Can I move from flat bars to drop bars

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Can I move from flat bars to drop bars

Postby Jerryjan » Fri May 25, 2012 5:22 pm

Hi All
This is my first post I own a crx 4 which is a great bike, but I would like to change for a road bike with, drop bars. I am 59 years old. Yesterday I rented a cannondale Synaspe which I rode for about 2 hours. I did love the gear change. I did get a bit of neck acke near the end, I was getting a bit tired after cycling into the wind for the last 40 mins. I have talked with another dealer he suggested maybe the bike was not set for me, quite possible as I only adjusted the seat height. I have to admit I have only really cycled the last 4 months or should I stick to flat bars or go for the drops. I do like the look of the road bikes with drop bars, maybe I could set the bars higher.
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by BNA » Fri May 25, 2012 9:23 pm

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Re: Can I move from flat bars to drop bars

Postby DoogleDave » Fri May 25, 2012 9:23 pm

Hi Jerry,
To really know how the bike feels you will need to make sure the bike has been adjusted (to within reason, being a test) to fit your body.

This will mean:
- adjusting the height of the seat so you have a slight bend in your knee when the peddle is at 6 o'clock
A common way to test this is to put your heel on the peddle when it is at 6 o'clock. Your leg should be straight but shouldnt lock your knee. That way when you put your foot on the pedal normally you will get the slight knee bend you are after

- next is to put your right pedal at 3 o'clock position (or left at 9 o'clock) and the front of your knee should be directly over the centre of the pedal. If not the seat should be moved forward or backwards to achieve this.

- next is to make sure the bars are at a comfortable height and aren't too far forward for your reach.
If they are a shorter stem may be needed to bring the bars closer (or the size of the bike you are testing is not the right size for you).

If you can get these all reasonably close, then you can go for a ride again and see how it goes.
A road bike will probably make you reach forward a bit more and if your neck, arms and shoulders arent used to it you will feel sore afterwards - but this is part of conditioning your body to get used to it (again, within reason).

It all comes down to what riding you are looking to do. Longer rides will probably be suited more to a road bike, where shorter rides and/or commuting etc. can be better on a flatbar - but everyone is different and has their own wants, requirements and preferences. A flatbar can be ridden on long rides and a road bike for commuting.

Lastly, if you do decide to look at getting a road bike, look around at all the different models that fit into your budget and test ride the ones that appeal to you. This will then allow you to get a feel for which one(s) feel good to you and you can then make an informed decision. Don't just ride the Synapse and assume a road bike is or isnt for you....as the Synapse may or may not be for you.

Hope this helps...
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Re: Can I move from flat bars to drop bars

Postby Wayfarer » Sat May 26, 2012 1:30 am

It's a new bike with a different position, so your neck isn't yet accustomed to riding that way. A few weeks that way will strengthen your neck muscles alot, and reduce the probability of a whip-lash effect in the event of a car accident where you crash into something in front of you. Drop bars are far more fun, and comfortable. When you're standing normally, your thumbs face forward, not inwards, and this is replicated in drop bar riding. You also ride a fair bit faster (since your body is streamlined, you can 'pull' alot more power through your core), and there are more positions to use for smashing up a hill. There's no reason the bars can't go higher :)
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Re: Can I move from flat bars to drop bars

Postby Tornado » Sat May 26, 2012 11:03 am

Any decent bike shop will help you to get it set up. Seat height and position forward/back, reach distance to your bars and bar width are the bare bones basics. From there you can do a couple of rides and see if it's any better. If not ask to trial different bikes with different setups. My local shop lent me different bikes each weekend for the saturday ride until I found the best feel/fit for me. The shop owner goes out of his way for everyone at his shop and regularly checks up on how I'm going with it.
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Re: Can I move from flat bars to drop bars

Postby cyclotaur » Sat May 26, 2012 12:51 pm

Most big brands have a range of relaxed/comfort/endurance geometry bikes targeted at 'mature' riders without the athletic suppleness of competitive younger ones. Giant Defy, Cannondale Synapse, BMC Streetracer, Avanti Cadent etc etc

Go to drops. You'll adjust fine, especially with some good advice from LBS. :wink:
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Re: Can I move from flat bars to drop bars

Postby brentono » Sat May 26, 2012 1:17 pm

Enjoy your riding Jerry.
Unless your in competition (and only under pressure) would you be down in the drops.
Other than that, you should be on the tops, sitting up (so much the same position as flatbar)
Much better for your breathing and comfort.
Only a dreamer would ride around in the drops all day. (you may have been misinformed) :wink:
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Re: Can I move from flat bars to drop bars

Postby antipodean » Sat May 26, 2012 2:31 pm

brentono wrote:Enjoy your riding Jerry.
Unless your in competition (and only under pressure) would you be down in the drops.
Other than that, you should be on the tops, sitting up (so much the same position as flatbar)
Much better for your breathing and comfort.
Only a dreamer would ride around in the drops all day. (you may have been misinformed) :wink:
:mrgreen:


brentono maybe you need a flatbar.
I do 99% of my descents, riding into the wind and just generally hammering, in the drops.
If it hampers your breathing or you are uncomfortable in the drops you are either overweight, very unfit or the bike is not setup properly.
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Re: Can I move from flat bars to drop bars

Postby Stuey » Sat May 26, 2012 3:16 pm

Hi Jerry,

This page is worth a read. A different perspective on bike fit for blokes 'in a certain age group'. :wink:

I agree with the above - a drop bar is more comfortable - but I reckon some older guys returning to cycling go overboard with the low bar/bum up look. And that's what it is for some of them - the look. Consequently, I see loads of new age bikers around my area on their Pinarellos and Cervelos NEVER in the drops, and I live on the coast where it can be very windy. :twisted:

Drop bars are much better if you have to stand up when mashing up a hill, too. Gives you a much more natural hand position.

