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Trekking bars for touring?

Old 04-01-09, 03:15 PM
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Trekking bars for touring?

I'm going to build up a rigid mountain bike frame into an expedition touring bike for the rough roads up here in alaska, and I'm wondering if anyone has used trekking style bars for extended touring. I'm looking at the ones from nash bar (https://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product..._200303_200388). how would the compare with traditional drop bars?
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Old 04-01-09, 03:30 PM
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There are lots of threads on here about them if you search with some people for and some against This board is quite US centric and it seems that old style 700 wheeled tour bikes with drops are more popular. I think that trekking bars are probably more popular in Europe.

If you are planning on touring on really rough stuff perhaps even straight bars and a bike with front suspension? I think a lot of people doing off road touring go for a hard tail and trailer.
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Old 04-01-09, 03:33 PM
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Tried 'em, went back to drop bars, YMMV.
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Old 04-01-09, 03:46 PM
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Trekking bars are pretty similar to drops, in that you get numerous hand positions.

The main reason to use trekking bars is that converting flat bars to drops can be pricey and kind of a pain in the tuchas. You need to procure bars, bar tape, brake levers, shifters, probably a new stem, and possibly travel agents for the brakes. If you're going from flat bars to trekking bars, you need the bars and possibly bar tape, and you're done.

One thing about trekking bars is that they tend to produce a more upright position than drops. That may or may not suit you.
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Old 04-01-09, 04:00 PM
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A whole bunch of people on here use trekking bars for touring, including myself. I use them on all my bikes and love it. I have two sets of nashbar ones I got on sale for $13 each. The tricky part is finding the right angle/bar position that works for you, which took me a bit of trial and error. Here's a diagram with explanations I posted on a thread a few weeks ago asking about them:


Image A: I have mine with the "butterfly wings bowing downward, and tilted about 10 degrees(back to front).

Image B: Using Ergon grips elimated all my wrist pain after extended leaning on bars. Bar tape is a must around the rest of the bars.


The most comfortable positions for me are

1: Using the ergon grips (gives me extended comfort in cities when I need to keep my hands near brakes)
2: Wrapping my hands around the two sharpest curves closest to me (I find myself using this position the most for long distances, which feels most natural and is the most similar to gripping hoods)

When out of saddle or climbing I use:

3: grabbing the upward tilting bar end-like part(especially when climbing)

And when it's flat or downhill and I feel like tucking in I use these positions:

4: grabbing the curve farthest from me(palm facing down)
5: grabbing curve closest to stem (palm facing up), which is similar to grabbing aeros.

I did have to play around with the angle and position of my trekking bars and the ergon grips to get it just right though, but once I found the right position I was very happy with my multitude of positions. If you try setting up your trekking bars I'd suggest to adjust the tilt based on what feels most natural in your saddle using position 2. I find that distributing your weight evenly on your palms is key.

Of course, this is just one way to set up trekking bars. Some people set them up (in relation to mine) upside-down, backwards, or both. I saw someone with clip-on aero bars on his backwards installed trekking bars and someone else with clip-on mtb bar-ends mounted on the bars where I put my hands in position 5 to act like aero bars (I might try the ladder eventually). The great thing about trekking bars is their versatility: They're like combo mustache/flat bars, and if you play around enough you can find a position that works for you. It took me months to discover position 2 (the most comfortable to me) and position 5. Ergons were a godsend. If you get drops, ergons arn't an option, but if you stay with flats or trekking, I'd reccomend ergons with the built in bar ends no matter what.
Also, I just discovered this video of the 2009 Novara Safari bike which comes with trekking bars stock. In the video you can see one way they can be used.

Last edited by thehum; 04-01-09 at 04:06 PM.
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Old 04-02-09, 11:11 AM
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I tried them for about 5 minutes, then removed them and went back to drops. I think in general the angle of one's arms should be approx perpendicular to your back, so you don't have to engage your pech/shoulder muscles to hold yourself up. With trekking bars, I didn't like the forward hand position. My arms were way out of perpendicular, perhaps a great workout for your upper pechs (like lifting weights on an incline bench), but for the long haul, no way.
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Old 04-02-09, 05:51 PM
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If you use mirrors, try either the Zefal SPY or the Ultralight from Ortlieb. These work well on trekking bars. If you get the Nashbar set, order the gel pads for under the bar tape. You might want 2 sets or gel pads to cover the entire bar
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Old 04-02-09, 06:55 PM
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Originally Posted by bokes
I tried them for about 5 minutes, then removed them and went back to drops. I think in general the angle of one's arms should be approx perpendicular to your back, so you don't have to engage your pech/shoulder muscles to hold yourself up. With trekking bars, I didn't like the forward hand position. My arms were way out of perpendicular, perhaps a great workout for your upper pechs (like lifting weights on an incline bench), but for the long haul, no way.
This has far more to do with the length of the effective top tube and stem and not with the nature of the bar itself.
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Old 04-02-09, 08:39 PM
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After trying a trekking bar, this was my take on them. With drop bars, the bike should be sized for your hands to be comfortable on the hoods for extended periods. Same thing with flat bars. If the bike is sized correctly, your hand should be comfortable on the grips. Trekking bars don't have that one spot on the bar that you can be sized to in terms of reach. A trekking bar seems to split the difference by placing half of the bar in front and the other half behind where a flat bar would be or where a flat bar would be clamped to the stem. I think the reason they have to give you so many positions is because none of them will give you that dialed in feel like the hoods, for example, and you have to keep moving your hands to stay comfortable. Having said that, I am glad they work for some people.
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Old 04-03-09, 12:38 AM
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They also make large double sided bar ends for a straight bar, making a large H shape bar. I have yet to see where you can buy these, but you could also just put two regular bar ends on each end. The guy I saw with them seemed to like them. : )
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Old 04-03-09, 04:10 AM
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Interesting and informative reply. How do you find using the different positions where you are not on the brake levers? I have a bike with drops and I am thinking of swapping to treking bars for various reasons. I don't find drops very comfortable, I don't like riding on the hoods much,the flats are very close together and I can't see myself using the drop part for very long. The only semi comfortable position is a bit back from the hoods and the corners. One thing I do like about them is that, with interrupter levers on the flats, there are three positions with access to the brakes. On trekking bars there is only one and I have heard people complain that the brake position is quite narrow compared to flat bars. Do you ever have problems moving to the brakes from one of the other positions?

