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Dumb Question About Drop Bars

Old 04-06-24, 05:28 PM
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Dumb Question About Drop Bars

The wife decided to take my new Alfine8/Belt bike and the nice car, giving me the freedom to buy what bike I want. After flip flopping around Iíve settled on a Trek Checkpoint SL 6 AXS. I really want the fancy new gears and a bike that can comfortably commute and hit some light duty trails on the weekends.

Never having ridden a drop bar bike for extended periods, I am wondering if the drop bars are raised, does the top not then sit at a flat bar height leaving me with a similar posture?

And if I absolutely hate the drop bars could I convert this bike to a flat bar or am I better off selling it and purchasing the FX6?
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Old 04-06-24, 05:35 PM
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Originally Posted by MikeDeason
I am wondering if the drop bars are raised, does the top not then sit at a flat bar height leaving me with a similar posture?
Seems like that would depend on how much you raise them, doesn't it?
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Old 04-06-24, 05:39 PM
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Yes. Mostly wondering why people who complain about drop bar causing neck or back pain donít do it if you get the same posture ? The drop appears to have most of the advantages as you have a wind/aero/speed and a comfort posture
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Old 04-06-24, 06:00 PM
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Originally Posted by MikeDeason
Yes. Mostly wondering why people who complain about drop bar causing neck or back pain donít do it if you get the same posture ? The drop appears to have most of the advantages as you have a wind/aero/speed and a comfort posture
I don't really know what you are specifically asking.
Bikes come in all sorts of geometry so I don't think there is one answer to your question...assuming I do understand your question.

There is no single height for bars that are drop or flat.
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Old 04-06-24, 06:07 PM
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I guess I need just get it and ride it. 25yrs on a mountain bike hybrid flat bar and Iíve had no issues except getting low would be nice when windy.

Google search on drop bars leads to complaints about back and neck issues and people wanting to switch to flat bars. Hence the question

Another case of avoid dr. Google
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Old 04-06-24, 06:32 PM
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Itís pretty subjective - some people will be much more comfortable with drop bars, others with flat bars. And of course there are other factors like geometry, components, fitness etc. You can convert the Checkpoint to flat bars but itíll be quite costly to do so.
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Old 04-06-24, 06:36 PM
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Flexibility, core strength, fit, fitness and mileage are all factors.
I ride both for road and when not on drop bars for a few months, it will take a few rides to adjust.
Just part of my body's learning curve. I stretch more before and during a ride when on drop bars.

Last edited by CAT7RDR; 04-06-24 at 08:39 PM.
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Old 04-06-24, 06:39 PM
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1. potentially.
2. possibly.

A fitted road [drop bar] bicycle most likely will not enable those changes & retain the initial fitted geometry. Expect the comfort to go out the window once you mess with the intended design & purpose of the bicycle.
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Old 04-06-24, 07:20 PM
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Do some research on alternate drop bars, here is a few:
Ritchey Beacon drop bar, 65mm reach and shallow drop of 80mm, and 36 degree flare
Pro LTD gravel bar, 65 and 103 with 10 degree flare
Specialized Hover bar, drop bar with a raised top area

There are other alternatives. Check out velo-orange.com and somafab.com
they both have a couple interesting alternatives. I very much like the Velo-Orange Porter bar in size 23.8, not the 22.2. The larger one is for road shift/brake levers, the smaller for mountain bike shifters and levers. It is very comfortable and allows for a more upright position, while the shape offers hand positioning that allows a fairly low position for riding into the wind.
Imo, on a road bike, flat bars are too restrictive for hand positioning.
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Old 04-06-24, 07:44 PM
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I'm retired, and have ridden drop bars since getting back into group cycling almost 20 years ago.
On my newest bike, 9 years old now, I've refined the drop bars position a little, and it works great for me.

The top surface of the bars is only about an inch below the top of my saddle. For me, at this height, the drops are actually comfortable and usable. I switch back and forth between hoods and drops a lot.
The drops are more aero, of course, but also good for better control on fast downhills and on very bumpy roads. On those rough roads, the buzz and shock is spread out across my whole palm, so my hands don't get as sore.

