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Adapting to getting older

Old 02-27-24, 02:48 PM
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Adapting to getting older

I have gotten older, near 70, and can no longer handle the drop down bars on my roadbike. It is a bridgestone rb2 from around 1992 and i would hate to get rid of it if i could find a way to keep it. I would have to adapt it to straight mountain/rec bars to continue riding it but dont know if it possible or worth it. Any thoughts?
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Old 02-27-24, 02:57 PM
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Do you love the bike? Then yes you can and should do it. I would recommend looking at the Velo Orange Crazy Bars (v2) because it gives you a very comfortable upright position as well as some extensions so you can stretch out a little like you might on a road bike but I would also recommend a higher rise stem to get you more upright and comfortable. It is likely a quill stem knowing the time period and Grant Petersen so I would look into Innicycle which will give you the option to run a whole lot of different threadless stems giving you plenty of options.

For the bars I would add in Ergon GC-1 Grips and ESI silicone grips for the extensions (they do fit you might need to use some alcohol and an air gun to help get them on) so you get max comfort. There are a few companies who make shifter pods so you can use your downtube shifters and plenty of short pull brake levers for flat bars.

That would be about all you would really need plus cables and housing.

If you do not love the bike then that stinks as they are generally quite well regarded bikes but you could sell it and get a bike more suited to you.
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Old 02-27-24, 03:23 PM
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How much is your saddle/bar drop? I used to have 8cm until it was too low for me, now at 73 I find 3cm lets me ride comfortably for extended periods on the drops.
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Old 02-27-24, 03:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Wjulaxer13
I have gotten older, near 70, and can no longer handle the drop down bars on my roadbike. It is a bridgestone rb2 from around 1992 and i would hate to get rid of it if i could find a way to keep it. I would have to adapt it to straight mountain/rec bars to continue riding it but dont know if it possible or worth it. Any thoughts?
Get your handlebars up to a comfortable position.

1992, probably a quill stem. Get a Nitto Technomic (very tall) or Technomic Deluxe (is it now called NTC DX?...slightly less tall, but more gorgeous like their Pearl stem... look at Ben's Cycle for options and info). You can compare the available height with what you currently have and figure out what you need to get your bars up.

Maybe change the bars for ones with less reach and drop. I have several of that type, for example, the Soma HWY 1 has something like a 75mm reach and 125mm drop and it's a nice looking bar that has a comfortable bend. But there's many similar.

I'm 70 and have been able to maintain a very comfortable position on all of my road and gravel bikes by simply adjusting the position. My bars are an inch or less down from my saddle. Close, or, even with the saddle depending on the bike. I haven't had to shorten the reach though.

When I'm looking at getting a new modern frameset with a threadless headset, I look at the head tube length to make sure I can get the handlebars up with the normal acceptable spacers under the stem. With a vintage threaded headset frame, I don't worry as much because I can use a Technomic Deluxe to get the bars up and it looks great.

You might also, try some new brake levers (I'm assuming you don't have brake/shift levers?). Some of the current brake lever options are much more comfortable than vintage ones for riding on the hoods with modern bars.

I would try that stuff first as it would be relatively cheap-ish and still give you the position options of drop bars.

