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  1. #1
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    My thoughts on the Midge bars...

    ("you can skip this first part if you just want what I think of Midge without any perspective)

    just a little background to put my two cents in perspective.

    up until a few months ago, I hadn't ridden a bike with drop bars since I was in high school (about twenty yrs ago). I've ridden bikes with flats, cruisers, schwinn 3 spds, etc. but nothing like a cross bike. Neither had I done much mtn biking or road biking for that matter except for the occasional fire road on borrowed or crappy hard tail mtn bike. So what I am getting at is, I'm no expert here either as Mtn bike or Road rider but that might also help as it means I don't have any preference in bar choice.

    A few months ago I decided that it was time to get a bike with more than 3 gears and after doing a bit of research I decided a cross bike was what I wanted. I also realized I knew next to nothing about bikes so I started reading the forums (this one in particular). I then decided that I would build up my own bike and ordered a Nashbar frame and carbon fork as a learning experience but a few days after ordering both of these I found a JTS locally on ebay so I couldn't wait and decided that I had to win it and I did. I've been riding that bike for several months now while finishing up my Nahsbar build (Nashbar build - FINALLY complete). I haven't done any extensive road biking on it - just ride across town, etc but I have taken it on some fire roads and some fun single tracks so I do have a feel of how I like that bike off road. The JTS is a nice bike - solid frame with steel fork, good component set, and fun to take off road. That being said, I didn't particularly like riding in the drops on it and found myself on the hoods the majority of the time. I can't quite put my finger on it what I didn't like about those drops but they just didn't feel right and so I started looking into other options and hence...

    The On One Midge bars that were highly touted here and by a few other enthusiasts on the net. I just took them for their first test which was a trip to Nisene Marks. The ride was very much the same as one I have done on the JTS a few times. It involves a 1600 ft climb up a fire road before descending on a windy single track that is mainly downhill but does offer a few climbs, lots of roots, some logs and other obstacles and ravines to be avoided. This isn't a completely fair comparison because the Nashbar build had some cheapie 40 mm tires and the JTS had only 35 mm's on there (but better quality ones), but anyhow...I'm mainly trying to compare the drops here.

    First and most importantly I love the flare of the Midge bars. It makes it way more comfie to ride in drops. I find this to be it's best attribute. I found myself climbing in the drops a lot more and definitely using them more on the descents (more on that later). The hand positioning made it pretty easy to even use one finger to apply the brakes. Like other drops the Midges offered more hand positions than a flat bar and that is also nice. Their extra width was a positive too as I felt very much in control on most of my riding. Probably due more to my improvement in my riding (remember I am a newb) than these bars, but I was able to get over more obstacles without stopping than I had in my prior rides with JTS. I definitely recommend people try these bars if you don't feel like you are completely satisfied with your current bars. Remember, you can always ebay or CL them and get next to what you paid for them.

    That being said, I still think these things can be improved upon. What is their main strength to me also seems like one of their weaknesses - the flaring. IMO the flaring is a bit too much, not because your hand position isn't super comfie but because I don't particularly like the angle the brifters must be in to account for the flaring. It makes riding on the hoods uncomfortable in comparison to more traditional bars. I have Ultegra STI's on this bike and they are set up to be on the same plane as the bars so you can break and shift properly from the drops. The trade off is that on the hoods it's a bit harder to do so. I guess it's not just the flaring but the combo with short drops that makes the angles so acute. I found that I HAD to ride on the drops for most of my descent because riding on the hoods wasn't very good - harder to brake and shift and also less control than riding on drops or flats. I kept wanting to rest my hands on flats, which is why I plan on adding some cross levers to this rig. I'll bet some Midge users are thinking then stick to the drops, well I tried, however when you want to stand up to stay off the seat because of obstacles, bumps, rough trails etc, it makes it weird to stay on the drops - again this might be fixed by cross levers. The other issue that has been mentioned by most Midge users is that the drops are too short. I have to agree though it just made me push my hands fwd slightly.

    I've not tried any of the other "dirt drops" on the market but I might. It does look like a few of them have less flaring and may suit my tastes a bit better. Ideally, I would think that bars similar to the Midges but with the flaring being less pronounced "above" the postion of your brakes/shifters would be perfect. In fact, I may just get a cheap pair of bars with a shallow drop and try shaping them to the angles I want. Will report back on how that works if I do.

    cheers,
    Tony O
    Last edited by Tony O; 10-06-07 at 03:17 PM. Reason: font hard to read...still is!

