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Advice on drop bars

Old 02-20-18, 09:01 AM
  #1  
jimmie65
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Advice on drop bars

Just picked up a 2008 Specialized Sequoia Elite (in pristine condition). First road bike I've tried that felt comfortable for this non-flexible old body. I plan to use it for roads and for some gravel/crushed granite trails and will be putting on 700x28mm tires. At some point, this might become my commuter/overnight touring bike.

The drops feel slightly narrow for me. They're 48cm wide (measured end to end which I know realize is not the way to measure them but I'm at work and can't re-measure right now - let's guesstimate 46cm) with minimal flare and (if I'm understanding the term) no sweep.

When I'm on the tops, my hands are cramped - I need at least another 1/2' or so. On the hoods, I'd like to be out a little wider. In the drops, the angle of my wrists feels uncomfortable so I want a little flare at least.

Any suggestions on what to look for as far as width and flare? Will too much width or flare cause handling problems? Go as wide as I can or just barely wider than what I have now?
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Old 02-20-18, 11:09 AM
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I'm sure there are plenty of choices of bars that have some flare. I'm mostly used to those by Salsa. I'd say the Salsa Cowbell has the least amount of flare, the chow chipper more, and the wood chipper the most of all of their products. We've got cowbell and cow chipper mounted on a couple of our touring/gravel bikes, and have to say that we find them very comfortable. I'm pretty comfortable on gravel on pretty much any bar I'd find comfortable riding extended amounts of time on pavement. I'm guessing the interrupter brake levers might be robbing you of some bar space, so can always ditch those if you need more room to spread out.
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Old 02-20-18, 11:13 AM
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I would recommend a professional bike fit for your new bike
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Old 02-20-18, 11:18 AM
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I love my Salsa Woodchippers but they have a ton of flare, probably too much for a dedicated road bike. The Salsa Cowchippers are in-between Woodchippers and regular road bars and would probably be a good fit.

The flare would not cause handling issues unless it causes a fit problem. The Woodchippers are so wide in the drops that a shorter stem is usually preferred to account for the reach. Most people set up Woodchippers to be used mainly in the drops so that means a tall headtube (spacers) or an upright stem. I ride 80% drops, 17% hoods and almost never on the tops.
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Old 02-20-18, 11:18 AM
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Congrats on your Sequoia Elite. I had a 2004 Sequoia Elite for years and it was by far the most comfortable road bike I'd ever owned. Unfortunately, it developed a crack in the frame and I had to retire it.
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Old 02-20-18, 11:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Craptacular8 View Post
I'm sure there are plenty of choices of bars that have some flare. I'm mostly used to those by Salsa. I'd say the Salsa Cowbell has the least amount of flare, the chow chipper more, and the wood chipper the most of all of their products. We've got cowbell and cow chipper mounted on a couple of our touring/gravel bikes, and have to say that we find them very comfortable. I'm pretty comfortable on gravel on pretty much any bar I'd find comfortable riding extended amounts of time on pavement. I'm guessing the interrupter brake levers might be robbing you of some bar space, so can always ditch those if you need more room to spread out.
Does the flaring affect handling and control? I love the looks of the cowchipper and woodchipper, or even the Gary Sweep bars, but wasn't sure how what effect the flare has.

I could move my hand inwards even with the interrupters, but the issue is my wide shoulder and correspondingly wide grip. My pinkies are shoved up against the hoods in a natural grip. I'm 6' tall, 200 pounds at my slimmest (and nowhere near that right now), and find even some 2XLs are snug in the chest and shoulders. And, as noted in my OP, I'm not the most flexible person.
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Old 02-20-18, 11:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Bluechip View Post
I love my Salsa Woodchippers but they have a ton of flare, probably too much for a dedicated road bike. The Salsa Cowchippers are in-between Woodchippers and regular road bars and would probably be a good fit.

