Flats for drops!

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Flats for drops!

Postby The Walrus » Fri Jan 04, 2013 4:46 pm

I can't get on with drop bars at all. I don't feel in control and it stops me riding the bike!

So I'm exploring the idea of swapping to a decent flat bar set up. It seems to have been done many times so I'm assuming my bike can be changed as I've seen pictures of it completed.

I was wondering what kind of price my LBS might charge and what people here think is a good price.

I have a Specialized Elite
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by BNA » Fri Jan 04, 2013 4:54 pm

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Re: Flats for drops!

Postby HappyHumber » Fri Jan 04, 2013 4:54 pm

Are you confident you have the right reach to the bars for your body and riding style? ie. the combo of (effective) top tube & stem length.

It's a whole lot easier process to swap just a stem, than to have to go all through the hoo-har of swapping shifters, brake levers as well as the stem to replicate similar fit on a drop bar, with everything else being equal on the same bike.

Come to think of it, you could even try different styles of drops - they have their own reach length, width and drop height to the lower portion.

Eitherway - going to a flat bar straight away will mean a lot more than just the bar itself requiring changeover.
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Re: Flats for drops!

Postby Red Rider » Fri Jan 04, 2013 5:11 pm

I have a flat bar bike and drop bar bike. Between each bike, there is a 13cm difference in the distance from the headset to the grips/hoods. How would you overcome this issue?
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Re: Flats for drops!

Postby HappyHumber » Fri Jan 04, 2013 6:40 pm

Red Rider wrote:I have a flat bar bike and drop bar bike. Between each bike, there is a 13cm difference in the distance from the headset to the grips/hoods. How would you overcome this issue?


You need to consider the combined distance of reach from the saddle & seatpost. The 13cm difference from bar to the stem is only part of the equation. It's hard to isolate one factor of a bikes fit without considering others. Effectively, unless the frames are otherwise identical it's probably pointless sweating the differences too much.

Would it be reasonable to say that you prefer one bike over the other for different sort of rides? You probably have a slightly different stance between the flat bars and the drops and this will affect your subconscious reason perhaps for chosing one of the bikes over the other for a different type of ride. Neither stance may cause you discomfort over short rides - but you might be aware of one giving you grief over longer, sustained trips.

My earlier comment to the OP about probably having to swap to a shorter stem (amongst other things) going to a drop bar assumes the same frame is being used. It can be generalised that flat bars require a slightly more upright, less "racey" position and thus you don't lean forward quite as much.
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Re: Flats for drops!

Postby Red Rider » Fri Jan 04, 2013 8:32 pm

HappyHumber wrote:
Red Rider wrote:I have a flat bar bike and drop bar bike. Between each bike, there is a 13cm difference in the distance from the headset to the grips/hoods. How would you overcome this issue?


You need to consider the combined distance of reach from the saddle & seatpost. The 13cm difference from bar to the stem is only part of the equation. It's hard to isolate one factor of a bikes fit without considering others. Effectively, unless the frames are otherwise identical it's probably pointless sweating the differences too much.

Would it be reasonable to say that you prefer one bike over the other for different sort of rides? You probably have a slightly different stance between the flat bars and the drops and this will affect your subconscious reason perhaps for chosing one of the bikes over the other for a different type of ride. Neither stance may cause you discomfort over short rides - but you might be aware of one giving you grief over longer, sustained trips.

My earlier comment to the OP about probably having to swap to a shorter stem (amongst other things) going to a drop bar assumes the same frame is being used. It can be generalised that flat bars require a slightly more upright, less "racey" position and thus you don't lean forward quite as much.

I'm isolating the difference of the distance of the headset to the grips/hoods as Walrus is doing a conversion (same frame). So obviously 13cm is quite a big change, there's only so much you can make up with the stem (my drop bar has a short stem). Just supplying the raw figures of relative differences between the two styles. I'm assuming here Walrus that you bought the size of drop bar bike that suits you best, and changing it to a flat bar will make it very hard to retain a similar geometry, just something to be aware of. Personally, the overall difference in distance from where my sit-bones perch to where my hands rest is only ~2cm shorter for my flat bar. They are still very different bikes in many other respects for different purposes.

