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Road handlebar angle

Old 09-25-19, 04:35 PM
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Road handlebar angle

I like my vintage road handlebar with the ramps in a position parallel to the ground, but I have noticed most bikes have their ramps in a downwards angle. Am I missing something? Is there an advantage when using the ramps at an angle as in the picture? Thanks!
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Old 09-25-19, 05:29 PM
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That is odd because I was fussed at long ago by an actual Italian bicycle manufacturer, not a rep but the main fellow himself, for having my handle bar lower NOT parallel to the ground/top tube (then all were level top tubes). According to him it was virtually Canon Law and that the lowers be level to the top tube and that anything other than that was heresy and an abomination and possibly a serious sin against Italia. And according to him my brake levers were incorrect because they should be set such that a straight edge along the levers would intersect the bottom tip of the lever. So I do not see that either are correct.

Would not the shape, depth and curvature of the bar have a bearing on how it should be installed? Brifters are so huge and bars today are so shallow, something has to give somewhere.
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Old 09-25-19, 05:32 PM
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Depends on the bars. Imagine the top pic with the ramp parallel, it would look goofy with the drops at a 45 deg angle.
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Old 09-25-19, 05:40 PM
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Lowers should be parallel to the ground or near too.
Ramps and hoods should be positioned so that your wrist is at a natural angle when on the hoods.
The position in picture 1 would see my wrists "cocked" and put too much pressure on my hands leading to hand and shoulder pain.
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Old 09-26-19, 07:41 AM
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Originally Posted by sumgy
The position in picture 1 would see my wrists "cocked" and put too much pressure on my hands leading to hand and shoulder pain.
That's exactly how I felt when trying the "traditional" setup: my wrists were not straight on the ramps but bent at a weird angle, instead. Since most of my riding is on the ramps I left them horizontally, but the drops ended up at a weird angle. Here's a picture of my actual bike (sorry for the paint, I didn't did that).

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Old 09-26-19, 11:14 AM
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The way brake levers and their hoods were designed and placed on bars is very different from what's done today. There's only 1 rule that's common: the brake levers must be easy and comfortable to operate from the drops, which means the levers should be close to vertical. As can be seen by the above photos, the old style hoods must be mounted further down the bend on the bars than modern brifters to make the levers accessible. The angle at which the levers leave the hoods is different now. The fact that this makes it a bit uncomfortable to rest one's hands on the hoods in the modern manner is immaterial. The brakes are for braking. When those levers were designed and used, riders mostly rode on the drops or the bar tops, not on the hoods. When they rode on the hoods, their palms were vertical beside the bars, with their thumbs hooked over the top of the hood.

The angle of the bars thus isn't as important as with modern bars. With modern bars and brifters, we rest our wrists on the bar tops. On a vintage bike, one simply grabs the ramps, the palms resting on them rather than the wrists. Thus the appropriate bar angle is simply that angle which allows the rider to ride comfortably in the drops. My experience is that the bottoms should definitely not be level as that puts the wrist at a funny angle. There was a lot of variation in bar angle and hood placement, depending on personal preference.

Both OP photos are typical.
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Old 09-26-19, 11:53 AM
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None of the pictures in the posts above above would work for me. I've been riding so long I now have to listen to my body (here, my hands and wrists) to determine fit. Unless my wrists are cocked down, ie a near straight line along the top into my thumb, I get numbness and pain. To minimize that, I kept pushing my brake hoods down the curve of the pars and rotating the bars back. The flats of the drops are now level or past level on all my bikes. Brake levers extend down well past the line of the drop flats (like most of an inch). Looks very old-school and extreme. But I get to come home from a day of riding with no hand issues.

Originally Posted by curbowman
I like my vintage road handlebar with the ramps in a position parallel to the ground, but I have noticed most bikes have their ramps in a downwards angle. Am I missing something? Is there an advantage when using the ramps at an angle as in the picture? Thanks!
On a separate note, those two top photos beautifully show the difference between the "V" shaped drops of the old TTTs (seen in the top picture) and the "U" shaped drops of the old Cinellis (bottom picture). I always preferred the "V"s and loved that so many copies came out of Japan so geeting my favorite bend was easy and cheap. I got turned onto the "V" bend by my Fuji Pro, a ride I loved from the first time. Set up my Mooney with TTT Leggero (sp) bars of the same bend. Rode them forever until it was time to honor "replace bars and stems BEFORE they break". I've gotten used to the "U"s in recent years as Nitto tends that way and the "V"s I can find are getting older. I feel a lot more secure on a new Nitto than a 30 year old SR. (I talk of the TTT "V" and Cinelli "U" but most of the other older bars fell into one of those two camps. There is much more variation in bars made for the track. Some of the track shapes I like a lot - on the road.)

