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Help converting my drop bars to Bullhorns/Aero bars for a speed touring rig?

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Help converting my drop bars to Bullhorns/Aero bars for a speed touring rig?

Old 07-03-13, 05:32 PM
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Help converting my drop bars to Bullhorns/Aero bars for a speed touring rig?

Hi All,

I like moving fast. I would love a time trial setup on my touring bike, as these are the hand positions I'm using anyways. Why keep drops if I'm never on the drops?

I'm looking for that kind of experienced, mechanically-minded help that comes with someone giving up 10 minutes of their day. My question is long and complex. I've been dying to do this for a year, but the technical hurdles are keeping me from pulling the trigger.

What I have now:

2011 Raleigh Port Townsend with drop bars. Bar-End shifters on the drops, hoods and brakes on the top of the drops, and basic clip-on brake levers near the stem for an additional hand position. Very normal.

What I want:

Bullhorn Bars, Aero Bars, bar-end brakes on the bullhorns and bar-end shifters on the aeros. No additional brakes.

I'm on the 'bullhorn' section of my drops 90% of the time. Cutting out the drop bar part and putting brakes on the ends of bullhorns would be much more comfortable for my riding style.
How much should I budget to do this right? Can I order everything I need online and do it myself, or will my cable lengths all be different? I've never done a handlebar rig before so I don't know anything about routing cables. I am not afraid to have my local shop do it for me, but I would like to order my own parts.
I also want to make sure I get good quality bars, aerobars, and brake levers (I assume I can reuse my current bar-end shifters) but I don't want to break the bank. I would love to do it for something like $150 but I could spend more if I needed to.

One caveat: I need room for a light and computer.

Any advice?

Last edited by mdilthey; 07-03-13 at 05:40 PM.
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Old 07-03-13, 05:46 PM
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One just doesn't see this. Maybe every once in a while I'll see a tri-geek on one, but it's rare. So when that happens, I usually figure there's a reason. I think the reason is that most folks prefer to mostly ride with their hands on their brakes. Thus drop bars with nice hoods are the choice for 90% of the time because they offer several hand comfortable hand positions with the fingers either on or very close to the brakes. Bullhorns only have one hand position.

I think the most sensible thing might be to get a set of levers that offer you comfortable hood positions and put on a set of clip-on aero bars to add a brakeless rest position. Another possibility is that if you never ride the drops, maybe a bar with a shorter drop or raise the bars up, with or without clip-ons.
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Old 07-03-13, 06:08 PM
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Don't ruin a good set of drop bars to try out your experiment. You'll need them when you put everything back the way they were.

Buy a set of bullhorns, the aero bars of your choice and a compatable set of brake levers. You'll probably need new cabling as well. Figure out what you need and maybe doublecheck at your LBS. Then do it yourself. The light and computer end up somewhere on the aerobars because there is no room on the bullhorns.

Having said this, be advised that I have tried this experiment and rate it as a total failure. You have exactly two positions for your hands and one of them has you flopped over as a glorified time trialer. I've never seen a time trialer pulling a trailer or hauling panniers. Aero bars are twitchy at best and ridiculous when carrying even a modest load.

Fast touring is done on lightly loaded bikes with drop bars. Leaving the hoods and going to the drops gives me a couple of kms speed increase just for the change of position. My Cannondale T1 is setup to be comfortable riding in all positions.

Best of luck on whatever you decide. Just a final tip. Look for used parts. They are around and a bit cheaper. You definitely won't be the first to try this experiment and definitely won't be the last. AL
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Old 07-03-13, 06:20 PM
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mdilthey, Unusual yes, but if you have an itch you need to scratch it.

Brad
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Old 07-03-13, 11:17 PM
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Brad, I suspect you're right.

I did my 2012 tour with 8lbs of gear, self-supported, for 1,500 miles. I don't carry a lot of weight (I'm like 160lbs myself).

So, theoretically the aerobars position isn't too twitchy for me and will actually be a comfortable flat-ground position to be in.


The only reason I came up with this whole idea was because I spent so much damn time on the "bullhorn" position of my drop bars. I'm seriously there 90% of the day. I'm there when climbing, and I'm there when I'm at a stoplight... I'm always there. If I get bullhorns, I can mount bar-end brakes to them and then actually have brakes at my fingertips, which right now I do not. I think my frame is an inch too big for me and that's why hoods isn't so natural, but I'm in love with the frame and it's seen 5,000 miles with me, a kitschy bar position that WORKS for me specifically is a small price to pay, I guess.

