fix it." But, but: a commonplace of writing about bikes is that drop bars are good because you have a variety of hand and thus upper-body positions. And certainly I often do want to move around. But the drops are so low that I never want to use them for the sake of change. (I only use them when countering a vicious headwind. Not for aerodynamic effect when going downhill: I prefer enjoying the scenery at 40km/h to dicing with death at 60km/h.) I presume that if the bar were higher I'd often want to make use of the drops: more variety, and I hope less general tiredness.

    The stem's now at the highest position Nitto recommends. The top of the handlebar is about 7cm below the top of the saddle.

    The general opinion in for example the thread "Touring handlebar height" seems to be "do what's comfortable". But I have only a year's experience of "serious" cycling so I imagine that a big factor in what's comfortable is what I'm used to. (I also imagine that raising the handlebar will move more of my weight onto, and greatly increase my annoyance with, the saddle.)

    If I bought a new stem, I think I'd get the modern kind (I forget the name) and an adapter and (if needed) spacers: easier to fiddle with later. But maybe I should instead stop whining, be grateful that I don't have any particular pain, and continue as is.

    Suggestions? (I'm thick-skinned, so if "STFU and HTFU!" seems appropriate, just say it.)

  2. #2
    Senior Member antimonysarah's Avatar
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    What about drop bars with less drop, like dirt drops?

  3. #3
    Senior Member Homeyba's Avatar
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    Get a new stem. You should be able to ride comfortably in the drops.
    It doesn't get harder, you just go slower.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by antimonysarah View Post
    What about drop bars with less drop, like dirt drops?
    I'm not completely happy with the bar. You can't see this from the side, but it's what was dubbed a "randonneur" bar back in the 80s, when I bought it for my wife's bike. (She quickly made it clear that she wasn't interested in drops, so effectively it's NOS.) But for me it's a lot better than what it replaced, a "Maes" bar. (On the rare occasion when I used the drops of the Maes bar, my forearms would be rubbing the upper part of the bar.) I might end up with something shallower. But if so, it would be in conjunction with:

    Quote Originally Posted by Homeyba View Post
    Get a new stem. You should be able to ride comfortably in the drops.
    Thank you for reassuring me of my sanity. I was thinking of starting with an arrangement whereby the top of the bar is one or two centimetres lower than the top of the saddle. With that (via a modern stem) as a starting point, I can later do some tinkering and adjusting.

  5. #5
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    You'd probably be just fine with a new stem. One thing I like about quill stems is they're easier to raise or lower -- turn one bolt, tap with a mallet, and you're done.

    That said, I'm a bit skeptical that you will reduce overall fatigue because you have more hand positions. Plus, in theory raising the bars will slow you down a little bit.

  6. #6
    2 Fat 2 Furious contango's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Homeyba View Post
    Get a new stem. You should be able to ride comfortably in the drops.
    This sounds sensible - there seems little point having drops if they are so low you can't use them without discomfort.

    All I'd suggest is to check to make sure everything else is right and the drops aren't actually uncomfortable before you change them. When I lowered my handlebars I found I hardly ever used the drops simply because they were lower than I was used to - I'd happily adopt a sort-of TT position with my forearms horizontal and my hands holding the hoods but never used the drops. After a while I figured if I couldn't use the drops I needed to raise the handlebar again so tried them, and found I liked them after all.
    "For a list of ways technology has failed to improve quality of life, press three"

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe View Post
    You'd probably be just fine with a new stem. One thing I like about quill stems is they're easier to raise or lower -- turn one bolt, tap with a mallet, and you're done.

    That said, I'm a bit skeptical that you will reduce overall fatigue because you have more hand positions. Plus, in theory raising the bars will slow you down a little bit.
    Well, yes . . . except that few quill stems are tall, and the lower ones can't be made shorter. And if you do need a different stem, then of course the switch is quite a rigmarole.

    Quote Originally Posted by contango View Post
    This sounds sensible - there seems little point having drops if they are so low you can't use them without discomfort.

    All I'd suggest is to check to make sure everything else is right and the drops aren't actually uncomfortable before you change them. [...]
    Actually I posed the question in order to get some input before booking myself in for a fitting. The person I'd ask has a good reputation hereabouts and would certainly have some experience of working with old geezers with no illusions about racing, but surely he'd ask me about my preferences. And if my responses were 30% "I dunno" and 50% a mishmash of contradictory pearls of wisdom (or not) remembered or misremembered from various websites and books, he might reasonably get frustrated or give up and treat me like stock customer, variant X.

