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Drop bars?

Old 06-29-22, 08:19 AM
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Drop bars?

Someone here a while back claimed that dropped bars for touring was a US thing and everywhere else folks toured with flat bars. I know that at best that is an exaggeration since I have seen plenty of folks from Europe and a few from Asia touring here in the US and lots of them do tour on drop bras. Maybe even the majority or possibly 50/50. I never paid that close of attention. Also the majority of european touring videos I have watched on GCN seem to show folks touring with drop bars.

So, my question is what is the deal with actual touring riders around the world in various countries wrt bar style preference? I am sure it is a mixed bag in many places.

Just wondering.
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Old 06-29-22, 08:34 AM
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I noticed when I was shopping for a touring bike last year that there are a lot of flat bar touring bikes for sale targeted at Europeans. Must be some kind of preference there.
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Old 06-29-22, 08:48 AM
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I do recall two different times I met Europeans with drop bars, one was Dutch and one was German.
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Old 06-29-22, 09:22 AM
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The level of dropbar preference probably fluctuates. The hipness of gravel bikes must have surely created a resurgence in Europe
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Old 06-29-22, 09:48 AM
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Koga Bicycles in Holland is a very popular manufacturer of city and touring bikes. Their trekking bikes are all flat bar. That is, as far as I've noticed, a popular bar for Euro built touring bikes.
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Old 06-29-22, 09:59 AM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
Someone here a while back claimed that dropped bars for touring was a US thing and everywhere else folks toured with flat bars. ....
I have not heard or said that, but I have on this forum commented that most touring bikes sold in USA are drop bar bikes, flat bar is the preference in continental Europe, UK is mixed.

I think Gauvins has toured in France, he might have more info.

I have not been to Asia, I have no clue about that. Mev might know. And Djb would know about Central America.

I have never seen any videos on GCN on touring, when did they start addressing touring? I did watch one or two on bikepacking a couple years ago but I have never seen a rack and panniers on a bike on their site.

Continental Europe, I have only spent a month there, and that was fully supported tripping where they provided the bikes, indoor lodging, etc., so do not have a lot of knowledge. But the few bikes I saw touring were all flat bar.

My Iceland trip, I saw lots of bikes from UK and continental Europe, the continental Europe bikes were all flat bar, the UK bikes were a mix. All the photos below are from my Iceland trip.

When I think touring in Continental Europe, the brands I think of are Koga and Santos.
https://www.koga.com/en/bikes/trekking/collection
https://www.santosbikes.com/nl/fietsen/travel

Two of my touring bikes are from Thorn, a UK company. That company makes frames in S sizes (for Short toptube for drop bars) and L (for Long toptube for flat bars). They also occasionally make a M (or Medium for people that want an in between frame). My Thorn Sherpa is size 610S for short top tube, 61cm, my Nomad Mk II is size 590M for medium toptube, 59 cm.

The couple in the photo below were from continental Europe, I met them on the north side of Iceland. Flat bars and ony rear panniers.



This was the bike for an Italian, we rode together for one day in the interior.



Bike below is the same bike as above.



I think this couple was from Switzerland, both Rohloffs but it was a mixed marriage, one had chain and one belt.



I am not sure where this couple was from, but the Hillberg tent makes likely a European or UK couple. Their English was not very good and I had no clue what their language was.



I do not recall where this guy was from, the yellow bike behind it is mine. With Vaude panniers, he was likely from continental Europe or UK.



These bikes belonged to a couple from Poland that camped next to me one night.



I met two Brits that had drop bars, I clearly remember one had 9 speed because he had busted his chain a couple times and was hoping he could beg some 9 speed quick links from people. One of their bikes is below, part of the other bike is off to the left.



I was sure that I had a photo of French family that I camped next to for a couple nights, but do not seem to have it. All I clearly remember is that their kid was in a two wheel trailer, and the roads had no shoulder. But they did not seem to mind using a two wheel trailer on a narrow road.
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Old 06-29-22, 11:03 AM
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Many years ago while touring in France, many touring cyclists rode rode bikes with drop bars. Flat bars became popular with mountain bikes. There aren't many French built bikes now ( Cyfac, Alex Singer etc.), and their production is small compared to the flood of Asian imports. Most of the imported touring models seem to be equipped with flat bars, so that's what people buy and ride. However you can't generalize. Any long distance cyclist can choose what is comfortable.
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Old 06-29-22, 01:53 PM
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I have bounced between the 2 over the last 20+ years. I started with drops and a normal derailleur system. Then I switched to flats when I switched to Rohloff, then found a few solutions like the Rohbox and Shiftezy and went back to drops. Then in the last 7 years, I switched back to flats because I went to the P1.18 Pinion, and I think I'm done with changing (until there is a real feasible shifter for drops, and it would still depend on the destination).
Now worldwide, I have to say the various people I've seen have been a mixed bag, but if you made me give you an answer, I'd say the majority are flats. I think it depends on the destination and type of terrain. Riding in Kashmir (Ladakh etc), the groups I ran into were 80% flats at least. I did it once in drops and the 2nd in flats.
With many paved tarmac long distance places, drops are more common. Australia, for eg,, I've found more drops, but not in Asia, like Thailand, Vietnam etc. When there are harsher conditions, I see mostly flats. in the 5 continents I've ridden in. Many of the flats I've seen have horns installed so it removes the issue of hand comfort. The EU I see more flats, Riding into Kazakhstan, Tajikistan etc, it's definitely easier with drops but I plan to redo with flats.
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Old 06-29-22, 02:28 PM
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I rode from Mongolia to Singapore and didn't see a single drop bar tourist the entire time. Everybody was on flat bars.

