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Handlebars for touring

Old 11-13-20, 08:54 AM
  #1  
TimFr
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Handlebars for touring

Tell me, what do you think are better for long-distance touring (5000 km over 3 months): straight or drop handlebars? The journey would be almost exclusively on the road.
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Old 11-13-20, 08:56 AM
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I think "straight" is a misnomer, unless you actually mean "straight" (as an arrow). I'd say that in general, I prefer flat bars over drop ones. If you do mean straight (as a simple, unbend tube), I will have the drop bars any day.
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Old 11-13-20, 08:59 AM
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Ride what you’re comfortable with, tourists bars, flat bars, drop bars.
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Old 11-13-20, 10:46 AM
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I would look at three ideas, depending on what you prefer:

Drop bars

Trekking bars

Flat bars with bar ends.

Flats with only one hand position may lead to discomfort long term.
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Old 11-13-20, 11:11 AM
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Most bike tourists in the U.S.A. seem to prefer drop bars. Advantages include multiple hand positions for long days in the saddle and at least one low position to get the rider out of the wind (panniers just have to hang out in the wind, alas!).

From what I've read, many European and "adventure" tourists (trans-Asia, trans-Africa riders, for instance) prefer so-called straight bars (though they're not really straight, as noted above). Advantages are said to include better leverage for wrestling the loaded bike over rough, rocky or sandy roads, and better visibility for heavy traffic.

A few notes. First, I've learned to check traffic from drop bars, so that's not a problem for me. Second, many Americans spend much more time outside cities than inside them while touring. Third, there's not a lot of places in Europe where the only road from town A to town B goes over 100 miles without passing another town.

What kind of road riding are you planning to do?
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Old 11-13-20, 11:23 AM
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Do you already own the bike or not? Generally a drop bar bike uses shorter top tube than a bike for more upright bars. Based on that I would say if you already own the bike, get the bars that would fit you best for the bike you have. That said, some trekking style bars might work well on a shorter top tube frame.

Where are you? Most bike touring in USA is done with drop bars. In continental Europe, flat bars are more common. UK, both. If you do not have the bike yet, maybe look around at what most others in your region are using.

I prefer drop bars, especially on a windy day with a strong headwind.
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Old 11-13-20, 11:48 AM
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It is personal preference. I have Zipp Service Course SL-70 Ergo bars on my touring bike (and a few other bikes as well). However I have a bike with Surly Moloko Bars which I really love and my next gravel/touring/yada yada bike will be using the Koga Denham bars which I really like.

For any touring bar I want multiple hand positions that is my most important factor. So a simple "flat" bar won't really do it, that is where the alt-bars come into play like the two I listed above or the drop bar as well.
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Old 11-13-20, 12:07 PM
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I have a custom "Razorbar" from Oddity Cycles. It has no upsweep, and I ordered it with a 30 degree backsweep , 1.5" rise, and 800mm wide (which I soon cut down to 705mm because it was too wide for comfort).
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Old 11-13-20, 01:51 PM
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If I could deal with straight bars I wouldn't care, but they hurt my wrists and hands. I use drop bars on my road touring bike because they give me more hand positions and are therefore easier on the wrists. I have trekking bars on my off-road touring bike (again, more hand positions). I think I may try mustache bars next.
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Old 11-13-20, 06:27 PM
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One alternative to consider might be the Jeff Jones H-loop bar.
I bought one for my bike and haven't looked back

https://youtu.be/Ndt8Di_TjJE

They won't suit everybody of course

Last edited by rifraf; 11-13-20 at 06:39 PM. Reason: clarity
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Old 11-13-20, 07:12 PM
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Both Bars

The best is a combination. Brake handles on both bars.

Both bars.

All three hand positions are usable on the drop bars .
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Old 11-13-20, 07:21 PM
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Why not just add some strategically placed "bar ends", maybe on the "wrong side" to get the same effect? You could place your brakes there and only there. You could place the bar ends on the drop bars, straight above where the brake levers on the flat bar hinges.

Something like this (but swapping the sides):

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Old 11-13-20, 07:27 PM
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I thought of bar ends but they were the wrong diameter (too small) and they would make the position of riding "on the brake hoods" unusable/uncomfortable because of the bump.
I tried many different ways and this works the best.The extra bars/lever/clamp adds just over a pound of weight.
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Old 11-13-20, 07:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Oldbill View Post
I thought of bar ends but they were the wrong diameter (too small) and they would make the position of riding "on the brake hoods" unusable/uncomfortable because of the bump.
I tried many different ways and this works the best.The extra bars/lever/clamp adds just over a pound of weight.
Ah, I see. I still feel it looks rather cumbersome, but if you're happy with the setup, that is all that matters.
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Old 11-13-20, 09:59 PM
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Get swept back bars like on Pashleys and Linus bikes.
70 degree and about 60 mm rise is best IMO, with which I have done both my tours totaling 8,100 miles. They are old chrome ones, 48 and 52 cm c/c.
My TT is 610 mm with 76 mm stem. Back positions are more important IMO. I often have my right hand on the bend, no padding required. My 1973 grips are both smooth plastic, comfortable in any temps or weather. My other old bike has a 23.5" TT. I am 5'8".
Straight bars are torture devices.