I have never seen anyone do it but I did wonder whether it was possible to put normal levers upside down on the sides of the trekking bars and then interrupters on the normal brake position.

Originally Posted by thehum
A whole bunch of people on here use trekking bars for touring, including myself. I use them on all my bikes and love it. I have two sets of nashbar ones I got on sale for $13 each. The tricky part is finding the right angle/bar position that works for you, which took me a bit of trial and error. Here's a diagram with explanations I posted on a thread a few weeks ago asking about them:



Also, I just discovered this video of the 2009 Novara Safari bike which comes with trekking bars stock. In the video you can see one way they can be used.
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Old 04-03-09, 03:17 PM
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i have a set, and i've tried them on various bikes. i think they make the most sense on a mtb that won't see serious offroading.

on road/touring bikes, they are sort of wide and ugly. plus you got your levers, etc to worry about.

on mtb, they just don't give you the control you need for going nuts. however, they work perfectly on a bike like the novara safari (probably why they come with them).

they are cheap and might be a fun alternative for a while...
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Old 04-03-09, 03:21 PM
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Trekking bars on touring bikes appear to be much more popular in Europe - based on bike makers' websites, photos I've seen, etc. Some bike makers don't even appear to show drop bars on their "serious" expedition touring bikes. Look at German , Dutch, British bike-maker websites.

If true - How can trekking bars be so much more comfortable for European tourists than North Americans?

Or is it really fashion? (Europeans are used to trekking bars, Americans used to drop bars?)

(Disclosure: I have trekking bars on one of my bikes and don't love them. It was a cheap way to get extra hand positions on a mountain bike that I converted to a commuting bike that I may tour on some day. But if I ever seriously tour on this bike I'll convert to drop bars. )

Last edited by BengeBoy; 04-03-09 at 05:52 PM.
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Old 04-03-09, 05:34 PM
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I had trekking bars on my bike and I switched to drops and I think they are more comfortable.



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Old 04-04-09, 11:34 AM
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I have an '08 Safari with trekking bars and I have to admit that I really love the bike and the bars.

I get nervous with my purchase sometimes because there are sooo many people who don't like the bike or the bars but each ride brings me assurance of my purchase.

Today on my ride out to the suburbs I attempted the 5th hand position listed above and I do agree that it gives you nearly the same position of being on the hoods of drop bars. It is not spot on but it is comfortable for a few miles but eventually tests your forearm muscles.

I do not think I will throw Tbars on every bike I ever own, I do hope to return to drops with my next bike. Here is a picture of my set up. It has changed a bit since this picture but it is just another example of how to setup the Tbars.
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Old 04-04-09, 11:59 AM
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I have the trekking bars on my bike and love it. I started out on our last trip with standard mountain bike bars and develeped major problems with my hands - which almost caused us to give up the tour. I switched the bars over to the trekking bars and my hand problems went away. Now I am using them again and I love them. So far, we┤ve ridden almost 8000 miles on this trip and ═┤m sure I┤ll be good for the next 12,000 we┤re planning.

I haven┤t used drops for a long time, so I can┤t compare the trekking style with drops - but I can sing the praises of trekking bars!
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Old 04-04-09, 03:56 PM
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Originally Posted by GTPowers
I have an '08 Safari with trekking bars and I have to admit that I really love the bike and the bars.

I get nervous with my purchase sometimes because there are sooo many people who don't like the bike or the bars but each ride brings me assurance of my purchase.

Today on my ride out to the suburbs I attempted the 5th hand position listed above and I do agree that it gives you nearly the same position of being on the hoods of drop bars. It is not spot on but it is comfortable for a few miles but eventually tests your forearm muscles.

I do not think I will throw Tbars on every bike I ever own, I do hope to return to drops with my next bike. Here is a picture of my set up. It has changed a bit since this picture but it is just another example of how to setup the Tbars.
This is the exact bike I have as well. What I am finding is to adjust the bars in very small increments. Just today, I, "rolled" the near part of the bars upwards about 1/2 inch. It had a major impact on my arms. Earlier I was stretched and now I have a bit of a natural bend at the elbows, a result I was looking for.
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