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Fast forward seatpost to add drop bars to a mtb?

Old 01-04-21, 09:43 PM
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Fast forward seatpost to add drop bars to a mtb?

As I keep going back and forth on what type of bike to buy for the Adirondack Trail Race this year and the Great Divide next year (with any luck) I'm not finding a frame that really suits what I'm looking for outside of the Salsa Cutthroat which is outside my price range and I really don't care for carbon that much.

One thought was that a lot of the bikes that seem to be following in the Cutthroat's wake all have silly length top tubes in comparison to the Cutthroat's and what I'd really ride with a drop bar, but seem similar to my MTB's top tube. Wouldn't a thomson setback turned around or a fast forward post accomplish the difference and make drop bars reasonable? Anyone converted a modern MTB to a gravel adventure bike?

The other thing I'm considering is a Milwaukee Mettle Cross which is really a gravel bike that can take a 700x42 or a 27.5x2.1 which might be sufficient but having never done any of these kinds of rides/races I'm struggling with what I'll really need.
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Old 01-04-21, 10:31 PM
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Old school mountain bikes had shorter top tubes & narrower straight bars & longer stems than their modern day counterparts. So doing a road bar conversion to a get road bike fit was as simple as buying the right bits to put the seat & bars in the right place.

Gevenalle shifters can accomodate most any mix of road & mountain components you can think of.


20201031_133157 by Richard Mozzarella, on Flickr

You might take your most comfortable road bike & take that as your guide & account for sag when you choose the stem & set the saddle angle.

You'd probably want to shotgun a zero offset seatpost on there & base everything else off of that as road bikes have more aggressive seat tube angles than mountain bikes as a matter of convention. The saddle can be can be adjusted fore & aft easily enough. The zero offset is only to get you in the ball park. It may take a few iterations of components to get the rest right. But getting yourself proper in relation to the pedals ought to be first.

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Old 01-04-21, 11:42 PM
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Originally Posted by base2
Old school mountain bikes had shorter top tubes & narrower straight bars & longer stems than their modern day counterparts. So doing a road bar conversion to a get road bike fit was as simple as buying the right bits to put the seat & bars in the right place.

Gevenalle shifters can accomodate most any mix of road & mountain components you can think of.


20201031_133157 by Richard Mozzarella, on Flickr

You might take your most comfortable road bike & take that as your guide & account for sag when you choose the stem & set the saddle angle.

You'd probably want to shotgun a zero offset seatpost on there & base everything else off of that as road bikes have more aggressive seat tube angles than mountain bikes as a matter of convention. The saddle can be can be adjusted fore & aft easily enough. The zero offset is only to get you in the ball park. It may take a few iterations of components to get the rest right. But getting yourself proper in relation to the pedals ought to be first.
You might be right on this, I measured my 29" C-dale from the seat clamp to the center of the handlebar and it came to 68cm, both my cross and gravel bike from seat clamp to center of the bar was 66cm, the road was 65cm but I never changed the stem after switching the parts to a frame with a shorter too tube; a zero offset might get me to 67cm if not 66 but in a more upright positioning. Must be due to the difference in the head angle to the seat angle when they get to where I actually sit since the effective top tube on the mtb is 59cm and all three of the others have 54cm effective top tubes.
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Old 01-05-21, 12:00 AM
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Be sure to confirm the seat tube angle on the mountain bike as most of the ones I have owned were 73 degrees, the same as the road bikes I have owned. If you reverse the seat post, for every centimeter you will gain about a degree in effective seat tube angle putting your body more directly over the BB. This will mess with the biomechanics and possibly your knees.
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Old 01-05-21, 03:55 AM
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A few years ago I converted a 90’s Miyata mtb to dropbars. It all made sense until I took a test ride. I just laughed. Trying to lean forward while sitting sort of upright felt so weird.

Not saying it can’t work or anything, as it obviously has for others, but I would recommend keeping all the flat-bar parts, cables etc until you’re happy with the conversion.
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Old 01-05-21, 07:23 AM
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Re a more modern mtb, I'm very happy with my surly troll drop bar conversion. The top tube is longer on it than my other dropbar bike I ride regularly, so I use a fairly short stem on the troll, I think it's a 55, and to me the handling is great.
The steerer is uncut and pretty long, so I have a ton of spacers under the bars, which are about level with the seat.
I've never done an off road trip with the bike, but have ridden a lot on rough roads as well as dirt and sand, and for me it works well.

ive thought in the past of doing the divide trail, but not seriously, and am of a mixed mind if this sort of riding would be more suited to putting Jones or whatever bars on it. Very slow technical stuff would be nicer with wider bars and less forward, but a conservative drop bar setup like mine might be fine...It's a compromise for sure but lots of the divide would be fine with my dropbars as is I'm sure.

but I haven't done it yet, and also so much must depend on the rider, their age, fitness, flexibility, bike handling skills and being comfortable or less so on varying surfaces.
I "think" I'd be okay....but who knows.

