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Flat to drop, this should work right?

Old 10-12-20, 07:48 AM
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feejer
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Flat to drop, this should work right?

Need to make sure I have this right, if you guys can help me out. I have a flat bar trek FX with a 3x8 Shimano drive train and V brakes, and I really want to put a drop bar on it without breaking the bank replacing everything. I was able to track down two Problem Solver’s Travel Agent brake pull ratio changers, and a pair of MicroShift R8 3x8 road brifters. I’m thinking that using those on a drop bar will allow me to keep the same brakes, derailleur’s, and the whole drive train currently on it. Am I missing anything? I’ll have to measure up the ergo’s for a new stem and such, but it will be nice to get the hoods out a little farther than this flat bar goes, after 7 years I’m really tired of it. Appreciate any insights or advice!

Last edited by feejer; 10-12-20 at 09:09 AM.
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Old 10-12-20, 08:05 AM
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Not sure why you're saying you need to replace the stem...unless you're just looking to change the length and/or angle of it. Having only ridden flat bar bikes a few times...it has always been my understanding that they are a road bike...just with flat bars instead of drops. Obviously brake and shift levers are different. As such...you shouldn't need to replace any derailleurs/brakes. However...as you indicate...you'll have to change to brifters. Something you didn't mention...which I'm sure will be effected...is brake and shifter cable length.


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Old 10-12-20, 08:15 AM
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STI's for a drop bar will be the major cost. Though if you have to get the brakes and DR's to be compatible with them then little things start adding up.

You might find it is still the same basic ride drops of not. So while you'll be somewhat happy with yourself for being able to make it happen, you'll eventually still find other bikes tugging at your wallet.

So consider getting a bike new or used already configured like you want.
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Old 10-12-20, 09:03 AM
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Yeah I am planning on all new cables and the stem change to position the new bar properly. I really like everything else about this bike, just not the bars. So, I just want to make sure that these short pull brifters with the travel agents will function properly with all the existing drive train gear and V brakes. Other than the challenge of tracking parts down right now, this swap almost seems too easy, so I’m sure there’s something I’m overlooking!

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Old 10-12-20, 09:14 AM
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putting a drop bar on that bike is going to increase the effective reach significantly. a flat bar bends back slightly, whereas a drop bar bends forward and then the hoods are mounted to that. it may or may not work for you to add several inches to the effective reach of the bike. no matter what you do, it will put you in a for forward position. you can mitigate that by using a much shorter stem, as well as just adjusting your riding style to a longer reach. you have to consider that before you move forward. most bikes that fit you with a flat bar are going to feel WAY too long when you put a drop bar on it.

what do you expect to get out of a drop bar? if you want an aerodynamic advantage by actually using the drops, that's a good idea. just make sure the bike it not going to end up feeling too long for you when you do that or you'll kill your back, neck, etc.

the main attraction for drop bars for me is the additional hand positions it allows for long rides on varied terrain. if that's what you want, I much simpler solution is some bar ends. look into Ergon grips that include integrated bar ends, or some comfy bar ends like the Cane Creek ones. those will give you an alternate hand position that will mimic riding on the hoods of a drop bar setup. you could also try something like SQLabs Inner Bar ends or one of the many options from Ride Far.
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Old 10-12-20, 09:21 AM
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If the sizing is not going to be a problem, Travel Agents are what you want to convert a road brake lever to the correct pull for a v-brake. on the other hand, you could also get some "mini v-brakes" which have shorter arms and a different pull ratio that will play nice with road brake levers.

You didn't say what drivetrain components your bike currently has. I can't remember, so I'll just ask the question for you: is the pull ratio for Shimano (and Microshift) the same for 8-speed road and mountain drivetrains? I know Shimano higher-end drivetrains are different (so you cannot reliably use a Ultegra 11-speed shifter for accurate shifting with a XTR 11-speed derailer), but 8-speed stuff might play nice.

I agree this sounds like a lot of money and effort to dump into a flat-bar hybrid to make a compromised pseudo-road frankenbike when you could make a killing selling this bike (because of the high demand for bikes due to COVID) and buy something MUCH better and probably spend marginally more money in the end.
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Old 10-12-20, 10:01 AM
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Appreciate the input, to answer a few issues...

I mostly want more hand positions. Iím pretty tall, and could use to stretch forward more and move around on longer rides, but Iíll measure things up when Iím home to see what might work. Also on our last ride we just got stopped cold into a headwind, and I was really wanting drops, the flat bar flat out sucks in wind!

I could sell the bike, but itís not much for a bar, Microshift R8ís and the travel agents. Way less than another bike, which for me would be almost impossible to find a suitable replacement anyway right now. The bike fits me perfectly, and Iíll check the bar ergos before I swap it up. If it sucks I could change it back as well.