  2. #2
    Mmmmm potatoes idcruiserman's Avatar
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    Man that's hard to read.

    I don't like the width nor the short length of the "drops". Other than that, they are fine.
    Idaho

  3. #3
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    I think the Midge flares too much also. The Nitto Randos don't flare enough. Is there one in between?

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tony O View Post
    In fact, I may just get a cheap pair of bars with a shallow drop and try shaping them to the angles I want.
    Please don't do this, for your own safety. Re-bending bars greatly reduces their structural integrity. Other than that, thanks for the review.

  5. #5
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    I was hoping someone would comment on the flaring. Also, do midge owners understand my point about the flaring could be less on the upper part (right before hoods)? At the risk of feeling stupid, has anyone even just bent some bars to a shape they like? (heat and a vice?)

    cheers
    Tony O

  6. #6
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    What you seek are Nitto Dirt Drops. Wide, 48cm at the shoulders and 52 cm at the tip of the drops. The flare is not nearly as pronounced as on the Midge(modelled after the WTB dirt drop). My favorite drop bars for offroad riding. If you cannot find the Nitto's, the wide, heat treated Salsa Lap Bell would be a reasonable substitute.

  7. #7
    Senior Member doktoravalanche's Avatar
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    Hi there.. I've just looked at your other post with the pictures of the Midges- it took me ages to get mine lined up comfortably, i know the standard advice is to have the end of the drop pointing downwards, which is what you have? I've got mine nearly parallel to the ground, pretty much like a standard road bar, and i find the hood position really comfortable. I spend most of my time there, even on pretty rough ground.

    I've never felt any need for suicide levers, once i got the brake levers lined up so i was comfortable on the hoods i found that i can still lock the wheels from there...

    And yeah, that is my 'cross' bike. OK, slightly unorthodox, but i have a lack of storage space...


  8. #8
    cs1
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tony O View Post
    I was hoping someone would comment on the flaring. Also, do midge owners understand my point about the flaring could be less on the upper part (right before hoods)? At the risk of feeling stupid, has anyone even just bent some bars to a shape they like? (heat and a vice?)

    cheers
    Tony O
    Aluminum isn't like steel Tony. Once it's bent, it's bent for good. You can't rebend it without destroying it. Aluminum is a great material if you stay within its limits.

    Tim
    1999 Waterford RSE-11, 1995 Waterford 1200, 1989 Specialized Rockhopper Comp
    1989 Raleigh Technium, 1989 Schwinn Traveler, 1986 Specialized Rockhopper
    1984 Specialized Stumpjumper, 1986 Specialized Stumpjumper and just way too many projects to list.

  9. #9
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    mine are pointed towards rear dropouts which is what I had read online as the "proper" way to set them up. I know it's about personal tastes. Mine are comfie that way but that doesn't resolve the flare issue. I would think that if I made them more level that the hoods would be even further away. The problem with riding on the hoods for me is that I don't have great control nor breaking power in that position.

    CS1 - realize it's much harder to bend aluminum than steel but it also depends on what type of aluminum and the degree of bend. For example, I bought the wrong size derailleur for my cross build. I was able to bend the 28.6 clamp to work on a 31.8mm tube. In this case, I didn't need to bend it much (and then used longer screw), but it worked. The "correction" in the bars would be slight. If I decide to attempt this I will post my results - bad or good.
    cheers
    Tony O

  10. #10
    Bring That Beat Back Old Dirt Hill's Avatar
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    What's with the font in your original post, OP? I couldn't get through it as it makes my eyes hurt.

  11. #11
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    tony--rear derailleur parts don't experience near the stresses that you would be exerting on a handlebar, especially during a cross race.

    I'm all for experimentation, but not on parts whose failure might result in bad times for my face (e.g.: forks and handlebars).

    I ran midges on a commuter and rode the hoods a lot with few issues. Granted, they were tough to dial in. Forget about recommended angles. Just set up the drops so they are comfortable, then move the hoods until they are comfortable as well. You might have to compromise between the two positions or swap in a stem to get a proper fit, especially if your stem was fit originally for a regular drop bar.

