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Straight bars vs drop bars

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Straight bars vs drop bars

Old 02-21-16, 10:19 AM
  #1  
Joepasta
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Straight bars vs drop bars

What are the pros and cons between the to. I'm liking the narrow width but not really being all hunched over. (Or is that something to get used to). I am looking for a all purpose bike and want to thin the heard. I have a Surley pugs fat bike and a older cannondale touring bike that I'm trying. I'm not liking the shifting of the cannondale on the drop bar. Are the newer style shifter a lot easier to use. Really like the thumb shifters on my pugs. I do crushed lime stone riding, city hauling the kids in the trailer, and gravel.


Thanks
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Old 02-21-16, 10:28 AM
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I run an upside down north road bar. It uses mountain bike brake levers and shifters. Road bike brifters can also be used on this bar but you might have to devise a shim because drop bars are 23.8mm in diameter, mountain bike bars 22.2mm in diameter. I hate drop bars.

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Old 02-21-16, 10:39 AM
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I have my straight bar controls and levers on figure 8 bend trekking bars.. offers many hand hold change positons ..
Aka ' butterfly bars '
https://www.google.com/search?q=trek...w=1152&bih=982

So choices are not either/ or , there are more options.
All the 22.2 tube controls will transfer to Trekking bars , like Grip shifters
(Rohloff only makes a 7/8" tube grip shift)

and the combined Brake shift levers and MTB Hydro disc brakes ..

The hand position option is Near Or Far reach rather than Down and Up
sides like climbing bar ends are there too, like hands on the hoods .

swap is simple ..

Last edited by fietsbob; 02-23-16 at 09:40 AM.
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Old 02-21-16, 11:06 AM
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Originally Posted by Joepasta View Post
What are the pros and cons between the to. I'm liking the narrow width but not really being all hunched over. (Or is that something to get used to). I am looking for a all purpose bike and want to thin the heard. I have a Surley pugs fat bike and a older cannondale touring bike that I'm trying. I'm not liking the shifting of the cannondale on the drop bar. Are the newer style shifter a lot easier to use. Really like the thumb shifters on my pugs. I do crushed lime stone riding, city hauling the kids in the trailer, and gravel.


Thanks
Road bars give a good variety of hand positions.
Being hunched over is a function of frame size, stem rise, stem length etc, not just handlebar shape.
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Old 02-21-16, 11:35 AM
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Drops felt more stable and less twitchy, to me. They don't overreact to user input. And, sure, the narrower width helps in traffic. Unfortunately a neck injury makes it too uncomfortable now for me to ride low drop bars, although some spacers or a different frame geometry might help.

I haven't tried a bike with narrower flat bars, no idea how they handle. My current bike with upright bars is comfortable but twitchy. The bars are wide and while that may seem comfy and friendly to newbies, it overreacts to every tiny input. And in group rides or tight traffic it feels like I'm gonna bump into something. I'm considering trimming an inch off the ends since I usually grasp the bar closer toward the center anyway.

The old style friction shifters took a little practice. They work better on the downtube, which minimizes the slack and know-nothing feel. But they're handy on the stem for a more upright and leisurely feel. You can get used to them pretty quickly with practice.

I never tried bar-end shifters, just seemed like a bad idea -- putting the input on the ends of the bars rather than the center of the bike seems likely to throw off the balance.
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Old 02-21-16, 11:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Joepasta View Post
What are the pros and cons between the to. I'm liking the narrow width but not really being all hunched over. (Or is that something to get used to).
I like narrow bars and most riders (without physical limitations) easily adapt to drop bars. But gravel roads and kid hauling might be enough justification for wider bars which offer better control when under load or at slower speeds.
@GeoKrpan has a nice setup that might accommodate your multipurpose needs.
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Old 02-21-16, 11:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Homebrew01 View Post
Road bars give a good variety of hand positions.
Being hunched over is a function of frame size, stem rise, stem length etc, not just handlebar shape.
Bingo. All around.

