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Flat-bars or Drop-downs? Help!!!

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Flat-bars or Drop-downs? Help!!!

Old 12-02-10, 04:33 AM
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NeilChhabda
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Flat-bars or Drop-downs? Help!!!

So as you can guess, I'm a complete newbie, and I'm looking for a road bike for commuting. I found some decent road bikes with drop-downs but I'm not sure if I should get flat-bars. I'm gonna go to my LBS, but I just wanna ask you guys first. I want a bike that's noticeably faster than a mountain bike, and I just wanna hear what you guys think would be best for me first, and also since this is my first road-bike and I have a budget of 275-300 so should I get a used one (my road-biking friend says this would be good) or a new one? What do you giys think. Also is the make important?
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Old 12-02-10, 04:46 AM
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It depends on your distance and terrain.
For shorter urban rides, flats may be better.
For longer rides, drops give you more variety of hand positions.
Note that flats can be just as aerodynamic if they are positioned low. On a drop bar, the normal cruising position is on the brake levers, the lower drops are used for downhill, headwinds and better braking.

Personally I prefer drops but I go for shallow drops rather than deep ones.

Other factors to consider on a commuting road bike:
Tyre clearance,
Rack and fender eyelet fixings on the frame.
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Old 12-02-10, 08:13 AM
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First, i'd go with a cyclocross or a touring bike because they'll offer more options when you have to deal with fenders, racks, maybe thicker tyres and all that...

Second, i started comuting with a flat-bar road bike and changed into a drop-bar after the first days with strong head winds... drop bars offer you lots of hand positions and better ways to deal with wind and rain.

My suggestion would be going with a cyclocross or touring bike with drop bars and in-line cx brake levers so you can drive safe from an upright position in the traffic.

My 0.02 €.

Coque.
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Old 12-02-10, 08:40 AM
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NeilChhabda
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Thanks so much.
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Old 12-02-10, 09:06 AM
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try them out and see.

I went through a similar debate in the spring when I bought my road bike, a flat bar road bike. I tried more aggressive and less aggresive geometries, as I was looking for a bike with the most suitable geometry for me.

The key decision for me was that I felt in better control, in terms of gears and brakes, with the flat bar bike. Plus, it wasn't as aggressive. It was a good compromise between comfort and speed. But, many others have gone through the same process and selected much different bikes. Good luck.
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Old 12-02-10, 12:05 PM
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Originally Posted by coquearaujo View Post
First, i'd go with a cyclocross or a touring bike because they'll offer more options when you have to deal with fenders, racks, maybe thicker tyres and all that...

Second, i started comuting with a flat-bar road bike and changed into a drop-bar after the first days with strong head winds... drop bars offer you lots of hand positions and better ways to deal with wind and rain.

My suggestion would be going with a cyclocross or touring bike with drop bars and in-line cx brake levers so you can drive safe from an upright position in the traffic.

My 0.02 €.

Coque.
This was exactly my experience and progression. I started off with a cheap mountain bike with flat bars, and a short commute (only 6 miles) wearing a backpack. Now I ride 14 miles on a touring bike with drop bars and rear rack and full fenders.
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Old 12-02-10, 12:43 PM
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I think drops are better regardless of distance because i can ride with my hands splayed open on the hoods -- very comfortable.

The trick is to raise those suckers up to a comfortable level -- which is usually higher than most stock road bikes out there will be IMO.
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Old 12-02-10, 12:47 PM
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Flat bars are "better" in the sense that you have different hand and back positions, so you can move around and "stretch" on the bike, and also in the sense that you can more easily get aerodynamic to go faster, and maybe even give you a little bit better control over the bike if you go down hills with lots of curves. But they take more getting used to, than flat bars, so "better" isn't the right word for everyone. Also, there's a bike ride in my neck of the woods called the STP - Seattle to Portland - that covers 200 miles ( 325 km ). People do it on all sorts of bikes, even ones with flat bars, so it's not a big deal.

