thanks for all the info over the last year. i have learned a ton from all your experience, and a little from all your BS. anyways, my wife and i are moving to thailand next summer, and i am trying to figure out the ideal setup for my bike. right now i am riding a semi-decent reynolds frame in the form of a raleigh super course. i run some thin tires, like 19 or 20's, and a front brake.
i have been to the city we are moving to a couple of times and i know i need to make some changes, but i am not even sure of al my options, much less the best bang for the buck. i will be selling all my excess bike stuff in order to purchase some upgrades, but i really don't want to spend more than $150 on these upgrades:
1. new tires - the conditions i will be riding on are not ideal - i want some tread for better traction and protection, but also kinda thin(to fit in my fork and speed issues)
2. new bars - right now i have classic drops, but i want a more heads-ups position becasue of the traffic there. not sure if i should look at riser bars (i like the look of those little beefy ones) or if i should try the flop and chop...keep in mind i have a road stem
3. any other changes that you think would be cost effective and helpful in an urban environment with bad traffic and less than perfect streets
i think most people agree that if you're riding drops with good (modern) ergonomic brake hoods/levers, you've got about the same thing as a pair of chopped bullhorns, plus the drop position. the only reason people like chops is they're cheap (crappy drop bars are a dime a dozen, but comfortable brake hoods are a bit more expensive), and its more a part of the fixed gear esthetic to have bullhorns.
so if you are just going for the commuter functionality, id go ergo drops and nice modern levers. if you're going brakeless fixietastic id go with risers, though the flip and chops wouldnt be a bad second choice.
If you just want to get your bars up higher and you have a threaded headset, you can get a stem with a long quill and jack em to the moon. Nitto Technomics work great for this; they go up rediculously high. Go to the rivendell website and you'll see lots of them in action.
Also, switching to a genuinely ergonomic aero road hood instead of the standard aero "hand hatchets" makes road drops way more functional. This means Tektro/ Cane Creek/ Soma aero levers. They're cheap as all get out (<$40 for the tektros) and really increase the functionality of road bars. I actually rode around for 100 kms with one Dura Ace aero lever and one Tektro---for comfort there's really no comparison.
oh, so i DID read it correctly... i was going to throw it out there that benscycle.net has gatorskins for 25 apiece (the folding bead kind, not the kevlar, which are 35) and when i ordered just one, they sent me two by mistake. ka-ching!