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Gravel bike conversion?

Old 10-11-20, 03:06 PM
  #1  
Helderberg
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Gravel bike conversion?

I have two bikes. One is a 2019 large Quick 3 that has a new 11-36 rear cog set and rear derailleur. I also have a Topstone, medium, that has 105 mech set. My question is this. I like the heck out of the Topstone but the rider position is rough on my 72 year old frame with all of my issues. I like the Quick but it is the wrong size, my fault, and is heavier than the Topstone and doesn't have the rolling feel of the TS but I like the seating position, not upright but not as extended as the TS. I have gone to the "Bike Insights" site and compared the frames I have along with hybrids from Giant, Specialized, all carbon as my two are alloy, to see if the differences were insurmountable. What I am thinking is to convert the drop bar and controls to a flat bar with new hydro brake levers and quick shift 11 speed levers so I can maintain the TS frame and works but get the somewhat in between body position that I am looking for. My long winded question is this, is my thinking plausible or should I just sell both of my bikes and buy a entirely new bike? I am not savy to the esoterics of the bike world so if my idea is nuts please be kind and let me down gently. Thanks in advance and please feel free to ask for any additional information about what ever you wish.
Health: I am a retired plumber that has lost muscle mass in my upper and lower right leg due to a herniated disc and have had surgery in 2001 for the loss of the use of my left leg due to a similar issue on that side. Was told I would never ride a bike again but I am too stubborn to listen to "them".
Thanks in advance, Frank.


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Old 10-11-20, 03:25 PM
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Given all that's going on with spacers and the stem, I assume the Quick is too small? You already have the Topstone bars level with the saddle, you won't get a flat bar to work for you w/o more weird kludges. I would suggest you sell them both and get fitted on a proper size bike of the style you prefer. Don't have too many riding years left, be a shame to waste them!
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Old 10-11-20, 03:43 PM
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Everything Shelby said plus- get rid of the idea of pedals like those dangerous traps. Either get plain platforms or SPDís with the shoes.
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Old 10-11-20, 03:58 PM
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If you're pretty sure the flat bars on the Topstone would put you into a comfortable position, and you like all the other aspects of the Topstone, I'd go ahead and convert it to flat bars. Probably cost $250-300 for but you get some of that back when you sell your taken off parts.
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Old 10-11-20, 04:08 PM
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The Quick will lose the length of the bars---probably 70-100 mm--off the total reach if you perform the conversion. I can't find the geometry charts for the two frames (honestly didn't try hard---they aren't immediately obvious on the C'dale site so whatever) but you'd need to figure what the new numbers would be for the converted Quick and see if it would fit ....

MUCH easier, especially since you admittedly aren't too up on all the bike stuff, to get a new bike. Buying the right parts and paying for the swap could get pricey. And then, possibly you wouldn't like the new build anyway.

If you want a lightweight flatbar gravel bike, get one. I am not usually in favor of N-1, but in this case, if you know exactly what you want, get it. The two older bikes look to be in decent shape so you might get a decent price for them.

If it were me, because I have all the tools and like fiddling, I might go search for the geometry charts and figure out if I could do the merger .... I'd slap the old and leftover parts on some other frame maybe, just for kicks (but I actually have no more room in my garage .... hmmmm....)

If you combine the two bikes, you would be left with parts and a frame which didn't work for you and only one ridable bike anyway .... and possibly that one bike still wouldn't fit right.

Sell the ones which are not what you want and buy what you want.
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Old 10-11-20, 06:59 PM
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Originally Posted by hsuBM View Post
Everything Shelby said plus- get rid of the idea of pedals like those dangerous traps. Either get plain platforms or SPDís with the shoes.
Took a hell of a fall because of those pedals, they have been gone a long time. Went to a nice set of alloy studded large flat and they have worked out beautifully.

Thanks, Frank.
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Old 10-11-20, 07:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
The Quick will lose the length of the bars---probably 70-100 mm--off the total reach if you perform the conversion. I can't find the geometry charts for the two frames (honestly didn't try hard---they aren't immediately obvious on the C'dale site so whatever) but you'd need to figure what the new numbers would be for the converted Quick and see if it would fit ....