The flare would not cause handling issues unless it causes a fit problem. The Woodchippers are so wide in the drops that a shorter stem is usually preferred to account for the reach. Most people set up Woodchippers to be used mainly in the drops so that means a tall headtube (spacers) or an upright stem. I ride 80% drops, 17% hoods and almost never on the tops.
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Old 02-20-18, 11:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Doctor Morbius View Post
Congrats on your Sequoia Elite. I had a 2004 Sequoia Elite for years and it was by far the most comfortable road bike I'd ever owned. Unfortunately, it developed a crack in the frame and I had to retire it.
Thanks. I've tried a couple of other road bikes recently, all with non-aggressive geometry. But the Sequoia fits perfectly with standover height and with reach (6', short legs, long arms). Just working on dialing in the fit a little more.
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Old 02-20-18, 11:26 AM
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Originally Posted by mtb_addict View Post
I luv the Nitto Randoneer. Just the right amount of flair.
I've looked at those, but not seeing anything wider than 45cm.
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Old 02-20-18, 11:28 AM
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Originally Posted by mtb_addict View Post
... Just the right amount of flair.
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Old 02-20-18, 11:34 AM
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Check out the FSA Adventure. About 40 bucks anywhere. 12º of sweep, so the 44cm is 44cm at the hoods and 50cm at the drops. The best is that the shape of the curve puts the hood at what initially appears to be a wacky angle, but it is super comfortable. And when descending in the drops, otherworldly stable. The relaxed wrist position makes the bars feel wider on the hoods-- I have 44cm FSA bars on my other bike, and these feel wider on the hoods, even though they measure the same width.
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Old 02-20-18, 11:40 AM
  #12  
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Back in the 1970s, it seems that the bars were narrower than they are today. Have our bodies changed that much? I'm comfortable on 38 cm c-t-c bars and have had them on vintage bikes as well as on my fixed gear. My more modern bikes have the wider bars. Why not simply ride what you have and lengthen the stem?
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Old 02-20-18, 11:45 AM
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Originally Posted by jimmie65 View Post
Does the flaring affect handling and control? I love the looks of the cowchipper and woodchipper, or even the Gary Sweep bars, but wasn't sure how what effect the flare has.

I could move my hand inwards even with the interrupters, but the issue is my wide shoulder and correspondingly wide grip. My pinkies are shoved up against the hoods in a natural grip. I'm 6' tall, 200 pounds at my slimmest (and nowhere near that right now), and find even some 2XLs are snug in the chest and shoulders. And, as noted in my OP, I'm not the most flexible person.
In theory, the additional flare is supposed to increase control when down in the drops. I pretty much only get worried about control when I'm crossing my fingers turning on ice, or trying to keep on a narrow trail with a heavy front load, lol, so I don't tend to worry too much or look for the feeling of control per se. I'm not particularly wide shouldered, so 42's on the cowbell/cowhchipper work great for me....on road handlebars, I'm quite comfortable on 40's even, so opposite ends of the spectrum from you. To me, the flare in the cowchipper would give you a little more room on the tops of your bars, though the tops of the brifters do tend to tip inwards a bit on these types of bars. This bothers some folks that primarily ride the tops of the brifters, and if this were the case, I'd say go cowbell, as they are more traditionally oriented. The cow chipper has a bit of the brifter tipping inwards, more so on the wood chipper. Plus, the wood chipper is an even shallower drop. We have one bike sporting the wood chipper, but I've ridden that one very little. It feels fine to me, what little riding I've done on it.
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Old 02-20-18, 11:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Doctor Morbius View Post
That is absolutely perfect, lol.
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Old 02-20-18, 12:23 PM
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Appreciate all the advice. Narrowed it down to the Cowbell 3 (comes in a 46, 12 degrees flare), FSA Adventure (found a 46cm, 15 degrees), and Origin8 Gary Sweep OS Handlebar (15 degrees, not sure of exact width but wider than the other 2).
Leaning toward the Gary but I'm going to see if someone local has it in stock - I want to make sure the interrupter brakes will fit.
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Old 02-20-18, 09:04 PM
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Originally Posted by jimmie65 View Post
Appreciate all the advice. Narrowed it down to the Cowbell 3 (comes in a 46, 12 degrees flare), FSA Adventure (found a 46cm, 15 degrees), and Origin8 Gary Sweep OS Handlebar (15 degrees, not sure of exact width but wider than the other 2).
Leaning toward the Gary but I'm going to see if someone local has it in stock - I want to make sure the interrupter brakes will fit.
I have the Gary OS sweep on my gravel bike. Its some legit sweep and flare. The hoods angle in a legit amount.
Just mention this since you use STIs and they are old Sora with the thumb click. That click will be pointed at the ground with Gary bars.