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Old 01-05-21, 08:15 AM
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I read this last night and figured I was misreading, so I didnt post. But Im reading it the same this morning.
You want to 180 flip a seat post?...that just puts you in a wonky position relative to the bottom bracket. Reach shouldnt be adjusted by moving the saddle more forward. Place the saddle in a position for you to have a comfortable and efficient pedal stroke for the style of riding, and then get a bike with proper reach thru design, stem angle/length, and handlebar reach.


Would this work for the style frame/bike you want?
https://blackmtncycles.com/frames/la-cabra-frames/ https://blackmtncycles.com/tech-info...ra-frame-tech/
drop bar, fits 29x2.4 or 27.5x2.8 tires, boost thru axle, internal dropper routing, 1x/2x/3x capable, threaded bottom bracket, 3-4 bottle mounts on frame, tons of fork mounting options.
https://www.facebook.com/64983405020/posts/remember-la-cabra-that-drop-bar-mountain-bike-thing-i-teased-about-months-ago-it/10159464832710021/
https://www.instagram.com/p/B-e-pmzFLxP/


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Old 01-05-21, 09:25 AM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr
I read this last night and figured I was misreading, so I didnt post. But Im reading it the same this morning.
You want to 180 flip a seat post?...that just puts you in a wonky position relative to the bottom bracket. Reach shouldnt be adjusted by moving the saddle more forward. Place the saddle in a position for you to have a comfortable and efficient pedal stroke for the style of riding, and then get a bike with proper reach thru design, stem angle/length, and handlebar reach.
this! do not adjust reach by shoving the saddle forward. that will feel fine for a moment, and then it will suck. I don't promote KOPS (look that up) as a standard way to fit a bike, but it's a good place to start. shoving the saddle that far forward will most likely un-balance you on the bike. if you must do this because there's no other way to get the reach short enough to fit you with comfort and confidence, you have the wrong size frame for how you're trying to set it up.
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Old 01-05-21, 09:31 AM
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As noted above by others, I will add that I think it a bad idea to reverse a seatpost that way.

A couple years ago I saw that my nieces bike had the seatpost reversed when I saw her bike hanging in the garage. I mentioned that to her and asked how she could ride it that way? She thanked me for reminding her to fix that, she had not ridden that bike since her husband had set it up for a triathalon, he had added time trial handle bars and had reversed the seatpost to give it more of a time trial geometry for her triathlon. He had removed the time trial handlebars, but forgotten to reverse the seatpost when I saw it.

I can't imagine trying to ride long distance gravel with that kind of posture.
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Old 01-05-21, 09:41 AM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr
I read this last night and figured I was misreading, so I didnt post. But Im reading it the same this morning.
You want to 180 flip a seat post?...that just puts you in a wonky position relative to the bottom bracket. Reach shouldnt be adjusted by moving the saddle more forward. Place the saddle in a position for you to have a comfortable and efficient pedal stroke for the style of riding, and then get a bike with proper reach thru design, stem angle/length, and handlebar reach.


Would this work for the style frame/bike you want?
https://blackmtncycles.com/frames/la-cabra-frames/ https://blackmtncycles.com/tech-info...ra-frame-tech/
drop bar, fits 29x2.4 or 27.5x2.8 tires, boost thru axle, internal dropper routing, 1x/2x/3x capable, threaded bottom bracket, 3-4 bottle mounts on frame, tons of fork mounting options.
https://www.facebook.com/64983405020/posts/remember-la-cabra-that-drop-bar-mountain-bike-thing-i-teased-about-months-ago-it/10159464832710021/
https://www.instagram.com/p/B-e-pmzFLxP/

Looking at the geometry I'd normally say that the frame wouldn't fit, the 18" has a top tube of 58cm but I'm finding that number becomes a little more meaningless vs my road/cross/gravel bikes which all have 54cm top tubes but normal road head and seat angles. the geometry on the bike you linked to is no different then the mtb frame I'm looking at but lacking a suspension fork.

Last edited by Russ Roth; 01-05-21 at 09:46 AM.
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Old 01-05-21, 10:13 AM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr
I read this last night and figured I was misreading, so I didnt post. But Im reading it the same this morning.
You want to 180 flip a seat post?...that just puts you in a wonky position relative to the bottom bracket. Reach shouldnt be adjusted by moving the saddle more forward. Place the saddle in a position for you to have a comfortable and efficient pedal stroke for the style of riding, and then get a bike with proper reach thru design, stem angle/length, and handlebar reach.

