What to do with my flat bar?

Beating the system - the cycling commuting section

What to do with my flat bar?

Postby lunar_c » Sun Oct 16, 2011 6:18 pm

This is my commuting bike, an inexpensive entry level flat bar. It's based on a MTB frame, with cheap MTB components and 700C wheels. Trouble is I've done a couple of thousands kays on it now and it's starting to show it's wear. My lovely fiance bought it for me as my first foray into road bikes a couple of years ago, so I couldn't sell it.

Trouble is I've come to dislike flat bars. They bring you into road riding with their comforting MTB'ness but after a while I came to realise I wanted to get out of the wind a bit now that I could sit on 30km/h+ for extended periods, and have more than one handlebar position (my wrists sometimes ache after ~30km rides)

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It has rack and fender mounts and a pretty robust aluminium frame with generous clearance for fenders, big tyres etc, but steel bars, chainrings, seatpost, and front fork. Consequently it weighs a fair bit even though I suspect the frame is still pretty heavy as it's an XL. The geometry is pretty much right for a commuter though and with a nice big head tube.

So I have some spare bits and pieces in the shed, some road stems, bars, a pair of tiagra 9spd shifters, 105 175mm double crank, 105 RD, lots of cassettes and things etc

I think I'm going to make this into a commutingdrop bar with a new aluminium fork, road bars and stem, some long reach caliper brakes, and a mix of tiagra shifters, 105 cranks, and probably a 9 speed MTB cassette and rear derailleur to get a nice low gear range as I have most of the bits it won't cost me much outlay.
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by BNA » Sun Oct 16, 2011 7:23 pm

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Re: What to do with my flat bar?

Postby trailgumby » Sun Oct 16, 2011 7:23 pm

Frame might be a bit long to put a dropbar on it. That would make you rather more stretched out than a regular road bike, which could result in shoulder and lower back issues.

The setup looks to be quite an upright rider position, even for a flatbar. For example, on my enduro MTB bikes I have my bars lower than the saddle. My hardtail has an alternate wheelset with 700x23c hoops and tyres on and doubles as my commuter. I have no problem riding 60km in a day and last year did the Spring Cycle non-stop and rode back to the car for a total of 70km in the day with no dramas. Your bars looks very straight with little back- or upsweep, which won't help your wrists or your ulnar nerves.

You could consider dropping the quill stem lower and getting some slightly swept-back and swept-up mtb style bars that will be more wrist friendly. Bar ends would also give you alternate hand positions for the longer rides.
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Re: What to do with my flat bar?

Postby Nobody » Sun Oct 16, 2011 8:36 pm

If the frame fits you as a flat bar, it won't fit you as a drop bar frame. Buy a drop bar commuter bike if you want one and keep that one for a spare.

I suggest you do the fit calculator below so you know what frame size you need and therefore can see how different your current frame is.
http://www.competitivecyclist.com/za/CC ... ATOR_INTRO
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Re: What to do with my flat bar?

Postby lunar_c » Sun Oct 16, 2011 11:15 pm

I have a 60cm 90's Colnago which I measured myself up for based on the Zinn's fitment method. Just trying to think of something to do with the old flatbar to make it a bit more comfortable and lighter.

Now I've been riding road bikes a bit longer it's not as comfortable especially with a headwind or on a long ride.
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Re: What to do with my flat bar?

Postby Timmeh » Mon Oct 31, 2011 9:24 pm

If the setup already works, why not:
Mudguards + kevlar tyres + bar ends = wet weather commuting bike

Probably needs a chain replacement too...
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Re: What to do with my flat bar?

Postby you cannot be sirrus » Mon Oct 31, 2011 9:29 pm

I stuck my flatbar on the trainer. I still take it for a proper ride every now and again and love the ride.
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Re: What to do with my flat bar?

Postby rkelsen » Mon Oct 31, 2011 9:38 pm

If you've got the parts laying around, then there's nothing to lose by experimenting.

People have converted flat bars to drops successfully in the past.

Give it a go, you'll know if it's wrong when you ride it. Post pics when you get it right. :)
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Re: What to do with my flat bar?

Postby lunar_c » Mon Oct 31, 2011 11:54 pm

I took to it the other day with some new cables (outers and inners) and a good clean up and also converted the rear hub to a hollow axle and quick release (pain in the butt carrying a spanner) and replaced the bars with some alloy MTB riser bars and changed all the hardware from the rack over to stainless nuts and bolts. So far so good!
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Re: What to do with my flat bar?

Postby mikesbytes » Tue Nov 01, 2011 8:22 am

I'd go n+1 and buy a new roadie. Keep the flat bar as a backup and for short rides, like down to the local shops
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Re: What to do with my flat bar?

Postby Kneedown » Tue Nov 01, 2011 10:24 am

Timmeh wrote:If the setup already works, why not:
Mudguards + kevlar tyres + bar ends = wet weather commuting bike

Probably needs a chain replacement too...


^WHS...a new stem to lower the bars a bit more and some tri-bars plus the addition of the above and you will have a great wet weather commuter which is exactly what I have done with my old flat bar.
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Re: What to do with my flat bar?

Postby janus77 » Mon Nov 07, 2011 3:00 pm

Two words: Bar Ends.

Seriously, grab some long bar ends from your LBS (or online) and give it a go, they make a huge amount of difference to comfort for long hours in the saddle. They don't help heaps to get out of the wind, but for most of us mere mortals, it's hard to stay in the drops for too long a period anyway.

Is a cheap option to potentially improve your comfort on the bike, and make it a little easier to get out of the wind for short periods when you want to. If that doesn't pan out you can always buy a drop bar later?

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Re: What to do with my flat bar?

Postby lunar_c » Mon Nov 14, 2011 9:26 pm

I took your advice guys and put some alloy MTB bars on with a gentle up bend, some new grips, replaced all of the cables with jagwire, replaced the rear axle with a hollow one so I could run a quick release skewer, and gave it a good clean. Much nicer now and it'll keep going as my commuter for a while.

Cheers,
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