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Drop bar or flat bar, which is better for commuting?

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Drop bar or flat bar, which is better for commuting?

Old 07-19-08, 08:28 AM
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Drop bar or flat bar, which is better for commuting?

My low cost commuter has a flat bar. Its comfortable, but it won't cut a head-wind and feels a little boring. I've road tested a few road bikes with drop bars and the position feels a little tight & confined. Which is better?

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Old 07-19-08, 08:39 AM
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That is 100% rider preference.

My wrists are Carpel Tunnel and the drop bars were not working for me. There are times where I really wish I had them when fighting a head wind or the rare occasions I see 30mph.

In general slow speed stuff in traffic I like the upright position of the 2 inch risers I have. I can see over and through most cars and SUV's to see the car on the other side and what they are up to before I get in front of them at intersections and side drives.
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Old 07-19-08, 08:42 AM
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bull horns are rather comfortable and great for hills
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Old 07-19-08, 09:02 AM
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It just depends on how you ride. Flats give you more control, so if you need that then it works for you. However, drops tend to be more comfortable with the multitudes of hand positions, so if that floats your boat..

Personally, I find flats better for commutes because it lets me weave through traffic with full control. But it doesn't beat the fun of having the drops on straight rides through.
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Old 07-19-08, 09:15 AM
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There are pros and cons to both.

There's also a compromise. If by "confined" you meant you felt you were in too much of a tuck while test riding, you have a couple of different options. The first is to test ride a "touring" bike which generally will have you sitting more upright than a race oriented bike. The other is to see if the bike shop will let you try a bike that has a stem with more rise.

The other thing to remember about drop bars (and their big advantage), is that you don't have to ride in the drops all the time. You can ride on the tops or the hoods which will leave you in less of a tuck.

Some people who just don't like drop bars and if you're one of those there are flat bar bikes that have a more aggressive riding position. That might be the ticket.
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Old 07-19-08, 09:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Barrettscv View Post
My low cost commuter has a flat bar. Its comfortable, but it won't cut a head-wind and feels a little boring. I've road tested a few road bikes with drop bars and the position feels a little tight & confined. Which is better?

Michael
Drop bars adjusted to be about saddle height on the flats with an inline brake lever for the front brake is the most ideal bar I can think of for long distance commuting. You get 3 viable positions which you have hands ready on the brakes, 2 positions which you can shift gears and a bunch of positions in between. You can ride on the flat tops of the bar for city situations, on top of the shifters for a slightly more aggressive position and then in the drops for windy days/descending/an even more aggressive position.

It's all personal preference but I don't see the point in flat bars. I fail to see how they offer "better control" or "better visibility" than the many other bars available. H-Bars, drop bars, bullhorns, riser bars, moustache bars or albatross bars are all better suited to commuting. Flat bars are the most limited and uncomfortable bars you could possibly pick...
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Old 07-19-08, 09:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Industrial View Post
It's all personal preference but I don't see the point in flat bars. I fail to see how they offer "better control" or "better visibility" than the many other bars available. H-Bars, drop bars, bullhorns, riser bars, moustache bars or albatross bars are all better suited to commuting. Flat bars are the most limited and uncomfortable bars you could possibly pick...
The long straight bar allows for more torque in turning, given you greater control under load. It also puts the brakes and shifters on the flat, which allows you to have control of the bike while in the upright position. Being bent over is always daunting the first time.
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Old 07-19-08, 09:40 AM
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Ya know you can have best of both.
https://sheldonbrown.org/thorn/index.html
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Old 07-19-08, 09:42 AM
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Originally Posted by ShadowGray View Post
The long straight bar allows for more torque in turning, given you greater control under load. It also puts the brakes and shifters on the flat, which allows you to have control of the bike while in the upright position. Being bent over is always daunting the first time.
That's why people that do loaded touring never use drop bars? That's why most hardcore mountain bikes use riser bars? How much torque do you think you need to turn a bicycle wheel? The problems people have turning a bicycle wheel on drop bar'd bikes comes mostly from foot to tire clearance at extremely low speeds rather than from the lack of torque to turn the wheel.