..that's the way it works. I use a vertical laser level to set up bikes new to me, or in helping others setup their bikes. Lining up the laser line with the front of the kneecap (with crank arms parallel to the ground) with the center of the pedal spindle is the standard "reference setup" for saddle fore-aft position. It's only a (proper) reference starting point..

A friend I ride with occasionally asked me to check his knee-spindle alignment. Even though I've ridden with him many times, I never actually looked at how he had his (road) bike setup. We started the fit-check and I noticed his knee-cap was far ahead of the spindle..like a 2-3 inches..yikes. I mentioned maybe he needed a set-back post. He got off the bike and I had a look at his post..yikes again. He had a setback post but it was set-forward, shortening his reach. I asked him how it got that way..he said the bike shop where he got his bike set it up that way and he'd never thought about it since. I turned the post around and set the saddle fore-aft up to get things into alignment..as best I could. Personally, I think his frame is one size too small for him..but that's a discussion for another day.. From an endurance standpoint, he really is a reasonably good cyclist.

What I haven't mentioned thus far..the reason we got on the topic of bike setup is that in 2019(prior to our fit-check) he did the Wisconsin Horribly Hilly 100. He completed it...and has had IT band issues ever since. It ended his riding for a while. It's gotten much better in the last 18 months, but he still starts a ride out very slowly to get fully warmed up before cycling harder. He's very hesitant about re-injuring the leg. He's said, since the fit-check and adjustments, the bike feels much better. I'm still floored he didn't understand what he was riding prior to the fitting. He's very fit and a good cyclist, but not at all mechanically inclined.. I'm still scratching my head over the whole thing..
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Old 01-05-21, 10:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Russ Roth
Looking at the geometry I'd normally say that the frame wouldn't fit, the 18" has a top tube of 58cm but I'm finding that number becomes a little more meaningless vs my road/cross/gravel bikes which all have 54cm top tubes but normal road head and seat angles. the geometry on the bike you linked to is no different then the mtb frame I'm looking at but lacking a suspension fork.
What stack height and reach length are you looking for?
Im trying to envision what the bike you want looks like.

...and i need to look up that Adirondack race you mention. havent heard of it, that could pass a bit of time for sure!
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Old 01-05-21, 10:33 AM
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Originally Posted by base2
Old school mountain bikes had shorter top tubes & narrower straight bars & longer stems than their modern day counterparts. So doing a road bar conversion to a get road bike fit was as simple as buying the right bits to put the seat & bars in the right place.
That depends on what you call “old school mountain bikes”. A 1985 Miyata Ridge runner had a shorter top tube than it’s road counter parts. But by 1990, the length of the top tube grew from 560mm to 575mm for a 19.5” frame. Touring bike top tubes for the Miyata 1000 of the same age dropped from 565mm for a 1984 to 560mm for a 1990 in a 57mm size. I would consider a 1990 mountain bike to be “old school”. That’s a pretty narrow window from which to choose.
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Old 01-05-21, 12:10 PM
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A couple more data point on "old school mtn bikes"..A 1990 Trek 970, 20" (measures 19.5" actually) frame, has a eff top tube of 575mm. By 1994 and beyond the 20" 970 top tube went to 590mm. Geometry was 73/71 degrees seat tube/head tube angles..same as was used in Trek hybrids and at least the 520 touring bike..as well as the more modern Surly LHT..among many others..... Depending on the year, old school mtn bikes may or may not have shorter top tubes that allow easy drop bar cnversions.

That said..I have a 1993Trek 970 mtn bike drop bar converted to a touring bike and it's very comfortable, but you definitely need to keep tabs on the conversion with respect to where the handlebar reach is going and will end up.

As for modern mtn bikes and some sort of conversion..I rarely dive into modern bike geometries..though it appears they certainly have increased the stack as the h-bars are no longer located with severe drops from the saddle.
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Old 01-05-21, 12:31 PM
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Originally Posted by fishboat
..that's the way it works. I use a vertical laser level to set up bikes new to me, or in helping others setup their bikes. Lining up the laser line with the front of the kneecap (with crank arms parallel to the ground) with the center of the pedal spindle is the standard "reference setup" for saddle fore-aft position. It's only a (proper) reference starting point..

