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Fitting Butterfly Bars - My Experiences

Posted: 30 Jan 2011, 10:13pm
by sea lion
I had been considering fitting butterfly bars for some time to my Ultra Galaxy. This is my experiences if anyone is considering doing the same.

What eventually made it happen was:

My wife’s new bike has them and she gets on very well with them.
I wanted to make my tourer feel different from my carbon road bike rather than a heavier version of the same.
The gearing on my two bikes is different – one low normal, one high normal. Jumping from one to other with the same bars fitted always caused problems.
I use the Galaxy for bridle paths, tow paths, trails etc. Riding on the hoods up/down a steep rocky incline never gave me confidence, I usually walked.
The only time I ever used the drops was going downhill. That was purely to give better control of the brakes rather than for aerodynamics.
I recently fell off and made a mess of the STI levers. They are incredibly expensive.
The Galaxy has a long wheelbase and the hoods are quite a stretch compared to my other bike.

Fitting was not exactly straight forward:
I originally bought some XT mtb sti levrers, these went back because when the brake is applied the whole unit moves. The levers are qute close together on the new bars and the cable outers clashed. Also I have cantilevers not V brakes.
I bought R440 levers because they are advertised as for flat bar road bikes. However the cable pull ratio for the front derailieur is not the same, so I have to replace that with a compatible R443 mech. This looks exactly the same quality/construction as the ultegra mech it replaced, but with a longer pull arm. Still retained the trim feature.
R770 levers were used operate the cantilever brakes.
I cut the stem right down and used an adjustable angle stem. This looks a lot better and also was expecting a bit of trial and error in getting the position right.
I used BBB bars because these have a side for your hand (not all do).

Now the job is done, this is want I think:

Very pleased. I’m also pleased with how they look.
I now have the controls at more readily at hand in a more upright position. Much better for the rough stuff and down hill.
Now have correct position sorted and no difference in riding speed or distance I cover (rode 88 miles last Saturday along Trans Pennine Trail).
The side hand hold position opens up your chest and makes heavy breathing easier.
With the adjustable stem, I can adjust position any time if I want.
More varied hand positions.

On a long fast stretch, when on the most forward position, the levers are not readily to hand. But I am finding shifting my hand back is becoming more instinctive.
The bars are wider than drops, some anti motorbike gantries are too narrow, you have to stop and lift the front with the bars askew to get through.
Up a steep hill and standing on the pedals, your knees sometimes can catch them.

Would I consider changing back, definitely not. But if it was my only bike, I would have probably left them as they are.

Re: Fitting Butterfly Bars - My Experiences

Posted: 30 Jan 2011, 10:38pm
by sweatysock
I too have fitted BBB butterflies to my Marin San Anselmo... and share much of your experiences, esp. comfort and variety. I have mine angled up more, but am about to convert back to the original flats for comparison. I have a sneaky feeling that I prefer drops, but will keep you posted. That would mean ditching the brake levers and shifters for STIs. The butterflies make my bike feel huge, and I don't like the look. I think they're probably "marmite" bars... :wink:

Re: Fitting Butterfly Bars - My Experiences

Posted: 31 Jan 2011, 3:02pm
by hondated
Thanks sea lion for providing so much information.The pictures are particularly helpful because it gives me an idea on how they would look on my Roberts.I must admit that I have always thought that drop bars are more aesthetically appealing on any bike but having recently built a Hybrid which has straight bars I have found it far more controllable and comfortable and also with the straight bars if I want to go off on a trail it is not a problem.t
Having had several expensive mountain bikes over the years and not really used them having now got the Hybrid it has made me also realise that if I get a decent set of 700c wheels I can over the same terrain I would on a mountain bike but with the advantage of being able to still ride at a decent speed on road sections.
Can anyone recommend any !
Hopefully converting my Roberts should not be too expensive because Chas fitted an XT rear mech and Front changer so all I should need is brake levers and gear changers.

Sadly unless I am out on the Carbon Fibre bike I will be one of those considered by many to be not a real cyclist but if it means I will be more comfortable then hey its a price worth paying.

