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Don't understand drop bars

Old 04-18-13, 09:58 AM
  #1  
RubeRad
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Don't understand drop bars

Hey gang,

Since I got back into road biking, I've been using the Bontrager Sport drop bars (I believe 42cm c-c) that came stock on a 2006 Trek 1000, and I have since transferred those (along with all the other components) to a Surly Crosscheck. Here's a pic of a Trek 1000 showing the bars:



So I have never had any feelings about these bars one way or the other, they're handlebars. I ride the bike and I move my hands around. Whatever.

Now I'm looking at finishing off my Surly build (and bringing the Trek back to being a complete bike again), and drop bars is just about the last component I need to acquire. But I don't understand what makes drop bars good or bad (for this or that type of riding) -- or even much about what makes them different.

I'm seeing a great price of just $20 on Nashbar right now for FSA Omega Compact. Or for just $16, there's a Nashbar Oversize. I guess these are kind of opposite from each other in drop bar philosophy, right? (And then I guess between them, most comparable to the current bars, would be the Nashbar GC Alloy for $25). Comparative reach/drop specs for the three are:

Reach Drop Shape
FSA Omega Compact 80 125 tightish curve?
Nashbar GC Alloy 80 135 semi-ergo
Nashbar Oversize 115 155 anatomic


What are the implications of "compact" vs "oversize"? What kind of riding/gripping style would I need to have for either of these bars to be good for me? Or perhaps more importantly, what kind of riding/gripping style would mean these bars would be horrible for me?

FYI I'm using the Surly 1 1/8" threadless fork, which means I'll be using a stem with a 31.8mm clamp. I'd rather not have to bother with shims. I'll be mounting retroshift CX2 on these, if that makes any differences from "traditional" STI ergonomics. And my hands are on the larger side. Not exactly gorilla hands, but definitely meaty. I don't know if this pic give an idea...


As always, any other suggestions for cheap bars are welcome (esp. including any current offerings in the san diego CL)

UPDATE here's one CL possibility including a stem, or here's a Nitto (of unspecified size)...
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Old 04-18-13, 10:39 AM
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Ramp is the upper bend part of the bars transitioning to the brake levers.
Brifters got longer, so some bar bends made the ramp shorter..

Tektro, that retroshift uses are like Campag's brifters, a copy simplified.
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Old 04-18-13, 10:53 AM
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Bars are hard to figure and highly personal, but the important specs are reach, drop, width & shape. Figure out what it is you liked or didn't like about your last bars and go from there.
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Old 04-18-13, 11:06 AM
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Compared to my roadbike my Cross Check has wider bars with less drop. I use the Cross Check as a touring/rough road bike. I have spacers under the stem to get a more upright position and am not concerned about getting max aero on it.
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Old 04-18-13, 11:45 AM
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Originally Posted by TrojanHorse View Post
Bars are hard to figure and highly personal, but the important specs are reach, drop, width & shape. Figure out what it is you liked or didn't like about your last bars and go from there.
I updated the post with some comparative specs for those three; but part of the point is I don't even know whether I do like my current bars, or if I'm unknowingly suffering and have just never tried bars that are better for my hands/body/bike geometry/riding style.
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Old 04-18-13, 11:47 AM
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THis may or may not help, as it relly doesn't discuss anatomics, but it's a fun read, nonetheless.

https://ruedatropical.com/2009/03/roa...-bar-geometry/
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Old 04-18-13, 11:48 AM
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Originally Posted by jethro56 View Post
Compared to my roadbike my Cross Check has wider bars with less drop. I use the Cross Check as a touring/rough road bike. I have spacers under the stem to get a more upright position and am not concerned about getting max aero on it.
OK I'm seeing CrossCheck<-->less drop<-->more upright. That points me towards the FSA Omega, which seems like a good deal from a reputable brand; I just am not sure what to expect from such a tighter curve. When you ride in your road vs CC drops, are there any comfort issues for your hands? If shallow drops are easier on the back, are they harder on the hands? Or is it hand-indifferent?
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Old 04-18-13, 12:01 PM
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Originally Posted by shadoman View Post
THis may or may not help, as it relly doesn't discuss anatomics, but it's a fun read, nonetheless.
Yes, that is exactly the kind of primer I needed; it's helpful to develop some vocabulary and categories to begin to think about it. I'm leaning more towards the FSA Omega Compact, since, as fietsbob noted above, the levers (and thus I guess hoods) are campy ergopower knockoffs. And $20 is a pretty cheap experiment, as biking goes...
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Old 04-18-13, 12:07 PM
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Brifters Had to have larger bodies,and the rubber hood over them,
for the shifting mech to have space inside.
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Old 04-18-13, 12:18 PM
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On my Cross Check I switched from the 40mm Salsa Bell Lap to a 44 mm FSA Omega Compact. With my old bars I rarely used the drops, especially because the ergo bend forced my wrists into a funny position. The compact curve is much more comfortable for me, though that may be because I have small hands.