  12. #12
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    Personally I think the Midge bar is perfect as is for cross or more technical riding, such as single track or city riding. I could see somebody with bigger hands looking for more drop however and they are less comfortable riding on the hoods for extended periods, but I wouldn't trade the Midges on my race bike for any other bar I've tried. I also like the fact that they do not have a so-called ergo bend, which I find far less comfortable than traditional bends.

    That said, if the Midge has too much flare for you, try the Nitto Randoneer. I have one on my pit/commuter bike and its not as confidence inspiring in technical situations, but very comfortable and versital.
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  13. #13
    Portland, OR i_r_beej's Avatar
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    The secret to positing the Midge is your comfort. The Midge bar defies all the conventional "wisdom" in regards to pointing the drops towards the rear drop-outs. You rotate the bars to a point that feels comfortable and move the brake levers where you can reach them comfortable.

    In regards to the angle of the brake hoods-- the bars were designed for all braking to be done (or at least braking that counts) with the hands in the drops. The fact that you can prop your hands on the hoods is a bonus-- use that position for crusing. The bar was designed for all serious control to be done in the drops-- hence the need to bring the drops up to within a couple of inches of the saddle (via a high-rise stem, tall head-tube, whatever). Looking at the photo of your handlebar from the top, it looks like you might try rotating your brake levers to the outboard. I have my lever hood oriented parallel with the hook-- yours look like they're rotated inboard somewhat. try moving and see what you think.

    Your stem reach also looks rather long. Most photos I've seen of bikes with a Midge have rather short reaches on the stem. This might account for your preference of riding on the hoods.

    Just a couple of thoughts. I've fiddled extensively with the setup of Midge bars on my 'cross bike and MTB. I have the stem collection to prove it!
    Last edited by i_r_beej; 10-02-07 at 06:14 PM.
    Despite the fact that I constantly recommend Kool-Stop brake pads-- no, I don't work for Kool-Stop. (Although their factory is just a few blocks from my house!)

    I ride drop bars off-road. (The excellent On-One "Midge.")

  14. #14
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    thanks for the observations and suggestions. I have a 130mm stem on this bike which really isn't much longer than one on my JTS, however the steerer tube on this bike is longish so that makes the end of it closer to the rider than normal, hence the need for a slightly longer stem. Most people have short stems because they seem to have highly angled stems and much shorter steerer tubes. I may go this route but I want to dial in the placement before I go and cut the steerer again because once it's short, it stays that way ;P

    You are right, my brifters are a bit too angled. I had a little crash in my last ride and it actually "staightened" one of them out. I was trying to line it up with the flare of the bars but they were a bit too inboard. I will fix that when I tend to my problem shifter (one of Ultegra's is out of sorts). Also, after last ride, I found my hands hurting more than the previous time - mainly because I never lowered my seat for the down hill part of ride AND my bars probably need to be rotated so drops are more paralell to ground. I noticed the "shortness" of midges more this last time Really seems like only one way to dial these in, RIDE on a host of different trails and roads.

    cheers,
    Tony O

  15. #15
    Portland, OR i_r_beej's Avatar
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    On my bike I have a 100mm x 35-deg stem, down from a 110mm x 35-deg. On my MTB I have a 120mm x 35-deg stem which places me even higher than my cross bike.

    For hand comfort:
    I bought a set of Fizik's handlebar gel pads and placed them in the hooks and wrapped them in Cinelli cork tape. Provided just the right amount of cushion against the harshe realities of off-roading.

    The Fizik tape provided with the gel was their standard thin stuff-- but the orange Cinelli tape matched my bike. Gotta have a hawt ride! Anyway-- the result wasn't too bulky (to me) and provided just the right amount of cushion. Similar to good rubber grips on an MTB.

    Many have added Velox rubber bar-end plugs and have found that helps with the perception of the short hook. They stick out about 1/4-inch once inserted. (I have smallish hands and the Midge fits just right.)
    Despite the fact that I constantly recommend Kool-Stop brake pads-- no, I don't work for Kool-Stop. (Although their factory is just a few blocks from my house!)

    I ride drop bars off-road. (The excellent On-One "Midge.")

  16. #16
    No cud for foil. DasProfezzional's Avatar
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    I didn't realize how much they flared out until I looked at the pics of your bike. They're more deepened moustache bars than they are flared out road drops. I knew a dude who put dirt drops on his Cross Check, but I seem to remember them being deeper...maybe it was the WTB ones that he had.

    Anyway, I ride moustache bars on my commuter, but I'd definitely prefer a deeper drop for cross.

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