Awesome for dirt and gravel...not really ideal for most all other riding.
The other thing is that many set them up incorrectly- the drops should be parallel to the ground, which means the ramps sorta angle down. This is because they are meant to be used in the drops way more than current compact road bars.

Just tossing out some clarification.


A Salsa Cowbell or Ritchey evomax may be a good mix between traditional road and new flare styles.

https://ritcheylogic.com/wcs-evomax-road-bar
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Old 02-20-18, 09:45 PM
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Originally Posted by mtb_addict View Post
My theory is brifter hood is culprit. Didn't people ride mostly on the drops, before brifter was invented?
It was common to ride on the hoods well before shifting was integrated with brake levers.
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Old 02-21-18, 06:24 AM
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Ended up with an old Salsa Bell Lap bar.

I'd actually found this at a swap meet a few months ago, never used it, and traded it to a friend for a saddle. Texted him yesterday, he hadn't installed it yet, traded back.

46cm, 12 degree flare. extremely lightweight. I'll have to use a shim as it's 25.4 clamp size.

(I also have a very compact drop bar in the parts bin that I just measured; 30cm and flared to 38cm at the drops. Never considered it because it is so dang narrow. However, I may try it on the '95 Specialized Hardrock I've been converting to drops.)
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Old 02-21-18, 07:56 AM
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www.rivbike.com/products/nitto-noodle-handlebar By Rivendells standards you should go with a 48 for you size
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Old 02-21-18, 08:21 AM
  #20  
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Originally Posted by jimmie65 View Post
Just picked up a 2008 Specialized Sequoia Elite (in pristine condition). First road bike I've tried that felt comfortable for this non-flexible old body. I plan to use it for roads and for some gravel/crushed granite trails and will be putting on 700x28mm tires. At some point, this might become my commuter/overnight touring bike.

The drops feel slightly narrow for me. They're 48cm wide (measured end to end which I know realize is not the way to measure them but I'm at work and can't re-measure right now - let's guesstimate 46cm) with minimal flare and (if I'm understanding the term) no sweep.

When I'm on the tops, my hands are cramped - I need at least another 1/2' or so. On the hoods, I'd like to be out a little wider. In the drops, the angle of my wrists feels uncomfortable so I want a little flare at least.

Any suggestions on what to look for as far as width and flare? Will too much width or flare cause handling problems? Go as wide as I can or just barely wider than what I have now?
In terms of flare, I have the salsa cowbell on my road/gravel bike and love them.

The flare is just enough so that when in the drops, my forearms just clear the top part of the bar. Very comfortable. I can’t imagine ever going back to bars with no flare.

I have the 44cm size ( this is measured center to center at the hoods) which is the same as my last bar with no flare. It took a little tweaking with the angle of the hoods to feel just right, but once dialed in I find them just as comfortable on the hoods as the old bar, but they “feel” just a tiny hair roomier.

The real difference is in the drops. The extra width feels great for control, and as mentioned above, these are more comfortable becuase my arms clear the tops of the bars more easily.

Bars from salsa are measured center to center at the hoods. Keep that in mind when you are comparing them to your current bar.

How much flare is best is really personal preference. I have only taken one spin on a set of woodchippers, and while they felt very nice in the drops, I did not care for the feel on the hoods. However, I did not have the chance to play around with the angle of the hoods, so perhaps that was not a fair trial.
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Old 02-28-18, 08:22 AM
  #21  
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Ran into 1 hiccup switching to the Bell Lap bars - my interrupter brake levers are 31.8 and the bell laps are 26.0. I shimmed the stem clamp and installed some temporary shims on the brake levers (plastic). I've ordered new interrupter levers that will fit. (Sorry for the bad pictures. I'll take better ones once the new levers are installed and I've wrapped the bars).

Width on the flats is fine and the hoods are comfortable. Not enough time yet in the drops to know.

When I went into the LBS to order the levers, the owner had her bike there with some cowchippers installed. I really like the looks of the increased flare, so Gary Sweeps and the cowchippers are still on the table if I don't like the drops on this bar.
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Old 02-28-18, 10:47 AM
  #22  
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Originally Posted by mtb_addict View Post
I luv the Nitto Randoneer. Just the right amount of flair.
Problem is it's an old bend style.. so worked better before, with shorter bodied brake levers, of the era,

rather than brifters which are long, , that spawned the shorter ramped bars such as the OP shows..
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