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  1. #1
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    Please talk me into converting my MTB->tourer bike to trekking bars instead of drops

    I am hoping someone can talk sense into me and get me to swap my flat-bars for trekking/butterfly bars instead of drops.

    Some background:
    I used to have a big road bike, which I purchased in 1991 when everyone else around here wanted flat bar mountain bikes. I loved it and I I rode the heck out of it and broke the frame while commuting one day. I then decided that maybe I should get a steel frame MTB instead. In retrospect, I probably should have gotten a steel touring bike, but that's beside the point.

    I picked up a Trek 830 with flat bars in 1997, and research I have done has shown it's probably a 1995 model. I have steadily been turning the bike into the pavement/gravel/commuter/tourer bike that nobody is exactly selling out there but that I want. The bike fits me and works well for my purposes and with a decent seat, drive train, and wheels, and a solid frame I have little desire to change it out for another bike that I can't really afford anyway. I have fenders and semi-slicks and a big springy seat, but I also have a bit of hand discomfort. I have put bar ends on and they help a little, but I keep thinking back to those big drops I had on that 1990 Raleigh and how comfortable they were with all those hand positions.


    Well, compared to me back in 1991 I am a bit broader in the beam, and I don't ride as low and aggressive as I used to. I like sitting up a little more and seeing the countryside, checking back over my shoulder for my kids, etc. Additionally, I have grip shifters which I like well enough and I have perfectly good brake levers. I could easily put these on a set of butterfly/trekking bars if only I could get over my preference for the look of the drops.


    So, dear readers, please talk some sense into me and if there is a particular set of trekking bars/butterfly bars you've ridden with up to about 40-50 miles per day in the past without significant hand/wrist discomfort please tell me what you have and how awesome they are.

    Thanks,
    Adam

    P.S. I know that ultimate fit is a personal preference thing. I live in a town with lots of great LBS which I will be hitting once I have a few ideas of what trekking/butterfly bars people like.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Cyclebum's Avatar
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    Sorry, but I fail to see any advantage to drops on a touring bike. Over other options.

    The point is to be as comfortable as possible, day after 60 mile day. Multiple hand positions are number 1 priority, once the saddle issue is settled. The treking bar takes care of the hands, especially if double wrapped for an ergonomic fit. 2nd priority is aerodynamics for battling headwinds. Aerobars, added to either your flat bar, or to the treking bar, will take care of that. And provide more hand positions, ones with no pressure. And make steep grades less challenging. And more attach points for gadgets, in the case of the one in the picture.

    1120100851.jpg
    Last edited by Cyclebum; 08-24-12 at 07:11 PM.
    The bicycle is one of the great inventions of mankind. Delights children, challenges young men to feats of daring, and turns old men into boys again.--Me

  3. #3
    Senior Member bud16415's Avatar
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    Less $$$$$$$$$
    What's not in your legs needs to be in your gears.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclebum View Post
    The point is to be as comfortable as possible, day after 60 mile day. Multiple hand positions are number 1 priority, once the saddle issue is settled.
    Quote Originally Posted by bud16415 View Post
    Less $$$$$$$$$

    Great reasons! I am tipping toward butterfly/trekking bars now, possibly even still throwing my bar end thingies on them to get even one more hand position.

    Keep 'em coming.


    I got the saddle issue resolved. I used to want to ride with a totally minimal seat, but I also like not having a sore rear end or numbed up squishy bits, so now I am rocking one of the Brooks saddles with loads of springs and I couldn't be happier.

  5. #5
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    They're cool.

    Everyone and his brother is riding w/ flat bars or drop bars. How many bikes do you see w/ trekking bars?

    Great conversation starter.

    Tell 'em you developed a taste for them when you rode your steel hardtail mtb around Zaire.

    Instant free espresso.
    Quote Originally Posted by Epicus07 View Post
    That being said..Chamois butter is mandatory for me and this saddle. It makes the difference between painful chaffing and god cupping my balls.

  6. #6
    Member pretzelkins's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkippyX View Post
    They're cool.

