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Old 11-15-09, 04:00 PM   #1
TurbineBlade
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Flat bar with bar-ends?

Anyone tour with a flat bar as opposed to the traditional road drop bar? Any particular reasons?
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Old 11-15-09, 04:29 PM   #2
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My custom touring bike was designed like an old style rigid mtn bike. Flat bars. I have always used bar ends. I crossed the country this past summer and had no problems. Lotsa places to put your hands. I find I generally ride with my hands on the section just in front of the mounting point, if that makes sense

I havent ridden drops in 25 or more years so I am not the best person to comment but I think the line about having more places to put your hands on drops vs flats is overblown.
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Old 11-15-09, 04:55 PM   #3
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I did before I found trekking bars. I was actually quite happy with them and found them comfortable.

Why? Because I had a non-specific touring (converted mtb) bike and the thumbies gear shifters and other hardware such as brake levers made it so that a conversion to drop handlebars would have been too expensive. And because, well, they worked.

Even now, I've found I can tour with drops or trekking bars (and I'd bet flat bars with bar ends too) quite happily. I can't say I've found one to be uniquely better than the other -it's just personal choice.

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Originally Posted by Gene2308 View Post
Anyone tour with a flat bar as opposed to the traditional road drop bar? Any particular reasons?
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Old 11-15-09, 06:08 PM   #4
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A lot of people do. To add to what Nigeyy said, dropbars are often fitted to mountain bikes (which are generally very good frames for touring), but depending on the specific bike and rider it can be dificult to get dropbars in a comfortable postion due to long frames designed for flat bars, money aside.
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Old 11-15-09, 10:23 PM   #5
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id go with bar ends, drop bars wouldn't be right for my frame. at least not with me riding it. curently i have flat bars and was thining of getting either barends or a trekking bar. probably barends being as theyre cheaper.
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Old 11-15-09, 10:46 PM   #6
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did my last tour on my mtb (monkeylite bar w/o bar ends.) it was great.
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Old 11-15-09, 11:19 PM   #7
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I chose flat bars with bar ends 25 years ago because more and more of my touring was off pavement. The improved control and braking with a loaded bike in the dirt convinced me. I have found no reason to change.
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Old 11-16-09, 11:18 AM   #8
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I ride both drop and flat bars, but only drop on my touring bike. I am thinking about switching to flat bars for my next touring bike. The reason is I have arthritis in the wrists and a couple of fingers and I find the flat bars don't hurt as much and I can get better braking when the fingers are acting up.

I'm also thinking about getting some wide bullhorn bars, so that I can use bar end shifters, sometimes using the thumb to shift to a lower gear is quite painful with mountain shifters.

The only advantage I see to drop bars is the aerodynamics in the drops with head winds and for going fast down hills. So, flat bars are a pretty good option as long as they have bar ends. I usually ride most of the time on the bar ends.
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Old 11-16-09, 12:38 PM   #9
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In attempt to construct a cheap touring alternative, I recently added bar-ends to my Trek 6500 aluminum MTB from the mid-90s, along with a Zoom adjustable stem to bring the bars up and back to duplicate the riding position of my Roubaix. I find the bar ends too far apart to be comfortable for long rides. I see that the trekking bar from Nashbar is also 55 cm wide. If I do convert the bike to drop bars, it will be to narrow the overall width of some of those useful hand positions. Of course, by posting here I'm hoping someone's thought this through better and will educate me.
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Old 11-16-09, 01:52 PM   #10
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First and most importantly, this is so much a 'whatever works/personal preference' issue. That said,

1. The very-often (and often strongly) expressed view that drop bars are somehow intrinsically superior to flats (and variations thereon) is very much a North American/to some extent British view. In Europe and elsewhere I would say that on general touring/trekking bikes flat bars are actually much more common than dropbars. This is also certainly the case with expedition/offroad touring.