A friend I ride with occasionally asked me to check his knee-spindle alignment. Even though I've ridden with him many times, I never actually looked at how he had his (road) bike setup. We started the fit-check and I noticed his knee-cap was far ahead of the spindle..like a 2-3 inches..yikes. I mentioned maybe he needed a set-back post. He got off the bike and I had a look at his post..yikes again. He had a setback post but it was set-forward, shortening his reach. I asked him how it got that way..he said the bike shop where he got his bike set it up that way and he'd never thought about it since. I turned the post around and set the saddle fore-aft up to get things into alignment..as best I could. Personally, I think his frame is one size too small for him..but that's a discussion for another day.. From an endurance standpoint, he really is a reasonably good cyclist.

What I haven't mentioned thus far..the reason we got on the topic of bike setup is that in 2019(prior to our fit-check) he did the Wisconsin Horribly Hilly 100. He completed it...and has had IT band issues ever since. It ended his riding for a while. It's gotten much better in the last 18 months, but he still starts a ride out very slowly to get fully warmed up before cycling harder. He's very hesitant about re-injuring the leg. He's said, since the fit-check and adjustments, the bike feels much better. I'm still floored he didn't understand what he was riding prior to the fitting. He's very fit and a good cyclist, but not at all mechanically inclined.. I'm still scratching my head over the whole thing..
a really good example to bring up. Very early on when I began cycling and touring, I had a bike that was a bit too long for me, and instead of changing the stem (unwrapping bartape , removing brakes lever, back with quill stems) I stupidly pushed the seat all the way forward and Im sure caused some knee issues also.
I learned from that lesson, and I still see the odd bike with this done, especially with lady friends who have a bike too big for them.

very important to bring the technical reason why this is bad for your knees, and why one should never suggest turning a seatpost around!
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Old 01-05-21, 12:38 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute
That depends on what you call “old school mountain bikes”. A 1985 Miyata Ridge runner had a shorter top tube than it’s road counter parts. But by 1990, the length of the top tube grew from 560mm to 575mm for a 19.5” frame. Touring bike top tubes for the Miyata 1000 of the same age dropped from 565mm for a 1984 to 560mm for a 1990 in a 57mm size. I would consider a 1990 mountain bike to be “old school”. That’s a pretty narrow window from which to choose.
I don't disagree. I know it's purely anecdotal, but it seems that the further along the evolutionary tree mountain bikes go the larger/longer the front center gets.

There's a few ways a bike designer could make a longer front center happen. Slack headtube angle pivoted off the lower headtube/downtube junction would mean a shorter toptube/longer stem. (Many older bikes closer to the road/mountain common ancestor.)

Another way would be to move the headtube itself forward & use a shorter stem. The modern mountain bike evolved for specialization. As you noted, the bud on that branch probably started in the mid-nineties. A drop bar conversion wouldn't be a problem that couldn't be overcome with a shorter stem for many, many years. A lot of bikes up through the late 90's and even 2000's, I wouldn't think twice about. Swap the bars, shorten up the cockpit & go.

I think we both would be in agreement that a bike sufficiently along the evolutionary branch in the full sus/downhill direction would be no longer suited. On a frame with 65 degree HTA & OEM 60mm stem, how would the OP shorten it 30mm & get 50mm of rise to put the hoods in a reasonable place, for example? The steerer & handlebar diameters alone would make this impossible. Let alone impossibly steep stem angle that would be required. And for that matter, even if you could find a fix around that problem, no amount of rake is going to help with the ridiculous amount of flop. The drop bars would have to be comically wide to manage. A drop bar conversion on a bike if this kind would ride terrible in the best of conditions. At some point the rigid mountainbike/hardtail platform becomes too impossibly specialized for a drop bar conversion.

What I mean to say is: I think the OP will have his best luck with a frame whose geometry is closer to the road/mountain common ancestor, so to speak. A more general purpose frame designed around a shorter toptube, longer stem, narrower (42-46cm grip center to grip center) handlebars provides a very broad range of options.

Interestingly enough, a similar enough geometry may be found in what we call "gravel bikes," today.

On a related note: Lauf bikes have been cropping up in the local gravel group. I wonder if the short suspension travel optimized around high frequency low amplitude vibrations would meet the OP's needs...
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Old 01-07-21, 12:29 AM
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I've been chewing on this post for a while, just letting it rattle around the ol' noggin'...& I'm thinking outloud, here...

What would be wrong with a Specialized Hardtail Epic?
Aside from the price, & it being carbon, it ticks all the boxes, no? 74 seat tube angle, 70 (69.8 but, whatever) head tube angle. Longish wheel base. Front suspension. Reasonably wide tires...What's not to love?

Would a frame 1 size smaller (say, a medium with a 595 effective top tube) not make room for drop bars? I think it might.

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