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Old 09-26-19, 01:51 PM
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If you want to mix old school with new school shifters you can go with a hydrid design like deda newton shallows
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Old 09-26-19, 04:09 PM
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Originally Posted by curbowman
That's exactly how I felt when trying the "traditional" setup: my wrists were not straight on the ramps but bent at a weird angle, instead. Since most of my riding is on the ramps I left them horizontally, but the drops ended up at a weird angle. Here's a picture of my actual bike (sorry for the paint, I didn't did that).

That is exactly what I mean when I say "cocked".
My wrists would be bent backwards, which would then see pressure back into my shoulders.
I would suggest that bike is too big given the super low saddle, high and short stem, and your bars being set up like that.
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Old 09-26-19, 04:22 PM
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The position you can achieve will be impacted by both the bar shape and the levers that you use.
The more modern levers do not necessarily play well with the traditional shaped bars.
I try to keep the transition between bar tp and lever as smooth/level as possible, but this is usually a balancing act to keep my bar ends parallel with the ground

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Old 09-26-19, 05:05 PM
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Originally Posted by sumgy
That is exactly what I mean when I say "cocked".
My wrists would be bent backwards, which would then see pressure back into my shoulders.
I would suggest that bike is too big given the super low saddle, high and short stem, and your bars being set up like that.
The bike is sized and set-up appropriately for a vintage/trad bike. I believe this is now known as "French Fit". They all looked like this up until maybe 30 years ago. However the hoods should be moved down the curve until the levers are almost vertical for the real look and feel. Then your wrists would be absolutely straight, palms vertical, thumbs hooked over, except instead of riding like that, you'd ride in the drops. My first real road bike was exactly like that. I didn't know it was even possible to ride on the hoods until an older rider showed me how to adjust and ride on my hoods.

That said, I have seen photos of racers who would reach all the way around the curve to the hoods, their wrists bent way down, not up. Might have been relaxing, never tried it.
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Old 09-26-19, 05:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy
The bike is sized and set-up appropriately for a vintage/trad bike. I believe this is now known as "French Fit". They all looked like this up until maybe 30 years ago.
What are the benefits of this fit?
It just looks cramped to me.
This one is 30 years old, has a fist full of seatpost, and not a lot of saddle to bar drop, but looks more stretched out.

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Old 09-26-19, 07:53 PM
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Originally Posted by sumgy
What are the benefits of this fit?
It just looks cramped to me.
This one is 30 years old, has a fist full of seatpost, and not a lot of saddle to bar drop, but looks more stretched out.
Looks more stretched out, but it's a smaller frame. Less seatpost = longer seat tube = longer top tube = longer head tube = shorter stem. Many long distance riders prefer bars level with saddle and a larger frame is a good way to do that. That said, there are differences in seat tube/top tube proportions with various bikes. Today, many racers use smaller than normal frames with less reach and look quite cramped, lots of drop though.
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Old 09-26-19, 08:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy
The bike is sized and set-up appropriately for a vintage/trad bike. I believe this is now known as "French Fit". They all looked like this up until maybe 30 years ago. However the hoods should be moved down the curve until the levers are almost vertical for the real look and feel. Then your wrists would be absolutely straight, palms vertical, thumbs hooked over, except instead of riding like that, you'd ride in the drops. My first real road bike was exactly like that. I didn't know it was even possible to ride on the hoods until an older rider showed me how to adjust and ride on my hoods.

That said, I have seen photos of racers who would reach all the way around the curve to the hoods, their wrists bent way down, not up. Might have been relaxing, never tried it.
Well, I tend to agree, with Sumgy that bike is a little large if that is really a properly set saddle based on your cycling inseam and proper leg extension. I was riding bicycles also 30 years ago and 30 years ago I would have told you the same thing, the bike looks to large by the fact the saddle is run way in. While I do not get all excited about standover, it does not look like you would have any at all. But, then, maybe, you just have your saddle way to low instead. French Fit or not.