MUCH easier, especially since you admittedly aren't too up on all the bike stuff, to get a new bike. Buying the right parts and paying for the swap could get pricey. And then, possibly you wouldn't like the new build anyway.

If you want a lightweight flatbar gravel bike, get one. I am not usually in favor of N-1, but in this case, if you know exactly what you want, get it. The two older bikes look to be in decent shape so you might get a decent price for them.

If it were me, because I have all the tools and like fiddling, I might go search for the geometry charts and figure out if I could do the merger .... I'd slap the old and leftover parts on some other frame maybe, just for kicks (but I actually have no more room in my garage .... hmmmm....)

If you combine the two bikes, you would be left with parts and a frame which didn't work for you and only one ridable bike anyway .... and possibly that one bike still wouldn't fit right.

Sell the ones which are not what you want and buy what you want.
Thank you for this. I was actually looking to convert the drop bar gravel bike to a flat bar bike. That is the Topstone in the first photo. Your advice to sell and buy what I want is a very strong argument I keep having in my head. Just not a real big sell it and move on type of guy. The biggest issue is that I like so much of the Topstones good qualities so much and don't want to look back and say what if I had done this or that. I know you, or anyone else for that matter, can not make this decision for me. I am looking more for the "you can do this or you can not do this" type of position. Trying not to have byers/sellers remorse or the equivalent after the fact. Thanks for your response.
Frank.
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Old 10-11-20, 08:16 PM
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I am a big fan of conversions. One of the reasons is that if you dislike the outcome you can always change it back. As mentioned there is a small outlay of cash for the conversion but it can be done easily. Selling both bikes means a financial hit on both which would be more than the cost of the conversion. Just doesn't make could financial sense at the juncture. Best case, you like the conversion and you sell off the Quick. I think starting from the easiest solution is prudent at this point. Good luck.
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Old 10-11-20, 08:45 PM
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The Topstone is a nice bike. Unless you have a deformity or injury there's no reason you should not be able to become comfortable/ adapt to it. Your bars are level with your saddle, a very upright position for a drop bar bike. I am your age and hampered by at least 15lbs of extra gut. I'm comfortable with several inches of saddle to bar drop. Unless it actually hurts to ride it you may want to persevere awhile. Not saying that's the best way forward, just an option.
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Old 10-11-20, 09:03 PM
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Okay .... get serious, then.

if it were me I would get geometry charts for both bikes. I would figure out exactly what dimensions---stack and reach, pedal to seat, seat post to bars ... i would figure out exactly where I wanted to sit relative to the BB, where i wanted my hands, how far I wanted to lean .... I would sketch it out (I have actually done this, I am not just talking ....)

I would set up the bike which fit best, prop it up somewhere ....I usually set up by the washer/dryer, and use a milk crate as a step, so I can have one foot on the pedals, one on the milk crate, hold myself upright with one hand, and put the other near where I want it. I mark everything, measure everything, and write it all down.

I would make a drawing, side elevation, of the frame I wanted, drawn to scale as perfectly as possible, and measure out whether I could get the contact points I needed. This actually works---I have figured out the exact stem length and angle, and number of spacers I need, by making an accurate drawing of a frame I wanted, and it built out exactly as designed, and it fit perfectly.

It is possible that the Topstone might work well with the drop bars too ... so you'd still have a back-up bike if you needed it.

The big benefit is that going from drop to flat bars is the cheaper way. Brifters--combined brake-shift levers--cost literally five times as much as flat-bar shifters. You can get all the pieces for $100. You will have to make sure the shifters have the right cable-pull---I know some Shimano stuff, the MTB shifters pull a different amount of cable per shift. I really don't know if Shimano or whoever makes flat-bar shifters which work with 105 components---but i'd be surprised if they didn't Just do your research first.

Please, if you decide to do this, keep posting here, with pics and descriptions.