It may be just as cost-effective selling what you have and buying a flat-bar bike that suits you nicely.
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Re: Flats for drops!

Postby high_tea » Fri Jan 04, 2013 9:38 pm

The Walrus wrote:I can't get on with drop bars at all. I don't feel in control and it stops me riding the bike!

So I'm exploring the idea of swapping to a decent flat bar set up. It seems to have been done many times so I'm assuming my bike can be changed as I've seen pictures of it completed.

I was wondering what kind of price my LBS might charge and what people here think is a good price.

I have a Specialized Elite


You will need new bars, new stem, new levers and new shifters. Possibly new cables and a few sundries like that. I paid an LBS to convert from flats to drops a few years a ago. From memory, I paid about $180. This included a service of some description, though. I don't recall exactly how that broke down - there might well have been a new chain in there and there was definitely a Travel Agent, so the sundry parts would have come to something. On top of that, I guess I spent around $120 on stem, bars and tape and another $50 or so on shifters (friction barcons - a bit of an acquired taste:) ) Brake levers I already had and the last set I got ran me $50 from memory. So, not a cheap undertaking. So that's, what, $450 in parts and labour. At a wild guess, you can probably throw another $100 onto the parts bill for indexed shifters of some description.

So if a shop came in at around $4-500 all up I probably wouldn't stick at that, assuming decent parts were specced.
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Re: Flats for drops!

Postby The Walrus » Fri Jan 04, 2013 11:32 pm

Thanks for the input everyone. Looks like a costly affair.

I realize that there could be geometry issues but I don't get too bogged down with the figures and just ride a bike that fits and feels good. It may not be possible but I was interested to know.

Maybe I do need to sell and buy...or is that buy and sell?
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Re: Flats for drops!

Postby HappyHumber » Sat Jan 05, 2013 1:15 pm

Maybe I do need to sell and buy...or is that buy and sell?


Nah.... n+1 :D
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Re: Flats for drops!

Postby The Walrus » Sat Jan 05, 2013 1:26 pm

Haha...

I went to my LBS today. It's the Specialized dealer where I got both my bikes and they know me well.

They told me that it easily be done as the Rubaix has a geometry that can suit either bars! The Sirrus model (I think) is a flat bar and is based on the Rubaix.

Cost? He couldn't be sure and wants to get back to me after he prices up parts on Monday. But he said they've done it a few times and $4/500 sounded expensive to him. But I'll know more next week.
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Re: Flats for drops!

Postby Graeme H » Mon Jan 07, 2013 9:33 pm

Hi Walrus,

Are you sure it's the bars that are the problem?

If you have come from a bike with touring/cruising geometry to a bike with racing/sporting geometry, then the bike will have twitchier handling and a comparative lack of directional stability that could make it feel harder to control, regardless of the handlebar arrangement. This concerns the wheelbase, weight distribution, headtube angle/ fork rake/ trail, which is a different set of geometric issues from the bike fit question that others have discussed above.

If a frame with the same angles is available with a flat bar configuration, then a test ride would soon answer the question.

Just a thought, before you spend the money, as obviously I don't know your circumstances.
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Re: Flats for drops!

Postby greyhoundtom » Tue Jan 08, 2013 6:17 am

Just remove the bar tape, remove the brifters, flip the handle bars upside down, replace the brifters onto the front top curve of the bars, replace the bar tape.

Nice comfortable sit up riding position.

Less than one hours work, no parts to buy except possibly longer cables.........and gives you the chance to turn it back into a dropbar if ever required.

+ you will be able to take a photo of the end result and post it on the ugly bike thread. :wink:
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Re: Flats for drops!

Postby KenGS » Tue Jan 08, 2013 6:40 am

The Walrus wrote:Haha...