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Old 11-14-20, 07:02 AM
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Originally Posted by TimFr View Post
Tell me, what do you think are better for long-distance touring (5000 km over 3 months): straight or drop handlebars? The journey would be almost exclusively on the road.
tell us, do you own the bike already?
Have you ever toured?
What bars do you use presently? Do you ride now, ie are you new to biking? Are you 16 or 76?
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Old 11-14-20, 08:05 AM
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TimFr
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Originally Posted by djb View Post
tell us, do you own the bike already?
Have you ever toured?
What bars do you use presently? Do you ride now, ie are you new to biking? Are you 16 or 76?
I own the bike already, I have done many tours including from Rotterdam to Switzerland and back. I am 65 (does that make a difference?) I have a lightweight road bike. And no, it isn't an e-bike!!!
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Old 11-14-20, 08:35 AM
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Originally Posted by TimFr View Post
I own the bike already, I have done many tours including from Rotterdam to Switzerland and back. I am 65 (does that make a difference?) I have a lightweight road bike. And no, it isn't an e-bike!!!
Hoi hoi then Rotterdam!
As you have done touring before, you most likely have an idea of how it was for you with the bars on those trips.
Of course it will be personal, but I have pretty much come to the conclusion over the years that dropbars are still the most comfortable for me. I ride bikes with dropbars, butterfly or trekking bars, and versions of "straight bars"--they arent actually straight, I found out years ago that straight bars are not comfortable for me, my favorite "mountain bike bars" are one that have a slight angle back towards the rider where the grips are, and also are at a good height in relation to the seat. I also use "bar ends" that to me are essential to allow different hand positions. I also use those Ergon grips, with an excellent shape that helps with less pressure points.

that said, I still find dropbars to be more comfortable for continuous days of riding, and I can ride my bike day after day after week with no hand or wrist problems.
Just be aware that different dropbars have different shapes, both in the curve part, and also in how the "drops" can be angled outwards a bit, which can be a great help with a loaded touring bike for more steering leverage.
The model I use is the Salsa Cowbell, look them up, but there are many similar bars now, its all the popular thing on "gravel bikes" now, but the reality is that they suit touring perfectly, in my opinion of course.
Also, look at how diff dropbars have different angles of the "drops", mine are almost parallel to the road, and also my bars are slightly higher up compared to a road bike, so this means that I can actually use the drops easily--very handy when we have strong headwinds all day and I can often use the drops comfortably on and off.

all this is personal, but hopefully you have ridden enough to understand or appreciate my comments.
here is a photo of my touring bike, from the side so you can see the setup.
Look up Salsa, they have many dropbars and you can compare the shapes, mine have only a moderate amount of "flare", but I find them to be great.
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Old 11-14-20, 08:54 AM
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And some drop bars have more reach, will put the hoods further in front of where the bar is clamped to the stem. Thus, stem choice is in part a function of bar choice, not all drop bars are the same.
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Old 11-14-20, 01:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
And some drop bars have more reach, will put the hoods further in front of where the bar is clamped to the stem. Thus, stem choice is in part a function of bar choice, not all drop bars are the same.
yup thanks T, I forgot to mention that. On two of my dropbar bikes, the reach is short and the distance to drops is shallow. Up until X years ago, it had never occured to me. Was only when looking at a used road bike for my wife did I realize that the drops on it were rather "long" in reach, and other models could be a lot more appropriate in getting a bike to fit for her, or for anyone for that matter. Same with the drops shape, position and how far down from the tops.
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Old 11-15-20, 04:39 AM
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My drop bars also have a bit of sweep as well as shallow drops and shortish reach
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Old 11-15-20, 05:43 PM
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Thanks djb for advice, it will definitely give me something to think about.
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Old 11-15-20, 09:51 PM
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No problem, good luck trying things
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Old 11-16-20, 08:15 AM
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My Atlantis has moustache bars which I like.
I have the Denham bars on my Prospector, I like them.
Jones bars on my Jones *** horrible in a headwind**

For a touring bike you need multiple hand positions to counteract hand and wrist fatigue. You also need an aerodynamic position for headwinds.
Whichever bars can meet those criteria, and fit your bike are the ones you should use.
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Old 11-16-20, 08:26 AM
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re head winds, one advantage of flared out dropbars are that if dealing with strong head or gusty sidewinds , the added leverage makes things a little easier dealing with a heavy touring bike that is being blown here and there and having to deal with traffic or keeping off the edge of the road.

Sure, doesn't happen that often, but something I've appreciated very much each time I've had to ride through this sort of thing.

and as already mentioned, and shown by the whole gravel bike craze, wider stance drops are nice on a gravelly descent, again--especially on a heavy touring bike.
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