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Flat Bar Conversion

Old 07-19-17, 05:51 PM
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Sprocket Monkey
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Flat Bar Conversion

Hey guys. Bought a Surly Cross Check. Love the bike however 60 year old ex football player needing to shed a few pounds. The handle bars are a little aggressive for my aging back. I've tried to adapt but decided to maybe convert to flat bar. Looking st Salsa. Any suggestions, thoughts. Pretty new rider. Mostly around neighborhood and short commutes. Thx.
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Old 07-19-17, 06:01 PM
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First thing to try is a taller stem with less reach. Changing bars might mean changing brake levers also.
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Old 07-20-17, 06:11 AM
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Changing to flat bars is easy.

Pick a bar that you like. I suggest the widest bar you can find because you are a big guy, you can always cut it down if need be. The wide bar will keep your chest open to breath. Make sure they are 31.8 to match your stem.

Chose new grips. Any mountain bike grips will do but I am partial to Ergon for that added support for your hands.

Brake levers. There are short pull and long pull and they must match your current brakes. Ask any bike shop or tell us exactly what you have.

Shift levers. If you have bar ends, great, purchase Paul Thumbies. Your shifters will attach to these and act as thumb shifters. If not Microshift has nice thumbshifters, just match the number of speeds.

New shifter and brake cables are most likely needed.

It is a bit of a cash outlay at first but think about over the life of the bike and how much more you will ride the bike.

Of course this wouldn't be Bike Forums without members telling you just give drop bars a chance because they are better than sliced bread, and you have more hand positions blah blah blah.

I have converted every bike I have ever owned in the last twenty years, and I haven't looked back. I don't need multiple hand positions, I don't need to be in an aero tuck, I don't need bars that at most are 44 cm wide, I need comfort and I got it. The beauty is if you keep your parts and you hate the flat bar you can always convert back.

Don't even get me started on moustache bars that will most certainly come up.

Good luck and if you have more specific questions just ask.
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Old 07-21-17, 02:38 AM
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Originally Posted by FBOATSB View Post
First thing to try is a taller stem with less reach. Changing bars might mean changing brake levers also.
Agreed. I'm primarily a mountain biker, but I'd still encourage you to first see if you can make drop bars work on that bike.

First thing I'd try is moving any stem spacers currently above the stem, to below the stem. If you're not familiar with loosening/tightening headsets, Google it. Very easy to screw up.

Consider rotating your handlebars a bit towards you so the hoods are a little higher (depending on where they are now). Find that spot where your hands naturally fall/relax.

If that doesn't fix things, I'd try something like a 110x25 Salsa stem to see if that gets you in a more comfy position. This might help: Stem Comparison Tool | yojimg.net

You can also hit up your bike shop for tips (they have the advantage of being able to see you on the bike). Stop by in the morning when they're slow.
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Old 07-23-17, 12:35 PM
  #5  
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Originally Posted by Sprocket Monkey View Post
Hey guys. Bought a Surly Cross Check. Love the bike however 60 year old ex football player needing to shed a few pounds. The handle bars are a little aggressive for my aging back. I've tried to adapt but decided to maybe convert to flat bar. Looking st Salsa. Any suggestions, thoughts. Pretty new rider. Mostly around neighborhood and short commutes. Thx.
I would ask how switching to flat bars helps you. Your hands are no higher than they would be riding on the tops. Wouldn't it make sense to raise the height of the drop bars with a riser stem?
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Old 07-23-17, 12:38 PM
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Originally Posted by blakcloud View Post
Changing to flat bars is easy.

Pick a bar that you like. I suggest the widest bar you can find because you are a big guy, you can always cut it down if need be. The wide bar will keep your chest open to breath. Make sure they are 31.8 to match your stem.

Chose new grips. Any mountain bike grips will do but I am partial to Ergon for that added support for your hands.

Brake levers. There are short pull and long pull and they must match your current brakes. Ask any bike shop or tell us exactly what you have.

Shift levers. If you have bar ends, great, purchase Paul Thumbies. Your shifters will attach to these and act as thumb shifters. If not Microshift has nice thumbshifters, just match the number of speeds.

New shifter and brake cables are most likely needed.

It is a bit of a cash outlay at first but think about over the life of the bike and how much more you will ride the bike.

Of course this wouldn't be Bike Forums without members telling you just give drop bars a chance because they are better than sliced bread, and you have more hand positions blah blah blah.

I have converted every bike I have ever owned in the last twenty years, and I haven't looked back. I don't need multiple hand positions, I don't need to be in an aero tuck, I don't need bars that at most are 44 cm wide, I need comfort and I got it. The beauty is if you keep your parts and you hate the flat bar you can always convert back.

Don't even get me started on moustache bars that will most certainly come up.

Good luck and if you have more specific questions just ask.
You can get drop bars as wides as 48 cm.
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Old 07-23-17, 01:39 PM
  #7  
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Originally Posted by Sprocket Monkey View Post
Hey guys. Bought a Surly Cross Check. Love the bike however 60 year old ex football player needing to shed a few pounds. The handle bars are a little aggressive for my aging back. I've tried to adapt but decided to maybe convert to flat bar. Looking st Salsa. Any suggestions, thoughts. Pretty new rider. Mostly around neighborhood and short commutes. Thx.

I bought one of these last year. The first things I did was flip the stem(more comfortable for me), swapped the brakes and shifters for STI(Going off road trying to shift scared the crap out of me), changed the seat as it was garbage, and put better bar tape on it.