    Everyone and his brother is riding w/ flat bars or drop bars. How many bikes do you see w/ trekking bars?
    Unless you're in Europe, in which case every bicycle tourist has trekking bars.

    I love drops for touring. Especially the Nitto Noodle. You have your flat bar position and your ramp position, just like on a trekking bar, but instead of the further out, stretched-reach 2nd flat bar position you have the further down drop position, which I think is a much more comfortable hand orientation. And if I could only have one hand position it would be the brake hoods on a properly fitted/adjusted drop bar/stem.

    Currently touring with moustache bars. Pretty comfy and gives me 4 different-enough hand positions, with the primary one being incredibly comfortable. May move them to another bike and put drops on though.

  7. #7
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    If you already have a flat bar bike, switching to trekking bars is much easier and more affordable than setting up drops.

    I prefer drops because the hoods position feels much more natural to me, and I prefer road bike type frames. I don't think it's a biomechanical thing though, it's just a preference.

  8. #8
    Member pretzelkins's Avatar
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    Also, probably not a concern for most, but I think trekking bars are maybe the dorkiest looking bars out there.

  9. #9
    Senior Member bktourer1's Avatar
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    I put the Nashbar Trekking bars on both my bikes. I find them great on long tours as they give me more places for my hands and my hands are always near the brake levers. I prefer a more upright riding position.
    I have gel pads under my tape and there is plenty of cushioning. There are only 2 bar mirrors for trekking bars, Zefal SPY and the Ultralight ( check the ortliebe or ACA site)

  10. #10
    The Left Coast, USA FrenchFit's Avatar
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    Meah, Ive done it..not so great. Although you have many hand positiosn you find you have about one back position, unlike drops you can't go aero and stretch, unless you are limber enough to drop your forearms on the butterflys and ride that way. They are also heavy, and in a noticeable steering-heavy way. But, they are sorta fun for a while. I've had one rigid MTB set up for touring the trekking bars for some 5 years and I'm not about to make a change. But, I do not like them enough to recommend the idea to friends. On another tourer I put Salsa Woodchippers, and like those more. But, I'm taking apples and oranges.

  11. #11
    Member pretzelkins's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FrenchFit View Post
    Although you have many hand positiosn you find you have about one back position
    Yeah, and more than that, one ass-weight distribution position. I like the option of being upright, but the further you lean over you bars the more weight it takes off your ass, which I love about the drop position on drop bars. Even with a fantastically comfortable B17, I need a little respite down there at times.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe View Post
    If you already have a flat bar bike, switching to trekking bars is much easier and more affordable than setting up drops.

    I prefer drops because the hoods position feels much more natural to me, and I prefer road bike type frames. I don't think it's a biomechanical thing though, it's just a preference.
    I am thinking with your first point (cheaper conversion) that it might be a good thing to try anyway. I have the price of the bars, some tape, and part of a Saturday afternoon to implement it. If I decide I hate it, I am not out all that much, I'll just proceed with a more expensive drop conversion.

    I have ridden a bunch of different styles of bikes over the years and this large MTB frame is the best fit of all. I tend to ride the hoods when riding with drops but I pretty much never go aero and never have. I have an aversion to putting my head that far forward.


    Quote Originally Posted by pretzelkins View Post
    Also, probably not a concern for most, but I think trekking bars are maybe the dorkiest looking bars out there.
    I have considered that and that's actually what I am trying to overcome, but my bike itself is pretty darn dorky looking anyway, not to mention the rider.


    Quote Originally Posted by SkippyX View Post
    They're cool... Tell 'em you developed a taste for them when you rode your steel hardtail mtb around Zaire.

    Instant free espresso.
    Hey, another great reason!


    Quote Originally Posted by bktourer1 View Post
    I put the Nashbar Trekking bars on both my bikes. I find them great on long tours as they give me more places for my hands and my hands are always near the brake levers. I prefer a more upright riding position.
    I have gel pads under my tape and there is plenty of cushioning. There are only 2 bar mirrors for trekking bars, Zefal SPY and the Ultralight ( check the ortliebe or ACA site)
    I will check those out. Thanks for the recommendations!


