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Which Vintage Drop-Handlebars for Comfort?

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Which Vintage Drop-Handlebars for Comfort?

Old 07-22-12, 05:48 AM
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Dawes-man
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Which Vintage Drop-Handlebars for Comfort?

For around town, over short distances, I find styles approximating the North Road bend the most comfortable:

[IMG] Untitled by Dawes-man, on Flickr[/IMG]

Or what I think are known as 'flat' bars, like these:

[IMG] IMG_8982.JPG by Dawes-man, on Flickr[/IMG]

On longer rides, though, I think drops are more comfortable as they allow you to vary your hand positions and in turn your siting position. With drops, you get anything from 4 possible positions to 7, depending on how you look at it: You can hold the lowers near the ends, in the middle, in the bends as when braking, on the hoods, back from the hoods and on the outer and inner parts of the flats.

The problem I find with most bars is that angling the tops for comfort puts the lowers at an uncomfortable angle and vice versa. These are the Primo 'Giro di Sicilia' bars on my Peugeot, set up for comfort on the tops. As you can see, this has tops parallel with the ground. For them to be comfortable for me on the lowers, the lowers would need to be parallel with the ground but this puts the tops at an angle sloping down away from me and I find that very uncomfortable:

[IMG] IMG_7643 by Dawes-man, on Flickr[/IMG]

I have a variety of drops on 5 of my bikes and they all suffer from this problem, to a degree. The most comfortable ones I have are the pair of 1950s GB Maes bars on the machine I keep in England. As you can see, the uppers and lowers are almost parallel to each other:

[IMG] Untitled by Dawes-man, on Flickr[/IMG]

I've searched on the 'net for any other bars that might offer a similar bend, one that has the tops and lowers on more or less the same plane but can't find any. I'm hoping that one of my fellow C&V'ers will have some knowledge or experience that will help me find the perfect bars for my Peugeot. It's my touring bike and I need it to be as comfortable as possible
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Old 07-22-12, 06:07 AM
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It's not an authentic vintage bar, but I think the find Nitto Noodle (below) possesses some of the qualities you're looking for, and it comes in wider widths which is a "+" if you are broad in the shoulder. I find it is pretty comfortable.



My favorite though is still the GB Randonneur, but it has more slope in the drops relative to the horizontal than you are looking for.

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Old 07-22-12, 06:21 AM
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I have very limited experience riding with drop bars (like the OP, I have found it difficult to get comfortable with some; unlike the OP, I have fitted several bikes with flat bars and long bar ends, which have worked reasonably well), but the GB Randonneur bar I put on my Gitane is considerably more comfortable than any other bar I've tried. That and the Maes bar are apparently available from Compass Cycle ( https://www.compasscycle.com/handlebars.html ), though I got mine in trade (thanks, RHM!).
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Old 07-22-12, 06:21 AM
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Originally Posted by auchencrow View Post
It's not an authentic vintage bar, but I think the find Nitto Noodle (below) possesses some of the qualities you're looking for, and it comes in wider widths which is a "+" if you are broad in the shoulder. I find it is pretty comfortable.

My favorite though is still the GB Randonneur, but it has more slope in the drops relative to the horizontal than you are looking for.
The Nitto is interesting. One of the problems with vintage bars is they do tend to be narrower widths so that is definitely a plus.
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Old 07-22-12, 06:26 AM
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Also, interesting article on drop bar geometry here: https://ruedatropical.com/2009/03/roa...-bar-geometry/
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Old 07-22-12, 06:28 AM
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Originally Posted by 02Pilot View Post
I have very limited experience riding with drop bars (like the OP, I have found it difficult to get comfortable with some; unlike the OP, I have fitted several bikes with flat bars and long bar ends, which have worked reasonably well), but the GB Randonneur bar I put on my Gitane is considerably more comfortable than any other bar I've tried. That and the Maes bar are apparently available from Compass Cycle ( https://www.compasscycle.com/handlebars.html ), though I got mine in trade (thanks, RHM!).
The Maes Parallel look really good. Thank you!