Why do you need constant access to your shifters? Brakes I can see and that's why I suggested an in-line lever for the front brake.
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Old 07-19-08, 09:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Grim View Post
Ya know you can have best of both.
https://sheldonbrown.org/thorn/index.html
Leave it to Sheldon.
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Old 07-19-08, 09:44 AM
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Originally Posted by ShadowGray View Post
TIt also puts the brakes and shifters on the flat, which allows you to have control of the bike while in the upright position. Being bent over is always daunting the first time.
If you have to get into the lower part of drop bars in order to brake and shift , your doing it wrong.
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Old 07-19-08, 09:53 AM
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I just put aerobars on my comfort bike and I love them. When using them which is most of the time I use 1-2 gears higher then when I'm upright. Makes my commute a lot easier. It takes a little work to make them work with the flat bars because of the way the bars rise but I got it to work great. Some people are going to say I'm crazy since the brakes are further away but it works for me and i'm the one riding it.
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Old 07-19-08, 10:08 AM
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Originally Posted by ShadowGray View Post
The long straight bar allows for more torque in turning, given you greater control under load. It also puts the brakes and shifters on the flat, which allows you to have control of the bike while in the upright position. Being bent over is always daunting the first time.
I went from a road bike to a mountain bike and back to a road bike after many years. It's daunting the second time around too but you get used to it and it my case I now prefer it.

The extra torque you get from flats is because they're wider. The torque is helpful for navigating over rocks, roots, logs, holes, etc you encounter while riding off road. I can't think of any situation in my commute where I wished I'd had more torque ;-)

The extra width can be a downside in city riding because now you've got less clearance between you and the other vehicles around you. May not make much difference in practice but really narrow bars are getting popular with the fixed gear and SS crowd for that reason.

Having all the controls at your finger tips is a real advantage to flats but that's due to the fact that there's really only one spot for your hands. As soon as you put bar ends on the advantage goes away. t With drops you've got good access to controls in two positions, and at least brake control in three with cross levers. At worst, it's a matter of moving your hand a few inches.
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Old 07-19-08, 10:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Industrial View Post
Drop bars adjusted to be about saddle height on the flats with an inline brake lever for the front brake is the most ideal bar I can think of for long distance commuting. You get 3 viable positions which you have hands ready on the brakes, 2 positions which you can shift gears and a bunch of positions in between. You can ride on the flat tops of the bar for city situations, on top of the shifters for a slightly more aggressive position and then in the drops for windy days/descending/an even more aggressive position.

It's all personal preference but I don't see the point in flat bars. I fail to see how they offer "better control" or "better visibility" than the many other bars available. H-Bars, drop bars, bullhorns, riser bars, moustache bars or albatross bars are all better suited to commuting. Flat bars are the most limited and uncomfortable bars you could possibly pick...
Definitely preference but I am sure a lot of people have the same issue with hand positions working or not working like I did.

My problem with the drops was on the flat section it was turning my wrists out where they curved forward as was being tight to the stem, down on the drops I had the same issue. I just couldn't find a spot anywhere on the bar that didn't aggravate my wrists after about 20 minutes in the saddle. I was constantly changing positions but never found one that I could handle from more then a few minutes at a time. Its painful for me after 30 minutes. 20 years ago the same bike I had no issues with the drops. Age and CT working against me. My CT is not bad enough to warrent surgery. Day to day activity I am not in pain and it is not getting worse but a change in job getting me off the computer more was a big help in that.

My straights had a little bend back and the wider hand spacing was much easier on the wrists. The risers are a lot more bend back and it transferred my weight back off my wrists to my hips. I can ride all day with them where I was having to stop and rest my wrist with the drops. Again this is a physical issue with me but I am sure others have similar problems.

The bull horns I could have worked with as well. I could see that position on my wrists would work and be comfortable. Mustache bars would also work for me but again I found the weight transfer back to my hips I get with the risers was a big help to limit the pain. I might even be ok with drop bars on a taller stem. I will confess that I could not get enough adjustment to get them level with the seat (I am all legs) on my road bike.

