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Old 11-05-12, 05:19 AM   #1
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I rode drop bars again for the first time in 6 years

I had drop bars on a bike a few years back. Did not like them at all. Narrow and I suspect the reach was way too much (joe LBS sixpack can't deal with my long legs and short arms). I hated brake/shfiting on the hoods, and the drops were all but unusable.

...and I have to admit, they were nice. I felt, low, confident, and like I could generate a lot of power out of that position.

I still think the hoods are incredibly awkward though.

Makes me want to get a drop bar bike. Something where the primary hand position is the drops, not the tops or hoods or anywhere else stupid like that.
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Old 11-05-12, 07:53 AM   #2
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Long legs and short arms and standard bike fitting sometimes don’t all go together. Like you I had a love hate relationship with drop bars. That was until I finally started thinking about what I wanted out of a setup and experimenting on my own.

Long legs will normally start getting you into larger frame good for saddle position and keeping the stem at a reasonable height but also will give you a longer top tube thus longer reach and not so good for shorter arms. Fight the urge to move the saddle forward as that leaves the crank behind from being in the correct position and that will cause a forward weight shift taking weight off the butt and legs and shifting to the arms.

If you go with a smaller frame and longer seat post to help compensate for the top tube you then end up with a very aggressive ride position because the stem will set lower. Getting a longer and shorter reach stem maybe with some angle upward is where you have to make some adjustments for the reach. You can also move the hoods up or down on the hooks of the bars.

I like drop bars for the variety of hand positions and wrist angles. I had my bike set up for a few years much like you said you might like to try. I had my bars rather high based around what is the “norm” and then I shifted the brifters very low so that my main ride position was on the drops and shifting was quite easy on the drops and was impossible anyplace else. I added something called cross brake levers to the tops and also something called stoker hoods to provide a hood for riding more upright. Because my drops were high I lost a little bit of the aero position but for me if I wanted to duck the wind for a bit I could bend elbows. I was very comfortable riding that way and got lots of looks and comments about did I know my bike was way out of wack.

This year I went back to a little more conventional setup riding more on the hoods, and this time I moved the hoods higher than what is thought the norm and dropped the bars more and now my main shifting location is the hoods and with them up a little it made that better for my smaller hands. My drops being lower are an improvement aero wise, and I can still get a couple fingers on the levers to stop.

My point is you are not alone with a normal fitting not feeling ideal. An adjustable stem is a great investment to help you play with your setup and if you don’t want to leave it you can get what works and then copy the height and angle in a fixed stem. Ride around a lot without taping the bars so you can try different hood heights. I wrap the bars with old tape or a section of an old inner tube during testing. Put a few hundred miles on before you finalize the setup to know what you want. Just make sure you start with the correct saddle height and position front to back. And before that you need to think about frame size that will allow for the adjustments.

Last edited by bud16415; 11-05-12 at 09:04 AM.
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Old 11-05-12, 12:04 PM   #3
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I used to be so confused about how people could ride the hoods years ago when my ancient Schwinn 10speed had brake extenders on the tops. It seemed like there was no way you'd have any leverage on the brakes if you weren't on the tops or in the drops. Now though, I got a new Allez, and the hoods are super comfortable with shifting and plenty of brake available right at my fingertips. I would say if you didn't like the drops previously it could be a bad interface with the bike. I really dig the Shimano 2300's on my new Allez, and the LBS has said they are really impressed with the 2300's as well.
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Old 11-06-12, 09:01 AM   #4
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Size your bike based on your torso and reach dimensions, and not on your legs. Make certain that the top tube + stem reach = your comfortable zone. Longer legs can give the illusion that a larger frame is warranted. In your case, it's not. Have the LBS take the time to set the bike on a trainer so that you ride as they adjust, before every leaving the shop for a test ride outside. Good luck.
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Old 11-06-12, 10:15 AM   #5
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You may want to try a bike with bar end shifters,
this way your controls are easily reached from the drops.
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