The reduced drop of compact bars makes it feel less effortful to get into the drops. Since you're using Retroshift shifters, it may be easier to jump up from the drops to the hoods when you need to shift.
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Old 04-18-13, 01:08 PM
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Originally Posted by 5b00 View Post
On my Cross Check I switched from the 40mm Salsa Bell Lap to a 44 mm FSA Omega Compact. With my old bars I rarely used the drops, especially because the ergo bend forced my wrists into a funny position. The compact curve is much more comfortable for me, though that may be because I have small hands.

The reduced drop of compact bars makes it feel less effortful to get into the drops. Since you're using Retroshift shifters, it may be easier to jump up from the drops to the hoods when you need to shift.
Thx, that's another good vote of confidence for the CC + FSA Omega Compact + Retroshift combination
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Old 04-20-13, 04:56 AM
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Originally Posted by RubeRad View Post
I don't even know whether I do like my current bars, or if I'm unknowingly suffering and have just never tried bars that are better for my hands/body/bike geometry/riding style.
Adjust the height so you're comfortable on the hoods. Now, does it seem like the drops are too low, and you hardly ever use them? Or, could you go lower?

Compare what's available to what you know, and choose accordingly.

Ain't rocket surgery.
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Old 04-20-13, 08:46 AM
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I think I'd have to be you to answer your questions as posed.

On an all day rider I like a wider bar, 42mm+, lots of flat space on the top to move around, semi-compact drop and the ergo "anatomic" hand position in the drops. For me, this translated to Bontrager Flat Tops for two of my bikes, and they were inexpensive. (They show up on eBay and CL regularly, not sure they can still be found in stores.) Salsa Woodchippers on my heavy duty 700c tourer because I like the big flat top and exaggerated flair (they are gigantic), but my faster bikes have more a traditional round bend and are more narrow, 40mm or less. Track bars are too limiting for me on longer rides, they put me 100% on the hoods or in the drops.
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Old 04-20-13, 10:31 AM
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Don't hold me to it but I think the FSA Pro Wing bar might be a later version of the Omega bars. The Omegas are available at what seems close-out prices, which would make them a great deal.

I haven't had the Omegas, but I have had similar bars. The Pro Wings have the flat tops between the stem and the drops and I love my pair. Having rode with the Pro Wing, I would gladly pay the little difference and get them over simple round bars.

Just my litte opinion. YMMV
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Old 04-20-13, 12:09 PM
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Originally Posted by RubeRad View Post
OK I'm seeing CrossCheck<-->less drop<-->more upright. That points me towards the FSA Omega, which seems like a good deal from a reputable brand; I just am not sure what to expect from such a tighter curve. When you ride in your road vs CC drops, are there any comfort issues for your hands? If shallow drops are easier on the back, are they harder on the hands? Or is it hand-indifferent?
Hand wise in the drops my roadbike is more comfortable but I'm not sure if it's a fair comparison. When I'm in the drops on the roadbike I'm riding on smooth roads and putting max power into the pedals. So there's very little weight on my hands. On the cross check I'd be down in the drops slogging against a headwind maybe on a rough road so I'm going to have more weight on them and spending longer time down there. The longer chainstay means the steering is heavier on the cross check to begin with.
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Old 04-20-13, 04:19 PM
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Originally Posted by gregjones View Post
Don't hold me to it but I think the FSA Pro Wing bar might be a later version of the Omega bars. The Omegas are available at what seems close-out prices, which would make them a great deal.

I haven't had the Omegas, but I have had similar bars. The Pro Wings have the flat tops between the stem and the drops and I love my pair. Having rode with the Pro Wing, I would gladly pay the little difference and get them over simple round bars.
Looking closely at the pictures on Nashbar, I don't think FSA Omega Compact has flat tops, but it's already ordered anyways.
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Old 04-22-13, 04:18 PM
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Originally Posted by RubeRad View Post
I'm seeing a great price of just $20 on Nashbar right now for FSA Omega Compact.
That is a hell of a deal. I'd jump on it if I were you. I just paid $50 for the same bar from my fitter.
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Old 04-22-13, 04:19 PM
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Originally Posted by RubeRad View Post
Looking closely at the pictures on Nashbar, I don't think FSA Omega Compact has flat tops, but it's already ordered anyways.
The Wing is the same bar as the Omega but with flat tops.

HTH.
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Old 04-22-13, 04:35 PM
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Originally Posted by RubeRad View Post
it's already ordered anyways.
Nothing wrong, you got some nice bars at a great price.

Enjoy!!!
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Old 04-22-13, 05:23 PM
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Thx for the positive feedback all, FedEx tracking implies delivery tomorrow maybe, so tonight I work on cleaning up the frame, putting on the drivetrain, hopefully later this week I can assemble the whole cockpit.
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