    Quote Originally Posted by pretzelkins View Post
    Yeah, and more than that, one ass-weight distribution position. I like the option of being upright, but the further you lean over you bars the more weight it takes off your ass, which I love about the drop position on drop bars. Even with a fantastically comfortable B17, I need a little respite down there at times.
    This is one of my primary concerns, although with drops I almost never drop to that down position, and if I were to mount drops I'd have them sitting kind of high, anyway, which may erase the whole reason for drops. When my rear gets a little tired of the seat I tend to stand a little bit more on my pedals, just hovering barely off the saddle for a while and that seems to take care of the problem.

  13. #13
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    An alternative to trekking bars, if you can find them, are some old Scott AT-4 bars. They have about the same amount of hand positions, will work with standard MTB shifters and levers, and also have a semi-aero position, as long as you don't mind resting your forearms on the flats.
    I had them on my light tourer forever, and love them.

    They still look pretty dorky, though.

  14. #14
    djb
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    I literally am just back from a 80k ride (50 miles) on my mtn bike/commuter/whatever bike. I've changed bars and stems on this bike a few times in the last few years, and now have a bar that I am very happy with and am comfortable riding on all day rides--its a "nothing special" riser bar, but not straight, ie the bar ends are angled back a certain amount (sorry, dont know the actual degree).

    The combo of riser bringing the bar height up a good height for me (I even still have a spacer on top of the stem), the angle of the hand position (sooo much better than a straight bar for me), the ergo style grips that help distribute hand pressure ($15 dollar ones, with a locking system so they dont rotate) and having bar ends that are angled nearly horizontal to allow me to get into a good position for strong headwinds (and gives my back a nice stretchout at the same time) means that this bike has become a good long ride bike.

    I was someone who never ever would have thought "straight bars" could be so flexible for long rides, and certainly the fact that these bars are not "straight" is a factor. I was always a drop bar fan, but my specific set up of bars, stem angle and length, grips and bar ends (bar ends are just regular old ones,nothing fancy) works very well. I still ride a drop bar bike that is setup very well for me as well, with no hand or wrist issues there either on that bike, but I can say for a fact that if you experiment with diff bars, you might be surprised how well it turns out.

    these bars I love are cheapies, under $20, so are not overly light, nor overly awfully heavy, so like trying some trekking bars mentioned, its a relatively easy and cheap route to try things out, you might have to try diff stems, and if your bike is a threaded headset, it might be a bit more trouble trying diff setups, but it can be done, and I certainly encourage you to try things out as your bike may well become much more comfortable for you.

  15. #15
    Senior Member simplygib's Avatar
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    I have drops on my road bike and I like them, but the only position I really am comfortable in over a long period is on the hoods. I wouldn't want to tour with them. The touring bike (mtb conversion) has trekking bars and are great. Used to get numb hands with the flat bars and to a lesser degree with bar ends, but much, much less with the trekking bars. It's a cheap swap on an mtb since you can use the same brake levers and shifters that work on your flat bars.


  16. #16
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    I own a Novara (REI) Safari that came with "trekking" bars. On balance I like them. My more typical ride (especially for the road) is a sport touring bike with drop bars. I've changed the stem of the road bike to bring the drop bars up to about seat height. I added a stem extension to the Safari so I have about (actually nearly identical) riding positions on both bikes. The control position (twist shifters and brake levers is equivalent to riding the tops of the drop handle bar on the road bike, further out on the curve is equivalent to riding the hoods on the road bike and the stretched position gives me a stretch out position for my hands and back. I would be happy doing a tour with the Safari, especially if it involved dirt/gravel road travel. FWIW, I am a senior that likes a more upright riding posture.

  17. #17
    http://www.538.nl acidfast7's Avatar
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    Ironically, because I am in Europe, my favorite German bicycle company doesn't use drops or trekking bars (except for drops on their one Randonneur model for aerodynamics/efficiency). They actually use flat bars with ergonomic grips/bar ends.

    That's good enough for me.