I know some riders that rarely use the drops, only on extreme headwinds, I think. The have the "bike shop", or "racer oriented" bars quite a bit lower.
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Old 04-06-24, 08:18 PM
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On some bikes I set the bars to be low but comfortable in the drop position which guarantees the hoods and tops should be comfortable too.
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Old 04-06-24, 08:29 PM
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Originally Posted by MikeDeason

Never having ridden a drop bar bike for extended periods, I am wondering if the drop bars are raised, does the top not then sit at a flat bar height leaving me with a similar posture?
Theoretically you could put drop bars in the same position as a flat bar, depending on how high you want them. If you want them high it would help to start with a frame that has a tall stack height. This is the dimension from the center of the bottom bracket vertically to the top of the headset. Look up Trek geo charts and compare the Checkpoint to the Domane. The stack and headtube lengths are bigger numbers on the Domane.

When I was younger I set my drop bar with the top 4 inches lower than the top of the saddle. Now I set the bar less than 2 inches below the saddle.
I also use short reach, shallow drop bars on my main bike and I spent hours in the drops today.
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Old 04-06-24, 08:30 PM
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The amount of drop will depend on you. Your legs length, torso and arms for bike size and geometry. The comfort will depend on your flexibility. Go for test rides. Most Trek stores/dealers won't want you to go far but will give you plenty of time.

As for the Checkpoint I am looking too and ride a Domane and Fuel EX. The new Checkpoint has more more about 3cm more drop and 2cm reach (Has a shorter stem) than the Domane 58cm in both 56cm and 58cm sizes.. If I find this is too much I plan to get a shorter stem and change handlebars. Well already planning as I do want more rise for tis bike for lite touring and as I get older my neck is not as flexible. Redshift/Richey/Surley/Specialized have riser drop bars with less drop. Some also sweep back some and have shorter reach and drop. A professional fit would help. Some Trek shops have the equipment for a fit. Almost forgot most bikes you will see with the stem flipped down. You can flip it up for more stack unless you have an aversion for flipped up stems.

Redshift 2cm rise https://redshiftsports.com/products/...rop-bar-system
Surly 3cm rise https://www.jensonusa.com/Surly-Truc...QaArteEALw_wcB
Redshift 5 & 7 cm rise. https://redshiftsports.com/products/...ndlebar-system

I like the rise of the Redshift bars but the 25 degree flare. The Surly Truck stop is only 12 degrees.

The Domane shown below has the stem flipped up. I normally have it with the stem down.
The ALX 5 is a 58cm. The SL5 is a 56cm. More seat post than I like.
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Old 04-06-24, 08:46 PM
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drop bars don't have to be "slammed" way below the level of the seat.

personally flat bars hurt my wrists. I like bar like drops or "english 3 speed type" where the had position is natural, with palm parallel to the bike frame

that said, drop bars offer many positions for the hands and has better bio mechanics

here is my bike you can see the bars are only a little bit below the saddle (you can go lower of course it you go to the drop portion, which makes a noticeable difference in a head wind

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Old 04-06-24, 11:27 PM
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A lot of people complain about their bikes because of things they may not understand . A proper bike fit from a professional fitter who does dynamic fits means you can get your position optimized for your bike and your riding. People make silly judgements about it because they assume it is only for racers and racing is blah blah blah but in the end they are missing out greatly and playing the silly games that people play either to claim that cycling is or isn't all about racing or something silly and create false dichotomies and such.

A drop bar bicycle is for anyone who wants multiple hand positions and maybe an over all more active fit. You can derive tons of different positions depending on a ton of different factors so it doesn't always have to be some maybe ridiculous flat back professional racing position nor does it have to be some maybe ridiculous super upright +35˚ stem on top of a riser with Surly Truck Stop bars. It could be either one of those but it could also be a ton of positions in between or it could be a different style of drop bar than what it came with or something else entirely.