Last edited by Camilo; 02-27-24 at 03:40 PM.
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Old 02-27-24, 03:32 PM
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Precisely what do you mean by ‘cannot handle’? I am pushing your age and am not having issues after I pursued core strengthening and free weight exercises.
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Old 02-27-24, 04:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Wjulaxer13
I have gotten older, near 70, and can no longer handle the drop down bars on my roadbike. It is a bridgestone rb2 from around 1992 and i would hate to get rid of it if i could find a way to keep it. I would have to adapt it to straight mountain/rec bars to continue riding it but dont know if it possible or worth it. Any thoughts?
If the issue is simply the saddle-to-bar drop, I would find a way to raise your handlebar rather then switch to a straight bar - a drop bar is still more comfortable with variable hand positions etc. IMO a straight bar isn't great for any prolonged riding - I have a straight bar on my about-town single-speed runabout - that's as much as I can stand.
If you can find a way to do some yoga, I found that it greatly improved my flexibility and core strength, enabling me to get more comfortable down on the drops.
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Old 02-27-24, 05:22 PM
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I'm such a roadie snob at heart, I don't think I'll ever stop riding drop bars even if I completely stop using the drops. I'm already at about 75% hoods, 20% tops, 5% drops with the bar maybe an inch lower than the saddle.
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Old 02-27-24, 05:42 PM
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If you like the bike, it is a pretty easy conversion. Part of your decision should consider tire size. If you can only run a max of 25c tires, you need to decide if that is enough going forward. I converted an '86 Cannondale SR that was not getting a lot of use as a second drop bar bike. It is pretty easy and not expensive. Plus it gives you an idea of what you want going forward without investing in a new bike.

Not everyone can ride in the drops. I'm 72 and feel fortunate to be able to. But that has little to do with anyone else. Flat bars are more stable. The bike will turn easier, if not quicker.

With a threaded headset you can either use a Nitto quill technomic or use a stem adapter. I opted for the latter so I could use a 1-1/8" flip flop threadless stem. Soma has a High Rider if you really need height without high riser bars.

Depending on your setup and what you want in the future, you can make drivetrain changes, crank, freehub, wheels, derailleurs. If you are doing this with the least expense you can stick with the original Exage drivetrain.

I went with a right (rear) trigger shifter and a left (old Suntour Xcd4050) friction thumb shifter (mtb left trigger shifters are not compatible with road FD's). They are mounted on a 600mm low riser mtb bar. I used a pair of Dia Compe cantilever brake levers and the existing road brake calipers.

The only hard component to find might be a decent 7 speed trigger shifter.; but Altus M-315 looks like it will fit the bill.

You can pick what components you want. This is just what I did.

John

Edit added: I got most of my parts off eBay, but if there is a co-op close by you might find what you need for less.

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Old 02-27-24, 05:58 PM
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Originally Posted by rsbob
Precisely what do you mean by ‘cannot handle’? I am pushing your age and am not having issues after I pursued core strengthening and free weight exercises.
Same for me, minus the core workout and free weights.

In fact, I have lowered my bars in the last few years. I can ride in the "aero" position for as long as I want, with no discomfort.

The only age-related adaptation I have made is to do easy rides more often. No more leg smasher rides on consecutive days.
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Old 02-27-24, 06:53 PM
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You can put the top of drop bars in the same position you would put flat bars and just stay out of the drops most of the time. You can also get short reach shallow drop bars.
Here is a touring bike which I raised the bar 3+ inches with a Nitto stem. It still has deep drops but those could be replaced, too.
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Old 02-27-24, 07:09 PM
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I'm with the other posters, get a tall stem and enjoy your old bike. I also like randonneur style handlebars as they flare up a bit from the stem.
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Old 02-27-24, 07:41 PM
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Don’t get rid of a bike you love. Many stories of regret for selling loved bikes.
A tall stem and new cables and housing should be the cheapest and easiest way to adapt your bike to your changing body. A flat bar conversion is more complicated but possible. I’ve done it and found it to be quite acceptable for long distances with stubby bar ends.
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Old 02-27-24, 08:14 PM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse
Same for me, minus the core workout and free weights.

In fact, I have lowered my bars in the last few years. I can ride in the "aero" position for as long as I want, with no discomfort.

The only age-related adaptation I have made is to do easy rides more often. No more leg smasher rides on consecutive days.
Ditto (75)
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Old 02-27-24, 08:28 PM
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I am 69 and still spend about 80% of my time in the drops. However , I can no longer handle a steep drop from saddle to stem height. My most comfy long ride bikes are about an inch drop. I ride vintage race type bikes because of the shorter top tube which brings the cockpit closer . I think it depends a lot on your waist to shoulder measurement in relation to your overall height. I think if you play with different upright handlebars you will find a comfy riding position for your road bike. Seat position , fore and aft , and angle also make a difference.

