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Thoughts/Input on a flatbar road bike

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Thoughts/Input on a flatbar road bike

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Old 12-12-17, 05:15 PM
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Rudebob
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Thoughts/Input on a flatbar road bike

I am 54 and recently had surgery to repair a torn distal bicep tendon. The recovery process is long and limiting. I have a 2 day 200+ mile ride coming up in 2 months. While the training aspect of this ride is already going to be challenging enough given my condition (currently limited to a trainer) I am also concerned the leveraged load on my arms for the length of ride may also be troublesome. This has me thinking of purchasing a flatbar or café type road bike as the upright position should produce less compressive loading to my recovering arm.

I am not talking hybrid or comfort bike but a real road geometry, lightweight, 28mm tire bike without the drops. Since I mainly ride the top bar or hoods on my current roadie anyway, the transition would appear easy with less physical effort to brake and shift my surgeon has concerns about.

My main concern is the potential loss of overall speed I might encounter with this type of setup (that, along with the judgmental looks of disapproval that I am not on a real road bike). The flip side is that the increased comfort from this upright position may produce less fatigue from a long day in the saddle.

Anyone have any experience in this realm. Thoughts or feedback would be appreciated.

Thanks

'bob
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Old 12-12-17, 05:23 PM
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Just make sure to set it up to mimic the riding position on the hoods or tops, rather than the drops. Another possibility is to try something like moustache bars or other modified drops like the Salsa Cowchipper or the Soma Sparrow. But honestly, wouldn't it be easier to just raise your current bars while you rehab from your surgery, then put them back after you recover?
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Old 12-12-17, 05:56 PM
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I don't like straight bars because I lose my variety of hand positions and the all-important neutral axial rotation of the forearm that one gets on the drops or on the hoods. You might try mountain bike straight bars with perpendicular end pieces, which are what made my mountain bike much more enjoyable for me.
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Old 12-12-17, 09:45 PM
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Originally Posted by MRT2 View Post
But honestly, wouldn't it be easier to just raise your current bars while you rehab from your surgery, then put them back after you recover?
That's what I was thinking. You can set up your drop bars so the top will be in the same position as a flat bar would be.
I had a friend who did quite well on our club rides with a flat bar roadie, but he eventually got drop bars.
The little time I have spent on the road on flat bars (mountain bikes) has sucked and I wouldn't want to do back to back centuries on them.
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Old 12-13-17, 04:10 AM
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Buying a whole new bike seems a bit extreme, but buying the conversion parts and doing the work would be as pain----even more so as you would likely change back after you healed sufficiently.

Raising the bars with spacer and big-angled stem can still earn you the disapproving looks you desire(some folks will do anything for attention ) while costing as lot less and being easier to swap back---plus you get tops and hood and curves and whatever bar-top real estate wouldn't even exist with a flat bar.

if yo Must go flat-bar ... do it now to learn what works. You might need to try a couple different bends to get the angles which suit your body, and I definitely second bar-ends.

I have done 35-50 miles on a flatbar bike and it isn't hell, but I don't ride one any more.
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Old 12-13-17, 05:57 AM
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This worked for me, a reversed chop and flop: Reversed Chop & Flop Handlebar

No more numb hands and a bit more upright riding position.
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Old 12-13-17, 06:54 AM
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Thanks for the responses. I should explain that the nature of the injury is one that utilizes the injured tendon primarily with supination type movements (twisting or moving the hands from palms to palms up, etc). Other types of loaded movement within the hands share a greater mix of muscles and tendons-including the normal hand position on a flat bar setup.

Riding the top bar or hoods on drops is fine but it is repeated braking and shift movements on drops (muscle movement with hands positioned sideways) that I am hoping to minimize. The use of trigger shifters and brakes from a palms down position would seem preferable. It is definitely more comfortable on my mountain bike.

If being honest with myself, the acquisition of such a bike would not not just be for the exclusive purpose of my current situation but to satisfy the occasional desire to add a new toy to the stable (n + 1). I was hoping this might also provides a little more reasonable explanation for my wife as to why I need another bicycle when "you can only ride one at a time".