If you've never had drop bars before, and get them for this bike, you should get cross brakes. It'll be a lot easier for you to get used to.

Originally Posted by NeilChhabda View Post
and also since this is my first road-bike and I have a budget of 275-300 so should I get a used one (my road-biking friend says this would be good) or a new one? What do you giys think. Also is the make important?[/B]
Your friend is right. That's a pretty low budget for a road bike, and you'll get a lot more value for your money if you go used.

The make and model really aren't very important. Most bike companies make decent cheap bikes and very good but more expensive bikes, so a Trek or a Giant could be great, or good, and you wouldn't know based on who made them. On the other hand, this is why you're going used - you'll be further along on the scale toward very good, than you would have been if you bought new. But I suspect a lot of the difference you'll wind up seeing is that you'll have a similar frame to what you would have got, but with better components.
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Old 12-02-10, 12:47 PM
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The main benefit of a flat bar is that the wider stance offers more stability. I like the flat bars in winter...they make recovering from a skid easier.

But in most situations, there's no benefit to flat. You're giving up hand positions for nothing. Get a drop bar with interrupter brakes (a second set of levers on the flat part of the bar), and you've got lots of choice for how to sit.
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Old 12-02-10, 12:59 PM
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Originally Posted by neil View Post
The main benefit of a flat bar is that the wider stance offers more stability. I like the flat bars in winter...they make recovering from a skid easier.

But in most situations, there's no benefit to flat. You're giving up hand positions for nothing. Get a drop bar with interrupter brakes (a second set of levers on the flat part of the bar), and you've got lots of choice for how to sit.
I too endorse shallow drop bars with cross levers. You can get low to cheat the wind, but if you want to sit upright you can. In fact, using the top of the bar, I can sit up straighter on my Dew Drop than I can on my son's mountain bike.
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Old 12-02-10, 01:16 PM
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There are plenty of stories out there about people buying their first bike in a long time and wanting flat bars only to realize they really want/need drops and then they switch. There are maybe a couple stories out there of the reverse. Most new riders with commutes over a few miles would be best suited to get drop bars on their bike, set them up high, and ride.
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Old 12-02-10, 01:47 PM
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Handlebars are personal preference.

The bike I ride the most, especially for commuting, is a road bike with drops removed and replaced with a mtb riser bar. It is super comfortable with great control.

I have a faster road bike with drops, but I hate riding it in traffic.
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Old 12-02-10, 02:09 PM
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Go out and see what options are available in your price range. Both drop and flat bars have their advantages and disadvantages depending on your commute. Look at fit first. Also think about what your commute will be like (e.g. roads, weather, traffic, etc.).
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Old 12-02-10, 02:49 PM
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Definitely try them out. When I got my first bike I completely discounted drop bars without trying them out. Since then I have bought another bike with drop bars, and also converted my first bike to drop bars.

Daven
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Old 12-02-10, 04:32 PM
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I prefer drop bars myself.. well, except on my fixed gear, I like the bullhorns. I use the drops often on my road bike and the horns on the fixed, so I don't think i'd ever want flat bars due to the limitation of a single hand position.
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Old 12-02-10, 04:35 PM
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If you go used the great deal you find on a bike might end up answering your question. For commuting I am still trying to decide whether I want to go to a drop bar or stick with my flat bar or even something in between.
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Old 12-02-10, 04:54 PM
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I ride with flat bars, and will likely switch to Trekker bars, which are flats that give you lots of hand positions, and can be set in such a way that you can ride upright or lower.
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Old 12-02-10, 05:16 PM
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I am in the process of building a winter bike and I'm going with flat bars. My reason is that I can then use pogies when it gets really cold. But Neiol makes a good point about stability that I hadn't thought of.