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Old 02-27-24, 08:41 PM
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78 and recently went back to slightly lower bars, though just a few cm below my saddle I stretch, plank, and do pushups every morning, go to the gym twice a week, and ride indoors mostly here in the PNW winter. So far, so good. I've been on pretty much this same routine for many years. OTOH, all I have to do is have some little thing happen that keeps me from exercising for a week or so, and boy oh boy, do I notice it. Consistency is everything. I also do a fair bit of walking, which helps work the core stuff that the bike doesn't.
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Old 02-28-24, 02:20 AM
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I am 71 and can no longer ride with traditionally shaped dropped bars. I have gone to a couple different handlebars, with one still being a drop bar, the Ritchey Beacon bar, 80mm drop, 65mm reach and 36 degree flare. The other bar I am using is the Velo-Orange Porteur bar. This is shaped a bit like a mustache bar, but narrower and less curvature, and a 15mm drop, or rise. Keeping my neck and shoulders in a more neutral position equals comfortable riding for long rides. I cannot get as aerodynamic, but that is a small sacrifice for the level of comfort it provides me. I was skeptical of the Beacon bar due to the wide flare. It took very little time to get use to it, and I was a bit surprised at how much I like it. Also, Pro has the PLT drop bar, more traditional look with 103 drop, 65mm reach and only a 10 degree flare. It works well, but I cannot stay on the drops for as long as on the Beacon bar
Another thing that has helped me, I stop more often to get off the bike for a couple of minutes just to give my neck and shoulders a break and a bit of easy stretching, and to just enjoy the view. I probably average a stop per hour, affected by how I am riding and how strong a head wind is.



Ritchey Beacon bar.

V-O Porteur Bar
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Old 02-28-24, 03:03 AM
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Before you go down that route, just be sure that you're going to be more comfortable. I know it seems logical, but as someone who's ridden drop bars all my life (I'm 67 now) I find straight bars cause me pain in my wrists. I love mountain biking, but I definitely couldn't do the hours in the saddle that I do on my road bike. I think the suggestions about raising the bars with a suitable stem are a good place to start.
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Old 02-28-24, 05:06 AM
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I had to go up 2 frame sizes from my old race bike. 56cm to 60cm. Stem is a 90 instead of a 110. Also changed the beautiful Nitto drop bar to a Dimension drop bar that has a shorter reach and is not round on the tops, but flattish for a broader and more comfortable platform for the palms to rest on.
Never used the drops when racing unless in a full tuck going down hill, still don't use the drops. Instead of a Pearl stem used on the old race bike I use a Technomics tall stem typically seen on touring bikes.
The old race bike was a Miyata Team model, the replacement is my brother's Raleigh Professional. Used 28mm tires up to 2 years ago and now use 25mm tires.
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Old 02-28-24, 06:54 AM
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Originally Posted by TiHabanero
I had to go up 2 frame sizes from my old race bike. 56cm to 60cm. [snip]
Could you explain that please ?

I'm on 22" (56cm) and was thinking about trying 58cm, but when a 60s Cyclone came along on Ebay it was 56cm.
I've got a vague memory I used to ride a larger frame 40 years back (now 65) the receipt from 40 years back looks like 25" but is almost certainly 23".
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Old 02-28-24, 08:07 AM
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I won't change my road bike. When I get to that point, it will be time for my first N+1. New bike with wider tires, flat bars and more upright riding position. Hell, maybe even disc brakes!

The Cinelli stays as-is.

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Old 02-28-24, 08:20 AM
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Joining a yoga class can be an excellent way to maintain flexibility as we age.
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Old 02-28-24, 08:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Aardwolf
Could you explain that please ?