Re: Fitting Butterfly Bars - My Experiences

Posted: 31 Jan 2011, 3:12pm
by byegad
I bought a Thorn Club Tour with flat bars and swapped to a butterfly really easily, all of the controls fitted the new bars, I bought a foam padding set for them and fitted that at the same time. I found the butterflies offered more hand positioning options that the flat bars plus bar end extensions and as a bonus the controls were positioned a bit closer to the seat than the flat bars making town riding (Where you want your hands on the controls all of the time.) more upright so easing my lines of sight. I also found that the extra flex in the butterfly bars got rid of numb fingers.

Re: Fitting Butterfly Bars - My Experiences

Posted: 31 Jan 2011, 7:13pm
by galavanter
Iuse butterfly on my hybrid very comfortable but I tried to fit a bar bag on and it was not for happening the front of the bar is so far in front of the stock anyone got one on their bikes

Re: Fitting Butterfly Bars - My Experiences

Posted: 31 Jan 2011, 9:10pm
by bikes4two
Funny Old World isn't it? I have a Dawes KaraKum - it came with Butterfly Bars, which I suspect could be of a lesser quality than some that are available. Anyway, a couple of thousand miles later I went to straight bars with bar-end grips. I found this more comfortable all round (back, and wrists mainly) and I was able to fit more 'kit' such as a GPS and Bar Bag on the straights (possible on butterfly bars but there really wasn't a great deal of real estate for accessories on them).

After another couple of thousand with the straights, and noticing that 90% of my local CTC touring group have drops, I thought I'd give drops a go. A couple of thousands miles on my Super Galaxy with drops, bar-end shifters (and my first ever Brooks!) and I'm now in a position to comment on all three. At least you'd think so, but I'm not clear at all. All three could be made comfortable with right adjustment and appropriate component selection I suspect, so for me it's come down to looks. The current winner on this count is Drops on the Galaxy, bit give me a few more thousand miles and I'll probably have an altered view: might even give a trike a go :-)

Re: Fitting Butterfly Bars - My Experiences

Posted: 31 Jan 2011, 9:25pm
by meic
Whenever I mention the benefits of butterfly bars, I get branded as an enthusiast.
However I have drop bars on my favourite bikes and do lots more miles with drop bars.

I think all of the bar types are best for certain types of riding only.
I like long distance road riding and drops let me go further in the same time.

It is a case of picking the most suitable bars to cope with the types of riding you do and the fraction of time spent on each.

I think that the butterflies with the controls set on the outside of the bars is the best allrounder. I would do any type of riding on that bike but it would never be the best choice for any one specific event.

Although I never actually gave straight bars with barend grips a chance as the butterflies were cheaper and lighter.

Re: Fitting Butterfly Bars - My Experiences

Posted: 1 Feb 2011, 2:48am
by sweatysock
I prefer the look and feel of drops, but... like many above, can't always make up my mind. FWIW/IMHO: The comfiest straight bars have been the ones I fitted with Ergo bar ends with a sort of half moon pad that supports the heel of my hands. as for a trike... very comfy- especially when you're too tired to pedal any more :lol: . I may have mine for sale soon if the missus has her way! :roll:

Re: Fitting Butterfly Bars - My Experiences

Posted: 1 Feb 2011, 11:18am
by byegad
galavanter wrote:Iuse butterfly on my hybrid very comfortable but I tried to fit a bar bag on and it was not for happening the front of the bar is so far in front of the stock anyone got one on their bikes

I fitted a bar bag on my butterfly bars, I needed the extension piece for the Klik Fix fitting but it went on no bother with that.

Re: Fitting Butterfly Bars - My Experiences

Posted: 1 Feb 2011, 7:28pm
by freebooter
I was going to swap to Butterfly bars from drops and actually bought most of the bits needed. However, I couldn't see how I could get the brake levers onto the sides as I wanted and even if I could have got them around the bends it didn't look as if the position would work that well. It probably depends on the actual bar bought.

Putting the controls on the normal open bit shortens the reach enormously from the default hoods position of drop bars. That part of the bar is 8cm behind the clamp on mine whereas the hoods are probably 12+ cm in front. I did find the hoods a bit too stretched out but not that far.

