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What is it like touring with swept back handlebars?

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What is it like touring with swept back handlebars?

Old 07-27-18, 08:42 AM
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mm718
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What is it like touring with swept back handlebars?

On my local loop at least I am getting tired of drop bars. I've always liked swept back bars for shorter rides but don't know what they'd be like over 60 miles day after day. Questions:

1. How do you like touring with swept back bars?

2. Is the increased wind resistance that big of a deal over a long tour? I am normally on the hoods not in the drops even in wind.

3. I have terrible hand numbness with mtb bars will this go away with swept back bars (i.e., different wrist position).

4. Conversion considerations? Did you change your saddle or shorten your stem?
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Old 07-27-18, 08:55 AM
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Jones Loop H-bars are pretty fantastic. Extra-wide swept bars with lots of hand positions and places to mount gear. I have mine setup on my Surly ECR so that I can get in a moderately aero position for smooth straightaways and downhills.

The swept bars on their own are fine for short distances, but you really feel the resistance when riding so upright, particularly when you face a headwind.
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Old 07-27-18, 09:22 AM
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I find headwinds on my Jones to be tough. Needs to be a more aero position.
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Old 07-27-18, 09:26 AM
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Wind resistance isn't the only thing to think about. Swept back bars also make your legs work harder. And they usually offer no variety of hand positions. As for numbness, that varies from person to person. You may find they're delightful even though flat bars don't work for you. Or they may be just as bad or worse.

If you change to swept back bars, it's more likely you'll want a longer stem, not a shorter one.

With all that said, it's not a crazy idea. You have to try it. Plenty of people have toured with swept back bars.
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Old 07-27-18, 11:54 AM
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I still like drop bard for touring, but I have a bike with swept back bars. If you do it, you can get bars that you can wrap and have more positions for your hands. I got these from Rivendell for my old mountain bike. They are very comfortable.

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Old 07-27-18, 12:20 PM
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If your handlebars put you in a more upright position, you might need to change the saddle to something wider. Or you may just need to tip the nose up a bit.
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Old 07-27-18, 12:46 PM
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YMMV.. Trekking bars, Here, figure 8 bend..

a far reach and bent elbows, torso is bent over into the wind , like being in the drops..

Dutch cyclists just leaded over , forearms on the handlebars..
when they had a headwind..







...

Last edited by fietsbob; 08-01-18 at 12:40 PM.
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Old 07-27-18, 01:31 PM
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I am doing my second 4000+ mile tour now on a 120 lb bike. My bars are off a1973 CCM with grips off my 1974 Raleigh. I would not use anything else. They are a better narrower 48 to 50cm width. New ones are mostly 54.They are called comfort bars for a good reason. I have complete control of my levers. ONLY 1 hand position??? Get serious noglider.

I was just on the 84 highway doing 15 or 16 mph with just the freeway wind, when it was bloody hot yet. I put my hand on the bend lots, never taped ever.
My hands still get numb some, especially when gripping harder up hills. Still far better than mtb broom handles. Jones bars look rather monstrous to me. Yah, I hardly see anything but drops in NA.

Last edited by GamblerGORD53; 07-27-18 at 02:26 PM.
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Old 07-28-18, 09:00 AM
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Thanks, guys. Lots of good info here. I think rather than convert my touring bike I am going to put together a new bike for local sub 20 mile bike rides and try swept back bars, maybe occasionally loaded. That way I can assess the wrist issue, wind resistance, before making a big change to my touring bike.

I did ride my hybrid yesterday for a couple of hours and it felt like a whole lot more work than my touring bike but I have a hard time believing this was because of wind resistance alone--never really like the geometry on this bike so time to try something new and experiment with handlebar configurations.
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Old 07-28-18, 09:47 AM
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I'm currently using mustache bars on my touring bike. Most I've done is three days, but they were perfectly comfortable. You get a really nice upright position at the end of the bars but can still get an aggressive position for hills and wind
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Old 07-28-18, 06:56 PM
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Originally Posted by mm718 View Post
On my local loop at least I am getting tired of drop bars. I've always liked swept back bars for shorter rides but don't know what they'd be like over 60 miles day after day. Questions:

1. How do you like touring with swept back bars?

2. Is the increased wind resistance that big of a deal over a long tour? I am normally on the hoods not in the drops even in wind.