Basically my question is in hopes that I might get some input from someone who has actually has ridden a road geometry built bike such as this over extended distances that give me an idea has to how much lost efficiency I might experience-especially on the tail end of a century ride.

Thanks
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Old 12-13-17, 08:00 AM
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Over the years I converted a couple of bikes to flat bars. If you have a nice frame and components I say do it. If the bike is middle of the road then maybe best to get another bike.

On my conversions I had to select the right stem, found some discounted flat bars, installed V-brakes and levers, and trigger shifters. The bike was vintage so I've since converted back to a drop bar for vintage rides.

If you could live with brifter shifting you could always add a cycle cross brake to the drop bar. This allows you to have a brake on the top and also keep the brifter brake and shifter.

Dave
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Old 12-13-17, 09:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Rudebob View Post
Basically my question is in hopes that I might get some input from someone who has actually has ridden a road geometry built bike such as this over extended distances that give me an idea has to how much lost efficiency I might experience-especially on the tail end of a century ride.

Thanks
Tough to quantify how much you would lose. You would be less aerodynamic, but you say you stay on the tops anyway with drop bars, so maybe not so much.
As I said, there was a guy who did quite well on longer rides with our club. I used to call him "Flat bar guy" before I knew his name. If I recall correctly he ran his bars lower than the saddle. It worked for him but to me the limited position would be frustrating. Whenever I'm cruising a mountain bike on the road I wish I had drops.
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Old 12-13-17, 05:51 PM
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Having fully investigated both flat and drop bars, I can say with certainty that I don't know what is right for you.

I do know that having a nice flat-bar bike certainly wouldn't hurt any, and the wife would surely accept it since you can't ride the other one without excruciating pain (you did mention excruciating pain, I thought? )

Aero losses will be minimal unless you were used to riding int he drops. I found I could drop my elbows below the bars and get pretty low with a flat-bar. Not as comfortable, but unless you are hitting headwinds or racing ... who much cares about aero anyway?

I often think of buying one (like about every time anybody here considers it.) the only reason I don't is because I cannot ride all my bikes enough already. So ... treat yourself----for medicinal purposes Only.
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Old 12-15-17, 01:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Rudebob View Post
Thanks for the responses. I should explain that the nature of the injury is one that utilizes the injured tendon primarily with supination type movements (twisting or moving the hands from palms to palms up, etc). Other types of loaded movement within the hands share a greater mix of muscles and tendons-including the normal hand position on a flat bar setup.

Riding the top bar or hoods on drops is fine but it is repeated braking and shift movements on drops (muscle movement with hands positioned sideways) that I am hoping to minimize. The use of trigger shifters and brakes from a palms down position would seem preferable. It is definitely more comfortable on my mountain bike.

If being honest with myself, the acquisition of such a bike would not not just be for the exclusive purpose of my current situation but to satisfy the occasional desire to add a new toy to the stable (n + 1). I was hoping this might also provides a little more reasonable explanation for my wife as to why I need another bicycle when "you can only ride one at a time".

Basically my question is in hopes that I might get some input from someone who has actually has ridden a road geometry built bike such as this over extended distances that give me an idea has to how much lost efficiency I might experience-especially on the tail end of a century ride.

Thanks
I have, and do. To respond to your question: some, but much less than many would have you believe. I have two reasons for saying this.

1. Personal experience. I do all my road cycling on a flat-bar road bike (pictured below). I don't 'race' or do group rides; I do all my riding solo. That said, I've ridden two imperial centuries on this bike; didn't have any problems. I routinely do 50+ mile rides at least once a week during the season. I've never noticed any particular disparity between my speeds and those of other cyclists of a similar age/apparent fitness (I'm 66; pretty fit aerobically) who are on full-on drop-bar road bikes.

2. Data. I've trotted this out before, but it bears repeating. I know of only one reported genuine, disinterested attempt to compare 'drop bar' with 'flat bar' road bikes. This was a test undertaken by Brit mag Cycling+ a few years ago: the testers rode two endurance-geometry drop-bar bikes and two flat-bar road bikes -- equivalent quality, weight, tires etc. -- over a period of time over a known course approximating a 50-mile sportive. Lots of hills, lots of descents, some flats, etc. They tried to control for actual effort through hr monitors.