Have a good fit, and reasonable mobility in your back and hips, and a good core and there shouldn't a whole lot of hunching going on.
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Old 02-21-16, 12:41 PM
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I have both kinds of bikes. I prefer the flat bar for several reasons:
1. Width - I cut my flat bar so that it is not so wide and is just slightly wider than a drop bar. It's the width of my shoulders so that my hands are in a straight forward line.
2. Hand positions - I do not find this to be a problem. I have used bar ends and they will give you extra hand positions if you need them. When I ride the drop bar, 90% of the time I am in hoods or the tops. I seldom ride in the drops. Flat bars accommodate Ergon-type grips which are more comfortable than any position on a drop bar.
3. Body position - I prefer being a bit more upright as it gives me better vision which I find valuable. I suppose I am a bit more visible to other users of the road as well.
4. Better access to controls - I like having the break levers and shifters literally at my fingertips. I do not like reaching for them. I also like having shifters with indicators on them so that I know exactly which gear I'm in. I have developed a shifting system that works well for me and the indicators really help me stay within the "system."
5. Mirror - a mirror (which I feel is a must for all riders, even more so than a helmet) works better on a flat bar vs. drop bar.

I ride between 1,000 and 2,000 miles each year. I ride almost exclusively on roads and routinely do rides of 25-plus miles with longer rides of 50-75-100 miles thrown in. My typical speeds are about 16-17 mph. I call myself a recreational rider.
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Old 02-21-16, 12:52 PM
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^+1

I had to check to make sure I hadn't written the above post myself.
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Old 02-21-16, 01:00 PM
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Flats on the beach just didn't give me many choices ploughing into steady ocean wind so I tried Salsa Woodchippers. I'd estimate over a half-dozen hand positions. They work great and make the transition between road and beach bikes super easy. I don't miss the near constant (high) position of flats and can nearly mimic with hand positions. I have to be much sharper on riding technique. These are 46 cm bars.

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Old 02-21-16, 03:03 PM
  #11  
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I only go to straight bars.
Every time I vary from this rule, mens keeps hittin' on me.
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Old 02-21-16, 03:15 PM
  #12  
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I have one of each.

Well the first bike used to have a flat bar but now it has a trekking/butterfly bar for greater variety of hand positions.

The drop bar is on an adventure road bike. The saddle, handlebar, etc. are all set up so that I can ride it with a slight forward lean. While my torso isn't perfectly upright, it's close enough that I have no trouble swiveling my head around to observe traffic - and I don't have any special neck flexibility either. That is why the type of frame on this bike is called "relaxed geometry". The one that the the OP is talking about is an aggressive geometry bike, where you're leaning a lot more forward for that racing posture. The LBS of course made sure I got a bike with an appropriately sized frame then put me through a basic fitting session.

If you have a road bike and you're really hunched over, your frame could be too aggressive for your tastes, or you have the wrong size of bike, or you haven't been fitted properly to your bike.

Last edited by GovernorSilver; 02-21-16 at 03:22 PM.
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Old 02-21-16, 04:09 PM
  #13  
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I live in a hilly city, road bike just work better for climbing out of the saddle. More power and more natural feel. The flat bars holding the bar ends up hill don't have the leverage I have found out.
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Old 02-21-16, 04:23 PM
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Drop your bars flat and they may bounce back up into your hands. otherwise you will need to bend over to pick them up, and you mention you don't like bending.

(avidone1 already won the thread .... mine is a poor effort by comparison.)

Everything everyone else has said is true. There is no "better" or "worse" there is only preference. I have done thousands of miles of city commuting on flat bars and as many on drops. Both work equally well, if they are set up right.

When you say "older cannondale touring bike" and "I'm not liking the shifting of the cannondale on the drop bar" I have to ask, how old and which model, does the C'dale fit you really well, and does it have brifters (combined brake-lever/shifters) on the bends of the bars, or on the down tube?

I have an old C'dale tourer, and it is a little long for me (came with a ridiculously long stem too) and with downtube shifters (which were a pain.) Even with the brifters I installed, and a short stem, the reach is a little long. On a bike which fits, i generally ride "on the hoods," that is, with my hands on the brifters, so the controls are always right there ... my fingers are resting on them, just as they would be with a flat bar.

I don't find thumb shifters easier or harder to use, just different, but what I like has nothing to do with what you will like.

