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Seeking advice for Converting Drop Bars to Flat Bars.

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Seeking advice for Converting Drop Bars to Flat Bars.

Old 08-02-20, 12:42 PM
  #1  
SteveKB
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Seeking advice for Converting Drop Bars to Flat Bars.

I'd like to hear from people who've done this modification, what are the pitfalls?
Mostly I want to know about incompatibilities between Road and Mountain/Hybrid brakes & shifters.

The reason I want to do this is I am old and find a more upright position more comfortable.

The bike I have in mind is this 2006 Giant OCR 3 with 3x8 Shimano Sora brifters & Tektro dual pivot brakes. I'd rather not go down the upgrading rabbit hole as I am a recreational rider on undemanding terrain. I like this bike's weight and size, it fits me well, but I prefer the flat bar and upright position.

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Old 08-02-20, 12:50 PM
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If you have an 8 or 9 speed Shimano, the road and MTB shifters should be reasonably compatible with other SHIMANO parts.

SRAM sold both 1:1 actuation (not Shimano compatible) and 2:1 actuation (Shimano compatible).
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Old 08-02-20, 01:28 PM
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Thanks, modern bikes are new to me (I rode a lot in the '70s-early '90s and am just getting back into regular riding) and I appreciate help & advice in making my bike more comfortable.

An ad on our local craigslist has a flat bar conversion to the same model, but it looks like a bit of a bodge, as he replaced the fork and it only has the rear brake:






I live on a flat island with no significant hills, most of my riding is on gravel trails & paved bike paths, I don't need a huge range of gears.
I'd like to stick with Shimano, which flat bar brakes are compatible with Dual Pivot Caliper Brakes?

Thanks!

Last edited by SteveKB; 08-02-20 at 01:29 PM. Reason: correct tyops
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Old 08-02-20, 01:36 PM
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I just converted my '81 Trek 710 to VO touring bars (think Raleigh 3 speed). But it is old and has downtime shifters. I do have some flat bar 10s Veloce brake/shifters I am going to try on my '84 Trek 720 someday. But again, my bikes are old and I have the down tube shifting option. For you to go flat bar you need to find a shifter option that works on the bars... I am not sure what is out there for 3x8. Maybe something like this.. You just have to try it and see.
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Old 08-02-20, 01:45 PM
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Index the rear, friction thumb shift the front.. cantilever/short pull brake levers ..
Recommend: Ergon Grips .

might want a different stem too.. up angled & shorter,. maybe a stem raiser to make up for short cut steerer..

Essentially making a Fitness Bike.. a Road bike with straight/MTB bar..

next you have to choose what bar you like.. they make Carbon MTB Bars..






...

Last edited by fietsbob; 08-02-20 at 01:49 PM.
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Old 08-02-20, 01:56 PM
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As noted above, be sure to get short pull brake levers, NOT linear pull levers as incorrectly done in that CL photo.
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Old 08-02-20, 01:59 PM
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It looks like you have and adjustable stem, I would suggest trying use that to raise the bar, costs nothing and if it helps but not enough you could get a different stem to raise it even higher.

I am not a fan of flat bars because they have invariably caused me wrist pain ymmv
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Old 08-02-20, 02:03 PM
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Thanks, I want to avoid the black hole of upgrade incompatibilities, and knowing what type of brake lever works with my brakes helps a lot.
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Old 08-02-20, 02:42 PM
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It's also ergonomics for me, I've come to prefer the brake lever & shifter position on my Hybrid as I can shift/brake without moving my hand position, useful when the paths are crowded with people & dogs.

The problem I have is the Giant Escape hybrid is really too small for me and the OCR is a much better fit. I just prefer the Escape's flat bar.

In a normal time, I would just go down to my LBS and buy a Giant Escape in my size, but right now they have none in stock.
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Old 08-02-20, 07:58 PM
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Get a set of 3x8 Claris flat bar shifters. You can also use a Shimano compatible Microshift shifters. They will shift your 3x8 Sora drivetrain.

You can use any cantilever flat bar brake levers, Tektro, old Dia Compe PC, or even Claris flat bar levers.

Use an existing bike to get an idea where you want the seat position, handlebar height and reach. You can get a steerer tube extender if you need to raise the handlebars higher than the bike will allow.

Im running around 600mm flat bars on our converted road bikes.

I took measurements off my road bikes and mountain bikes to find a comfortable location for the seat and bars. It was basically a process of locating the seat in relation to the crank (pedals) and then locating the handlebars in relation to the seat.