Result: there was a disparity, but much less than they expected to find. They found they were about 5-6 minutes quicker around the course on average on the drop-bars for the same (roughly) effort. What was interesting: they found they were quicker up the climbs on flat-bars (they attributed this to more open breathing), but that this was more than offset by their being quicker on the descents on drop-bars when in the drops: lower centre of gravity (cornering speed) + more aero. They did point out that they used the drops extensively while descending, and that in their opinion that advantage would be lost for folks who don't.

So, not a full-blown 'scientific' test but as I say it's the only attempt to make a rational, empirically-based comparison, fwiw.
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Old 12-15-17, 03:51 PM
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That's a cool looking bike. Are those vee-brakes? I thought vee-brakes would be good for my touring bike but I never got around to putting them on. Gotta be better than cantis.
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Old 12-15-17, 03:53 PM
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I have a flat-bar road bike for commuting - and I've ridden it on a few longer rides as well. I find that while it's a lot more comfortable than my road bike for my neck, my hands actually get more achy on the flat bar bike... even with ergo grips... not sure why.
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Old 12-15-17, 04:40 PM
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Originally Posted by badger1 View Post
I have, and do. To respond to your question: some, but much less than many would have you believe. I have two reasons for saying this.

1. Personal experience. I do all my road cycling on a flat-bar road bike (pictured below). I don't 'race' or do group rides; I do all my riding solo. That said, I've ridden two imperial centuries on this bike; didn't have any problems. I routinely do 50+ mile rides at least once a week during the season. I've never noticed any particular disparity between my speeds and those of other cyclists of a similar age/apparent fitness (I'm 66; pretty fit aerobically) who are on full-on drop-bar road bikes.

2. Data. I've trotted this out before, but it bears repeating. I know of only one reported genuine, disinterested attempt to compare 'drop bar' with 'flat bar' road bikes. This was a test undertaken by Brit mag Cycling+ a few years ago: the testers rode two endurance-geometry drop-bar bikes and two flat-bar road bikes -- equivalent quality, weight, tires etc. -- over a period of time over a known course approximating a 50-mile sportive. Lots of hills, lots of descents, some flats, etc. They tried to control for actual effort through hr monitors.

Result: there was a disparity, but much less than they expected to find. They found they were about 5-6 minutes quicker around the course on average on the drop-bars for the same (roughly) effort. What was interesting: they found they were quicker up the climbs on flat-bars (they attributed this to more open breathing), but that this was more than offset by their being quicker on the descents on drop-bars when in the drops: lower centre of gravity (cornering speed) + more aero. They did point out that they used the drops extensively while descending, and that in their opinion that advantage would be lost for folks who don't.

So, not a full-blown 'scientific' test but as I say it's the only attempt to make a rational, empirically-based comparison, fwiw.
Great information, Thanks. Nice looking ride! Is that a sirrus?
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Old 12-15-17, 08:47 PM
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I've never ridden with such an injury but I did take a roadbike that I had ridden many miles with drop bars -- brevets of 200 and 300k-- and then put some Soma Oxfords on it and rode an out and back overnighter 65 miles each way. I used the same stem, spacers and saddle. Plenty of hand positions that might be what you are looking for for power, aero, etc, plus the upright option. I used flatbar brake levers and bar end shifters. Easy to switch back if you wanted.
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Old 12-15-17, 11:07 PM
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Originally Posted by big john View Post
That's a cool looking bike. Are those vee-brakes? I thought vee-brakes would be good for my touring bike but I never got around to putting them on. Gotta be better than cantis.
Thanks. Yes, they are -- TRP CX9s. These are no longer in production, sadly, but a slightly shorter-armed version is still available (https://www.trpcycling.com/product/cx-8-4/).

They were/are made to replace cantis on 'cross bikes ... but then discs became the thing.