    My hunch is that I should raise the bar so I'll want to use the drops 20% or more of the time, rather than 2%. Of course any such adjustment would have implications for stem length. Also, I've no idea about posture: I'm ready to be told that my proprioception is shot and that in fact I'm either hunched up or too stretched out.

  8. #8
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    Looks like you're a candidate for a Nitto Technomic or Technomic Deluxe stem. They'll get you another inch or two higher. You might want to drop a centimeter in stem length (as you get the stem higher, it moves the bars back toward you).

    If you've had this bike for a year or two, it might be time to change out the cables and housings. That's a good time to swap stems.

  9. #9
    Randomhead
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    I agree with the Nitto recommendation. I am not sure if a quill adapter is the way to go on this bike.

  10. #10
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Your drop is about the same as mine. I also seldom use the drops, but they sure are handy for pulling a line and for headwinds. I use them all the time for that. My rule is that the first two riders in the line should be in the drops. More upright is usually more tired and more sore back, though I see many LD riders with bars level with saddle. LD riders I know who've moved their bars up also moved them away, that is, forward. You do have a lot of seatpost showing, so I suppose it's possible that the frame is too small for you.

    Personally, I much prefer bars with a flat top behind the levers, similar to these:
    50-7314-NCL-ANGLE.jpg

    I also much prefer an aero lever or brifter. Tektros are good.
    See this thread:
    http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...91-Aero-levers

    You lose a hand position with the old style non-aero levers. See how her wrists lie on the bar tops, taking the weight, and how her hands cover where your cables exit. I think this position is about as fast as the drops:
    OdessaGunn6.jpg
    http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...1#post12953035

    Mostly, everyone gets tired. Try eating on the bike when you get tired. Stay hydrated. Pee every 2-3 hours. Train harder, meaning not just mileage, but hard efforts, i.e. intervals, both on the flat and hill intervals. 15-20 minute intervals at the hardest effort you can sustain for that time make a huge difference. Riding hills, climbing as hard as you can, makes a huge difference. To train for LD, it's unnecessary to ride over 80 miles, you just have to ride that distance, 30-80 miles depending on season, as hard as you can once a week, plus of course other riding. Climb as hard as you can, recover and repeat. The SR series will train you for doing more distance.

    Edit: to see this geezer's position, see this post:
    http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...1#post12207030
    Last edited by Carbonfiberboy; 07-25-13 at 04:51 PM.

  11. #11
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    Thank you all for the advice. Particularly

    15-20 minute intervals at the hardest effort you can sustain for that time
    Ulp! This sounds like the kind of thing I and my chums were repeatedly told to do forty-plus years ago -- whereupon most of us would make feeble pretences of doing it, while counting down the seconds till the end of the school day. But yes! I'll do it!

    Yes, I suspect that my frame is small for me; but surely it's not so small that well-informed adjustments can't do a tolerably good job. Anyway, where I happen to be (Tokyo) is not a place where one has a choice of pretty good, reasonably priced frames or bikes my size; and though I'm tempted by made-to-measure frames and so on I'm definitely not going to pay a lot for something until/unless I'm pretty sure I have good reasons for knowing what I want.

    I realize that brifters are easier to use and that my lack of them is probably a factor in the way I occasionally have to stop when an incline suddenly becomes steep, not being able to change down fast enough. (Well, it's probably 90% inattention and slow reaction times, 10% technology.) But I can live with this. What does irritate me is the accumulation of junk on, or very close to, the handlebar; I'm a bit tempted to switch to a little bag and rack close above the front mudguard -- something like uno cofrecito bag perhaps. However, I'm not rushing to buy different or new add-ons till the quasi-triangle of my own contact with the bike is improved.

    For that purpose, I'm booked in for a fitting exactly one week from now. Today, I am an 11 stone apology; from next week, I hope to be on course to become two separate gorillas (3:25).

  12. #12
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by microcord View Post
    Thank you all for the advice. Particularly



    Ulp! This sounds like the kind of thing I and my chums were repeatedly told to do forty-plus years ago -- whereupon most of us would make feeble pretences of doing it, while counting down the seconds till the end of the school day. But yes! I'll do it!

