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  1. #1
    Senior Member captnfantastic's Avatar
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    racer thinking of switching to flat bar setup

    I ride/race a redline conquest with a pretty standard cross set up. I don't have inline top mounted brakes and i ride on top of the hoods most of the time. Riding in the hoods is not uncomfortable for me but I feel that I would be more comfortable on the bike if i switched my cockpit to a more mtn bike style setup: ditch the drop bars switch to mtn shifters and brakes. I know it would look weird and is pretty unconventional but I think it would help with control. thoughts?
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    Speaking as someone who switches from a flat bar bike to a drop bar bike on an weekly basis, I wouldn't leap into buying a new bar and brake/shifter levers without trying it first.

    Is there a flat-bar bike you can demo, even a MTB with slicks or something?

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    Senior Member captnfantastic's Avatar
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    Well i'm mostly a roadie but I have a full suspension mtn too and I enjoy the control offroad that i have on the mountain bike. I am wondering the actual benefits of drop bars in cross racing. It is a legal issue where racing bikes must have drop bars (i dont think this is it). could it be that a cross bike would look stupid with a mtn setup? possibly. Maybe for faster cross courses drop bars cut time? Maybe the geometry of cross bikes would make flat bar setups too scrunched making the rider sit too high.
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    I tried flat bars a few weeks ago but after two weeks was missing the drops. (change was easy as I am on single speed) I found the upright position on flats to feel much slower but then when I have drops I am in the drops more than half the time and on hoods the rest. I just find the more forward position much better for getting power down and maintaining speed.
    The control is not really an issue either although jumping around and manualling over mounds and so on was more fun on flats.

  5. #5
    Senior Member meanwhile's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by captnfantastic View Post
    Well i'm mostly a roadie but I have a full suspension mtn too and I enjoy the control offroad that i have on the mountain bike.
    If you're lacking control then your drops are probably too narrow. Look at Salsa Moto Aces and Bell Laps and Nitto Noodles; all come in larger sizes, and the Salsas have some very useful flare. Possibly use a shorter stem too.

    If that fails then you could try your current controls on Moustache Bars.

    I am wondering the actual benefits of drop bars in cross racing.
    They're considerable when your drops fit you. Probably the winningest MTB racer of all time was Jaquie Phelan on her drop bar MTB "Otto" - this was before MTB course got insane so you need flat bars for landing from large drops. Drops let you get your centre of gravity lower for cornering; riding the hoods gives you a power position equivalent to bar ends, but with brakes.
    Last edited by meanwhile; 09-22-10 at 04:13 PM.

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    Also make sure to have your hoods a little higher on the bars than you would on your rod bike. That has helped me.
    I'm not one for fawning over bicycles, but I do believe that our bikes communicate with us, and what this bike is saying is, "You're an idiot." BikeSnobNYC

  7. #7
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    Switching to brake levers for a flat bar may also change the pull ratio for the brakes you are running. This will make it a lot easier to lock the brakes (bad) or harder to stop altogether (bad) so you might do a little research on that as well. I could be wrong, maybe they'll be fine... but I think hoods vs MTB levers have different pull ratios.
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    I converted my Bianchi San Jose to a Nitto North Roads bar with brake levers. I found I had to install a stem riser to jack it up high enough for comfortable riding. Don't follow convention on bars any more than on tire size if you're not CX racing.

    Hope this helps to make your urban commute more friendly.
    Last edited by NormanF; 10-13-10 at 04:05 PM.

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    Senior Member captnfantastic's Avatar
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    I do race. I see about 1 in 40 cx bikes at races with flat bar setups. I'll ask some guys about it next sunday who have the setup. Like I said earlier I don't really have comfort issues with my drop bars I just don't know if it's the best way to ride CX. I see some guys jumping barriers at races and when i practice it I can't get a good grip for lifting up. That's another story though, i'm not in any way about to spend the $$ on a new bar shifter setup to save 2 seconds a lap jumping barriers. ha!
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    Senior Member mazdaspeed's Avatar
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    I'm going to be forced to use a flat bar on the bike I bought for CX because of the top tube length. I'm doing this on a low budget so I don't care that much, but I'm hoping I don't look like an idiot and suck too bad. It's encouraging to hear that some people use that setup.

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    Senior Member meanwhile's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mazdaspeed View Post
    I'm going to be forced to use a flat bar on the bike I bought for CX because of the top tube length. I'm doing this on a low budget so I don't care that much, but I'm hoping I don't look like an idiot and suck too bad. It's encouraging to hear that some people use that setup.
    Have you looked for a very short stem? You can find them as short as 30mm. There's a superstition that drop bar bikes need +90mm stems, but it really isn't true.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by mazdaspeed View Post
    I'm going to be forced to use a flat bar on the bike I bought for CX because of the top tube length. I'm doing this on a low budget so I don't care that much, but I'm hoping I don't look like an idiot and suck too bad. It's encouraging to hear that some people use that setup.
    You definitely won't look like an idiot. If you suck, it won't be the flat bar's fault, but you can try blaming it anyway.

  13. #13
    Principiante
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    Flat bars rule, there is a reason why they got banned, but at the local level you should be able to ride them without any problems.
    I switched back to flat bars this year and I like them much better, I never used the drops before and I had hand pain and it was difficult to control breaking and shifting.
    When it is cold it is difficult to use the drops bars with heavy gloves.
    I have smaller hands so that might be a problem since the road levers are not very adjustable.

    Keep in mind if you want to switch that you will need a new longer stem, you can find chaep canti breaks lever and MTB shifters, so that is not an issue.

    The best part is that the grips are much more confortable and you cna break and shift at the same time.

    In Oregon there are quite a number of racers with flat bars and I would say the singlespeed group is 50/50.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mazdaspeed View Post
    I'm going to be forced to use a flat bar on the bike I bought for CX because of the top tube length. I'm doing this on a low budget so I don't care that much, but I'm hoping I don't look like an idiot and suck too bad. It's encouraging to hear that some people use that setup.
    I'll be using the mountain bike I got in 1996 (after finishing grade 6) for my first CX on Hallowe'en. Turns out I didn't actually know how to maintain a bike...BB was bad, crank was shot but I knew that and the freewheel was gummed up with broken down sludgy oil and a lot of dirt. Tubes, tires and pads are being changed but my wheels are untrue. The crank and tubes are on the way but I'm supply-chaining it to the bitter end .

    Hopefully I'll have some photos of me on my flat bar (If I continue I'll snag a cheap drop-set handle bars and swap my Rival over) so I can see how "dumb" I look.

  15. #15
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    Here's a thread you might want to check out:

    http://forums.roadbikereview.com/sho...d.php?t=128653

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