The 30 years ago, the saying was a fist full of seat post and at least one inch of standover in your cycling shoes, level top tube bicycles were all there were. I do not get all excited over standover unless I crunch down on something I wish I had not have, then I get excited.

My 1986(ish) Guerc SLX, Eddy Fit, it has the fist full of seat post, about 1.5 inches standover and the saddle is set to 76cm based on my 33.8 inch cycling inseam?



My Competition Fit, 94(ish) GT, still has the same 76cm saddle height but much more drop to the bars and much more standover consequentially:



The saddle height is not a variable, it is a fixed number for each individual based on cycling inseam and a few other things, variable only to the extent it is affected by shoes, pedals etc. BTW, both of the above bicycles are within .5 cm of the same top tube length, the Guerc is 56 cm, the GT is 55.5 cm.

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Old 09-26-19, 09:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Loose Chain
Well, I tend to agree, with Sumgy that bike is a little large if that is really a properly set saddle based on your cycling inseam and proper leg extension. I was riding bicycles also 30 years ago and 30 years ago I would have told you the same thing, the bike looks to large by the fact the saddle is run way in. While I do not get all excited about standover, it does not look like you would have any at all. But, then, maybe, you just have your saddle way to low instead. French Fit or not.

The 30 years ago, the saying was a fist full of seat post and at least one inch of standover in your cycling shoes, level top tube bicycles were all there were. I do not get all excited over standover unless I crunch down on something I wish I had not have, then I get excited.
Not sure about my bike being smaller than the yellow one either.
Mine is a 58cm top tube, and the yellow one does not look significantly bigger to me.
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Old 09-26-19, 09:37 PM
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Oh, yeah; people use to tell me my saddle is too low. But my bike is a 1979 Japanese sport/touring bike, and the horizontal top tube tends to look odd when compared to modern sloped ones. In fact, my setup is very similar to the ones I see in old catalogs like this:



Touring & sport bikes from the 1982 Bridgestone catalog. The stem & seat tube setup are similar to mine.

Another reason for my setup is the fact that I have long legs but a shorter torso. Most older frames have the top tube in the same length as the seat tube. But for me, the ideal frame should have a top tube that's SHORTER than the seat one, something that's not easy to find. When using a smaller frame, I feel the handlebar too low for me. That's why I chose a somewhat larger frame with a shorter stem length. If I find a taller stem I might switch to a smaller frame.

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Old 09-27-19, 06:13 PM
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I would not use a brochure as a guide to saddle height or handlebar rigging.
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Old 09-30-19, 09:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Loose Chain
I would not use a brochure as a guide to saddle height or handlebar rigging.
Oh, I understand that. However, here are some recent bikes built to their owner's requirements. These are custom-made by Alex Singer in France, with the classic horizontal top tube and a less aggressive riding position. Look how the saddle posts are not that extended, the emphasis being in keeping the saddles a little higher than the handlebars.



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Old 09-30-19, 09:40 AM
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French fit is nice.


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Old 09-30-19, 05:55 PM
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You do not have to convince me, as long as your saddle is set to provide reasonable leg extension for efficiency and no joint injuries and you do not crush your gonads getting off, fine, Frenchie Fit all you want.
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Old 10-09-19, 03:46 PM
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Originally Posted by curbowman
Oh, yeah; people use to tell me my saddle is too low. But my bike is a 1979 Japanese sport/touring bike, and the horizontal top tube tends to look odd when compared to modern sloped ones. In fact, my setup is very similar to the ones I see in old catalogs like this:



Touring & sport bikes from the 1982 Bridgestone catalog. The stem & seat tube setup are similar to mine.

Another reason for my setup is the fact that I have long legs but a shorter torso. Most older frames have the top tube in the same length as the seat tube. But for me, the ideal frame should have a top tube that's SHORTER than the seat one, something that's not easy to find. When using a smaller frame, I feel the handlebar too low for me. That's why I chose a somewhat larger frame with a shorter stem length. If I find a taller stem I might switch to a smaller frame.
I'm in the same boat, 5'10" but a 34" PBH. I'm on 60/61cm frames with 65mm or so steering stems and wouldn't go back to 56/57cm frames. Bars end up too low.



Long legs, tall bike, short back, short stem!
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