Handle Bars- US & Europe??

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Woodtourer
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Handle Bars- US & Europe??

Postby Woodtourer » 16 Sep 2018, 4:08pm

So as we continue to tour in Europe today's thought was "Why do most touring bikes in the US have drop bars and those in Europe have flat bars?"
We are from the US and both of our bikes have flat or flared back bars. But my sport tourer does have drops.
Thoughts???

brynpoeth
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Re: Handle Bars- US & Europe??

Postby brynpoeth » 16 Sep 2018, 4:18pm

Most of us are British/European as you know
When I started 1973 dropped bars were normal for touring too

I think for "serious" cycling (several hours a day) one needs a choice of hand positions, not just one, no-one stays in the same position at work for hours and hours

I have those queer butterfly bars, +1
Cycling? Of course, but it is far better on a Gillott.. Alternative facts welcome

MrsHJ
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Re: Handle Bars- US & Europe??

Postby MrsHJ » 16 Sep 2018, 4:22pm

I was noticing today how many people still have drops (I’m in France) but that’s for cyclo sportif. I changed out my butterfly bars to thorn comfort bars with very expensive bar ends this year and I’m pretty happy. It’s whatever works for you but generally Northern Europe is flat bars and Southern Europe is drops.

Based on my trip touring on flat bars or butterfly bars certainly seems most popular in Europe at the moment although some people seem to be using their road bikes with drops.
Last edited by MrsHJ on 18 Sep 2018, 7:03am, edited 2 times in total.

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Mick F
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Re: Handle Bars- US & Europe??

Postby Mick F » 16 Sep 2018, 4:50pm

Long-term dropped user here! :D

As I've got older, I seem to using the tops rather than the hoods, and not very often going onto the drops.
Also, my left hand is frequently on the top when my right hand is on the hood.

I like dropped 'bars because it gives variation of hand position and I've seemingly used them forever. Any other handlebar system would be weird.
Mick F. Cornwall

iandriver
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Re: Handle Bars- US & Europe??

Postby iandriver » 16 Sep 2018, 5:23pm

It's mostly just a historic fashion thing. Have drops and practically never use the drop. Then complain that Shimano etc. don't cater for touring cycling in their race bike gear shifting range.

Ian (A droped bar Shimergo user)
Supporter of the A10 corridor cycling campaign serving Royston to Cambridge http://a10corridorcycle.com. Never knew gardening secateurs were an essential part of the on bike tool kit until I took up campaigning.....

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Mick F
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Re: Handle Bars- US & Europe??

Postby Mick F » 16 Sep 2018, 6:04pm

Shimano etc?
Try having a triple chainset and a 9sp cassette plus a Sturmey Archer 3sp.
All the gear shifting range you could ever desire.
Mick F. Cornwall

iandriver
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Re: Handle Bars- US & Europe??

Postby iandriver » 16 Sep 2018, 6:56pm

Mick F wrote:Shimano etc?
Try having a triple chainset and a 9sp cassette plus a Sturmey Archer 3sp.
All the gear shifting range you could ever desire.

I'm as guilty as them all. Have tried no end of concotions over the years. Except on my flat barred tandem and mountain bikes, where the off the shelf stuff just works and is a whole lot cheaper. Us Brits do like to make a simple thing complicated sometimes to solve a problem our touring friends in Europe don't have.
Supporter of the A10 corridor cycling campaign serving Royston to Cambridge http://a10corridorcycle.com. Never knew gardening secateurs were an essential part of the on bike tool kit until I took up campaigning.....

m-gineering
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Re: Handle Bars- US & Europe??

Postby m-gineering » 17 Sep 2018, 6:57am

Woodtourer wrote:So as we continue to tour in Europe today's thought was "Why do most touring bikes in the US have drop bars and those in Europe have flat bars?"

Bikes are local and optimized for local riding, so that's what you're used to and what everybody rides. The US has straight, smooth and open (windy) roads and not much commuting so there is not much call for flat bar tourers. NL & Germany have a large community of tourers who started on a sit up and beg commuter, so they will tend to stick to flat bars. Only If they are old or with a racing background they might still stick with a dropped bar. But with many tourers heading for the rougher (but quieter) rural roads, dropped bar tourers are in decline.
Marten

Touring advice for NL: www.m-gineering.nl/touringg.htm

MarcusT
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Re: Handle Bars- US & Europe??

Postby MarcusT » 18 Sep 2018, 5:48am

It seems that (odd as it seems) that the Americans are resistant to change. Many of their forums will generally reflect 3 opinions for touring bikes:
-The frames must be steel and never aluminum
-Suspension forks are a waste of time
-And drop bars are "true" touring bars (with bar-end shifters or course)
Now, everyone can choose what they want, but many are quite militant in these 3 beliefs.

Now, I am not trying to start a debate, just posting an observation
I wish it were simple as riding a bike

willem jongman
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Re: Handle Bars- US & Europe??

Postby willem jongman » 18 Sep 2018, 8:12am

Marten (m-gineering) made me a nice touring bike, and guess what? It has drop bars and wide tyres for touring on bad roads and gravel. And indeed, touring on gravel has generated a new kind of bike (at least in name): the gravel racer.
I agree with him that in Holland and Germany cycling careers usually start with town bikes, and for those a more or less flat bar and a more upright position is perhaps better, even though I still find that less comfortable. I also agree that for rough trails a straight bar may be preferable, but for moderate off road riding I find my drop bar is perfectly fine. I think few people even consider drop bars in the mistaken belief that they are less comfortable, even to the extent that in Holland it is hard to buy a tourer with drop bars. So I went the custom route (and never regretted it).

Bez
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Re: Handle Bars- US & Europe??