I went to my LBS today. It's the Specialized dealer where I got both my bikes and they know me well.

They told me that it easily be done as the Rubaix has a geometry that can suit either bars! The Sirrus model (I think) is a flat bar and is based on the Rubaix.

Cost? He couldn't be sure and wants to get back to me after he prices up parts on Monday. But he said they've done it a few times and $4/500 sounded expensive to him. But I'll know more next week.

You can get a new Sirrus Sport for $699 or a 2012 model even cheaper. Then you'd have N+1
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Re: Flats for drops!

Postby Undertow » Tue Jan 08, 2013 7:59 am

The Walrus wrote:I can't get on with drop bars at all. I don't feel in control and it stops me riding the bike!

So I'm exploring the idea of swapping to a decent flat bar set up. It seems to have been done many times so I'm assuming my bike can be changed as I've seen pictures of it completed.

I was wondering what kind of price my LBS might charge and what people here think is a good price.

I have a Specialized Elite


Why do you need to get down into the drops? unless you're sprinting or TTing there's nothing wrong with spending most of your time on the hoods with a little time on the flats when climbing or just want a change in position.

One of my friends had a similar problem when he first got a drop bar bike, until I showed him that you can press your brakes from the hoods (he had been changing down to the drops every time he wanted to brake).
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Re: Flats for drops!

Postby silentbutdeadly » Tue Jan 08, 2013 10:05 am

I switched from a flatbar on the CX commuter to a shallow flared drop bar (Salsa Cowbell but you can also use a Zipp Service Course abr) on a 80mm 17 degree rise stem (Zipp Service Course) and getting into and staying in the drops is easy and comfortable. And way better than the flat bar setup.
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Re: Flats for drops!

Postby high_tea » Tue Jan 08, 2013 11:28 am

silentbutdeadly wrote:I switched from a flatbar on the CX commuter to a shallow flared drop bar (Salsa Cowbell but you can also use a Zipp Service Course abr) on a 80mm 17 degree rise stem (Zipp Service Course) and getting into and staying in the drops is easy and comfortable. And way better than the flat bar setup.

What levers/shifters do you use?
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Re: Flats for drops!

Postby silentbutdeadly » Wed Jan 09, 2013 7:59 am

high_tea wrote:
silentbutdeadly wrote:I switched from a flatbar on the CX commuter to a shallow flared drop bar (Salsa Cowbell but you can also use a Zipp Service Course bar) on a 80mm 17 degree rise stem (Zipp Service Course) and getting into and staying in the drops is easy and comfortable. And way better than the flat bar setup.

What levers/shifters do you use?


SRAM Rival. Already had Rival FD and RD on it from when Monza went a bit mad on group pricing last year (sadly no longer). Bit of a struggle to find at a budget but Jensons came through eventually!!
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Re: Flats for drops!

Postby The Walrus » Tue Jan 15, 2013 7:30 pm

Undertow wrote:
The Walrus wrote:I can't get on with drop bars at all. I don't feel in control and it stops me riding the bike!

So I'm exploring the idea of swapping to a decent flat bar set up. It seems to have been done many times so I'm assuming my bike can be changed as I've seen pictures of it completed.

I was wondering what kind of price my LBS might charge and what people here think is a good price.

I have a Specialized Elite


Why do you need to get down into the drops? unless you're sprinting or TTing there's nothing wrong with spending most of your time on the hoods with a little time on the flats when climbing or just want a change in position.

One of my friends had a similar problem when he first got a drop bar bike, until I showed him that you can press your brakes from the hoods (he had been changing down to the drops every time he wanted to brake).


I never use the drops (which kind of underlines my point) but I understand that the hoods can be a good position where you can brake from, but I just don't like the hand position.
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Re: Flats for drops!

Postby The Walrus » Tue Jan 15, 2013 8:09 pm

What alternative bars could I consider apart from a flatbar?