Thanks.
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Old 10-12-20, 04:48 AM
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Originally Posted by shelbyfv View Post
Unless you have a deformity or injury there's no reason you should not be able to become comfortable/ adapt to it.
Spoken like a young man.

Things change as you get older. Your bars will get higher and gearing lower. Eventually, when you are one foot in a wheel chair, you may even end up on a recumbent.

Honestly, listen to your body and adapt the bike to what suits you, not the other way around.
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Old 10-12-20, 08:11 AM
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My friend, 10 years from now, when I'm 72, I hope I'm having a similar conversation which would indicate that I'm still serious about riding my bicycles. I do hope you are able to find a satisfactory solution to your concerns.
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Old 10-12-20, 08:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Helderberg View Post
Thank you for this. I was actually looking to convert the drop bar gravel bike to a flat bar bike. That is the Topstone in the first photo. Your advice to sell and buy what I want is a very strong argument I keep having in my head. Just not a real big sell it and move on type of guy. The biggest issue is that I like so much of the Topstones good qualities so much and don't want to look back and say what if I had done this or that. I know you, or anyone else for that matter, can not make this decision for me. I am looking more for the "you can do this or you can not do this" type of position. Trying not to have byers/sellers remorse or the equivalent after the fact. Thanks for your response.
Frank.
You can definitely put a flat bar on the Topstone. It's not that crazy... Specialized sells a flat-bar version of their gravel bike, the Diverge if you want to see a visual of what this is.

I'd say if you like everything else about the Topstone but prefer a flat bar handlebar position it sounds like a good solution. Certainly cheaper than selling and buying a new bike.

If you want to experiment, you could buy a flat bar and install on the Topstone, but still leave the drop bar hooked up with shifters/cables, and try it out on a trainer. This would give you a good idea of fit before going through the effort of swapping out all the shifters/cables, just to confirm that it's solving the problem you are trying to solve.

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Old 10-12-20, 10:34 AM
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Originally Posted by msu2001la View Post
You can definitely put a flat bar on the Topstone. It's not that crazy... Specialized sells a flat-bar version of their gravel bike, the Diverge if you want to see a visual of what this is.

I'd say if you like everything else about the Topstone but prefer a flat bar handlebar position it sounds like a good solution. Certainly cheaper than selling and buying a new bike.

If you want to experiment, you could buy a flat bar and install on the Topstone, but still leave the drop bar hooked up with shifters/cables, and try it out on a trainer. This would give you a good idea of fit before going through the effort of swapping out all the shifters/cables, just to confirm that it's solving the problem you are trying to solve.

I was thinking of trying something like your idea. I will see what I can do to make it happen. Thanks.
Frank.

Last edited by Helderberg; 10-21-20 at 04:22 PM.
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Old 10-12-20, 10:37 AM
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One problem with getting a new bike is that there are shortages and not a great selection.
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Old 10-12-20, 11:02 AM
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OP, as you consider converting to flats, I'd encourage you to try a Jones H-bar, if you haven't. I never liked their looks and was skeptical about the 45ļ sweep, but then I bought one. I'm 60, and the Jones has transformed my Monster Cross from the bike I only wanted to ride for an hour into the bike I can ride all day.

Also, if you haven't played with this, take a look. I've found it to be a helpful way to compare bars:

https://whatbars.com/

Last edited by Rolla; 10-12-20 at 11:14 AM.
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Old 10-12-20, 03:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Rolla View Post
OP, as you consider converting to flats, I'd encourage you to try a Jones H-bar, if you haven't. I never liked their looks and was skeptical about the 45ļ sweep, but then I bought one. I'm 60, and the Jones has transformed my Monster Cross from the bike I only wanted to ride for an hour into the bike I can ride all day.