I was very surprised to find the GB standing for Grand Bois and not Gerry Burgess, as I'd presumed. I wonder if they've the initials deliberately in order to refer to the GB of the 1940s and 50s in the UK?
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Old 07-22-12, 06:46 AM
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I've just pulled this off Nitto's website and wonder if it's the same bend as the Grand Bois Maes Parallel. On the site it just says model B135AA... no, according to Nitto the drop is 120mmm whereas on the Grand Bois Maes Parallel it's 125mm.



One of the things that makes understanding bar bends hard is that they are invariably photographed from different angels.
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Old 07-22-12, 06:56 AM
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Originally Posted by 02Pilot View Post
Also, interesting article on drop bar geometry here: https://ruedatropical.com/2009/03/roa...-bar-geometry/
Yes, a very interesting look at bar geometry. Thank you again!
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Old 07-22-12, 07:39 AM
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Another vote for the GBRando bar here, I have 3 mounted and enjoy them all. The SR Randnner comes close but it's not the same; I'd like to try the offering from V-O sometime.
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Old 07-22-12, 01:31 PM
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I like the Nitto 135 rando a lot but ymmv. You could always modify the curves on something, within reasonable limits of course.
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Old 07-22-12, 01:54 PM
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Eek! What do you mean by "modify the curves?" if you mean, "bend your bars into a different shape" I'd say that there are no reasonable limits. Please get the right bar to start with - modifying handlebars is a recipe for disaster!

Originally Posted by due ruote View Post
I like the Nitto 135 rando a lot but ymmv. You could always modify the curves on something, within reasonable limits of course.
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Old 07-22-12, 02:15 PM
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GB Maes is similar to Nitto B115.
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Old 07-22-12, 02:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Der_Kruscher View Post
Eek! What do you mean by "modify the curves?" if you mean, "bend your bars into a different shape" I'd say that there are no reasonable limits. Please get the right bar to start with - modifying handlebars is a recipe for disaster!
I dunno; I've heard this was common practice in the early days of mountain biking. And it doesn't sound like the OP will be sprinting on them. But obviously finding the right bars is preferable.
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Old 07-22-12, 02:20 PM
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if you watch them make the actual bends of the bar, they do it when it is cold. you can certainly bend the bars yourself if you have the means.

edit: video:
https://vimeo.com/23907384
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Old 07-22-12, 02:54 PM
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I don't know too many people (anyone, actually) who have mandrels to properly bend stuff. And I don't care about what folks used to do - I wouldn't. Bending aluminum is best left to the pros and I certainly wouldn't screw around with vintage aluminum. I wouldn't mess around with new thin walled aluminum either. People can do what they want but my teeth are worth $50 or $100 that some new bars cost. The Nittos look like the best bars for the OP - I've considered those myself.

Originally Posted by illwafer View Post
if you watch them make the actual bends of the bar, they do it when it is cold. you can certainly bend the bars yourself if you have the means.

edit: video:
https://vimeo.com/23907384
Due Rote "I dunno; I've heard this was common practice in the early days of mountain biking. And it doesn't sound like the OP will be sprinting on them. But obviously finding the right bars is preferable."*

*sorry - I don't know how to properly quote two sources.
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Old 07-22-12, 03:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Dawes-man View Post
For around town, over short distances, I find styles approximating the North Road bend the most comfortable:

[IMG] Untitled by Dawes-man, on Flickr[/IMG]

Or what I think are known as 'flat' bars, like these:

[IMG] IMG_8982.JPG by Dawes-man, on Flickr[/IMG]

On longer rides, though, I think drops are more comfortable as they allow you to vary your hand positions and in turn your siting position. With drops, you get anything from 4 possible positions to 7, depending on how you look at it: You can hold the lowers near the ends, in the middle, in the bends as when braking, on the hoods, back from the hoods and on the outer and inner parts of the flats.