3. I have terrible hand numbness with mtb bars will this go away with swept back bars (i.e., different wrist position).

4. Conversion considerations? Did you change your saddle or shorten your stem?
1. swept back bars have been around for a long time. Just change the stem for your prefered back angle.
2. If your back angle is the same on the hoods as swept back bars wind resistance won’t be much different and will be irrelevant if you’re touring with panniers.
3. Straight mtb bars are an abomination for touring. Neutral wrist position like on tops of hoods or swept back bars are better.
4. different bars, different stem.
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Old 07-30-18, 11:42 AM
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My tourer is a mt bike. I like bars with around 20 degrees of sweep + bar ends, lots of hand options, very comfortable. If the ride is not comfortable, change it. Aero? Um, not so much.
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Old 07-30-18, 12:36 PM
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Used to run Albatross bars on my LHT. I tried to use some bar ends mounted at the bend for a while. Wasn't great. Instead I just slid some handlebar grips up to the bend. It gave me another hand positions. Slightly more aero. Not really as comfortable as the main position, but when you're biking for hours, it feels good to change your grip at times.

Now I'm running some Crazy Bars. The bullhorns resemble how I used to try and set up bar ends on the the albatross bars, but they work a little better. The main position remains the most comfortable, but the bullhorns come in handy on long rides. They're somewhat aero, or at least as much as I've found to be necessary.

I didn't convert a bike from one to the other. But I did buy my LHT knowing that I wouldn't be putting drop bars on it. I didn't worry too much about the reach, figuring the swept back bars would make the reach shorter, and they did. When you do the conversion, you will likely need a longer stem, not shorter. Remember that on drop bars, your hands are either even with the stem when you're up top, or ahead of the stem when you're in the drops. With a swept back bar, the furthest position you can grab is going to be even with the stem, but the main position will be before the stem.
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Old 07-31-18, 12:35 AM
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Old 07-31-18, 01:02 AM
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I did a two-nighter on a 3-speed with swept bars; 25 miles Friday evening, 90 miles Saturday, 60 miles Sunday. My position was darned near bolt upright. It was leisurely, comfortable, and undoubtedly slow. Hand issues I dealt with by stopping and taking a photo of something. I'd do it again.
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Old 07-31-18, 03:01 PM
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Originally Posted by mtb_addict View Post
I dunt have experience multiday touring. But I just got a Raleigh Sport...after just a few miles, I keep wanting to lean forward.

It is terribly ineffificent way to pedal!

You re just substitute one kind of pain for another.
As opposed to being hunched over for 8 hours being " aero" ? My mt bike bikepacking rigs are set up for comfort, More upright, more comfortable ( for me) I am however doing some pavement, dirt, bike path, gravel and various " condition" roads with washed out stream beds and rocks.
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Old 07-31-18, 03:55 PM
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This is the lash up I have gone to since I suffered through a tour last fall with intense wrist pain. I have all kinds of control, in traffic and off pavement, on the sweeps. And the aero bars are incredibly comfortable for me for moving down the road without wrist pain and, coincidentally, neck pain. There is a third position on the flats which is just like riding the flats on drop bars. I had thought about this setup for some time and wish I had done it a number of years ago. I tried the Crazy Bars as an intermediate solution but find this much better. A five day tour in May with these bars on a different bike sealed the deal.
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Old 08-01-18, 08:12 AM
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Thanks everyone for the photos, tips, and information. Looking forward to giving it go first locally and then maybe on a short tour.
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Old 08-01-18, 08:18 AM
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I set up my wife's bike with Casey's Crazy Bar from Velo Orange to try to give a swept back position for upright riding but also a more aero position for headwinds. It does provide those two positions, but I find there's a bit more flex in the bars than I'd like when trying to climb in the swept back position (where I usually am when I ride the bike because right now it's set up to pull my 3 year old on his bike using a follow me tandem coupler and I need the wider positioning to keep us stable).
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