I could add a second brake lever to the current set up (I remember those in the 70's). I generally ride my MTB with brakes ready to go. The hoods don't give me that security.
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Re: Flats for drops!

Postby high_tea » Tue Jan 15, 2013 8:23 pm

The Walrus wrote:What alternative bars could I consider apart from a flatbar?

I could add a second brake lever to the current set up (I remember those in the 70's). I generally ride my MTB with brakes ready to go. The hoods don't give me that security.


I have a set of moustache bars and quite like them. Another option I've heard of, but not personally tried, is trekking bars.
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Re: Flats for drops!

Postby The Walrus » Tue Jan 15, 2013 8:29 pm

high_tea wrote:
The Walrus wrote:What alternative bars could I consider apart from a flatbar?

I could add a second brake lever to the current set up (I remember those in the 70's). I generally ride my MTB with brakes ready to go. The hoods don't give me that security.


I have a set of moustache bars and quite like them. Another option I've heard of, but not personally tried, is trekking bars.



Thanks high_tea

Funny you should mention Moustache bars but I've just found them and been reading up, they look quite interesting. How long have you had them and what made you swap? Do you have a picture of your set up?
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Re: Flats for drops!

Postby il padrone » Tue Jan 15, 2013 8:34 pm

The Walrus wrote:I could add a second brake lever to the current set up (I remember those in the 70's).

Interupter levers. They are very different to the old 70s "safety levers" - They work very well as they pull the cable (push the housing actually) directly.

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Trekking bars aka butterfly bars are less rigid than most other bars. I'm not convinced they are a good move for a number of reasons - greater flex at the braking position; brings your reach in very close; unable to angle the 'bar-end' position independently; and difficulty in fitting a handlebar bag.

Moustache bars are similar to North Road bars - like what I have on my Trek Metro commuter

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Re: Flats for drops!

Postby high_tea » Tue Jan 15, 2013 8:55 pm

The Walrus wrote:
high_tea wrote:
The Walrus wrote:What alternative bars could I consider apart from a flatbar?

I could add a second brake lever to the current set up (I remember those in the 70's). I generally ride my MTB with brakes ready to go. The hoods don't give me that security.


I have a set of moustache bars and quite like them. Another option I've heard of, but not personally tried, is trekking bars.



Thanks high_tea

Funny you should mention Moustache bars but I've just found them and been reading up, they look quite interesting. How long have you had them and what made you swap? Do you have a picture of your set up?


I've had them for 9 months or so. I swapped because I use a WeeRide (top tube-mounted child seat) and wanted to get my hands further apart while keeping my hands parallel-ish with the top tube. An unexpected side-effect is that I got better braking, presumably due to better cable routing. I had bar-ends and separate brake levers, so I just transferred them across. Apart from having to shim the brake levers it was easy peasy.

I don't have a picture, but they're pretty similar to il padrone's North Roads, except the straight bit sweeps further back - roughly parallel to the top tube.
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Re: Flats for drops!

Postby silentbutdeadly » Wed Jan 16, 2013 9:17 am

The Walrus wrote:What alternative bars could I consider apart from a flatbar?

I could add a second brake lever to the current set up (I remember those in the 70's). I generally ride my MTB with brakes ready to go. The hoods don't give me that security.



All my flat bar bikes use Ragley Carnegie bars in the +/-25mm rise version. Really, really comfortable. The only problem with them in respect to a road going bike is their width. Which makes road handling quite twitchy.
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Though I belive the carbon flat version is narrower...
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Re: Flats for drops!

Postby il padrone » Wed Jan 16, 2013 9:46 am

silentbutdeadly wrote: The only problem with them in respect to a road going bike is their width. Which makes road handling quite twitchy.

Going by your picture you seem to have a good inch or so that you could easily cut off each end of those bars :idea:
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Re: Flats for drops!

Postby greyhoundtom » Wed Jan 16, 2013 4:40 pm

Not sure if it’s an optical illusion due to the photo angle but the stem seems very short, which can certainly contribute to twitchy steering.
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