Flat or drop bars for Commuting

Th0m0
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Flat or drop bars for Commuting

Postby Th0m0 » Sat Mar 26, 2016 1:03 pm

Hi All,

First post here. I'm in the position of having to decide whether to buy a a car or a bike for commuting to work. I've chosen to go with a bike and am now looking at my options. I'm on the Gold Coast and the commute will be approximately 20 Km one way, 40 km each day and 200 km per week rain hail or shine. I've had both flat and drop bars before and I'm comfortable with both. I'm happy to spend a bit extra to get a decent setup as I'm not having to fork out for a car. The budget for bike only is up to about $1500 with accessories on top of that. I'm not worried about mud guards and I'll carry a bag, so don't need rack mounts etc. Knowing me, once I start riding again I'll start getting into it and want to do a bit of extra training or weekend rides.
100% of bike shops I've been into have recommended a flat bar road bike but I'm not sure. The main advantages I see for flat bar setups are 1. I'll get a decent set of hydraulic disk brakes on a bike for that money. Not so on a drop bar bike. 2. My hands will be closer to the brake levers at all times. So really I'm thinking the flat bars are safer for the city riding amongst the traffic that I'll mainly be using the bike for. But I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who commute on drop bars. So can you guys help me out please? Flat bar or drop?

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Drizt
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Re: Flat or drop bars for Commuting

Postby Drizt » Sat Mar 26, 2016 1:49 pm

Drop ftw

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CXCommuter
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Re: Flat or drop bars for Commuting

Postby CXCommuter » Sat Mar 26, 2016 3:55 pm

Drop Bar...
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Rudedog
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Re: Flat or drop bars for Commuting

Postby Rudedog » Sat Mar 26, 2016 11:13 pm

Just recovered from a stack which had my bike written off. Thought of going flat bars... But decided to go back to drop, because I can only afford one bike, and still want to do week end rides with mates...

softy
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Re: Flat or drop bars for Commuting

Postby softy » Sun Mar 27, 2016 12:09 am

Drop bars as they give more positions to rest your hand and prevent numbness. Drop bars are also good for those strong stormy headwinds.......

Disc brakes at that price point are cable and only close the pad from one side, they are not the fantastic hydro ones which are the bees knees. I know they are the new black and better in the wet, but not nessecary if you are comparing calipers with cable discs. If you can get into hydros well you will love them but pricy, otherwise.......
A CX bike could fit the bill? If you like that sort of thing.

jasonc
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Re: Flat or drop bars for Commuting

Postby jasonc » Sun Mar 27, 2016 7:58 am

1500 should be able to get you a hydro disc set up on a roadie. What about the cell Brunswick? The giant revolt?
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softy
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Re: Flat or drop bars for Commuting

Postby softy » Sun Mar 27, 2016 9:47 am

jasonc wrote:1500 should be able to get you a hydro disc set up on a roadie. What about the cell Brunswick? The giant revolt?
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Yeah that looks pretty good buying. :)

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queequeg
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Re: Flat or drop bars for Commuting

Postby queequeg » Sun Mar 27, 2016 10:01 am

Definitely drops. You'll regret a flatbar after about two weeks with those kinds of daily distances.
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jasonc
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Re: Flat or drop bars for Commuting

Postby jasonc » Sun Mar 27, 2016 10:13 am

I do over 20kms each way. I have a flat bar and a roadie. The flat bar is slower but not significantly. I wouldn't discount the flat bar straight out
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AlexHuggs
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Re: Flat or drop bars for Commuting

Postby AlexHuggs » Sun Mar 27, 2016 10:52 am

I do 20km each way on a flat bar and it's not so bad. I'll probably get drop bar next time but I'm not rushing out to do it. Mind you, I normally ride with the prevailing winds, so I rarely wish I could get down on the drops. YMMV.

jasonc
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Re: Flat or drop bars for Commuting

Postby jasonc » Sun Mar 27, 2016 11:20 am

That's a good point and was thinking about it not long after my last post. The gold coast has a prevailing south Easter in the afternoons. If you are heading south/south east in the afternoons, a drop bar will shoes you to get lower and out of the wind a little bit more
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RonK
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Re: Flat or drop bars for Commuting

Postby RonK » Sun Mar 27, 2016 11:37 am

Th0m0 wrote:Knowing me, once I start riding again I'll start getting into it and want to do a bit of extra training or weekend rides.

