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Drop bars on wet commutes

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Drop bars on wet commutes

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Old 12-27-18, 11:51 AM
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cormacf
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Drop bars on wet commutes

I've been commuting on a flat-bar bike for years. Recently, when that bike started to have some issues, I moved it to the trainer and threw some fenders on my roadie (a Lynskey Sportive Disc). Tire width is the same (28mm), as is the saddle (Brooks), BB height, and headtube angle (more or less), but I feel super-squirrely on the road bike--so much so that I turned around this morning because I didn't want to encounter an ice patch in the dark. I'm probably at about the same height on my hoods as I am on the flat bars, though the flats are substantially wider (probably 25cm). Could that width really make that much of a difference?

I'm currently building up a low and squishy, "steel is real" 650b tank commuter with trekkign bars (my favorite commute bar), so this will be a non-issue soon, but I really didn't think it would make that much of a difference.
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Old 12-27-18, 12:08 PM
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Kedosto
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A lot of things affect handling -- stem length, head tube angle, handlebar width, trail, etc. Put it all together and one seemingly similar bike can have much different handling characteristics than another. Millimeters matter.


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Old 12-27-18, 01:18 PM
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tyrion
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IME a more upright position makes dealing with loss of traction easier.
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Old 12-27-18, 05:29 PM
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mcours2006
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Perhaps it's just something to get used to. I used to commute on flat bars, wet, snow, slush, etc., but have switched exclusively to drop bars. I use the drops under wet conditions. I don't bother using drops in the snow; I'm going so slowly that there's no aero advantage anyway, and yeah, obviously the loss of traction is significant.
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Old 12-27-18, 06:21 PM
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JoeyBike
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My flat bar commuter handles like a sports car. My drop bar commuter handles like a Cadillac. Both are steel. Geometry is vastly different. I am much more maneuverable in traffic on the flat bar bike and can sprint up to speed faster than the drop bar setup. But my drop bar bike is smooooooth and fast on a long, straight section of my commute.

Is one better than the other? Only in the respect that I can afford to lose my flat bar bike, so this is the one that gets locked up at doctors appointments or other places where it may stay out of my sight for several hours and be more subject to thieves wandering hands.

Obviously, if you don't feel comfortable or stable on a bike you probably should figure out why, or use a different one.
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Old 12-28-18, 10:24 AM
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Different geometry makes different bikes ride, well, differently. I can switch bikes and forget which one I'm on within a couple miles.

I'm probably abnormal in that my riding style avoids leaning to one side or another (except for steering, obviously). I think loaded touring did that to or for me. You learn pretty quickly that it's easier to keep an overloaded bike upright than to pull it back once it's leaning. That makes swapping bikes a lot easier because I'm not adjusting body English. If you look like Peter Sagan or Erik Zabel as you pull away from a traffic light, it's going to take a lot more adjusting when you switch bikes.
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Old 12-28-18, 11:20 AM
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Originally Posted by cormacf View Post
..but I feel super-squirrely on the road bike--so much so that I turned around this morning because I didn't want to encounter an ice patch in the dark.
No handlebars are going to save someone from an ice patch, regardless of how things feel. Ice is ice. Only fat bike tires get wide enough to keep you upright on ice long enough for your brain to realize what's going on and give you any reaction time. Or studded tires bite into the ice and get you traction.

I live in minnesota where I won't ride any time there's any chance of ice without studded tires (schwalbe marathon winter's).

If you're riding regularly in cold conditions continental makes a specific tire for that as well, not as good as studs, but better than the usual summer tire (though looks like it only comes in sizes to wide for your bike):
https://www.continental-tires.com/bi...inter2-premium

Originally Posted by cormacf View Post
I'm probably at about the same height on my hoods as I am on the flat bars, though the flats are substantially wider (probably 25cm). Could that width really make that much of a difference.
Might be that:
- Your body just isn't used to it and will adapt to it in a few rides. Small minor muscles aren't used to working in the new position. This happens a lot with new bikes, and moreso with changes in bike style (flat to curly bars).
- Your particular drop bar bike is particularly squirrelly. I've ridden very stable drop bars and very squirrelly drop bars. I've also ridden a very squirrelly flat bar bike.
- If the bike isn't fitted right it can cause this.
- Like some people can do the splits, some people can't but could with training, others can never do them safely/healthily. And some people are just never comfortable on drop bars (or on flat bars, or on bikes, etc).

Lots of possibilities...

If the commute is just "wet" better tires makes a huge difference in road grip on wet roads. gp4000's were much much better than anything I had used before on wet roads.
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Old 12-28-18, 11:54 AM
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Originally Posted by mcours2006 View Post
Perhaps it's just something to get used to. I used to commute on flat bars, wet, snow, slush, etc., but have switched exclusively to drop bars. I use the drops under wet conditions. I don't bother using drops in the snow; I'm going so slowly that there's no aero advantage anyway, and yeah, obviously the loss of traction is significant.
I've ridden almost exclusively drop bar bikes since a kid. They work fine.

I did a demo ride on a cargo bike with wide flat bars. Whew, I was all over the place!!!

You'll be fine on what you're used to riding.

I live in a place where I can minimize ice and snow riding, but I've heard studs help a lot.
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Old 12-28-18, 12:54 PM
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I did not own a car until I was 32 and lived in Massachusetts and Michigan until I was 25. All my riding was on drop bar bikes. I learned early on that fix gears felt much more secure on iffy roads (for many of the same reasons standard transmissions worked so mu better than the early automatics - far better rear wheel control). Also tires. I used to ride diamond point cyclocross sewups. Soft and grippy. Nowadays there are more options. The Continental ice tires are super. You can go with studs.

Anther factor that might be making the difference between your two bikes is "trail" - the effect of the geometry choices of the front end of the bike; the head tube angle and fork rake. These are subtle and hard to measure accurately but make a big difference in perceived "steadiness" of the bikes. An easy way to make a bike steadier is ot replave the fork with one of less rake (ie straighter) but you need to take care that you don't introduce other issues wen you make the change.

Ben
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Old 12-28-18, 01:07 PM
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caloso
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Originally Posted by Kedosto View Post
A lot of things affect handling -- stem length, head tube angle, handlebar width, trail, etc. Put it all together and one seemingly similar bike can have much different handling characteristics than another. Millimeters matter.


-Kedosto
Agree. I have 3 bikes where Iíve set the handlebar reach and drop nearly identically but because of different trail they handle quite differently.
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Old 12-29-18, 12:51 PM
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My wet weather bike has front panniers, the mass stabilizes the steering.. 1 of them has my cycling rain cape.. in it ..
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