Drop or Flat bars for Long Tour

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
User avatar
syklist
Posts: 1216
Joined: 19 May 2008, 6:43pm

Re: Drop or Flat bars for Long Tour

Postby syklist » 31 Aug 2011, 1:40pm

island girl wrote:I have a tour of over 3000 miles coming up and was thinking of changing my flat bar Specialised Bike to drop bars.

My experience of changing things just before a long trip is DON'T. In the majority of cases when I have made significant changes to our bikes just before a longish tour, I have had problems with the things I have changed.

You sound like you are one of the lucky people who have already discovered a handlebar setup that works for you. You have a set of automatic responses learned on the flat bars which work for you. Take away that familiarity and those automatic responses and you have to concentrate more on the business of cycling.

Then there is the problem if you discover you can't get on with dropped bars during the tour.
So long and thanks for all the fish...

island girl
Posts: 105
Joined: 9 Oct 2008, 5:30pm

Re: Drop or Flat bars for Long Tour

Postby island girl » 1 Sep 2011, 8:44pm

Hi, Thanks to everyone for all replies. You have confirmed what I think I already knew. If ' it ain't broke why fix it'. I went out for a hilly 40 mile cycle on my flatbar and it just felt so good. No aches or pains, full stability and good confidence. I constantly change position from top, bar ends, and under top. I agree , with time, I would probably get used to the drops but why bother when my present set up is so good. I'll certainly look into the barends recommended. Thanks again.

hweed
Posts: 8
Joined: 30 Sep 2011, 1:44pm

Re: Drop or Flat bars for Long Tour

Postby hweed » 30 Sep 2011, 2:24pm

I smiled when I read this post as I have the same problem but from the other side. I spent years and years touring on drops but recently picked up a mountain bike to use on rougher ground and canal towpaths (my tourer is actually a road training frame with tight angles and a tendance to put you in the ditch if you glance at the view!!) and am finding the sheer width of the bars really alien. I struggle with steering and keep wanting to move my hands around, but of course there isn't any alternative. I've just put bar ends on which should help but I think it is all a matter of retraining my brain and body to something that feels different - and that takes time. Don't forget that actually holding the drop bit is a really rare occurence - you can't see properly where you are going for a start and it puts a crick in your neck if you try to look. I spend most of my time on the brake hoods - comfortable and easy braking. On the flats if I need to rest for a bit and sometimes that is a better position for hill climbing as it makes good use of the back muscles. Overall I would say that if you haven't got time to adapt to the change then don't bother changing.

ps. My tourer has friction gears on the downtube - when I get to a junction on my mountain bike I keep groping for levers that don't exist :)

User avatar
Si
Moderator
Posts: 15188
Joined: 5 Jan 2007, 7:37pm

Re: Drop or Flat bars for Long Tour

Postby Si » 30 Sep 2011, 7:40pm

hweed, if you've MTB bars the reason that they feel very wide (apart from you being used to the narrowness of drops) is that they are very wide!! Many people, when building a flat barred road bike cut the bars down to a more suitable width. Mine I've chopped down to about 18inches, and the bar end clamps occupy the outer bits. It's much better for road riding like this. Welcome to the forum, by the way.

Dudley Manlove
Posts: 249
Joined: 18 Jun 2009, 10:41am

Re: Drop or Flat bars for Long Tour

Postby Dudley Manlove » 6 Oct 2011, 8:12pm

The other thing with flats is you can actually stick the bar-ends inline of the grips. I prefer this, you have several hand positions, can use the brakes and gears from the bar ends and the base of them, and you have a wide position on the grips for when it is rough or particularly hairy. But whatever, more than 1 way to skin a cat just see what suits you.

User avatar
hondated
Posts: 2430
Joined: 27 Mar 2008, 7:59am
Location: Eastbourne

Re: Drop or Flat bars for Long Tour

Postby hondated » 7 Oct 2011, 7:47pm

I decided to go out on the mountain bike today and apart from a front mech problem I really enjoyed the fact that I was on straight bars rather than drops and because it has bar ends fitted I was able to alter my hand position whenever I needed to.
It felt so much more safer having a full grip on the brakes rather than when I am on the drops I just brake with my hands on the hoods given I am not flexible enough to ride on the bottom of the drops.
I definitely think that over the Winter I am going to equip my Roberts with straights even though for this country its not really the fashion.
Am I right in thinking though that the frame dimensions for a straight bar bike for power output are different from that of a drop bars frame or is that just stupid thinking on my part.

Gearoidmuar
Posts: 2247
Joined: 29 Sep 2007, 7:35pm
Location: Cork, Ireland. Corcaigh, Éire má tá Gaeilge agat.

