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Recreational Cyclocross and Gravelbiking This has to be the most physically intense sport ever invented. It's high speed bicycle racing on a short off road course or riding the off pavement rides on gravel like :The Dirty Kanza". We also have a dedicated Racing forum for the Cyclocross Hard Core Racers.

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Old 12-30-08, 05:42 AM   #1
mustang1
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CX bike, braking, v MTB flat bar

If I had a CX bike, I'd imagine spending most of my time on the hoods. From this position, I would say you can not apply brakes as effectively as when you're on the drops. When I was an MTB'er, riding off road with flat bars gave me both steering control and good brake control.

I would say (based on no experience of CX, but only of road race bikes with drop bars) that it's a little awkward negotiating technical off-road sections on a CX bike when you're on the hoods - I dont think you can get as much steering or brake control when compared to a flat bar bike.

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Old 12-30-08, 07:02 AM   #2
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That's why most guys go with wide, shallow, flared bars and flip them up a bit, like this:
http://cyclocrossworld.com/BOSS.cfm?...Edit&theKey=12

Or set up the bars higher than you would for road racing, so the drops are more accessible. Also, bartop levers make it easier to get your weight back for short, steep descents. In any event, hoods generally are the best place for tight turns. In cross, there aren't the long, extended sections of technical riding you'd find on a mtb trail, and the race lasts no more than an hour, so it all works out fine.

UCI requires drop bars, which doesn't govern the vast majority of us, but there definitely is a trickle-down effect. Some guys do run flat bars on cross bikes, but it's a big expense to convert a road setup to flat bar unless you have a bunch of stuff already.

Flat bars aren't ideal for technical riding, either. It's more natural to have your hands flared out and tilted down a bit, which is why a bar like On-one Mary is getting more popular. On-one Midge (i.e. "dirt drop") has an extra advantage of being easier on the wrists, because of the hook shape, and also works with road levers. Neither of these bars are UCI-legal (too wide) but for amateurs and especially "touring" crossers are quite popular.
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Old 12-30-08, 08:25 AM   #3
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Mustang your assumptions about brake and steering control are all wrong. Drop bars offer more control than a flat mountain bar. You can totally control braking from the hoods. They are designed for that purpose. In fact I just installed a WTB mountain/road dropbar on my hardtail mountain bike. IMO a dropbar is still the best design of any handlebar.
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Old 12-30-08, 09:58 AM   #4
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Mustang your assumptions about brake and steering control are all wrong. Drop bars offer more control than a flat mountain bar. You can totally control braking from the hoods. They are designed for that purpose. In fact I just installed a WTB mountain/road dropbar on my hardtail mountain bike. IMO a dropbar is still the best design of any handlebar.
Whatever you're smoking must be great, why don't you pass that pipe along my way plzthnxbyenow!

I've been toying with the idea of putting flat bars on my 'cross bike for next season, but there are a couple reasons I probably won't.

Number one: have you tried sprinting with flat bars? No thanks

Number two: unless you have go-go-gadget arms you won't be able to reach through the frame and grab the bars when shouldering the bike. This makes shouldering the bike arduous because you can either let the front wheel flop around all willy-nilly so you can keep one head free to run, or use both hands and give up some balance and speed.

FYI shimano makes Ultegra 10-spd flat bar shifters.
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Old 12-30-08, 10:35 AM   #5
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Mustang your assumptions about brake and steering control are all wrong. Drop bars offer more control than a flat mountain bar. You can totally control braking from the hoods. They are designed for that purpose. In fact I just installed a WTB mountain/road dropbar on my hardtail mountain bike. IMO a dropbar is still the best design of any handlebar.
Take this FWIW, IMHO, etc:

Braking from the hoods is nowhere near as secure as from the hooks or from a flat mtb bar. This comes from personal experience riding my SS cross bike down some gnarly rocky descents. If you brake from the hoods for an extended period of time, you get major wrist pump. No good.

Mtb flat bars are also wider than drop bars, gives you more leverage for steering.

IMO dirt drops are a great solution, because they are as wide as mtb bars but give you the secure, ergonomic position of being in the hooks. [Also, for flat power sections, you can get on the hoods for a more stretched-out position.] You have to use a pretty steep stem to get the right position, though. Also, they aren't compatible with mtb levers/shifters.
http://www.63xc.com/mattc/midge.htm
Here's a bike I consider to be set up "correct" for dirt drops. If it were a cross bike, it'd need a riser stem (or tons of spacers) to get the bars to the correct height.