I broke my wrist some years ago and despite not liking the drops at first I have got more used to them and as long as they are high enough I haven't had problems with my wrist. I am a bit worried that the butterfly bars might cause problems. I find that on the drops I either have my hands lightly on the bar behind the hoods or when on the hoods my hands hang down the sides with just my thumb over the top. This means there isn't too much jarring going through my wrist.

However, I am still tempted to swap to a butterfly bar or even a straight with bar ends. The main reason is to use all mtb components. This would mean no compatibility problems, brakes etc all work well, it is reliable, cheaper and easier to source if needed on tour.

I may try getting a long adjustable stem and trying out the bars as I suppose that is the only way to know if they will suit me.

Re: Fitting Butterfly Bars - My Experiences

Posted: 1 Feb 2011, 8:36pm
by ericonabike
Interesting - I think there's a [subconscious?] feeling that BBs aren't quite 'proper' bars. I rented a trekking bike in Germany that had them and was sold on them for that purpose. Have since bought BB-equipped Gazelle Fuente and use if for shopping/leisure/can't-be-bothered-to-change rides. Really pleased with it and them. But I also like straight bars with bar ends on my MTB and drops on sporting/touring steeds. Horses for courses...

Re: Fitting Butterfly Bars - My Experiences

Posted: 1 Feb 2011, 8:44pm
by mark barker
Thanks for such a great write up. I've been thinking about butterfly bars for my flat barred road bike for the past couple of weeks (only owned the bike for 3 weeks!), and I think I'm going to bite the bullet and head off to my LBS later this week and get some ordered. My biggest reservation is the foam grips. Are there any sensible alternatives?

Re: Fitting Butterfly Bars - My Experiences

Posted: 1 Feb 2011, 8:53pm
by York Commuter
I have butterflies on my galaxy and I love them - great for social rides with my wife.

Mark - you ask about alternatives to foam bar grips:

given that most butterflies can be covered with the four short lengths of foam that would cover drop bars I'd reckon that you could use any conventional bar tape, even leather if you fancy.

if you go down the path of using foam grips do get the loger (400mm ?) ones designed for butterflies - you'll not get a satisfactory butt joint with two shorter pieces.

I suppose you could use foam pipe insulation and cover it with 1" cotton twill ribbon (local buttons/bows/harberdashery shop) - allow abou 3m for comfortable coverage

Re: Fitting Butterfly Bars - My Experiences

Posted: 1 Feb 2011, 10:30pm
by freebooter
I notice on the OPs photos that the part of the bars with the controls on is barely in front of the steerer. How do you find the handling like that? I always thought that having the handlebars in front of the steerer makes it more stable and closer to the steerer would be more twitchy.

Re: Fitting Butterfly Bars - My Experiences

Posted: 2 Feb 2011, 10:42am
My experiences were (with controls set on the rear flat section and a 12cm stem):

*Provided a comfortable riding position. I too had the bars set quite low as in the OP's picture. It does provide an efficient riding position.
* Good padding is essential for the straight section to protect the hand's ulnar nerve.
*Therefore don't use foam grips. I did and it hurt as the foam eventually crushes at that vital point.
*Use bar tape and double it up. It's more resistant to scuffing too.
*They tend to be quite wide - mine were 59cm.
Therefore cycling into wind could be a problem. Riding on the fronts helped a lot, but this is not always possible.
*Butterflies should be made from a hardened alloy IMO. My 2014 alu were prone to distortion around the stem clamp. I got through three pairs of these Humpert's. This was exacerbated by their width, whilst being used on a loaded tourer. I was an energetic cyclist which meant they were getting a lot of leverage as I cycled up hills.
*When using the side section, their width of course should be an advantage to the tourist, enabling this leverage effect (using the arms to counter-act the legs), whilst opening up the lungs at the same time.
*Bar Bags: My riding set up was fine most of the time, but using a bar bag had issues. Steering became floppy, would over-exaggerate feedback from rough terrain; ie, it became difficult to keep the bike going where I wanted. This was only an issue with the bar bag, but because I used the bar bag a lot, this was a deciding factor for changing to drops. A radically different set up with a shorter stem may possibly have resolved this.
*Trains: If you do use these bars (esp the 59cm ones), they are a right faff getting on/off trains, especially the ones with the bike broom cupboards. Drop bars are a big advantage in these situations.