As for bar width, a wider bar slows the steering a little and feels more stable. If you cut a flat bar too short your bike will be unstable and hard to control. About 44 cm (average width of a drop bar) ought not to be too bad ... stem length will play a part here too.

Ninety-nine percent of the time I would recommend drop bars for every situation except dedicated tough-trail MTB riding, but if you do a lot of crushed rock a wide flat bar might give you more stability, and if you are towing kids in a trailer in traffic ... you are crazy? No, I was going to say, you would want to have the best possible view in every direction. However, for crushed rock you would want a pretty wide bar, i would think (I would,) and you like a narrower bar.

If it weren't for the gravel and particularly the crushed rock I'd definitely recommend a butterfly bar such as fietsbob recommends in post #3 . You can set them to a variety of angles and grab them almost anywhere to get good aero or an upright posture and whatever else you might need ... but I wouldn't want all that bar out there if I was riding crushed stone. Just a personal thing, can't prove anything.
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Old 02-21-16, 08:20 PM
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Flat bars just don't work for me, the put my hands in an awkward position that causes numbness without any options, but they do work great for maintaining control in challenging conditions. Just too limited for me.

Drops are a little better as they offer some options, but I never use any position below the hoods. The top position is too narrow for my taste as it doesn't offer good control on rough surfaces, especially riding one handed such as when signaling. I really dislike having the brake levers in a position I never use. IMO, they get far more credit then they deserve, and are actually rather marginal for most uses.

Traditional Dutch and Northroad bars offer day long comfort, and are well suited for most uses when on bikes they are intended for, which is why they've been so widely used all over the world for so long.

Trekking bars have the advantage of doing everything flat, drop, and traditional bars can for those who rarely, or never ride in a full drop position.
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Old 02-21-16, 10:52 PM
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I like drop bars. They provide good leverage out of the saddle. I mostly use the flats and hoods when riding, but I really like the drops when downhill or on the occasional flat section. I think ultimately it comes down to what works best for you and is most comfortable, and what will allow you to enjoy your bike and rides more.
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Old 02-21-16, 11:42 PM
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Horses for courses. I've never been able to ride comfortably in the drops, and flat bars pound the hell out of my wrists. I can ride all day on north road style bars, and they are now on all of my bikes. They provide sufficient control for urban streets and rails-to-trails that are typically crushed limestone or hard clay around here. Swept bars have my hands at or behind the centerline of the head tube.

Naturally they'd be out of place in the peloton, but a lot of things about me would be out of place in the peloton.
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Old 02-22-16, 09:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
If it weren't for the gravel and particularly the crushed rock I'd definitely recommend a butterfly bar such as fietsbob recommends in post #3 . You can set them to a variety of angles and grab them almost anywhere to get good aero or an upright posture and whatever else you might need ... but I wouldn't want all that bar out there if I was riding crushed stone. Just a personal thing, can't prove anything.
It's all of course personal preference, and the OP won't know until he tries. That said, like feitsbob, I use trekking bars on a bike I ride almost exclusively on gravel roads, that run the gamut from firm and packed, to lots of deep loose gravel, to ever so lovely deep sandy mix, a personal fav (not). I went with Nittos version of the trekking bar, LBS mounted it so I have a "high & reach" and "low & close" to choose from, which works well for me. I probably default to low and close most of the time to stay down out of the wind more (my seat is probably an inch or so above the bars), but I use the high/reach to stretch, and whenever the wind isn't ripping 15+ miles and hour or higher...which last season, was not a whole lot.....
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Old 02-22-16, 09:44 AM
  #19  
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Pretty much all the issues that people have with drop bars can be put down to "get a bike that fits you properly".

I ride both, but if I'm riding a century I'm picking drop bars.
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Old 02-22-16, 09:57 AM
  #20  
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My road bike has drop bars--- for me, the drops are mostly useless, except for short (I mean SHORT--- less than 60 seconds.) stretches, or if hitting the brakes. I've tried the flipped north road setup, and the drop in the middle increases the reach too far. I'm thinking about some flipped bullhorns.
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Old 02-22-16, 10:10 AM
  #21  
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my wrists couldn't take the straight bars
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Old 02-22-16, 11:25 AM
  #22  
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I am pleasantly shocked at how many have given the correct answer of neither.