Last edited by flargle; 12-30-08 at 10:48 AM.
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Old 12-30-08, 10:46 AM   #6
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Number one: have you tried sprinting with flat bars? No thanks

Number two: unless you have go-go-gadget arms you won't be able to reach through the frame and grab the bars when shouldering the bike. This makes shouldering the bike arduous because you can either let the front wheel flop around all willy-nilly so you can keep one head free to run, or use both hands and give up some balance and speed.

FYI shimano makes Ultegra 10-spd flat bar shifters.
(1) Thomas Frischknecht outsprinted Luca Bramati, flat bar vs drop bar, for silver in the 1997 cross worlds. (Before the UCI outlawed flat bars for cross.)
(2) Grab the stem. Some people with drop bars do it that way.
(3) Another solution is bar-end shifter + Paul thumbie.

If you aren't beholden to UCI regulations, I say use whatever feels best, but also keep in mind that cross is fundamentally different from mtb. There are always those flat, smooth sections where you want to put some power into the pedals; is a flat bar setup really what you want in that instance?
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Old 12-30-08, 01:23 PM   #7
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(1) Thomas Frischknecht outsprinted Luca Bramati, flat bar vs drop bar, for silver in the 1997 cross worlds. (Before the UCI outlawed flat bars for cross.)
(2) Grab the stem. Some people with drop bars do it that way.
(3) Another solution is bar-end shifter + Paul thumbie.

If you aren't beholden to UCI regulations, I say use whatever feels best, but also keep in mind that cross is fundamentally different from mtb. There are always those flat, smooth sections where you want to put some power into the pedals; is a flat bar setup really what you want in that instance?
(1) Frischknect's a pro, we're not.
(2) That has to be the most uncomfortable way of shouldering a bike evAr.
(3) I'll never use bar-end shifters, ever. I dont to move my hands in order to shift.

If I went with a flat bar setup I'd cut down the bar to something around 50mm
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Old 12-30-08, 01:45 PM   #8
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(1) Frischknect's a pro, we're not.
(2) That has to be the most uncomfortable way of shouldering a bike evAr.
(3) I'll never use bar-end shifters, ever. I dont to move my hands in order to shift.
(1) Irrelevant. Frischie beat a pro who had drop bars.
(2) Wrong. But if you need another option, you can also reach in front of headtube to grab the left side of bars. Or under the downtube, for that matter.
(3) I don't think you're familiar with the Paul thumbie, which turns a bar-end shifter into a thumb shifter (see photo). Also, I guess those Shimano 10-speed run about $150, not crazy but not nothing. Incidentally if you can shift without moving your hand, you have some mighty telekinesis.

The take-home message is there is no deal-breaking impediment to using flat bars in cross races, if it's what you want to do.

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Old 12-30-08, 01:53 PM   #9
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Back to the flat-vs-drop analysis, one really nice "flat-type" bar is On-One's Mary. It puts your hands in the same position as you'd get with a flat or riser bar, but rotates the wrists slightly for a lot more comfort and control. I also like to grab "the bends" occasionally while cruising for a more stretched out position. It's basically a cheaper version of the jones H-Bar, minus one hand position.

Origin-8 makes a cheaper copy, also, around $25.
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Old 12-30-08, 02:16 PM   #10
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a little awkward negotiating technical off-road sections on a CX bike when you're on the hoods - I dont think you can get as much steering or brake control when compared to a flat bar bike.

Comments?
Probably correct about that. But how many cyclo cross races do you see in really technical terrain? The answer is almost none. The off road part is basically grass fields with some mud and man made barriers thrown in. Cyclo cross racing isn't nearly as technical as MTB racing.
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Old 12-30-08, 02:41 PM   #11
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You're right, I did not know what a Paul Thumbie was.
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Old 12-30-08, 03:02 PM   #12
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You're right, I did not know what a Paul Thumbie was.
I ran them this season (on the top of my drop bars), thumbshifting with indexed shifter works great, would be even better/convenient if I were running a flat bar. I ride on the tops quite a bit, but STI would still probably be a hair more convenient (tho heavier). I'll probably run STI on the rear next year.
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Old 12-30-08, 07:20 PM   #13
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I dont get why it would be harder to brake from the hoods? Some of your bias towards flat bars probably comes from the fact that you have an MTB background. I have on as well and my first time on a cross bike all I could think of is why are the tires so skinny and why am I on a drop bar. I got over this pretty quickly and really enjoy the challenge of doing technical stuff on cross bike and am usually in the drops when stuff gets serious.