I did meet a guy in Thailand who had just successfully broken the around the world bicycle speed record. He rode a road bike with a support vehicle driving behind him. Not sure if that counts. Here he is: https://bicyclethailand.com/august-e...es-in-bangkok/
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Old 06-29-22, 02:58 PM
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Hate both. North Road FTW. They were widely referred to in the past as "tourist" bars.

I don't think they need to be very specific in design, but at least back-swept. Personally, I have North Roads and Albatross. I'd like to try Porteur, Bosco, Moustache, Promenade... I think at the correct height for each design, they could all work well.

Straight bars are only good for high-torque steering through rough terrain. Flipped "drop" bars are for tucking. Riding the hoods or bull bars requires a lower reach frame because the handlebars are essentially backwards. Riding the tops often trades steering torque and stability for a lower frontal area. If they're wide enough, the position is no different than straight bars.
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Old 06-29-22, 06:11 PM
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As they said in Adventure Cycling, for the 1976 Bikecentennial ride most people just rode the bike they had in the garage, i.e. a bike boom 'tenspeed' with drop bars. These were influenced by the American cycling gurus of the 1960s. Here's Fred DeLong's custom Paramount:



Back up a bit further in time, here's Frank W. Schwinn's Paramount Tourist from 1952:



My 1968 Varsity Tourist - predating the bike boom - was in the pattern of Mr. Schwinn's Paramount.
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Old 06-30-22, 04:45 AM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
... the majority of european touring videos I have watched on GCN seem to show folks touring with drop bars.
....
I could not find any touring bike videos on GCN, I recall watching a bikepacking one in Iceland a few years ago and maybe one or two other bikepacking ones.

Do you have any links for touring videos on their website?
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Old 06-30-22, 05:58 AM
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I would say that GCN (as entertaining as it is sometimes) is not the best choice to seek touring bike videos. :-)
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Old 06-30-22, 06:33 AM
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Originally Posted by PedalingWalrus View Post
I would say that GCN (as entertaining as it is sometimes) is not the best choice to seek touring bike videos. :-)
Hence my question here to get a better impression.
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Old 06-30-22, 06:44 AM
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Originally Posted by greatbasin View Post
Hate both. North Road FTW. They were widely referred to in the past as "tourist" bars.

I don't think they need to be very specific in design, but at least back-swept. Personally, I have North Roads and Albatross. I'd like to try Porteur, Bosco, Moustache, Promenade... I think at the correct height for each design, they could all work well.
For the purposes of this thread, I'd call all of those non drop bars flat bars. I think pretty much everything I have seen anyone tour on can be divided into drops or flat. I guess I would have one exception I did meet a guy who had a set of "high rise" bars that looked like they were off of one of those stingray bikes that were the craze for kids in the 60s. He had them on an otherwise "normal" touring bike. If you don't like using the term flat for North Roads, Albatross, and the like, then think drop and non-drop.
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Old 06-30-22, 07:07 AM
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I prefer the hand position on drop bars for long distance tours. However this may not be entirely obvious for people making a choice between flat bars and drop bars so in general flat bars are probably viewed as more convenient and drop bars are probably connected with frantic stressful bicycle racing

FWIW the serious tourers using flat bars are using 'flat bars' with multiple hand positions that match or exceed the hand positions of a drop bar.
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Old 06-30-22, 08:15 AM
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"FLAT" bar is the dumbest of dumb bike terms ever used. 100% USELESS too.
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Old 06-30-22, 08:17 AM
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Originally Posted by PedalingWalrus View Post
I would say that GCN (as entertaining as it is sometimes) is not the best choice to seek touring bike videos. :-)
I probably watched one of their videos a week, up to about two years ago when it was clear that they were just covering the same things with new videos for advertising revenue, it was getting dreadfully boring watching former racers trying a new gig. I have not looked at it for a few years. But when he said that he saw on GCN that they used drop bars for touring bikes in Europe, I was wondering if they started covering touring too? Did a quick look, could not find any videos that were remotely close to touring, thus my question.
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Old 06-30-22, 09:41 AM
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GCN Bikepacking playlist:
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Old 06-30-22, 10:33 AM
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Originally Posted by PedalingWalrus View Post
GCN Bikepacking playlist:...
I recall watching this one to see if they covered any of the territory that I covered. I do not know anything about youtube play lists, don't use it much. But at least this one includes enough bikepacking gear to stay indoors for one night. But I am sure that their camera crew carried the food and a lot of their other gear, their packs are quite light.

This certainly does not count in my book as typical bike touring in Europe, or typical touring bikes.
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Old 06-30-22, 11:13 AM
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CyclingAbout has some good and thoughtful videos. This one is on why he thinks that flat bars are better for most people touring.

With Crazy Bars, Corner Bars, Jones Bars and others, it is not just flat bars that are the alternative to drop bars. Oh, and then there are Bull Horns, which are like the top part of drop bars, without the drop portion.

It is a good time to be a cyclist. That is, if you have the money for trying out all these options.
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Old 06-30-22, 01:11 PM
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It's not just the hand positions. It's also the body positions.
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Old 06-30-22, 01:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Velo Mule View Post
...alternative to drop bars.
And it's not like 'drop bars' are one thing. There are all manner of variations on drop, reach, rise, flair, ergo, width and cross-section bends, plus where & how the brake and gear controls are placed.
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Old 06-30-22, 04:09 PM
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Originally Posted by GamblerGORD53 View Post
"FLAT" bar is the dumbest of dumb bike terms ever used. 100% USELESS too.
I think that it fits pretty well if looking for a term that includes everything that isn't drop bars, which I was. I am guessing you object to a term that vague.
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Old 06-30-22, 05:26 PM
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Originally Posted by PedalingWalrus View Post
BIke packing is to bike touring what rock climbing is to mountaineering. There are many similarities but I wouldn't call them identical.
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