You can create the best primary position with instant and total command of the brakes and shifters with 22.2 bars and ergo grips.
With my wrists, swept back is much better than straight.

Many northroad or albatross or whatever bars actually offer as many useful alternative hand positions as the overrated drops.
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Old 02-22-16, 11:41 AM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by Joepasta View Post
What are the pros and cons between the to.
In a nutshell, drop bars allow more hand & body positions. On long rides, hands can get fatigued or nerves can get impinged, so it's nice to be able to move around so you don't develop discomfort or numbness. And moving from the top or the brake hoods to the lower part of a drop bar gives you a more aerodynamic body position, helping you maintain a higher speed or helping you cut through a headwind.

If drop bars don't float your boat and straight bars don't offer the hand position(s) you're looking for, there are other options out there, too. Trekking bars, bullhorns, and all sorts of different swept bars (porteur, albatross, north road...).

Originally Posted by Joepasta View Post
I'm liking the narrow width but not really being all hunched over. (Or is that something to get used to).
Bikes with drop bars do tend to position your body forward a little bit, but if you're "all hunched over" while riding on the hoods, the bike might not be well-fitted for you. You need to be riding an appropriate frame size, plus the stem angle/height/length and and saddle height/angle/position all need to be adjusted to get you in a good riding position.

Some bikes with flat bars also tend to position your body forward, so it's not just a function of handlebar shape. You wouldn't sit bolt upright while riding trails on a mountain bike, for example, but might on a cruiser. Different bikes have different geometries for different types of riding.

Originally Posted by Joepasta View Post
I am looking for a all purpose bike and want to thin the heard. I have a Surley pugs fat bike and a older cannondale touring bike that I'm trying... I do crushed lime stone riding, city hauling the kids in the trailer, and gravel.
If there was a perfect "all purpose" bike, there wouldn't be so many kinds of bikes!

If your riding is mostly on pavement and limestone, and you sometimes cover long distances, I'd opt for a touring bike over a fat bike. Touring bikes are at home on the road and they're designed to be comfortable for long rides. They can typically take wider tires than racing-style road bikes, giving you plenty of rubber for limestone trails. A 700c x 32 mm tire will give you plenty of rubber for limestone trails. (Or 27" x 1 1/4" if you're riding older 27" wheels.)

On the other hand, if you occasionally ride on snow, sand, or mud, the fat bike can make your riding much easier. The big tires help you float on top of stuff that skinny tires would sink into. But they also add a lot of rotating mass, and it takes some energy to move those things.

Originally Posted by Joepasta View Post
I'm not liking the shifting of the cannondale on the drop bar. Are the newer style shifter a lot easier to use. Really like the thumb shifters on my pugs.
Being that it's a touring bike, I'm guessing you might have bar-end shifters, aka "barcons". They're nice on touring bikes since they're darn near fail-proof. You don't want a shifter failure on a bike tour miles and miles from nowhere. If you're having a hard time with them, it might be a matter of technique. If you grab just the lever, it might be hard to move it precisely enough. But if you grab the end of the bar and use the back of your hand to move the lever, it should be a piece of cake to shift.

With that said, newer-style integrated brake/shift levers, aka "brifters", are pretty darn nifty. With integrated levers, you can shift or brake using the same levers without needing to reach somewhere else to shift. And most integrated levers can be reached from the hoods or the drops, so they're completely functional from multiple hand positions.

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Old 02-22-16, 12:51 PM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by dr_lha View Post
Pretty much all the issues that people have with drop bars can be put down to "get a bike that fits you properly".

I ride both, but if I'm riding a century I'm picking drop bars.
I have a drop bar road bike, and the issue isn't so much comfort, but rather the face down riding position forced by positions other than the top, that keeps one focused on the road. For those of us who don't consider cycling a "sport" drops are rather limited.

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Old 02-22-16, 12:58 PM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
my wrists couldn't take the straight bars
Same here. I put mine in a vise and bent them in a bit, to improve the wrist angle. It helped, but I need to give them a bit more bend.
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