Has the bike been fitted to you? Sometimes subtle changes can make the world of difference on ride comfort.
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Old 07-24-17, 04:55 AM
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Originally Posted by MRT2 View Post
You can get drop bars as wides as 48 cm.
Yes, and my FSA Metropolis bars are 68 cm and my Map/Ahearne bars are 61 cm. There is a reason mountain bikes and hybrids have flat bars which I already tried to explain.

Originally Posted by MRT2 View Post
I would ask how switching to flat bars helps you. Your hands are no higher than they would be riding on the tops. Wouldn't it make sense to raise the height of the drop bars with a riser stem?
Because reaching for the brake hoods past the bar becomes the problem. It is not just height that is the problem but reach. He could purchase the Crust bar that is 66.6 cm which is drop bar but it still won't fix the reach problem and he wouldn't be using the bar for its intended purpose. With a flat bar he could even use bar ends to make it more comfortable.

Last edited by blakcloud; 07-24-17 at 05:12 AM.
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Old 07-24-17, 05:25 AM
  #9  
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ignore the roadies...https://https://store.velo-orange.com/index.php/components/handlebars/casey-crazy-bar-noir.html
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Old 07-24-17, 05:39 AM
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Originally Posted by blakcloud View Post
Yes, and my FSA Metropolis bars are 68 cm and my Map/Ahearne bars are 61 cm. There is a reason mountain bikes and hybrids have flat bars which I already tried to explain.

Because reaching for the brake hoods past the bar becomes the problem. It is not just height that is the problem but reach. He could purchase the Crust bar that is 66.6 cm which is drop bar but it still won't fix the reach problem and he wouldn't be using the bar for its intended purpose. With a flat bar he could even use bar ends to make it more comfortable.
Which brings me back to my original point. Raise the bars and bring them in closer with a shorter stem. Finally, OP can angle the brake hoods a little bit up. Problem solved.
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Old 07-24-17, 05:43 AM
  #11  
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Front-to-back reach is probably more important than height. I'd suggest experimenting a bit before jumping in. When you do decide to make the switch, don't cheap out, go first class with everything as blakcloud suggested.
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Old 07-24-17, 06:38 AM
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Originally Posted by MRT2 View Post
Which brings me back to my original point. Raise the bars and bring them in closer with a shorter stem. Finally, OP can angle the brake hoods a little bit up. Problem solved.
Can you please show me on the doll where the man with the flat bar conversion touched you?
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Old 07-24-17, 06:51 AM
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Originally Posted by blakcloud View Post
Of course this wouldn't be Bike Forums without members telling you just give drop bars a chance because they are better than sliced bread, and you have more hand positions blah blah blah.
And if he does try to make the drop bar fit better with a bunch of spacers and a really short stem, the spacer and stem police will chime in and tell him he's doing it all wrong.
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Old 07-24-17, 08:21 AM
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Originally Posted by mtb_addict View Post
Hey I am thinking of doing the same with a Merci Kilo tt.
Can I ask, if switch to a flat bar (which is much wider than drop bars) will make the handling be all wierd?

Because you have more leverage (too twitchy)?

And you be sitting more upright (more body english)?
The steering is a little different, but whether it is "twitchy" depends on how wide a bar you go with and how short of a stem.

Shorter stems and narrower bars make the steering faster. Too fast is often called "twitchy".

Think of your hand position relative to the steer tube. In general, the farther forward your hands are, and the farther apart they are, the slower the steering (less twitchy) Conversly, the farther back and the closer together they are, the faster the steering. Try riding with your hands on the hoods, (forward and far apart) and then on the tops with your hands as far in as they go (back and close together) and you'll feel the difference.

So, as far as the difference between drop bars and a flat bar conversion (on the same bike for the same rider):

In general, the grips on a flat bar conversion are a lot farther back (faster) but also a lot wider (slower) than the hood position on a drop bar.

By tweeking the bar width you can make the handling faster or slower.

Also, it should be noted that while sticking a flat bar on the same stem that you had a drop bar on would move the hand position back quite a lot, in reality you often end up running a slighly longer stem with the flat bar. So, your hand position is farther back, but not as far back as it may first seem just by looking at the two different bars.

The bar width aspect (and stem length to some extent) is important in understanding why one poster's attempt here to equate a flat bar conversion with the tops on a drop bar is so absurd.

Last edited by Kapusta; 07-24-17 at 09:42 AM.
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Old 07-24-17, 08:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Sprocket Monkey View Post
Hey guys. Bought a Surly Cross Check. Love the bike however 60 year old ex football player needing to shed a few pounds. The handle bars are a little aggressive for my aging back. I've tried to adapt but decided to maybe convert to flat bar. Looking st Salsa. Any suggestions, thoughts. Pretty new rider. Mostly around neighborhood and short commutes. Thx.
As stated, you are going to need (along with the bar) new shifters and brake levers.

If you let us know specifically what brakes and drivetrain you currently have, we can make some good suggestions on what to get.

I did a flat bar conversion on my wife's road bike and she has been very happy with it. I've ridden it around a bit and I like it, too. I prefer drops for my road bike but I might go this route myself in the future for my next commuter/errand bike (I currently use a mountain bike frame dressed up as a commuter).

That said, I would at least consider trying a stem with shorter reach and higher rise if it is just the leaning over that is the problem. Even just an inch shorter and higher can feel very different. One thing you can try is riding a little farther back on the ramps (the flat part of the bar behind the hoods) and see if that works out for comfort. If so, that should give you an indication of how much you need to shorten the stem by in order to be comfortable on the hoods, or if that is even a viable option. If it looks like you need shorter than a 60-70mm stem, the drop bar thing is probably just not meant to be, at least on that bike.

Last edited by Kapusta; 07-24-17 at 10:00 AM.
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Old 07-24-17, 09:07 AM
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riser bars.
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