Recommendations on flat bar bikes

Questions about purchasing bicycles and parts

Can i fit a drop bar onto a flat bar road bike?

Poll ended at Sat May 05, 2007 4:29 pm

Yes
10
91%
No
0
No votes
That would be stupid (please explain why)
1
9%
 
Total votes : 11

Recommendations on flat bar bikes

Postby Victor » Sat Apr 28, 2007 4:29 pm

Hi all,

after spending many valuable weekend hours in bike stores, i finally found out that flat bar road bikes are exactly road bikes with flat bars, with little difference to those with drop bars. This is of course only true for my measly price range of $1000.

Now my question is:

1) Can anyone give me any good recommendations for a flat bar road bike
2) Can someone give me the laydown on flat bar shimano equivalents to drop bar bikes (or are they the same)? For example, whtat's the equivalent of Shimano Tiagra gears on a flat bar?
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by BNA » Sat Apr 28, 2007 5:07 pm

BNA
 

Postby mikesbytes » Sat Apr 28, 2007 5:07 pm

You will need to replace all of the leavers at the same time.

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Re: Recommendations on flat bar bikes

Postby europa » Sat Apr 28, 2007 5:28 pm

Victor wrote:after spending many valuable weekend hours in bike stores, i finally found out that flat bar road bikes are exactly road bikes with flat bars, with little difference to those with drop bars. This is of course only true for my measly price range of $1000.


That's not quite right and there is a lot of variation within flat bars too.

Basically, a full on racing bike is designed to have the rider head down, bum up in a very aerodynamic position and the geometry of the bike (the steering angles, seat to pedal angles, etc) are designed to provide the most efficient use of power in that riding position and to meet the requirements of riding in a very fast pack. Typically, a full on racing bike changes direction very quickly at the expense of stability.

Moving up to the more 'comfort' end of the drop bar market - this includes touring bikes, comfort bikes, bikes that are designed for more relaxed riding (such as the Specialized Sequoia). These still have the drop bars and often bars lower than the seat to get that aerodynamic position, but the geometry is more relaxed ie, the bike is more stable and hence more relaxing to ride at the expense of not being as nimble.

Then you get the most sporty of the flat bar bikes, and these are probably fairly similar to the above group with possibly the bars a bit higher. You don't get the lowered hand position of the drop bars but you still get that reasonably quick steering. They don't use the same frames as similar drop bar bikes though but can be converted if you are prepared to buy new levers and bars (gets pricey very quickly and isn't worth it usually).

Then there are the very relaxed bikes - these have the bars quite a bit higher than the seat and closer to the rider, so that the rider is taking more weight on the seat that in the above class. The geometry is more relaxed yet again - you have a bike that is very easy to ride and comfortable as you are sitting upright with your weight on your bum. However, that upright sitting position is not as kind to your bottom and you have to push all the air out of the way with your body - in a head wind, you feel like the mainsail on a man-o-war.

You need to work out where your riding use fits into the above categories, and that description is very basic - it varies dramatically from brand to brand, even the descriptions and names of the various classes varies dramatically, so I recommend that you read through a few of the websites/catelogues to get a feel for where you want to be.

As far as the componentry goes, I've never looked into it so I don't know how much of the flat bar componetry overlaps with the drop bar componentry. Manufacturers do tend to choose components depending on the job - my Trek520 uses an unashamed mix of mtb and road groupsets, but I don't really know what's used on the middle to bottom end flatties. Maybe your reading of the websites will help there.

As for recommending something - that's up to you, your use and your body. That's not a cop out because what suits you, won't suit me. However, once you start to get interested in specific models, ask here about them - with luck you'll find someone else who owns that model and they can give you some feedback on it.

Richard
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Postby wombatoutofhell » Sat Apr 28, 2007 5:37 pm

co incedently i was looking at bikes in Dandenong today and the shop owner mentioned a bloke who'd come in with his missus and bought 2 Avanti Blades. She liked it as a flat bar, but he, while he loved the bike, prefered drop bars. So the shop changed the bars, levers and shifters for him-at a price of course. Apparently the bloke returned to say how much he loved the bike. So it can be done as long as you're willing to pay for it!
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Postby europa » Sat Apr 28, 2007 6:10 pm

wombatoutofhell wrote:co incedently i was looking at bikes in Dandenong today and the shop owner mentioned a bloke who'd come in with his missus and bought 2 Avanti Blades. She liked it as a flat bar, but he, while he loved the bike, prefered drop bars. So the shop changed the bars, levers and shifters for him-at a price of course. Apparently the bloke returned to say how much he loved the bike. So it can be done as long as you're willing to pay for it!


That's the thing, the price. Generally, if you change things before taking delivery of the bike, the parts coming off can be used as spare parts stock reducing what you pay. Make major changes early and yes, my bike was modified from stock before delivery :D

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Postby Victor » Sun Apr 29, 2007 3:40 pm

well that's not what i heard from the lbs guy. Correct me if i'm wrong:

he basically told me that if i paid a $1000 for a drop bar road bike and a flat bar, the flat bar would have much better components and therefore have much better value for money.
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Postby stryker84 » Sun Apr 29, 2007 3:58 pm

generally correct, most flat bar roadies are cheaper than the racer equivalent with same level componentry...
however, changing the handlebars/levers over from flat to drops would at least equal - if not go over - the price of the stock drop bar bike.

and then there's the geometry to consider. typically a flat bar will be anything from barely more upright to almost vertical depending on range/model, while your racer is almost always leant over a lot more than any flat bar roadie on the market.

i wouldn't compare the bikes though, i got a flat bar Avanti Blade Sport, thinking it would suit my compromise for reliable commuting, as well as the dream for speed... and it definitely does. However I often find myself staring longingly at the sleek racers in the shop windows, simply because they're different type machines.
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Postby geoffs » Sun Apr 29, 2007 5:37 pm

Victor wrote:well that's not what i heard from the lbs guy. Correct me if i'm wrong:

he basically told me that if i paid a $1000 for a drop bar road bike and a flat bar, the flat bar would have much better components and therefore have much better value for money.

I am not sure that that would be the case as a $1000 mtb would have front suspension which would cost more than a road fork. I think that Deore or Deore LX would be the equivalent of Tiagra.
As europa said, you can mix and match shimano components without to many problems. The main compatibility problem would be brakes as STI levers aren't designed to work with V-brakes or disks. Travel-agents or something like Tektro mini-V's would solve this.
Drop handlebars are much more comfortable on a long ride. Have you thought of looking at a cyclo-cross or a touring bike?

Cheers

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Postby Bnej » Sun Apr 29, 2007 6:58 pm

I'd punt the $995 for an OCR 3 and be done with it.

1) It's not a bad entry level bike
2) You get drop bars right now, with STI levers
3) The Sora gear is really pretty decent

Seriously, drops and STI levers are so much more ergonomic than flat bars. If you're going to end up spending the money to change bars, shifters and levers anyway, why not just go the whole hog now?

The flat bar equiv for Tiagra is Tiagra, though they do have a special range of shifters and some flat bar front deraileurs, you can get the Tiagra rear deraileur.

E.g, Giant CRX 3 is Sora, CRX 2 is Tiagra, CRX 1 is 105.
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