There's a good possibility that bullhorns alone scratches my itch, but then I have the issue of needing to put shifters somewhere, and I don't think top tube shifters is a good idea. Enter the Aerobar, 50% of the reason it's there is just for access to the shifters.

But I like my light, and my computer. Is there no victory to be had here?!



P.S. Where's a good place to pick up used parts for experiments?
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Old 07-03-13, 11:22 PM
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I think the easiest way to do it is to use thumb shifters combined with bar-end brakes on the end of the bullhorns. Am I right?

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Old 07-04-13, 12:06 AM
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You can put "brifters" on bullhorns, or relatively cheap road brakes in combination with your bar end shifters. Just make sure you get bars with the right I.D. for your current shifters.

Matter of fact you can use your existing brakes, flip and chop your bars, and just come out of pocket for the TT extensions.

Last edited by FatherAlabaster; 07-04-13 at 01:07 AM. Reason: duh
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Old 07-04-13, 06:10 AM
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Flip and chop your current bars. Use your existing brakes, reverse mounted from original, so the levers now point to the bike. Remount the bar-ends facing up. Cost should be $0, if you do the work yourself.

Last edited by BigAura; 07-04-13 at 06:18 AM.
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Old 07-04-13, 06:25 AM
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Try Trekking Bars. More hand positions and better placement for brakes and shifters, easier to handle under load. Space for whatever electronics you might feel necessary. In my case, speedier too. But then again, almost anything is speedier than I am.
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Old 07-04-13, 06:26 AM
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I would start with a shorter stem, brake/shift levers (brifters, ugh i hate that word) and clip-on aero bars. I agree you are not going to want to spend a lot of time in areo on a loaded bike, and the rig above allows you to change your mind without much money spent - just take the clip-on's off. You'll also need to have your current setup reviewed by a real mechanic to see if your current brakes are compatible with the brake/shift levers

The aero popsition doesn't handle very well, the weight distribution over the front end is different. You may find the bike hard to control, you may or may not get used to it. Being in the aero position takes your hands well away from the brake levers, if you already feel the need for extra brakes on the tops, I bet you are not going to like that.

If your frame is already too long, it's going to be really too long as a TT bike - my TT bike (that i use for racing, not touring) is 3 cm shorter in the effective top tube than my road bike, and that includes using an 80* seat angle.

If you do the aero position, you might end up wanting to put your saddle forward and higher than it is now -but experiment with that, that is usually a solution for a low/fast/aero front end position, rather than just getting another arm position.

To make any changes you will almost certainly need to install new cable housing and cables, probably both shift and brake (careful, the housing & cables are different), and bar tape.

www.slowtwitch.com classified adds is a great place for used stuff, those triathletes go through a lot of equipment changes to find the right position. When you go there, be careful, you might walk out with a carbon disc wheel You might find a whole TT front end you can put on your bike (you'll have to re-cable for sure) to try out.
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Old 07-04-13, 09:57 AM
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Can you do push ups for 6 hours?, It will have that feel after holding tour upper body up after a while.
since the low body posture is where you gain reduced air-resistance..

lots of core strength needed .. work on the other 6 pack ..
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Old 07-04-13, 02:26 PM
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Originally Posted by mdilthey
...I like moving fast. I would love a time trial setup on my touring bike, as these are the hand positions I'm using anyways. Why keep drops if I'm never on the drops?...
Learning how to ride comfortably in the drops you already have is your best option. Raise the bar some if necessary to get drops to a comfortable height. I find with bar a little higher I don't even need aero bars - I can ride with forearms on handlebar for quite a while.
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Old 07-04-13, 03:19 PM
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another thing is getting what they call interrupter brakes just add brakes to the straight part of your drop bar something like a mountain bike would have , now you got brakes on top and bottom ?? everything else stays the same!!
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Old 07-04-13, 10:23 PM
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Thanks for all the advice. I want to do this project myself to learn more about how the thing I spend all day long on works. I will save this project for the winter.

I have had two facts revealed to me through this conversation:

1. This project is going to take time and careful planning.
2. The setup I have is likely not working because the bike frame is a 59 when it should perhaps be a 57. I am less comfortable on the drops because the brakes are simply beyond my reach.

I do think I have the core strength for this, as I'm in good shape. But, just in case, I'm going to spend a little rather than chop my current bars so that I can go back if (when?) the project fails.

Thanks for all the advice!
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