Shifter cable pull, Iím not sure thereís a difference for road/mtn, I thought the indexing was just a function of the cog, ring and chain sizes, 8sp etc? Could be wrong though, anyone know if thereís any difference? MicroShift says Shimano compatible, but doesnít address road vs mtn...
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Old 10-12-20, 10:09 AM
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Originally Posted by feejer View Post
I could sell the bike, but itís not much for a bar, Microshift R8ís and the travel agents.
... and bar tape, possibly a new stem, and a whole new set of shift and brake cables+housing. be sure to keep that in your budget. that assumes you're doing all the work at home instead of paying a bike shop. replacing an entire cable and housing set, installing a handlebar and shifters, setting up Travel Agents, and turning everything is actually quite time-consuming and the labor price should reflect that.

Bike Radar had a little article about compatibility. I am pretty sure those Microshift brifters will work with whatever Shimano derailers you have. it looks like 10 speed and above is when things diverged.
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Old 10-12-20, 10:22 AM
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Definitely doing all the work myself. I have enough new unused cable from a project I just finished, and would only need a few feet of housing from the local shop, which isnít much. Stem, bar tape for sure, but all in around $200, which seems very reasonable if it actually improves the bike for me. Point taken though!
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Old 10-12-20, 06:11 PM
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Mountain FDER's have a different pull ratio than Road FDER's
Rear cable can be used for the new front.
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Old 10-12-20, 06:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Bill Kapaun View Post
Mountain FDER's have a different pull ratio than Road FDER's
Rear cable can be used for the new front.
I can confirm that Microshift brifters work with Shimano mountain rear derailers but not mountain front derailers.

Another option is bar-end shifters. Those would also allow you to use long-pull drop bar brake levers and avoid the Travel Agents.
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Old 10-12-20, 06:33 PM
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swap the cassette & crank for a 12x1 config, delete the front der swap rear der, add the appropriate brifter, change out chain & bar.
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Old 10-12-20, 07:10 PM
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Gevenalle might have something for you.
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Old 10-12-20, 08:13 PM
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I dunno man, you have a trek fx that fits you perfectly. A perfect machine for urban commuting, errend running, winter riding. Yes it would suck in the wind but try to enjoy that technical urban ride with it after the drop bars are on. As mack turtle has pointed out if it fits you now it won't with drops.
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Old 10-13-20, 07:14 AM
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Originally Posted by ted_major View Post
I can confirm that Microshift brifters work with Shimano mountain rear derailers but not mountain front derailers.

Another option is bar-end shifters. Those would also allow you to use long-pull drop bar brake levers and avoid the Travel Agents.
Well thatís not good to hear. Iíll have to see what is on this bike. If the FD pull ratioís are different, then the chainring spacing between road and mtn cranksets must also be different? Never heard of that before, Iíll look into it.
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Old 10-13-20, 07:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Bill Kapaun View Post
Mountain FDER's have a different pull ratio than Road FDER's
Rear cable can be used for the new front.
hmm. What I donít understand is that from what I have read, derailleurs donít have a pull ratio, the pull ratio is controlled by the shifter. The DR only has a range of motion, and the indexing within that range of motion is set by the shifter. So, if a DR has the appropriate range of motion, how can there be a road and mtn difference in a derailleur? The only way I can think of if a shifter doesnít function with a DR is if the crankset doesnít match up in some way. Confusing stuff.

Good tip on the cable, I would not have thought of that.

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Old 10-13-20, 08:21 AM
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OK I think I see what you guys mean. In stead of saying FD pull ratio, Sheldon says "The ratio of cable movement to derailer movement differs with Shimano's "road " vs. "MTB " front derailers." That I can understand. Pull ratio to me seems to imply brake pull or shifter indexing, I never knew there was a difference in how far a derailleur moved between road and mtn. Appreciate the insights!

This would also imply that I can keep my chainrings, but will most likely need a new FD. With flat bar brake/shifters I would guess that's a mtn setup, which would then also be a mtn FD.

Last edited by feejer; 10-13-20 at 08:29 AM.
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Old 10-13-20, 08:23 AM
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Originally Posted by feejer View Post
hmm. What I donít understand is that from what I have read, derailleurs donít have a pull ratio, the pull ratio is controlled by the shifter. The DR only has a range of motion, and the indexing within that range of motion is set by the shifter. So, if a DR has the appropriate range of motion, how can there be a road and mtn difference in a derailleur? The only way I can think of if a shifter doesnít function with a DR is if the crankset doesnít match up in some way. Confusing stuff.