Otherwise, the posts noting more hand positions with drops is correct and worth considering, especially if you have a long way to go.
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Old 12-02-10, 05:24 PM
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Go for drops, and don't assume that they're automatically for racing bikes. You see lots and lots of touring bikes with drops, and they can be carrying a hundred pounds of gear, too. Long-distance riders use them for multiple hand positions and the option of ducking out of the wind.

Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
If you've never had drop bars before, and get them for this bike, you should get cross brakes. It'll be a lot easier for you to get used to.
Originally Posted by neil View Post
But in most situations, there's no benefit to flat. You're giving up hand positions for nothing. Get a drop bar with interrupter brakes (a second set of levers on the flat part of the bar), and you've got lots of choice for how to sit.
+1 for interrupter/cyclocross/cross/inline/etc brakes (they go by lots of terms, so keep them in mind when you ask around). I'd add that they're fine for any rider regardless of experience, but that's mainly because I think their usefulness is actually more dependent upon the situation. In town, when you're doing anything from cruising with cars to puttering down the sidewalk (nowhere I ride has entrances right at curbside), having an extra position for brakes is awfully nice.

I've got a commuter bike that I converted to drops. I decided to switch it after the first long ride I took on it. I had always been using my road bike for long rides, but that one's a race-oriented bike that doesn't have any cargo-carrying capability (well, I hadn't added any...), and carrying stuff on my back just plain sucks compared to using a rack.

Stock:


Converted:

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Old 12-02-10, 05:30 PM
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Originally Posted by BarracksSi View Post
I'd add that they're fine for any rider regardless of experience, but that's mainly because I think their usefulness is actually more dependent upon the situation.
I should probably chime in, since I'm the one who said they're good for inexperienced riders. What I mean by that is that if someone is used to flat bars, like on a mountain bike, cross brakes are going to be the most similar way to ride on drop bars. They'll make the transition easier, since you can sit more upright with them, than you would to use the other brake levers. You still need to lean forward to shift, but you don't really need to shift very often, while you should have your hands ready on the brakes pretty much always.

So while cross brakes are great for beginners (to drop bars) they're also great for being upright in traffic, or wanting to stretch, or mashing up a hill, or riding in gravel, or... I have a bike with and a bike without cross brakes, and when I'm on the bike that has them, I use them pretty regularly. The truth is they're great for beginners, and everyone else, too.
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Old 12-02-10, 05:31 PM
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I spend the vast majority of my time on the hoods. I will sometimes come up to the tops and ride there for a while. When the wind is really punishing me, I get down in the drops. It is nice to have variety.
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Old 12-02-10, 05:38 PM
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You could always spend more money and get the bike with Shimano's Di2 and put extra shift buttons by the 'cross levers...
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Old 12-02-10, 08:06 PM
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Originally Posted by BarracksSi View Post
Go for drops, and don't assume that they're automatically for racing bikes. You see lots and lots of touring bikes with drops, and they can be carrying a hundred pounds of gear, too. Long-distance riders use them for multiple hand positions and the option of ducking out of the wind.
Many newbies (me included in my youth) think drop bars are not for them... too technical or "roadie". But the fact is that the position on the hoods is very comfortable and a little more natural for the hands. I found flat bars tended to twist my wrists too much, unless I was always hanging on to the bar ends.
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Old 12-02-10, 08:29 PM
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Originally Posted by gerv View Post
Many newbies (me included in my youth) think drop bars are not for them... too technical or "roadie".
Yup. But then I remember my sister's first bike, which had drops.
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Old 12-02-10, 09:09 PM
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"I want a bike that is noticeably faster than a mountain bike." What is your (the OP) definition of a mtb?

One doesn't need drops to go faster, though at some point it does help. Even though you are on a tight budget, realize it's not necessarily the bike that is fast. It's about how much power the engine (that's you) can put into the cranks to spin those wheels. You could have the lightest, most technologically advanced rig on the planet, and still get dropped by some old geezer on an even older 3 speed if you aren't in shape.
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