The problem I find with most bars is that angling the tops for comfort puts the lowers at an uncomfortable angle and vice versa. These are the Primo 'Giro di Sicilia' bars on my Peugeot, set up for comfort on the tops. As you can see, this has tops parallel with the ground. For them to be comfortable for me on the lowers, the lowers would need to be parallel with the ground but this puts the tops at an angle sloping down away from me and I find that very uncomfortable:

[IMG] IMG_7643 by Dawes-man, on Flickr[/IMG]

I have a variety of drops on 5 of my bikes and they all suffer from this problem, to a degree. The most comfortable ones I have are the pair of 1950s GB Maes bars on the machine I keep in England. As you can see, the uppers and lowers are almost parallel to each other:

[IMG] Untitled by Dawes-man, on Flickr[/IMG]

I've searched on the 'net for any other bars that might offer a similar bend, one that has the tops and lowers on more or less the same plane but can't find any. I'm hoping that one of my fellow C&V'ers will have some knowledge or experience that will help me find the perfect bars for my Peugeot. It's my touring bike and I need it to be as comfortable as possible
No comment on bar comfort, but man, that is a fine collection of bikes, Dawes-man! All so thoughtfully built.
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Old 07-22-12, 03:23 PM
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Originally Posted by illwafer View Post
GB Maes is similar to Nitto B115.
B115 is quite traditional, but I don't think it's as parallel as the GB Maes.
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Old 07-22-12, 03:27 PM
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Originally Posted by illwafer View Post
if you watch them make the actual bends of the bar, they do it when it is cold. you can certainly bend the bars yourself if you have the means.

edit: video:
https://vimeo.com/23907384
Bending it once stresses and work-hardens the aluminum. It would then be harder to bend it the second time. And successive bendings if tight enough can eventually cause breakage. I wouldn't modify a handlebar, either, unless a good metallurgical cyclist can give me some good reasoning why it's ok. Everything I know about it points to it not being ok.
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Old 07-22-12, 04:15 PM
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Cinelli 64-42's. Room to move, comfortable drops.
Necessitates a Cinelli stem, but that's not a bad thing.
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Old 07-22-12, 05:49 PM
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Originally Posted by RobbieTunes View Post
Cinelli 64-42's. Room to move, comfortable drops.
Necessitates a Cinelli stem, but that's not a bad thing.
I have the 64-40's, and I love the deep drops. They're just a little too narrow for me. I'd love to swap for some 64-42's, but they're hard to find in the same vintage (old crest logo).
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Old 07-22-12, 06:11 PM
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Another vote for the GB rando bars that came on my Schwinn SS. Also like the SR randos, Nitto 115, and several sets of nameless bars of Italian gaspipe boom bikes.

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Old 07-22-12, 06:21 PM
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Just fitted Velo Orange Randonneur bars on two bikes. They are really comfortable, with flat ramps and several widths available. Don't know how they compare to the Grand Bois as I've never tried those. Only thing I would change is make the drops deeper - the bend is tiny tad too sharp for my wide hands.
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Old 07-22-12, 06:29 PM
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Originally Posted by illwafer View Post
GB Maes is similar to Nitto B115.
One of the frustrating things about Nitto is that they seem to produce different bars for Japan from what they produce for overseas markets. I've just checked their website and it doesn't show a B115... Do you have a photo?
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Old 07-22-12, 06:37 PM
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The timing of the post is spot-on! I was out riding this afernoon and was thinking/daydreaming a bit. I rarely ride in the drops, unless there is a headwind or my hands and shoulder run out of positions on the tops, ramps and hoods. So, what I've been thinking is Inverted Northroads, like Soma's Sparrow bar mounted with the top nearly dead level which make the ends on a bit of an angle. While riding today, I tried to place my hands in the positions where the Sparrow bar would be. The result was as many had potitons as my current drop bar BUT and this was important, the bar ends (drops) are not as low as a typical drop bar and the splayed ends give a every ergomomic positon when your down there. With this in mind, I think I would ride the drops frequently and use the tops for alternate had positions when my hands and shoulders need a change of position. An idea anyway?
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Old 07-22-12, 06:38 PM
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Originally Posted by illwafer View Post
if you watch them make the actual bends of the bar, they do it when it is cold. you can certainly bend the bars yourself if you have the means.

edit: video:
https://vimeo.com/23907384
due ruote & illwafer win this argument. I've always understood that modifying a bend is fine, if you can do it, but repeated bending is not.

Thanks for the link to that fascinating video, illwafer!
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