    Yes, I suspect that my frame is small for me; but surely it's not so small that well-informed adjustments can't do a tolerably good job. Anyway, where I happen to be (Tokyo) is not a place where one has a choice of pretty good, reasonably priced frames or bikes my size; and though I'm tempted by made-to-measure frames and so on I'm definitely not going to pay a lot for something until/unless I'm pretty sure I have good reasons for knowing what I want.

    I realize that brifters are easier to use and that my lack of them is probably a factor in the way I occasionally have to stop when an incline suddenly becomes steep, not being able to change down fast enough. (Well, it's probably 90% inattention and slow reaction times, 10% technology.) But I can live with this. What does irritate me is the accumulation of junk on, or very close to, the handlebar; I'm a bit tempted to switch to a little bag and rack close above the front mudguard -- something like uno cofrecito bag perhaps. However, I'm not rushing to buy different or new add-ons till the quasi-triangle of my own contact with the bike is improved.

    For that purpose, I'm booked in for a fitting exactly one week from now. Today, I am an 11 stone apology; from next week, I hope to be on course to become two separate gorillas (3:25).
    Also note where her (El Cofrecito) light is. Probably mounted on a Nob as shown on this page: http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/light-mounts.asp
    I have my lights mounted on similar gadgets from Minoura, no longer made. I run a blinky on one fork and a headlamp on the other or can run headlamps on both. The low mounting is good for night vision and shows up road irregularities very well.

    The Tektro levers I mention are not brifters, rather just what you have but with the cable routed along the bar. Combined with a flat bar from bend to lever they are quite comfortable and also inexpensive.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
    Also note where her (El Cofrecito) light is. Probably mounted on a Nob as shown on this page: http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/light-mounts.asp [...]
    That page gives the equivalent of a one-semester undergraduate course in bike lighting. I will digest it -- not least because my perfectly good dynamo hub is as yet unused.

    And I'll consider different brake levers too. (Even though I'd then, for one reason or another, have not one but three pairs of barely used Dia-Compe brake levers sitting in boxes.)

  14. #14
    Senior Member Road Fan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by microcord View Post
    Well, yes . . . except that few quill stems are tall, and the lower ones can't be made shorter. And if you do need a different stem, then of course the switch is quite a rigmarole.



    Actually I posed the question in order to get some input before booking myself in for a fitting. The person I'd ask has a good reputation hereabouts and would certainly have some experience of working with old geezers with no illusions about racing, but surely he'd ask me about my preferences. And if my responses were 30% "I dunno" and 50% a mishmash of contradictory pearls of wisdom (or not) remembered or misremembered from various websites and books, he might reasonably get frustrated or give up and treat me like stock customer, variant X.

    My hunch is that I should raise the bar so I'll want to use the drops 20% or more of the time, rather than 2%. Of course any such adjustment would have implications for stem length. Also, I've no idea about posture: I'm ready to be told that my proprioception is shot and that in fact I'm either hunched up or too stretched out.
    Time to talk turkey about stems. Nitto has made a lot of different stems over the years. I'm going to guess you have the equivalent of a Pearl, about 8 cm of raise available above the insertion limit. Next taller is the Technomic Deluxe. It can give you up to another 4 cm, with a 12 cm length above the insertion limit. For a true giraffe fit, the Technomic offers about 16 cm (don't know the number exactly!) of rise. I use a few Tech Deluxes on my bikes - great stems!

    Probably the Tech Deluxe will give you the lift you need.

    As you raise the stem, the effective reach decreases. Might want to buy a Tech Deluxe that is 1 cm longer in extension than your current one is.

  15. #15
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by microcord View Post
    proprioception
    Fine word. I had to look it up.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Road Fan View Post
    Nitto has made a lot of different stems over the years. I'm going to guess you have the equivalent of a Pearl, about 8 cm of raise available above the insertion limit. Next taller is the Technomic Deluxe. It can give you up to another 4 cm, with a 12 cm length above the insertion limit. For a true giraffe fit, the Technomic offers about 16 cm (don't know the number exactly!) of rise. I use a few Tech Deluxes on my bikes - great stems!

