Drop or Flat bars for Long Tour

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island girl
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Drop or Flat bars for Long Tour

Postby island girl » 29 Aug 2011, 11:29pm

I have a tour of over 3000 miles coming up and was thinking of changing my flat bar Specialised Bike to drop bars. I have been told, better for touring as more hand positions. Therefore I tested a drop bar bike, yesterday and today, cycling about 30 miles up and down hills. I found the drop bars made me feel very unstable although I'm sure with usage this would improve. On the flat I romped on and found gear changing fairly straightforward but hills and braking were a different matter. Coming downhill I felt nervous and braking was very difficult. Hand span was ok but compared to flat bar difficult to control bike.
On the flat, I also thought, if I had to stop suddenly I wouldn't react quickly enough. With my flatbar, the brakes and gears are 'just there' and braking happens quickly and automatically. I have bar ends on my flat bar so think I will just stick with that - I have done a lot of touring with no hands or shoulder problems. Would drop bars be worth it ,if I persevered, and do most people experience my problems?

Edwards
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Re: Drop or Flat bars for Long Tour

Postby Edwards » 30 Aug 2011, 7:45am

With drop bars you should be able to ride with your hand on the top of the brake levers (on the Hoods).
Something like these drop bar ends from SJS might be what you are looking for.
Then you could have drop bar brakes on the bar ends and interrupter on the flats.

If it was me and I was going soon I would stay with flat bars over full drops as the change just before a long tour might not work out.
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ANTONISH
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Re: Drop or Flat bars for Long Tour

Postby ANTONISH » 30 Aug 2011, 8:21am

My girlfriend has cyclo cross levers fitted to the tops of her drop bars. She finds them very effective on long descents as it's less tiring for her hands.

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Si
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Re: Drop or Flat bars for Long Tour

Postby Si » 30 Aug 2011, 8:45am

Because different people are different shapes, weights and have different amounts of flexibility and padding, not to mention using different bikes, we can't really say that any type of bar set up is always going to be better than any other. It all depends on what suits you personally and the only way to find out if something suits you is to give it a proper go (but avoiding radical changes just as you embark on a long tour!).

If you continue with drops you almost certainly will get more used to them, but whether you find them better than flats, only time will tell.

simonhill
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Re: Drop or Flat bars for Long Tour

Postby simonhill » 30 Aug 2011, 10:33am

I tour regularly for long distances over long periods in far away lands and use straight(ish) bars with bar ends. Once you get on the road and away from UK, you will probably find most people you meet are riding with straight bars of one form or another and getting along perfectly well. The drop thing is very much a UK biase, in fact some places call them the English bars.

You seem more comfortable with straights, feel safer, prefer them, etc - why change because just because someone has told you drops are better??? If you feel happier - I will tell you they are not!

(Why does almost every picture you see of someone with drops, show them riding on the tops - just like we do with straight bars???).

thirdcrank
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Re: Drop or Flat bars for Long Tour

Postby thirdcrank » 30 Aug 2011, 10:49am

I don't think anybody else has mentioned that it's not necessarily just a straight ( :oops: ) swap. You may also need a different length stem to get the brake levers nicely within reach. Then, depending on the existing equipment, it may be new brake levers / gear levers etc. Not necessarily cost-effective.

I think the apparent bias towards drops among some of us in the UK dates back to the days of club riders using one bike for everything - club runs, racing and touring. I have bikes with both types but I find the typical straight bars two wide and I have chopped a couple of inches of each end. I'd agree with others above that bar ends are well worth having.

Hypocacculus
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Re: Drop or Flat bars for Long Tour

Postby Hypocacculus » 30 Aug 2011, 10:57am

When I first changed from my "sit up and beg" to drops, back in the Cretaceous, I also felt really unstable and unsafe. It remember it took a while to get used to the riding position, but I did. Recently, I was given another 'sit up and beg' bike, and it felt really unstable and wierd. I sold it!

So my personal view is that you would get used to it, but that isn't a good reason to change your bars. If find your existing bars comfortable over a long day why go through the pain of changing them just because people say drops are better?