FWIW, they are fantastic brakes. Modulation/feel is excellent, as is the power. I installed mine (using XTR cables) in 2011. I have changed the pads a few times, and the cable inners -- once. That's it. They never need adjusting; they just work, and slow down/stop the bike. Mine are paired with Avid SD7 levers, but the 8.4s are designed to work correctly with brifters (road pull): no Travel Agent required.
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Old 12-15-17, 11:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Rudebob View Post
Great information, Thanks. Nice looking ride! Is that a sirrus?
Thanks! Yes, a 2010 Sirrus Comp. I bought it new in '10, rode it for a season and decided the frameset was a keeper (fit; ride; weight), and then re-built it (everything) the way I wanted it. As you see it, the thing is 19.4 lbs w/XT pedals.

Such a bike is hard to come by these days. This one has Specialized's E5 'race' aluminum main triangle/chainstays with carbon seat stays/fork.

If I had the means (I don't, but if I did) I'd buy and build up one of the frames reviewed in this article in a heartbeat: Review: First ride review: Snowdon Paradox | road.cc

I've linked this partly out of enthusiasm, and partly because you might find it interesting reading relative to the thread topic.
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Old 12-16-17, 01:36 AM
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I enjoy my hybrids with flat or low riser bars at or near saddle height. The weight is evenly distributed enough to be comfortable for modestly paced longer rides. And I prefer them on days when my neck is aching too much for the road bike.

The trade off is more wind resistance. Beyond about 14 mph power in doesn't translate linearly to more speed.

But I can't see any advantage to a flat bar road bike with the handlebar below saddle height in a more aggressive position to minimize wind resistance for a faster ride. Even when I mostly cruise on the top of he drop bar I still need to change hand positions occasionally to avoid numbness and discomfort. And sometimes I prefer the drops for grinding out hard climbs (although many riders seem to prefer the top of the bar).

Mostly older folks in my area -- my age and older -- seem to be riding road, endurance, CX and gravel bikes with the top of the drop bar right at saddle height. The drops still offer a more aggressive position, although I rarely see them use the drops. The more current model hoods with long extensions and wider grips look more comfortable than my older steel road bike with small hooked aero hoods.

Interrupter or in-line type brake levers to use on the drop bar tops might be a good solution.

Those types of bikes seem more versatile than a flat bar road bike.

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Old 12-16-17, 11:59 PM
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My adult son rides a Jamis Comp Elite flat bar road bike. He loves it. He rides 50 miles a day during the week and more on the weekends. No complaints other than having to buy tires a lot because he wears them out.
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Old 12-18-17, 04:38 PM
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For several years, I've ridden parts of the Trek 100 with a friend who is on a flat bar road bike. He does either the full imperial century or 100k, depending on his mood and the company, and has no problems keeping up. In fact, he get's a fair bit of notice from the folks he passes.
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Old 12-18-17, 05:10 PM
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Other than for racing where there is an important speed difference between flat and drop bars, the comfort difference is often overstated.

I prefer drop bars these days, but can switch to flat bars with no discomfort for long rides.

Some people prefer drops, some prefer flats, some have no preference, and there is literally only one way to find out. If you are prepared to spend the money, be aware it might not be absolutely right for you, then go for it. Then please follow up here to let us know of your experience.
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Old 12-23-17, 01:58 PM
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Whatever it takes to get you out there riding

A couple fused neck discs &
lower back issues:
I ride upright
My road bikes are;
Sirrus , flatbar disc
& a flatbar Kona rove disc
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Old 12-23-17, 04:25 PM
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'Hybrids' are a straight bar road bike it's a market segment all brands want a slice of..

I say if all you worry about is loss of speed , try Motorpacing..
hire a training partner on a Motor bike * ..to go directly in front of you, you follow closely behind

the biggest problem with speed is the air resistance, having the pacer in front of you pushing that out of the way
lets you go fast with less resistance..

* add a roller bumper on the back of the pacers bike, so it spins if your front tire bumps it
and then less chance of crashing..



..
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Old 12-26-17, 10:17 AM
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Well I pulled the trigger on a Kestrel RT-1000 flat bar. Felt like I got a pretty good deal so it would not be the end of the world should/if/when I go back to my regular roadie. Will likely swap out for better wheels/tires and saddle in the next week or so, but with a 70 degree forecast today I am itching to get it rolling.

Thanks for all the input.


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Old 12-26-17, 11:11 AM
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Nice looking bike!
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