    Here's the page (sorry German only) ... let me know if you have any questions ...

    http://www.fahrradmanufaktur.de/produkte/expedition/
    Movimento 5 Stelle (M5S)
    Rohloffs seen on the commute: 3

  18. #18
    Hopelessly addicted... photogravity's Avatar
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    I tried a butterfly bar and consider it a failed experiment. I'm using a drop bar once again. Get a nice randonneur bar or a Nitto noodle. They are exceedingly comfortable.
    --
    Ridding the world of derailleurs, one bicycle at a time.

    46 Hercules Roadster, 49 Hercules Kestrel, 50 Norman Rapide, 51 Hercules Lion, 52 Hercules Windsor, 56 Hercules Royal Prince, 61 Fiorelli Tandem, 67 Carlton Super Race (IGH), 70 Schwinn Collegiate (IGH), 71 Hercules, 71 STF Hercules, 72 Peugeot PX-8 (IGH), 76 Raleigh Sports, 77 STF Raleigh Sports, 77 Jack Taylor Tandem, Early-80's Mike Appel SC, 84 Davidson Tandem, Late-80's Alpine, 10 Bilenky "BQ" Signature Tandem

  19. #19
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    It's the bike I used Most .. Trekking bars , Grip shifter-ed IGH, MTB
    Magura Hydrostop Rim brakes.
    http://www.cyclofiend.com/working/20...clark1008.html

    MyBike Friday Pocket Llama also Got trekking bars, too,
    the ITM freetime, that Koga Bought for that bike's original build.

    AVID bb7 mountain disc, speed dial levers.
    Last edited by fietsbob; 08-27-12 at 10:57 AM.

  20. #20
    Senior Member enigmaT120's Avatar
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    I have the Nashbar trekking bars on my Rocky Mountain and I love them for my commute. The only time I don't like them is when I actually ride up in the logging roads. I like to cover my brakes on fast descents (OK, ride them!) but the best position for control on loose surfaces is the outside of the loops. My brifters are set up at the open ends closest to me, and my hands are not very far apart at that position. Since I mostly ride that bike up in the hills now, I am planning to put a set of Bull Moose bars on it and see how I like them.
    Ed Miller
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    1993 Rocky Mountain Fusion
    2012 Fargo 2

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by pretzelkins View Post
    Unless you're in Europe, in which case every bicycle tourist has trekking bars.

    I love drops for touring. Especially the Nitto Noodle.
    +1. Used to have drops on my LHT, then had a flat bar w/ bar-ends on my new Thorn. Finger tingling for several days after finishing my latest. Put a Nitto Noodle on the Thorn and I'm much, much happier.

  22. #22
    Senior Member
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    This is great info, folks, and thanks for the suggestions. I will look into some of the alternate style handlebars being mentioned here, too.

    I went by my local REI and tried out the handlebars on the Novara that has trekking bars (with no intention to buy the bike, so I didn't ask to take a spin). This feels like what I want to try, and since I wouldn't have to really buy anything but the bars and some tape I wouldn't be out much if for some reason I decide they won't work. If that happens, I'll probably try a drop conversion on a high stem.

    Yeah, with my city fenders, semi-slicks, mismatched racks, Bob Yak trailer, bell, and ultra-springy B135 saddle I am sure I'll look like a total dork, but I don't care.

  23. #23
    djb
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    Here are some quick snaps to show bar angle of hand positions, plus grips, and seat to bar height diff that works well for me if I'm riding at a reasonable power output.IMAG0375.jpgIMAG0372.jpg[ATTACH=CONFIG]269733

    in the end, if you find a setup that works for your body and riding style, it doesnt matter how it looks if it means you will get out there and ride comfortably--as you say, its a fairly inexpensive experiment with just bars and tape. Have fun doing it.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by djb; 08-27-12 at 01:42 PM.

  24. #24
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    A far as that goes , Ergon GR 2~5 are integrating the grip and bar end into one .
    the clamp bolt holds both the end and the grip

  25. #25
    djb
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    the ergons are really nice looking, but up here, the cheapest I think are about 65 dollars. I'm sure they are worth it, but a bit pricey for trying out stuff.
    Last edited by djb; 08-27-12 at 08:26 PM. Reason: jive turned to nice, as was intended...

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