If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Edwards
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Re: Drop or Flat bars for Long Tour

Postby Edwards » 30 Aug 2011, 11:08am

thirdcrank wrote:I don't think anybody else has mentioned that it's not necessarily just a straight ( ) swap. You may also need a different length stem to get the brake levers nicely within reach. Then, depending on the existing equipment, it may be new brake levers / gear levers etc. Not necessarily cost-effective


That was one of the reasons I suggested the dropped bar ends and the question about reach then arising.
I was trying not to be off putting as I had done this one my Dawes Sonoran and have now converted it back to straights. I wanted shifters and brake in one place with V brakes. I now only use it as my town bike.
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georgew
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Re: Drop or Flat bars for Long Tour

Postby georgew » 30 Aug 2011, 11:30am

Another alternative would be "Trekking" or "Butterfly" bars. These are widely used by tourers on the Continent and do have the advantage of offering a variety of hand positions while still having gear levers and brake levers all together at hand. After 35 years using drops I've had to revert to these because of circulation problems with my hands and I wouldn't go back to drops if I could. My choice of Trekking bars would be those with no "rise" at all and I would mount these absolutely level. This give a very comfortable platform in that ones wrists remain relatively straight.
If you are keeping the flat bars then I would recommend that "Ergon" grips do give much greater comfort for the long haul.

http://www.jejamescycles.co.uk/ergon-gr ... 16419.html
Last edited by georgew on 30 Aug 2011, 11:33am, edited 1 time in total.

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al_yrpal
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Re: Drop or Flat bars for Long Tour

Postby al_yrpal » 30 Aug 2011, 11:31am

Consider butterflys if you need more positions. IMO drops are a step backwards, and as you rightly say seems to make bikes more unstable. How often do you see anyone on the drops other than roadies pelting along on a self imposed challenge. If you need a lower profile for a headwind just crouch a bit, its so simple. The easy and safe access to brake levers and gears on straight bars is a real advantage especially when needing to stop a heavily loaded touring bike fast.

Al
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shane
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Re: Drop or Flat bars for Long Tour

Postby shane » 30 Aug 2011, 1:46pm

simonhill wrote:You seem more comfortable with straights, feel safer, prefer them, etc - why change because just because someone has told you drops are better??? If you feel happier - I will tell you they are not!


I'm pro-drop bars but its very personal, I'm with Simon if your already comfortable with straight bars why change? The unstable feeling you had with the test run is what I get if I try straight bars :wink: Just a case of getting used to it I guess.

It takes so long to get a bike set up the way you want it, So dont mess with it if its working for you :evil:

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Robert
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Re: Drop or Flat bars for Long Tour

Postby Robert » 30 Aug 2011, 11:48pm

shane wrote:
simonhill wrote:You seem more comfortable with straights, feel safer, prefer them, etc - why change because just because someone has told you drops are better??? If you feel happier - I will tell you they are not!


It takes so long to get a bike set up the way you want it, So dont mess with it if its working for you :evil:


Absolutely. If your set-up is comfortable, why change a thing? Certainly not to comply with cycling pedants' un-asked for advice.

snibgo
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Re: Drop or Flat bars for Long Tour

Postby snibgo » 31 Aug 2011, 12:15am

When is the tour? If it's next year, you have time to experiment and discover whether a different arrangement might suit you better. If it's next month, you don't.

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Re: Drop or Flat bars for Long Tour

Postby Vorpal » 31 Aug 2011, 10:13am

I'm comfortable with either flat bars or drops. I like both. I prefer drops to flats for touring, but I've toured with flat handlebars without any problem. Bar ends can provide a couple of additional hand positions for comfort. I wouldn't tour on flat handlebars without them. As al_yrpal suggested butterfly bars are a relatively easy conversion. Trekking bars might be feasible, as well.

Sheldon Brown has some suggestions, as well as a good summary of incompatibility issues with changing... http://sheldonbrown.com/deakins/handlebars.html

edited for typos
Last edited by Vorpal on 31 Aug 2011, 4:13pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Malaconotus
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Re: Drop or Flat bars for Long Tour

Postby Malaconotus » 31 Aug 2011, 11:20am

georgew wrote: If you are keeping the flat bars then I would recommend that "Ergon" grips do give much greater comfort for the long haul.

http://www.jejamescycles.co.uk/ergon-gr ... 16419.html


And while they aren't cheap, the GC3 version are possibly more comfortable, and pretty much as versatile as trekking bars.... http://www.tredz.co.uk/.Ergon-GC3-Comfo ... =Froogle01

I love mine.