Trial and error is really the only way to find out what is going to work for you. You need to put on an hour or more to really judge if it works for you. Thankfully handle bars and stems are not expensive if you are not counting grams of weight and can reuse your brakes and shifters. My aluminum risers were $16. In worst case you can buy cheapies to see if the style will work and then get better bars once you find the one that works for you.
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Old 07-19-08, 10:46 AM
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I have a flat bar MTB I use in the winter and a road bike I use the rest of the year.

I've already stated what I like about drop bars but there is one thing I really like about the way my MTB is set up and that is the twist grip shifters.

The shimano STI shifters/brake levers you get on modern road bikes work fine once you get used to them but shifting by pushing the brake lever sideways is not all that intuitive. It takes some practice.

Also, these shifters traditionally been hard for people with smaller hands to use. Shimano has a good answer to this problem but what I can't figure out is why it only exists on their lowend shifters. Soras have a screw that let you adjust reach. It works great. On their higher end shifters you've got to buy these stupid blocks or get another set of shifters designed for people with smaller hands. Why is this? It's not a problem for me in particular but it's a problem for my wife. By lowering the height of the seat my wife could always at least ride one of my bikes in a pinch, but she can't ride my newer road bike easily because of the reach of the shifters.

Twist grips are dead simple to figure out, work well, and are cheap to replace.
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Old 07-19-08, 11:01 AM
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Im personally accustomed to drop bars and unless im cruising around, i'll usually be on the drops. I feel i get more power in my legs when down on the drops.
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Old 07-19-08, 11:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Prostreet71 View Post
I just put aerobars on my comfort bike and I love them. When using them which is most of the time I use 1-2 gears higher then when I'm upright. Makes my commute a lot easier. It takes a little work to make them work with the flat bars because of the way the bars rise but I got it to work great. Some people are going to say I'm crazy since the brakes are further away but it works for me and i'm the one riding it.

I've been considering the same set-up . It provides the ultimate aero position and the best heads-up position. I know it will look a little daft, but form should follow function.

Can you post a picture and list what parts were used?

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Last edited by Barrettscv; 07-19-08 at 11:09 AM.
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Old 07-19-08, 11:16 AM
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I have a flat bar bike now and sorely miss the different hand positions drop bars allow.
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Old 07-19-08, 11:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Prostreet71 View Post
I just put aerobars on my comfort bike and I love them. When using them which is most of the time I use 1-2 gears higher then when I'm upright. Makes my commute a lot easier. It takes a little work to make them work with the flat bars because of the way the bars rise but I got it to work great. Some people are going to say I'm crazy since the brakes are further away but it works for me and i'm the one riding it.
Interesting!
Picture?
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Old 07-19-08, 11:23 AM
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No question. A drop bar, because it IS a straight bar. Plus a straight bar with bar ends. Plus a drop bar with 2 positions.
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Old 07-19-08, 11:30 AM
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Don't do a flat bar. If you can't stand drops use a mustache bar or similar, but not a flat bar. Your hands will appreciate you for it.
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Old 07-19-08, 11:34 AM
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I rode a flat bar for years then I got a bike that had drop bars. Took a while to get used to drop bars but I like the multiple hand positions.
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Old 07-19-08, 11:48 AM
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Don't do a flat bar. If you can't stand drops use a mustache bar or similar, but not a flat bar. Your hands will appreciate you for it.
Agreed. Some folks need the wide bars for balance, some don't. If you don't need the width, narrower bars put you in a slightly more aerodynamic position. Either way, the ergonomics are better if you use the traditional styles of bars from road/track racing bikes or cruisers/old 3-speeds.

This doesn't apply if you ride very short distances only, or if you ride mostly off-road.
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Old 07-19-08, 12:05 PM
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All due respect, But IMHO if you have to ask this question you need to ride a lot more to develop a personal preference from YOUR experience. It WILL reveal itself to you eventually, promise.



btw- the correct answer is drops:-)
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Old 07-19-08, 12:50 PM
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the titec h bars look pretty comfortable and have multiple hand positions.

and there's multiple ways to put bartape/grips on them too







you could try this too, but it looks expensive

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