I reckon that makes drop bars the rational choice.
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Usernoname
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Re: Flat or drop bars for Commuting

Postby Usernoname » Sun Mar 27, 2016 1:06 pm

20k's is a fairly long commute for the Gold Coast, the roads and drivers are mostly shite for a road bike except in the early hours. Have you had a chance to ride the route yet? A few of the shops have loaners if you're buying local. I do see mostly commuter road bikes around in the burbs, and POS close to the coast for shorter distances. I play it safe and use an old HT Mtb, but it's only 10k and not regular.

Th0m0
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Re: Flat or drop bars for Commuting

Postby Th0m0 » Sun Mar 27, 2016 3:50 pm

The consensus so far seems to be drops. I haven't ridden the route. It will be along the coast roads from Miami to Main Beach and then I'll have to head west through Southport. So yes, I'll be riding into a headwind on the way home 95% of the time. Looking at the big brand web sites drop bar models, I'm thinking the models they generally classify as "endurance" rather than "race" will be a good compromise. Still having drop bars but with a more relaxed geometry. Is that a sound line line of thought?

koshari
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Re: Flat or drop bars for Commuting

Postby koshari » Sun Mar 27, 2016 4:51 pm

Th0m0 wrote:Still having drop bars but with a more relaxed geometry. Is that a sound line line of thought?


I think so. I have a couple of crx flatbars (one resides at the coast so i dont have to transport a bike). One i have converted to drops. The other awaits a donar bike to do the same.
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A_P
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Re: Flat or drop bars for Commuting

Postby A_P » Sun Mar 27, 2016 4:55 pm

Mount points for pannier rack and space for full length mudguards should be considered if you're going to be a rain, hail or shine commuter
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RonK
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Re: Flat or drop bars for Commuting

Postby RonK » Sun Mar 27, 2016 5:46 pm

Th0m0 wrote:Looking at the big brand web sites drop bar models, I'm thinking the models they generally classify as "endurance" rather than "race" will be a good compromise. Still having drop bars but with a more relaxed geometry. Is that a sound line line of thought?

Yes, is very sensible thinking.
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DavidS
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Re: Flat or drop bars for Commuting

Postby DavidS » Mon Mar 28, 2016 11:19 pm

To be honest I'd have to say it is a matter of preference.

Most people here will say get drop bars, but that does reflect the crowd here, a higher proportion of sporting cyclists than you would normally find.

I ride 20KMs to work each way, I ride into a prevailing headwind most evenings, especially in spring and summer, less so in autumn and winter. I have ridden flat bars for 6 years (substantially longer than 2 weeks without regrets) and now I have 2 bikes, one flat bar roadie and one drop bar touring bike. Both are fine for commuting and really I don't prefer one over the other, actually I like changing every day as it means I swap geometry each day (which helps my bad back). The flat bar was more expensive and is lighter, the drop bar has aerodynamic advantages. The flat bar has wider handlebars and I have a mirror on that one so it can be a bit squeezy in tight traffic (can't work out a good way to put a mirror on the drop bar as it has bar end shifters and V brakes so no option for brifters). The flat bar is slightly more upright but not much really, does depend a lot on the model.

I would definitely make sure you can put mudguards on a commuting bike, they make a huge difference, even better with mudflaps. I would also say, especially in your tropical climate: get a rack and panniers. Do you really want to be carrying a bag which the bike can carry for you? Are you considering a backpack on a bike in the tropics? Seriously? Get a bike that can at least have a rack fitted later if you change your mind or want to try it out.

I also run V brakes and they are fine, even in the wet. It's only the first couple of times I brake in the wet which can be an issue, after that they are fine. That said, I have never had discs and understand they are better, just saying V brakes are fine and quite usable if the right bike comes along with them.

It is hard to work this out on a test ride, you really need a few weeks of commuting to find out if you don't like the bike. I think we all have different preferences. For example, the frame on my flat bar broke a while ago and the replacement is probably the right size for me (Large and I'm 5'10") but the old frame would have been an XL and I far preferred it. The drop bar also has an XL frame which I like. I just seem to like a slightly large frame.

Go with what you find comfortable, see if you can get a long test ride. Also, make sure you get a good saddle. I run Brooks B17 saddles but not everyone's rear end agrees with Brooks, get something you are comfortable with. When buying my flat bar about 3 years ago there were a pile at about the same price ($1,500) with similar specs, the reason I chose the Cannondale was the geometry suited me, it was the most comfortable bike for me. Find a bike you can ride 10KMs on and feel like you could keep going all day, both my bikes are like that for me. Maybe you could hire a couple of bikes somewhere to see what suits.