    Probably the Tech Deluxe will give you the lift you need.
    There's about 9 cm from the topmost part of the headset to the topmost part of the stem. I've no idea what model stem it is: I bought it used from Yahoo Auction (Japan's answer to eBay). When I last looked, most sellers of used stems carefully specified the reach forward but said nothing about maximum rise: I bought this one because in the photo it looked slightly taller than the stem I was then using, which was the 600 version of Shimano's silly design that makes up for its impressive lack of an external nut with (i) a hex bolt so far recessed that the hex wrench in an all-in-one tool won't reach it, and (ii) a plastic dust cover that cracks with age and needs a Portuguese replacement.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Salubrious's Avatar
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    Here is a general rule of thumb- when your hands are on the bars, the bar itself should block your view of the front hub. That will make the drops easier to use. Of course, this has something to say about seat position- but we are assuming that the seat is already properly set up.

    You should take it as a very good sign that tired is all you get, that nothing hurts!

  18. #18
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    Yes, the seat is already positioned correctly. (It's somewhat different from the way it's photographed above) Having ridden the bike 157km on Thursday and about the same distance back home the day before yesterday, today I stripped the excrescences from the handlebar and delivered the bike to the shop. It's going to get a new quill stem. Choosing the most appropriate one, ordering it and putting everything together is all taking rather longer than people might expect if they didn't realize that this is a sleepy time of the year in Japan. For the next couple of weeks I'm down to one bike; it's a coeval of the one above and fun in its way but it's not for long distances.

    The bike already has a new and longer (and thus probably safer) seatpost. The combination of slightly adjusted saddle and new seatpost is an obvious mismatch for the under-the-saddle bag. When I look at the photo above I'm surprised to see that the previous arrangement was just as bad: the plastic clip attaching the bag to the under-saddle mount was permanently bent 20 degrees or so. Amazing (and a credit to Deuter's idiotproof design) that it never broke, and amazing that I never noticed anything wrong.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Mycoalson's Avatar
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    I'm just curious: How the #### is it I post two separate posts in two different forums, asking the same #### thing and pretty much, all I get is: it is a personal opinion and completely unknown, and frankly, most of us here think you are a complete ######idiot for asking?

    I swear, it seems like I get two helpful posts out of the ten responses I get, the rest a pretty snarky, or focus on word usage or the manner in which I asked the question.

    Nothing like going for help and getting humiliation.

  20. #20
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mycoalson View Post
    I'm just curious...
    Err... what?

    You realize this is your first post in this specific thread, right?

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
    ... I much prefer bars with a flat top behind the levers, similar to these: fter. Tektros are good. You lose a hand position with the old style non-aero levers.

    Curiously, this is exactly what I am just doing. (Excepting I think my bike is long for me, so I shortened the reach. My replacement quill stem is under 1 cm higher, but it's a 60 mm instead of 100 mm reach, and those flat/drop bars bring me up and back another 2 - 3 cm. (about) and then put Tekro's so I can ride the hoods. Now just trying to get it dialed in before I tape it up.
    Last edited by RoadTire; 08-21-13 at 07:45 PM. Reason: because what I had made no sense....
    "Of course you eat too much" (Looigi) There are things people say that are so true you can never forget the wisdom. I still eat too much. Without denial.
    Awarded 2014 Billy Madison "Ultimate Insult" by jsharr. Must have been something about my rambling, incoherent response...

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Salubrious View Post
    Here is a general rule of thumb- when your hands are on the bars, the bar itself should block your view of the front hub. That will make the drops easier to use. Of course, this has something to say about seat position- but we are assuming that the seat is already properly set up.

    You should take it as a very good sign that tired is all you get, that nothing hurts!
    I think this is supposed to be on the hoods...depends on what each of us has read.

    microcord, To me it looks like a 90 degree stem that's 1 cm longer would be a good start.

    Brad

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    Quote Originally Posted by bradtx View Post
    microcord, To me it looks like a 90 degree stem that's 1 cm longer would be a good start.
    I have a stem on order.

    The process of implementing what I learned from my fitting session is taking longer than I'd hoped. I'll spare you all (and myself!) a blow-by-blow, but I will post a photo of the result.

    In the meantime . . . I wonder (just out of casual interest) if anyone adopted, and happily retained, Sheldon Brown's notion of double handlebars.

  24. #24
    Senior Member carfart's Avatar
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    If it's any help, I'm also using non-aero brake levers and started mounting them lower on the bend to make riding and braking in the drops more comfortable. Instead of riding on the hoods I mostly use the ramps which are quite long on rando bars.

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