As to the argument about carrying with a flat bar, a stem grab is fine if you are riding by yourself, but if you are in a pack and taking hits from the side and from behind, a grip on the drop is much more stable.

who cares if Frischy took silver on flat bars. I think it is more of an issue of what he was more comfortable with after racing MTBs for a long time.
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Old 12-30-08, 09:51 PM   #14
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who cares if Frischy took silver on flat bars. I think it is more of an issue of what he was more comfortable with after racing MTBs for a long time.
He actually raced cyclocross before mtb. And that's the only part of your post I have the patience to bother with.
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Old 12-30-08, 10:00 PM   #15
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He actually raced cyclocross before mtb. And that's the only part of your post I have the patience to bother with.
yeah I know, but he moved to racing mtb full time.

maybe you should work on your patience
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Old 12-31-08, 03:05 AM   #16
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That's a nice looking bike.
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Old 12-31-08, 07:04 AM   #17
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I dont get why it would be harder to brake from the hoods? Some of your bias towards flat bars probably comes from the fact that you have an MTB background. I have on as well and my first time on a cross bike all I could think of is why are the tires so skinny and why am I on a drop bar. I got over this pretty quickly and really enjoy the challenge of doing technical stuff on cross bike and am usually in the drops when stuff gets serious.

As to the argument about carrying with a flat bar, a stem grab is fine if you are riding by yourself, but if you are in a pack and taking hits from the side and from behind, a grip on the drop is much more stable.

who cares if Frischy took silver on flat bars. I think it is more of an issue of what he was more comfortable with after racing MTBs for a long time.
You cant get maximum braking because there's only so much pressure your fingers can apply to the brake levers when you're on the hoods. When you're on the drops, the angle of fingers with the brake levers is such that you can apply maximum brakes. I'd imagine you could better modulate the brakes from that angle too.

With flat bars, again you can get max braking because of the angle the braking fingers have with the brake levers.
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Old 12-31-08, 09:27 AM   #18
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You cant get maximum braking because there's only so much pressure your fingers can apply to the brake levers when you're on the hoods.
+1
Braking from the hoods is a twisting motion, not a squeezing motion. It is also much easier to lose your grip from the hoods than from the hooks.
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Old 01-01-09, 02:20 AM   #19
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You cant get maximum braking because there's only so much pressure your fingers can apply to the brake levers when you're on the hoods. When you're on the drops, the angle of fingers with the brake levers is such that you can apply maximum brakes. I'd imagine you could better modulate the brakes from that angle too.

With flat bars, again you can get max braking because of the angle the braking fingers have with the brake levers.
I dont see it. Unless you are setting your hoods up weird I just do see it. I do have long fingers though so this is not a problem for me. Maybe you need a different shaped lever to fit you better.
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Old 01-01-09, 04:51 PM   #20
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Take this FWIW, IMHO, etc:

Braking from the hoods is nowhere near as secure as from the hooks or from a flat mtb bar. This comes from personal experience riding my SS cross bike down some gnarly rocky descents. If you brake from the hoods for an extended period of time, you get major wrist pump. No good.

Mtb flat bars are also wider than drop bars, gives you more leverage for steering.

IMO dirt drops are a great solution, because they are as wide as mtb bars but give you the secure, ergonomic position of being in the hooks. [Also, for flat power sections, you can get on the hoods for a more stretched-out position.] You have to use a pretty steep stem to get the right position, though. Also, they aren't compatible with mtb levers/shifters.
http://www.63xc.com/mattc/midge.htm
Here's a bike I consider to be set up "correct" for dirt drops. If it were a cross bike, it'd need a riser stem (or tons of spacers) to get the bars to the correct height.
That photo makes the bike look like it's moving even tho there's obviously no one riding it and the kickstand is down
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Old 01-01-09, 08:03 PM   #21
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Photoshop shenanigans.
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Old 01-02-09, 06:33 PM   #22
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carlfreddy the stuff I'm smoking must be good becuase I can't tell from your first post if you are in agreement with me or if you disagree.

This is the business end of a cross bike.



I see no advantage to a flat mtb bar over this setup. I can get more than enough leverage on the brakes from the drops or the hoods or the flat part of the bar. How many hand positions does a flat mtb bar have?
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Old 01-03-09, 01:29 AM   #23
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incorrect

/botto
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Old 01-03-09, 02:41 PM   #24
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Can't you ladies just stop arguing, because lets face it, personal preference is the only real difference when it comes to flat vs drops.

I'm personally more of a flat bar guy, even when it comes to road riding. I just don't need drops and flat bars offer me everything withing easier rach of my fingertips, without any loss of control (I personally find them easier to control but that's probably because I've never bothered practicing lots with drop bars, so again it's personal).
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Old 01-13-09, 04:39 PM   #25
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can we all just agree that the karate monkey kicks ass, and that I also need to know where to buy a front rack with an integrated bottle opener.
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