Postby Bez » 18 Sep 2018, 8:16am

MarcusT wrote:It seems that (odd as it seems) that the Americans are resistant to change. Many of their forums will generally reflect 3 opinions for touring bikes:
-The frames must be steel and never aluminum
-Suspension forks are a waste of time
-And drop bars are "true" touring bars (with bar-end shifters or course)
Now, everyone can choose what they want, but many are quite militant in these 3 beliefs.

Now, I am not trying to start a debate, just posting an observation


Can I add the observation that you've just described this forum? :)

PH
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Re: Handle Bars- US & Europe??

Postby PH » 18 Sep 2018, 8:43am

willem jongman wrote:I think few people even consider drop bars in the mistaken belief that they are less comfortable, even to the extent that in Holland it is hard to buy a tourer with drop bars. So I went the custom route (and never regretted it).

That works the other way as well - in the UK few tourers consider anything other than drop bars. For a while it looked like things were changing with most new cyclists having started out on MTBs and happy with the familiar. But it's road racing that's driven cycling's new found popularity in the UK and everyone wants that look. I ride both, the bar choice is at the end of the process, not the starting point. I'll think about the bikes intended use, the riding position, brakes and controls, then choose the appropriate bar.
I ride a few Audax, mostly 200s but with a few 300s and 400s a years as well, mostly on a flat bar tourer type bike, I've lost count of the number of people who've told me they couldn't do it on a bike like that, I've stopped asking them if they've tried :roll:

reohn2
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Re: Handle Bars- US & Europe??

Postby reohn2 » 18 Sep 2018, 10:13am

I think the drop v straights debate will go on as long as there are straights and drops.IMO ride what suits the individual.
Personally I can't ride true straights for longer than a few miles as the two middle fingers of my left hand(I'm lefthanded)become numb and I get pins and needles and I get pain in the web between thumb and index finger due to Oesteo Arthritis in the base of the thumb joints
The answer to this is swept back Jones loops on my MTB and Humpert Aero Wings on the Circe tandem the Jones has a 45deg back sweep and the Aerowing has a 53deg b/sweep.
On my Salsa Vaya,(a sort of all road touring bike) I have drops with a slight splay to the drop portion,which set with the top 35mm higher than the saddle are the perfect handlebar for me,the others being a compromise.

IMO there's some mileage(sorry)in the ergonomic benefit of drops because of the number of hand positions available only one of which,the tops,puts the hands in an unnatural position.
If you think about it the hands fall naturally in a hoods/drops/porter handlebar position ie;parallel bars position,which doesn't stress the lower arm and wrists by twisting them by 90 degrees inwards and provides a natural suspension lever at the elbow which bends in a very natural way.
I think the biggest problem drops face is that they are perceived as a "racing" handlbar especially by the beginner cyclist and as such must be set at a racing crouch position,which is a serious mistake and misunderstanding of the true nature of drops only made worst by short headtubes and limited steerer tube lengths particularly alu and CF steerers of most modern bikes.
As I've got older my drop bars have become higher and slightly closer hence I ride all the positions they offer,and each one as comfortable as any other.
My 2d's worth.

EDIT,I forgot to mention that modern day drops come on a wide variety shapes,reaches and drops from deep to the quite shallow drop of "compact" drops,compacts due to their shallow drop and short reach allow the tops to be further forward and lower with the hoods and drop portions easily within reach,whereas the more traditional drops, deep with a long reach(ramps) don't.
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hondated
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Re: Handle Bars- US & Europe??

Postby hondated » 22 Sep 2018, 9:34pm

MrsHJ wrote:I was noticing today how many people still have drops (I’m in France) but that’s for cyclo sportif. I changed out my butterfly bars to thorn comfort bars with very expensive bar ends this year and I’m pretty happy. It’s whatever works for you but generally Northern Europe is flat bars and Southern Europe is drops.

Based on my trip touring on flat bars or butterfly bars certainly seems most popular in Europe at the moment although some people seem to be using their road bikes with drops.

Interested to read this as in my box of bits I have got some Thorn comfort bars and I was thinking of fitting them to the Roberts with Ergon GP5 grips but the expense of these is making me hesitate. Are these the bar ends you have used and if they are can you tell me what you think of them.
I have tried fitting Butterfly bars on the Roberts before but somehow it just did not feel right so I refitted the drops. But that said I have fitted butterfly bars on another bike that has a bigger frame than the Roberts and I have got to say they do feel comfortable. Last time I used this bike it was extremely windy so I was battling through it and although drops would of made it easier because I felt comfortable I just got on with it.

The only thing about my butterfly bars I dont like is that they are a little bit wider than I want so I am thinking the Thorn comfort bars with bar ends would solve that problem.

Why I would be interested to get your response to my question is that the Thorn comfort bars are a little bit swept back and I was wondering whether this angle affects the positioning of the bar ends.

thirdcrank
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Re: Handle Bars- US & Europe??

Postby thirdcrank » 22 Sep 2018, 9:54pm

People having several different bikes for specific purposes is fairly recent. Once upon a time, a lot of club-type riders had one or possibly two bikes which served all their cycling needs (which might not include going shopping.) The same bike might be fitted with sprints and tubs for racing and HP tyres for everything else. It was common for riders to ride to the start of a time trial on HP tyres carrying their racing wheels on sprint carriers and their kit in a saddlebag. HP wheels and saddlebag would be left at the start/ finish, and then refitted for the ride home. I must have posted before that when I was an avid reader of the comic (1958-ish) they had a competition to design the best touring bike and one published entry just said "use last year's racing bike."

This waffle is a roundabout way of saying that there is something of a history in the UK of touring cyclists also being racers, especially time trial riders. Some of these same people have gone on to be typical lbs owners.