Most of my drop bar bikes are decidedly more upright, not bolt upright because my back usually doesn't love it totally 90˚ on like a short stem Dutch cruiser thing but I don't love a more "aggressive" position however you and your fitter can help you find that sweet spot and they can make suggestions to make you more comfortable on your ride. When I did my RetŁl fit years ago and road my main road bike that evening I felt like a rocket ship, it was the same bike with some tweaks to my set up (including new insoles and some pedal extenders to get my Q factor out a touch) but because I was more comfortable I felt faster and enjoyed the bike a lot more and once I aligned other bikes to that similar position it was life changing. It really did help out a lot and I am probably due for a new fit as I have gotten a touch older and changed my riding habits a little but I was never quite right on my road bike not uncomfortable but I just hadn't unlocked the full potential that I had with it and now it is great.
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Old 04-07-24, 01:10 AM
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My first good road bike, I immediately replaced the drop bars with bullhorns, with those angled up at about (30?) degrees and with grab-ons (dense, thick, foam handlebar padding), it was much more surface area on my hands and more comfortable than riding on the top corner of the drops, or the drops, or the brake hoods on drops. And then a year later, I put on the bullhorns, the very first Scott clip-on aero bars with extra spacers under the forearm rests, and that took pressure off my hands when needed. The bullhorns were 40 cm, I can't recall the forearm spacing of the aeros, but both are too narrow for me now. I now use a 56 cm flat bar with bar-ends (larger diameter than most), and clip-ons with much wider spacing. Not nearly as aerodynamic but more comfortable. Except for riding into the wind, the aeros are all about taking pressure off my hands, but is also my aero position if needed, and more comfortable and higher position than drops.
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Old 04-07-24, 07:30 AM
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Originally Posted by MikeDeason
Never having ridden a drop bar bike for extended periods, I am wondering if the drop bars are raised, does the top not then sit at a flat bar height leaving me with a similar posture?

And if I absolutely hate the drop bars could I convert this bike to a flat bar or am I better off selling it and purchasing the FX6?
There is a sweet spot in how near/far, how high/low and how wide/narrow the handlebars are. Exactly where that sweet spot is, is determined by many, many factors. Not the least of which is your own personal proportions and physical attributes. But also the bikes geometry & intended use.

People who complain about the comfort of drop bars simply don't know what they don't know about bike fit.

The biggest hurdle is getting your hand placement in the same place. Drop bars have about 4 additional inches you need to take into account in stem length. But they also tend to be narrower owing to the rake/trail of the steering geometry and speeds that a road bike travels. I suppose you could maybe find a 190mm stem or whatever for the same basic road bike body position and weight distribution as a roadbike but with the muscles incorporated to rotate your arm and shoulders the way they need to be for a flat bar...You'd hate it. But I really think that drop bar to flat bar conversion is probably the more challenging proposition than going the other way.

You are veering squarely into dedicated hybrid territory if you are thinking flat bars are where you'd like to go.

Last edited by base2; 04-07-24 at 07:55 AM.
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Old 04-07-24, 08:58 AM
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Good advice here. Having ridden for 70 years and now with arthritis my bars have moved a lot thanks to the unending bar shapes and especially the multitude of stems available.
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Old 04-07-24, 12:12 PM
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Another option to consider is getting the FX6 and putting bar ends on it, for comfort on longer rides.
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Old 04-07-24, 02:16 PM
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The FX6 was a close contender but I want the fancy SRAM gears and the guy I spoke to at the bike shop, without considering it much, said about 4k CND to upgrade.
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Old 04-07-24, 06:44 PM
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I just recently built up a Checkpoint frame, and when I did the test ride on one, it initially felt good in reach and over all feel. The geometry is pretty close to my Domane so I knew there would be some tweaking that would need to be made, but for the initial setup, I used my Domane numbers. As I built this up from the frame, I could pick and choose components and after 4 months, I realized that I need more length due to my funky taller middle body and short arms as I was feeling cramped. The 80mm stem that would come stock with the 54 initially felt good, but I tested both a 90mm and 100mm to make sure where I needed to be. Found the 90 was the sweet spot. It was also suggested to me to try a longer reach handlebar, but I ended that topic very quickly, I do not like long reach bars. Bontrager only makes long reach bars, so they were out. Originally I put on a pair of Zipp bars that have a 70mm reach which is what I prefer, but found the drops were too wide, so I changed the bars out for some Ritchey bars that I have been riding on a couple of other bikes and that worked out perfect. I have had this bike for about 6 months now and have pretty much dialed in the position, although, I am still tweaking saddle position\height a little here and there, but I am getting so close to finding that the correct position.

I have been riding drop bar bikes for a while and as I am about to enter my 60's, I take tweaking the position more serious now than I did in my youth as the consequences can be far more troubling. I would highly suggest finding a solid bike fitter that can give you bike recommendations based on your comfort position. Then you are not buying a bike that you are going to dump in a year due to not being comfortable on it and ditching the drop bar bikes. I did that once, and learn a fairly expensive lesson.
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