2. FWIW, and I repeat this is simply personal preference, I much prefer 'flat' bars (either flat with bar-ends, or mtb-style risers without, depending on conditions). I've never been able to get 'comfortable' with dropbars (and I've certainly tried) and have now no wish to do so, since I've never had any of the 'problems' that are supposed to automatically follow from using flat bars. Even during longish successive days in the saddle, my hands don't go numb, my wrists don't get sore, etc etc etc. I do think that I'd like the 'drop' position re. cutting the effect of headwinds, but since my arthritic back won't let me stay there more than a few seconds, it's a no go anyway.
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Old 11-16-09, 05:06 PM   #11
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Drop bars are intrinsically more anatomically correct, and also offer more aero positions. Flat bars are more for control than comfort, and wide drops can help with the control. I have one set that is 600mm wide. drops also have more hand positions, and the placements offer more support to the hand in some of the position. So it depends what the objective is for comfort and position, or steering.

" is very much a North American/to some extent British view"

I agree, but only as far as the on touring bike part is concerned, as you said. When it comes to road bikes, drops are very popular everywhere. That does say something. Many people don't like them because they find drops uncomfortable. A reasonable perspective from peopple new to bikes, but tourists aren't newbies for too long.

To me, the main advantage to flat bars is that the brake lever combos that exist for flats are cheaper for the same efficiency. The bars suck, the brakes and shifters rock.
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Old 11-16-09, 07:05 PM   #12
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We'll have to agree to disagree on some of this.

"... (drop bars) offer more aero positions" -- yes, absolutely; that is of course why they dominate on bicycles used for fast road club/training/racing.

"Drop bars are intrinsically more anatomically correct ..." -- disagree. True one can rotate one's wrist through 90 degrees on drops, but so too using barends on flats; set properly, these pretty much duplicate the tops/hoods positioning on drops. Further, anatomies differ; for many people the natural 'relaxed/in-line' position of the hands is the position as on drop bar hoods, for many others (self included) it's actually the other way -- the kind of position as one has on the tops, or on the grips on flat bars, especially those with a bit of sweep, is (I find, for example) a perfectly 'natural' and therefore comfortable position.

"When it comes to road bikes, drops are very popular everywhere ..." -- agreed, as above; has to do with aerodynamics, tradition, etc. I repeat, however, that this is not the case (outside NA/Britain to some extent) with touring bikes -- that is, bicycles used primarily for touring as opposed to riding at or aspiring to ride at 'racing' speeds, and un- or lightly-loaded.

Further, this preference most certainly has absolutely nothing to do with touring 'newbieness'. A quick look through blogs, CGOAB journals, etc. will show that the majority of people doing ultra-distance, extended touring -- especially where some 'rough stuff' is expected -- use some variation on flat-bars.
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Old 11-17-09, 02:47 AM   #13
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I use flat bars for the same reasons as badger and also I just like having my hands near the shifters and brakes (with my setup) pics on my page below.
I only use the bar ends when climbing or just for changing hand possitions once in a while, 80% to 90% of the time my hands are on the flat bar.
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Old 11-18-09, 01:24 PM   #14
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I like narrow, flat bars (completely flat - I use a riser stem to get the height I need) with Cane Creek Ergo bar ends. Very comfy for me, and because the bars are completely straight it's very easy to fit loads of bits & bobs, including the Rohloff shifter.
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Old 11-20-09, 09:09 AM   #15
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Yes I do,

the reason: Better control on bad surfaces
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Old 11-21-09, 03:32 AM   #16
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My riding partner has the on-one mary bar with Ergo grips on her Cannondale T-2000.
Long story about the t-2000's conversion from stock drop bars to current set up.
All I know is the fit is perfect and she can ride the bike for hrs in complete comfort.
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Old 11-21-09, 08:05 AM   #17
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I tried them, but didn't tour with them. The bottom line for me was that they didn't work nearly as well. There were less hand positions and some of the ones I use were not as comfy with bar ends at least the ones I have used. That said it is probably very dependent on the exact setup and personal preferences will vary widely. I spend most of my time on the hoods, the section behind the hoods, the drops, or the corners so the brakes are easily accessible from there. If I used the straight middle section more I may feel differently.

How many folks use flat bars probably varies pretty widely depending on where you are, but my observation is that the vast majority of folks I met when touring in the US were using drop bars. On the TA we met a few folks using flat bars, but all but one of them were doing a mostly off road route (Great Divide MTB route).

Last edited by staehpj1; 11-21-09 at 08:15 AM.
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Old 11-21-09, 10:47 PM   #18
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one thing about bar ends is that you dont have to use them on the ends of your bar!

you could run a pair on end as well as another pair inside your grips for an aero position.
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