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Flat bars for touring bikes

Old 06-09-20, 04:17 PM
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Bpsmith
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Flat bars for touring bikes

What is the downside to having flat bar (with associated shifters, etc) retrofitted onto a new Trek 520 or REI COOP touring bike?
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Old 06-09-20, 04:28 PM
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Bikes designed for drop bars have shorter top tubes than bikes designed for flat bars. You will be in an even more upright position. You can compensate some by using a longer stem unless of course you like the new position. I have done this conversion multiple times and I like it.

Some will argue that you lose multiple hand positions but I have always felt this point is overrated. I do fine with just flat bars and my hands don't suffer. YMMV. You can always add bar ends for more hand positions.

The beauty is if you don't like it you can always change it back.
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Old 06-09-20, 06:32 PM
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Bar ends will give you multiple hand positions.

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Old 06-09-20, 09:09 PM
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You won't be able to get as low going long distances in wind,and will be slower because of it but you might not be going real fast loaded down anyway. I would ride fine on flats touring but I wouldn't buy a new bike and have it fitted out. I would find a good used one in great shape. I would rather have an older 520 anyway because the new one has an new Aluminum fork. You sort of need to decide of you want a fast road oriented touring bike -drop bars,or a likely slower,more relaxed bike,not that drops can't be very comfortable but not usually for new cyclists.
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Old 06-09-20, 09:19 PM
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When you say flat bars, do you mean a straight one? I've tried those and they're horribly uncomfortable. You might try swept bars, like Velo-Orange's Tourist, Porteur or Granola bars. They put your hands and arms in a more natural position and you can still throw on aero bars for more positions. I adore my Porteur bar, so I may be biased.
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Old 06-09-20, 09:59 PM
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The only downside is the cost of switching a bike fitted with drops to flat
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Old 06-09-20, 10:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Paul Barnard View Post
Bar ends will give you multiple hand positions.

That's what I did to my mtb because I always end up riding more miles on the road to get to a trail than I spend on the trail.
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Old 06-10-20, 02:17 AM
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Should be a few new touring bikes that are designed with flatbars. I might Frankenstein a older bike and deal with the issues but not a new bike if can avoid in first place.
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Old 06-10-20, 04:53 AM
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Converting a new bike is going to be costly. For example, the Trek 520 uses brifters which will not work on a flat bar, you would need new shifters and compatible brake levers. along with the cost of the bar and stem.
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Old 06-10-20, 05:12 AM
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Yes, the cost of retrofitting is the big downside. It seems like it would be easy enough to get a flat bar touring bike to start with; the Euro brands are sick with ‘em, which they call trekking bikes. Something like the Salsa Marrakesh is an example of a flat bar price comp for the 520.
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Old 06-10-20, 06:17 AM
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1) Cost - it isn't cost effective to remove and replace the brake and shift controls, recabling the shifters and likely the brake levers, replacing the stem, replacing the handlebar and adding grips and possibly end extensions...

2) Aerodynamics - wind resistance matters, particularly on a tourer that's used for touring. Across parts of the US, the winds are relentless. The tuck afforded by drop bars is difficult to achieve without some unusual flat bar downward and rearward extensions.

3) Comfort - subjectively, I've never, ever been as comfortable on a flat bar for long periods of time (talking greater than 4-6 hours) than as on a drop-barred bike. Never. On drop bar bikes, longer saddle times are possible (for me). Others will argue this.

4) Geometry - as has been mentioned, most traditional road frames are not designed with flat bars in mind. So, you'll be using the stem to correct for what will put your torso at the right angle and you hands at the optimal reach. This is separate from cost (1), as the answer may take several iterations to solve to your satisfaction.

If you want a flat bar bike, then buy one to begin with.

Last edited by Phil_gretz; 06-11-20 at 06:47 AM.
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Old 06-10-20, 09:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Phil_gretz View Post
4) Geometry - as has been mentioned, most traditional road frames are not designed with [flat] bars in mind. So, you'll be using the stem to correct for what will put your torso at the right angle and you hands at the optimal reach. This is separate from cost (1), as the answer may take several iterations to solve to your satisfaction.
Uh, that's what stems on road bikes are always used for.