DS
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koshari
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Re: Flat or drop bars for Commuting

Postby koshari » Tue Mar 29, 2016 1:42 pm

Firstly david nice write up. However i do question 2 of your points. Firstly the geometry of the bike has little to do with the bars and secondly brifters go very well with mini Vs, mech discs or there is also TRP Hy/Ro's.
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tubby74
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Re: Flat or drop bars for Commuting

Postby tubby74 » Tue Mar 29, 2016 1:57 pm

I specifically went for a flat bar for my 22km each way commute just for the cbd end of things, better control and braking and went for flat pedalsfor the stop start bit of the journey, and added egro grips with the little bar ends. suits me but if you are planning longer weekend rides drop bars may suit more.
I already had a road bike but if I was starting again something like the malvern star oppy S1 would probably be my pick . $1600 or so, steel frame, 105 and hydraulic discs.

jdh500
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Re: Flat or drop bars for Commuting

Postby jdh500 » Tue Mar 29, 2016 7:26 pm

I use a flatbar with bar ends to provide different hand positions.i only commute about 7 to 10km each way on mostly flat cycleways. Depending on the geography of the route and distance could be happy wigh either dropbars or flatbar.

JDH

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DavidS
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Re: Flat or drop bars for Commuting

Postby DavidS » Tue Mar 29, 2016 9:25 pm

Hmm, mini Vs, Koshari. I might investigate when the bike gets a bit older. Don't mind bar end shifters but brifters do look like a great convenience.

I do like the look of the Malvern Star Oppy S1, would have looked at it after the frame broke on the Cannondale but no-one had one in stock to look at.

I do find the geometry different on the drop bar and flat bar but that might have more to do with the bikes. I like flat bars partly because the cross bar seems is longer, I like to stretch out and this is probably reflected in the large frame on the touring bike.

But I would reiterate that having a ride will be the best indication of whether the bike is for you and geometry is certainly one of my important aspects.

DS
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Zippy7
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Re: Flat or drop bars for Commuting

Postby Zippy7 » Wed Mar 30, 2016 10:12 pm

I commute on a flat bar.
I'm happy with the more upright position and visibility benefit. I have an ergo handle grip with bar ends included.
The flat bar has more space on the bar to put your toys/gadgets on.
I have 2 lights (see and be seen), bell for pedestrians (I'm in NSW), air zound (for cars/traffic), and still have space for a phone/computer. You can't fit all that on a drop bar.
I have a pannier rack, mudguards and I'm running 30c tyres (nice and comfy).

When I commute, I want to get home safely in one piece. I'm not riding a race, I'm getting exercise to/from work.
I go on Sunday morning rides with the lads (2-3hr rides). They just asked me not to ride with the pannier bag, so I bought a saddle bag :)

$1500 will get you into a carbon flat bar roadie with hydro disc brakes.
You can always get a drop bar bike as a second bike :D
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caneye
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Re: Flat or drop bars for Commuting

Postby caneye » Thu Mar 31, 2016 1:19 pm

i have both FB and dropbars.
always thought i was going to commute with the FB. but i ended up preferring the dropbar more.

nothing wrong with the FB, but for my 15km commute, my fingers were going numb. bought a pair of Ergo bar-ends which helped heaps, but they did increase the width of the handlebar. had a stack which broke 1 of the bar-ends, so i'm now back to a generic set of BBB alu bar-ends. not as comfy as Ergo but does the job. the FB has been converted to full mudguards and is my dedicated wet bike .

my regular commuter is a CX bike.
- its got a dropbar but the position is not as aggressive as my roadie. so still plenty upright.
- it's got a lot happening on the handlebar - bell, Magellan ccomp, light, Virb camera. the last 2 mounted on a BArFly extension. OH .. and i've got inline brake shifters too <-- very useful for commuting in traffic or when on shared path with unpredictable pedestrians when you need to brake very quickly.
- it has mechanical Avid BB7 disc brakes. not the latest and greatest but again it does the job very well in wet weather, and a whole lot better than the DuraAce rim brakes on my roadie (personal opinion)
- i started riding with 32mm tyres but have now downsized to 28mm, which i find to be a good compromise for weekend group rides and commuting

- only downside is the lack of mudguard eyelets. i used the AssSaver for half a year but found it next to useless, so have started using the Barfly mudguard instead. easy to install and remove. reasonably priced from BikeBug.
- the bike is heavy though, low 9kgs. it's got heavy wheels. i might get a 2nd set for weekend rides, but it's not a priority at the moment.

Calvin27
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Re: Flat or drop bars for Commuting

Postby Calvin27 » Thu Mar 31, 2016 2:04 pm

+1 for drops. No reason given.
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