Also, if you haven't played with this, take a look. I've found it to be a helpful way to compare bars:

https://whatbars.com/
Thank you for this. I have looked at them and other similar bars as a possible change for the Quick and not the gravel bike. What bike did you put this bar on?
Thanks, Frank.
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Old 10-12-20, 04:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Helderberg View Post
Thank you for this. I have looked at them and other similar bars as a possible change for the Quick and not the gravel bike. What bike did you put this bar on?
I put it on my Black Mountain Cycles Monster Cross, replacing a Salsa Cowchipper. Here are before-and-after photos:



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Old 10-12-20, 05:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Rolla View Post
I put it on my Black Mountain Cycles Monster Cross, replacing a Salsa Cowchipper. Here are before-and-after photos:



Nice looking bike. The new bars look good. How much of a difference did it feel like, had to be huge? How much was the overall swap out, levers, shifters, etc? I like this idea I just have to sort out what will work with the rear D, front D, or will I have to swap out everything. Thanks again for your posts and photo.
Frank.
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Old 10-12-20, 06:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Helderberg View Post
Nice looking bike. The new bars look good. How much of a difference did it feel like, had to be huge? How much was the overall swap out, levers, shifters, etc? I like this idea I just have to sort out what will work with the rear D, front D, or will I have to swap out everything. Thanks again for your posts and photo.
Frank.
Sram Apex rear shifter, VO Grand Cru short-travel brake levers, ESI xl grips, butted aluminum Jones bar, plus cables and housing. Retail would be $250 - 300. You could certainly do it for less, depending on your choices.

The fit difference is pretty profound, but the Jones barís multi hand positions open up a whole new world of options. Itís especially great off road.

Last edited by Rolla; 10-12-20 at 06:22 PM.
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Old 10-14-20, 06:03 AM
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Wrap back bars can sometimes cause knee clearance issues.

I had to go to a stem riser on my ebike for that reason,
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Old 10-14-20, 07:31 AM
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OP - With hydraulic brakes on the Topstone, the conversion won't be as easy as cable-actuated brakes. Have you tried to source the flat bar brake levers?
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Old 10-14-20, 10:02 PM
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Originally Posted by redcon1 View Post
OP - With hydraulic brakes on the Topstone, the conversion won't be as easy as cable-actuated brakes. Have you tried to source the flat bar brake levers?
I have and the biggest issue I am having is the shifters. I am trying to find out if the MTB 11 sp. shifters will work with my 105 derailleur both front and rear. I have hydro brakes on my Quick,flatbar, Sora so I know I can get them to work. I am doing a lot of research on a new bike and frame dimensions as the cost is starting to add up with the conversion. The difference between the 9 speed Quick and the 11 speed Topstone is real and I really want to stick with the 11 spd. Right now I have a lot going on in my head about what I should or can do and still be happy with the results. Be safe and I will try to decide what I am going to do in the near future. I have also played with the idea of converting the 9 spd Quick to a 11 spd bike so again, I have too much going on in my head.


Frank.

Last edited by Helderberg; 10-14-20 at 10:05 PM.
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Old 10-16-20, 05:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Helderberg View Post
I have and the biggest issue I am having is the shifters. I am trying to find out if the MTB 11 sp. shifters will work with my 105 derailleur both front and rear. I have hydro brakes on my Quick,flatbar, Sora so I know I can get them to work. I am doing a lot of research on a new bike and frame dimensions as the cost is starting to add up with the conversion. The difference between the 9 speed Quick and the 11 speed Topstone is real and I really want to stick with the 11 spd. Right now I have a lot going on in my head about what I should or can do and still be happy with the results. Be safe and I will try to decide what I am going to do in the near future. I have also played with the idea of converting the 9 spd Quick to a 11 spd bike so again, I have too much going on in my head.

Frank.
I understand. My wife has a Liv (Giant) Thrive CoMax1, Flat bar 11-speed with 105 drivetrain and hydraulic brakes. The specs list the 11-speed shifters as Shimano SL-RS700. Perhaps you can source them online. Either way, good luck. SL-RS700
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Old 10-16-20, 09:19 AM
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Originally Posted by redcon1 View Post
I understand. My wife has a Liv (Giant) Thrive CoMax1, Flat bar 11-speed with 105 drivetrain and hydraulic brakes. The specs list the 11-speed shifters as Shimano SL-RS700. Perhaps you can source them online. Either way, good luck. SL-RS700
Thanks for this.
Frank.
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