Good tip on the cable, I would not have thought of that.
Both derailers and shifters have a pull ratio (the ratio between how much the cable moves and how much the derailer moves). The indexing is built into the shifter (that is, the number of clicks and how far those clicks are apart). As long as the shifter and derailer have the same pull ratio, the indexing will work. For example, Shimano 7- and 8-speed rear derailers have the same pull ratio, and the cog spacing on 7- and 8-speed cassettes is so close (1.85mm v. 1.8mm) that 8-speed shifters work with 7-speed derailers and cassettes.

One other advantage of bar-end shifters is that the front shift usually isn't indexed, so it will work with pretty much any front derailer and crankset, 2x or 3x, regardless of chainring spacing or pull ratio.
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Old 10-13-20, 08:26 AM
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A friend of mine did exactly what you are trying a few months back with no problems. I don't remember make of bike although it was a hybrid with v-brakes. He liked the bike but wanted to switch to drop bars. Used Microshift road brifters with travel agents. The Microsoft brifters work fine with his Shimano derailleurs. As I remember it, the left shift lever has multiple "clicks" to allow for fine tuning the position of the front derailleur to the chain line. The cost of brifters and travel agents wasn't cheap but he ended up happy with his new ride.
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Old 10-13-20, 08:36 AM
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You did think about what those quoted below said didn't you? On a drop bar, particularly with STI's, your hands are going to be further forward on the bike than what they are with a flat bar. You can put a shorter stem on it. But that isn't going to fix all. You might find yourself staying on the horizontal part of the drop most of the time and not using the hoods or drops often enough to get any advantage from those multiple hand positions you want.

I don't know about your bike, but there are differences in tube lengths and geometry of hybrids designed for a flat bar and road bikes designed with a drop bar.


Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post
putting a drop bar on that bike is going to increase the effective reach significantly. a flat bar bends back slightly, whereas a drop bar bends forward and then the hoods are mounted to that. it may or may not work for you to add several inches to the effective reach of the bike. no matter what you do, it will put you in a for forward position. you can mitigate that by using a much shorter stem, as well as just adjusting your riding style to a longer reach. you have to consider that before you move forward. most bikes that fit you with a flat bar are going to feel WAY too long when you put a drop bar on it.

what do you expect to get out of a drop bar? if you want an aerodynamic advantage by actually using the drops, that's a good idea. just make sure the bike it not going to end up feeling too long for you when you do that or you'll kill your back, neck, etc.

the main attraction for drop bars for me is the additional hand positions it allows for long rides on varied terrain. if that's what you want, I much simpler solution is some bar ends. look into Ergon grips that include integrated bar ends, or some comfy bar ends like the Cane Creek ones. those will give you an alternate hand position that will mimic riding on the hoods of a drop bar setup. you could also try something like SQLabs Inner Bar ends or one of the many options from Ride Far.
Originally Posted by 55murray View Post
I dunno man, you have a trek fx that fits you perfectly. A perfect machine for urban commuting, errend running, winter riding. Yes it would suck in the wind but try to enjoy that technical urban ride with it after the drop bars are on. As mack turtle has pointed out if it fits you now it won't with drops.
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Old 10-13-20, 09:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
You did think about what those quoted below said didn't you? On a drop bar, particularly with STI's, your hands are going to be further forward on the bike than what they are with a flat bar. You can put a shorter stem on it. But that isn't going to fix all. You might find yourself staying on the horizontal part of the drop most of the time and not using the hoods or drops often enough to get any advantage from those multiple hand positions you want.

I don't know about your bike, but there are differences in tube lengths and geometry of hybrids designed for a flat bar and road bikes designed with a drop bar.
I have thought about this for the past few riding seasons. This flat bar is really too close, and should really have a longer stem. I'm 6'4" with long arms and torso, and I think I could use a little more room up front. I think with a shorter stem, I could get the hoods a little farther forward than my current bar ends, without being too far out there. The flats might be a little tight, but I'd be ok with that. 100% of my riding is on open crushed stone trails, and to ride for longer periods of time I need a different bar situation. And again, if this all ends up sucking, I could always change it all back.
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Old 10-17-20, 11:55 AM
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This is looking promising! So when measuring up my current flat bar, the grips are about 15-20mm rear of the bar front mount due to the rear sweep of the bar. I just picked up a Velo Orange Randenneur drop bar, which has a little rear sweep to the tops. With a stem around 15-20mm shorter, the tops will be nearly the same location as my current grips (although much less wide), the curve at the ends will match my current bar ends and the hoods will be just slightly farther forward than that. Just for some added flexibility in positioning, I ordered a 90mm adjustable angle Ritchie stem. That, plus playing with the spacer stack should give a good bit of flexibility to get the new drop bar just right. Can’t wait to get this done.

Last edited by feejer; 10-17-20 at 11:58 AM.
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