John
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Old 08-02-20, 11:27 PM
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Road & mountain FDER's/shifters don't match.
As mentioned you can get the Claris FB shifters OR change the FDER to a mountain (Acera/Altus?) type if you are going to use mountain shifters.
Rear shifter/DER isn't a problem.
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Old 08-03-20, 07:44 AM
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Originally Posted by SteveKB View Post

The reason I want to do this is I am old and find a more upright position more comfortable.
As an experiment, I wonder if it would be more comfortable with a shorter stem? You wouldn't have to reach so far with a shorter stem. On my bike, I found it became more comfortable when I flipped the stem over and I gained about an inch of height.

I do most of my riding with my hands on the top of the bars and almost never use the drops. Speaking just for myself, I generally find the normal flatbar/mountain bike style position too wide. But that may just be because of what I am used to.
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Old 08-03-20, 07:42 PM
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Drop bar brake levers will not work on upright bars. When you convert from drop bars to upright bars you always have to install new stem, handlebar, levers, shifters, grips & cables. It's really not that big of a deal. The only special tools you need are for the cable work. And, if you've got some old electrical wiring pliers & cutters they will work fine. The cost of all the parts usually puts people off. I'm doing a conversion right now for a customer & it's gonna cost him $190. ($110 in parts & $80 labor). I highly recommend the conversion. It will turn an old bike back into a good friend. All of the bikes shown below were originally drop bar bikes




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Old 08-03-20, 07:45 PM
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Old 08-04-20, 06:22 AM
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Originally Posted by ramzilla View Post
Drop bar brake levers will not work on upright bars. When you convert from drop bars to upright bars you always have to install new stem, handlebar, levers, shifters, grips & cables. It's really not that big of a deal. The only special tools you need are for the cable work. And, if you've got some old electrical wiring pliers & cutters they will work fine. The cost of all the parts usually puts people off. I'm doing a conversion right now for a customer & it's gonna cost him $190. ($110 in parts & $80 labor). I highly recommend the conversion. It will turn an old bike back into a good friend. All of the bikes shown below were originally drop bar bikes..
It's hard to tell from the photos, but it looks like a common mistake has been made on at least one of them, using long-pull linear brake levers where a short pull lever is needed. The long pull levers supply roughly half the mechanical advantage needed for the road and canti brakes. It nominally works, but a very strong grip is needed.

I started volunteering at a non-profit where all the brake levers were tossed into the same bin. Nobody there knew the difference. Now the levers are separated and all the volunteers are schooled in the difference.
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Old 08-04-20, 09:57 AM
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If you wanted to upgrade to 9 speed, this would be the cheapest time to do it
Add a chain & cassette, since you are getting new shifters anyway. The 8 speed RDER should work fine.
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Old 08-04-20, 07:17 PM
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Originally Posted by andrewclaus View Post
It's hard to tell from the photos, but it looks like a common mistake has been made on at least one of them, using long-pull linear brake levers where a short pull lever is needed. The long pull levers supply roughly half the mechanical advantage needed for the road and canti brakes. It nominally works, but a very strong grip is needed.

I started volunteering at a non-profit where all the brake levers were tossed into the same bin. Nobody there knew the difference. Now the levers are separated and all the volunteers are schooled in the difference.
Sorry, no mistakes made. All these bikes functioned better than new. That's it. That's all. Done deal. Be good. Have fun.
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Old 08-04-20, 07:32 PM
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Here's an idea for the OP. Instead of converting to flat bar why not try a shorter stem as suggested and also add cross levers for braking from the tops. I did that on a bike I recently upgraded and my daughter loves it even though she actually finds she brakes from the hoods more often. You could also get wider bars if you think it necessary but that requires a lot more parts to move. You can add the cross levers by simply pulling the cable, cutting the housing in the appropriate place, reinstalling the cable with the appropriate length, and rewrapping the bars. I was surprised at how easy they were to install, except that I was replacing levers, calipers, cables and housing all at once. They work as well as the main levers and you can use either, even with each hand on a different one. The calipers are new Centaur and are very good.




And btw, this bike is a rocket. Those early C'dales were very stiff, and this was the stiffest, most aggressive one of them all. Someday I'll put my better wheels on it to give it a try, but that'll require a new chain since they are 10sp and this is only 6sp. I did put on my Assioma pedals though when I took it for a test spin, can't ride flat pedals anymore,

Last edited by zacster; 08-04-20 at 07:37 PM.
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Old 08-05-20, 12:43 PM
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Originally Posted by zacster View Post
... and also add cross levers for braking from the tops.
I have those too. So much more convenient and quicker than reaching for the hoods in an emergency, when I'm riding along on the top of the bars.
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