Re: Drop or Flat bars for Long Tour

Postby Gearoidmuar » 17 Oct 2011, 8:34pm

I've ridden in my time drop bars (for years and years and years), straight bar with bar ends., and more recenly bullhorn bars. Bullhorn bars are superb for touring as every centimetre of the curve is comfortable and they are superb for climbing.

bikefish
Posts: 91
Joined: 18 Aug 2009, 12:21pm

Re: Drop or Flat bars for Long Tour

Postby bikefish » 18 Oct 2011, 9:02am

Long term tourer Hans Stucke had 2 handlebars welded together. You could try something like: http://www.dealextreme.com/p/folding-bi ... ull%20view - gives you plenty of extra bar real estate for bag and gadgets...

User avatar
apsykes
Posts: 61
Joined: 18 Jul 2009, 11:40am
Location: Reading, Berkshire
Contact:

Re: Drop or Flat bars for Long Tour

Postby apsykes » 24 Oct 2011, 9:00am

Hi
I bought a Ridgeback Panorama last year to do a trip from the UK to southern Italy. I immediately felt uncomfortable with the drop bars but if was quite a saga getting them changed to flat / trekking bars. You can read about how I did it here: http://cyclingeurope.org/tag/handlebars/ (it's on two pages so don't forget to click on 'older posts' at the bottom for the full story). I haven't regretted it for one moment however. Much more comfortable, much more practical!
Andrew
Andrew P. Sykes
0(044)7970278569
apsykes@hotmail.com
http://CyclingEurope.org
Author of 'Good Vibrations: Crossing Europe on a Bike Called Reggie'
"A wonderful, witty account of a cycle tour across Europe" (CTC)

johnonhisbike
Posts: 61
Joined: 10 Jan 2011, 2:20pm

Re: Drop or Flat bars for Long Tour

Postby johnonhisbike » 24 Oct 2011, 4:11pm

Ever thought of trying 'butterfly' bars (like Mark Beaumont ...). I tried fitting a pair to my Specialized and it did give more hand positions, and the handling felt pretty stable too. Maybe I should have persevered a bit longer but after a month of 'practice' rides to get used to them I eventually went back to my tried and tested flats for longer tours. In the end I suppose it's just what you get used to.

Ambler
Posts: 300
Joined: 1 Jul 2011, 10:40pm
Location: Cumbria

Re: Drop or Flat bars for Long Tour

Postby Ambler » 24 Oct 2011, 4:42pm

3 months on with my S Galaxy and after lots of fiddling around I've found a position I'm comfortable with. Unfortunately it's on the "flat" part of the drops.
So when I ride on the hoods it is not bad but not as comfortable as a little further back on the "straight" part. I've got the shortest stem possible and the seat is a far forward as possible. I'll continue but if I'm not happy by next summer I'll change to straights or butterfly or similar.

I'm not impressed with braking whilst riding on the hoods. It seems so difficult compared to the simplicity of the levers on straights.
I do accept the slick gear changes are nice though.

It's a shame there are few off-the-peg straight bar steel tourers in this country.

Just the opinion of a novice.

andymiller
Posts: 1716
Joined: 8 Dec 2007, 10:26am

Re: Drop or Flat bars for Long Tour

Postby andymiller » 25 Oct 2011, 10:30pm

Bar ends will give you a second set of hand positions - ie the same as you'll get with drop bars. Butterfly bats ate another option. The important thing for avoiding numb hands is to try to keep your grip relaxed, support yourself from your core muscles and keep your weight off the bars - you should be able to ride with just your fingertips on the bars. (and yes, I know, this is easier to say than to practice consistently).
Italy Cycling Guide - a resource for cycle touring in Italy.

User avatar
georgew
Posts: 1526
Joined: 27 Jan 2007, 4:23pm

Re: Drop or Flat bars for Long Tour

Postby georgew » 26 Oct 2011, 10:42am

andymiller wrote:Bar ends will give you a second set of hand positions - ie the same as you'll get with drop bars. Butterfly bats ate another option. The important thing for avoiding numb hands is to try to keep your grip relaxed, support yourself from your core muscles and keep your weight off the bars - you should be able to ride with just your fingertips on the bars. (and yes, I know, this is easier to say than to practice consistently).


Perhaps the advice given above is that most often neglected when dealing with this problem. As I've got older I feel that it is the lack of core muscle strength that is central to my own difficulties with my hands. That and a tendency to tighten my shoulder muscles seems to be responsible for the circulation problems in my hands.