I'm on 22" (56cm) and was thinking about trying 58cm, but when a 60s Cyclone came along on Ebay it was 56cm.
I've got a vague memory I used to ride a larger frame 40 years back (now 65) the receipt from 40 years back looks like 25" but is almost certainly 23".
An advantage to a larger frame can be a taller head tube so you can set the bar higher without a ton of spacers. This is provided the steer tube hasn't been cut too short on a threadless system.
If you're looking at bikes with a quill stem you can get a tall stem as pictured in my earlier post. Regardless, the geometry of the frame may be quite different from one bike to the next. Just because it's called a "56" or whatever size doesn't mean it will fit like other 56s.
Here is my Seven. It has an uncut steer tube (threadless) with short reach shallow drop bars and a 90mm stem. The (virtual) seat tube measures 65cm but the top tube is only 57. It's custom geometry. By contrast I had a 63cm Cannondale CAAD5 and the top tube was 60cm.

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Old 02-28-24, 08:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Wjulaxer13
I have gotten older, near 70, and can no longer handle the drop down bars on my roadbike. It is a bridgestone rb2 from around 1992 and i would hate to get rid of it if i could find a way to keep it. I would have to adapt it to straight mountain/rec bars to continue riding it but dont know if it possible or worth it. Any thoughts?
Going to a more-upright riding position is certainly achievable. There's a sub-forum area focusing on exactly this question ... with MTB's, but there are numerous examples discussed on what people have done go "go upright": Vintage MTB to Upright / Urban Bike Conversions.

Myself, I've never much enjoyed the "drop bar" riding position. Back in the '70s and '80s I primarily rode a Schwinn LeTour and found it modestly uncomfortable. Since then, I've done flat-bar or upright-bar bikes, solely. Current bike is a 1996 Trek 970 MTB converted to upright, with a taller fork and steering tube, more-upright stem, riser/swept bars, along with a decent sprung Brooks leather saddle. Works nicely, for me. In my case, it took having a frame size somewhat shorter than "the specs" suggest for a person of my height, but it works due to my preferred riding position and shorter legs.

The big question is, of course: how much of a change, on a given bike? Hard to tell, without knowing the specific fit and its quality of match to your body, athleticism and preference. Might be possible to keep adjustments within the fork/stem/bar area, on your current ride. If the bike was designed around a drop-bar setup, it might or might not create a change in balance that'll be quite different. Likely fine, but worth checking it out. Determine where your hands would need to be (roughly) for a more-or-less comfortable riding position, then estimate what bar, stem and/or fork/steerer changes you'd need to alter the hand positions. Might also impact seat comfort, which might necessitate a seat that's purposely designed for a more-upright position.

If you've got a good bike shop nearby that also does competent "fits" for customers, you might consider asking some questions on what to look for. They might be quite helpful.
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Old 02-28-24, 09:16 AM
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At 73 what keeps my milage up after a few years of experimentation is similar to the efforts of 70sSanO and Delbiker1, with the addition of also being happy with shorter crank lengths, 175 and 172.5 dropping to 165mm. What is sad is I can not bear to modify my Italians. You can start slow with stems and 120mm drop bars and see how it goes. This is how I started years ago with my first modification that was one of many that helped, just the Specialized bar turned upside down and chopped off like a mustache bar with a short stem, then how awkward my vintage customs look now tall stems and the last a 120mm bar drop with stem replacement.


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Old 02-28-24, 09:29 AM
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Among my geezer riding buddies, going to a lower drop bar as we aged is more common than raising the bar. Me too. This as a result of beginning to experience back pain. Why? My guess is that a more horizontal back is subjected to lower compression loads and higher flex loads, which latter are helpful. That said, these geezers ride a lot, which probably makes a difference. Going to a larger frame might be helpful in that it'll stretch a person out a bit more. Might depend of whether or not one currently has a slammed and flat stem. I've always like plenty of stretch. Seems easier on my arms and hands.
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