I do not agree there is any necessary difference in geometry for flat or drop bars. There is as much diversity in drop bar geometries as there is in flat bar geometries, and smart buyers will need to choose the frame that best serves them regardless of bar configuration.
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Old 06-10-20, 09:26 AM
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I would argue that you will lose a lot of hand positions on the handlebar unless you add the tip of the stem to more hand positions.
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Old 06-10-20, 05:23 PM
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Ergon GR series grip/ bar ends the 2 shortest 3,4, .. 5 longest, with a hook..

broad grip surface better than a round one


not mine.

Last edited by fietsbob; 06-10-20 at 05:26 PM.
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Old 06-10-20, 07:01 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
Ergon GR series grip/ bar ends the 2 shortest 3,4, .. 5 longest, with a hook..

broad grip surface better than a round one


not mine.
I wish it were mine. I like that set up.
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Old 06-10-20, 08:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Korina View Post
When you say flat bars, do you mean a straight one? I've tried those and they're horribly uncomfortable. You might try swept bars, like Velo-Orange's Tourist, Porteur or Granola bars. They put your hands and arms in a more natural position and you can still throw on aero bars for more positions. I adore my Porteur bar, so I may be biased.
This! I’ve got these on my Cross Check and have been very good with them.multiple useful positions on them.
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Old 06-10-20, 09:36 PM
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Originally Posted by gorillimo View Post
This! I’ve got these on my Cross Check and have been very good with them.multiple useful positions on them.
That swept back style would definitely take some getting used to on the trails. But it's nice to see options.
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Old 06-10-20, 09:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Bigbus View Post
That swept back style would definitely take some getting used to on the trails. But it's nice to see options.
I thought that too. But, they’re just fine. I actually find myself cleaning sections I couldn’t on my Specialized FSR!
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Old 06-10-20, 10:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Bpsmith View Post
What is the downside to having flat bar (with associated shifters, etc) retrofitted onto a new Trek 520 or REI COOP touring bike?
I'm assuming you're not a troll, so my question is, why are you thinking about flat bars? If you don't like the bent over position, you can raise the stem to make your drop bars more upright and comfortable. If it's something else, please tell us so we can better help you.
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Old 06-11-20, 04:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Korina View Post
I'm assuming you're not a troll, so my question is, why are you thinking about flat bars? If you don't like the bent over position, you can raise the stem to make your drop bars more upright and comfortable. If it's something else, please tell us so we can better help you.
Ive been riding a mountain bike for years So that is the hand position most comfortable to me. I do not like turned down bars as it cramps my neck.
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Old 06-11-20, 06:48 AM
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The Jones H-Bar is a good option
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Old 06-11-20, 07:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Korina View Post
I'm assuming you're not a troll, so my question is, why are you thinking about flat bars? If you don't like the bent over position, you can raise the stem to make your drop bars more upright and comfortable. If it's something else, please tell us so we can better help you.
In the same way drop bars do not necessitate a “bent over” position, neither do flat bars necessitate an upright position.

Do you have any experience building up bikes, or have you only ridden showroom stock stuff?
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Old 06-11-20, 12:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Bpsmith View Post
Ive been riding a mountain bike for years So that is the hand position most comfortable to me. I do not like turned down bars as it cramps my neck.
Have you thought about a flat bar touring bike, such as the Surly Bridge Club?
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Old 06-11-20, 12:38 PM
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Originally Posted by chaadster View Post
In the same way drop bars do not necessitate a “bent over” position, neither do flat bars necessitate an upright position.

Do you have any experience building up bikes, or have you only ridden showroom stock stuff?
I understand that drops don't have to be aero, but the popular perception is that that's how drop bar bikes have to be ridden; that's why I told the OP that he could raise the stem. I have an old Trek Multitrack that I will, one of these days, build with a V-O Nuveau Randonneur bar. It's only the last couple of years that I came to realize that the racing position is for racers, and the rest of us can ride more upright. Or as I like to put it, ride your own ride!

For reference, this is my heart bike.



Great Ghu, it's NDS! Horror!
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Old 06-12-20, 08:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Korina View Post
I understand that drops don't have to be aero, but the popular perception is that that's how drop bar bikes have to be ridden; that's why I told the OP that he could raise the stem. I have an old Trek Multitrack that I will, one of these days, build with a V-O Nuveau Randonneur bar. It's only the last couple of years that I came to realize that the racing position is for racers, and the rest of us can ride more upright. Or as I like to put it, ride your own ride!
Oh, I see, thanks. I had I misread your post initially, and so replied incorrectly. Your suggestion to consider raising drop bars is a good one.

I run all of my bars pretty low, including my flat bar bikes, for example:




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