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Re: Can I move from flat bars to drop bars

Postby il padrone » Sat May 26, 2012 3:28 pm

Rivendell wrote:But let's say you have a bike you like already, but you want to like it more; or you don't like it, but a new one's not going to happen for you, not right now. You aren't stuck, unless your bike is way too small and has a threadless headset and it's companion, the non-raisable clamp-on stem. Then, truly, you're stuck.


Not so stuck.

There are a number of varieties of these steerer extenders available.

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Re: Can I move from flat bars to drop bars

Postby Xplora » Sat May 26, 2012 7:13 pm

Jerryjan wrote:Hi All
This is my first post I own a crx 4 which is a great bike, but I would like to change for a road bike with, drop bars. I am 59 years old. Yesterday I rented a cannondale Synaspe which I rode for about 2 hours. I did love the gear change. I did get a bit of neck acke near the end, I was getting a bit tired after cycling into the wind for the last 40 mins. I have talked with another dealer he suggested maybe the bike was not set for me, quite possible as I only adjusted the seat height. I have to admit I have only really cycled the last 4 months or should I stick to flat bars or go for the drops. I do like the look of the road bikes with drop bars, maybe I could set the bars higher.
Cheers Jerry


Jerry, I just read through your post properly. GET THE ROADIE. Everyone's neck gets tired after riding into the wind for 2 hours, just some are faster than others. You can get a lot of adjustment to improve the ergonomics, and despite your age you will develop the abs and back to cope with riding 60kms on the hoods and in the drops. I've ridden a lot of kms this week, I spent a lot of time in the drops over the last two days because I just didn't have the muscles to ride the hoods well anymore. I hate the feeling of flatbars, they just don't have the right geometry for speed. 8)
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Re: Can I move from flat bars to drop bars

Postby brentono » Sun May 27, 2012 6:27 pm

antipodean wrote:
brentono wrote:Enjoy your riding Jerry.
Unless your in competition (and only under pressure) would you be down in the drops.
Other than that, you should be on the tops, sitting up (so much the same position as flatbar)
Much better for your breathing and comfort.
Only a dreamer would ride around in the drops all day. (you may have been misinformed) :wink:
:mrgreen:


brentono maybe you need a flatbar.
I do 99% of my descents, riding into the wind and just generally hammering, in the drops.
If it hampers your breathing or you are uncomfortable in the drops you are either overweight, very unfit or the bike is not setup properly.


Amusing antipodean (unless your names Jerry) ... you do sound like a dreamer. :lol:
To Jerry, most of the Pro Peleton spend 90% of the Major Stage Tours on the tops. :wink:
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Re: Can I move from flat bars to drop bars

Postby Jerryjan » Mon May 28, 2012 10:45 pm

Hi thanks for all the replies. I have decided to get a drop bar bike
Cheers Jerry
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Re: Can I move from flat bars to drop bars

Postby Lizzy » Thu Jan 03, 2013 9:28 pm

::bump/hijack::

This question is on my mind at the moment - So, I’ve been doing a 10k commute on a Trek 7.0FX for coming up on 7 years (it was chosen largely based on how comfy the saddle was, NFI at the time that I’d end up on it daily). Over time, the commute routine has expanded from ‘now and again’ to almost ‘rain hail or shine’, and I’ve become correspondingly less and less keen on driving places in general. Problem I have now is that BF has rudely moved 38km away and I’m just not making the distance for visits in workable time, and ditching onto the train isn’t always an option. The medium term plan is to meet each other halfway, so when that time comes, my commute will at least double. So I’ve been looking around for something a teeny bit more serious. Budget is “some change out of $2k would be nice” (I could justify more if it was love, but that’s the working figure).

I’d just assumed that to get the step-up I’m after I’d go to a drop-bar, and I’ve been mainly thinking cyclocross for all the usual reasons (sturdy, discs, versatile, rack friendly etc). I’ve done some short test rides on a few road bikes and one or two CXs, but I haven’t felt comfortable on any so far and found the experience unexpectedly nerve-wracking (as in clinging to the bars for dear life and not feeling confident to turn my head). I’m not generally wussy about new things, is this normal for the first crack at drop bars?

So the other day, on the recommendation of someone I was chatting to at a party, I went to try and get an eyeball on a Kona (Jake or maybe even Sutra), but they’d all gone in a boxing day sale. Shopguy did, however, point me at a Merida speeder T5 touted as a ripper deal at $1200. I didn’t think I was going to consider flat bars, but took it for a spin anyway just for the Hades, and got an a-ha moment that I didn’t get close to on any of the others I’ve tried. Ticked many if not most of the boxes, price was right, felt significantly lighter and faster than what I have, and immediately felt rooly noice to ride. Hand did flutter toward wallet, but given the difference between it and what I thought I wanted, I came home to cool my heels.

Did the lightbulb just go on because it felt familiar being a flat bar? If go back and pounce on it, am I proportionally any better off once I’ve added all the commute/utility accoutrements? Another thing that occurs to me, I seized a facet joint in my neck a few years ago that has never come back past 95% and still flares up occasionally, and I wonder if that (in addition to generally being a bit of a klutzbucket, if I'm honest with myself) might be a factor in how squicky I seem to be with drop bars. Although I realise I haven’t given them all that much of a shot, maybe they’re just not going to work for me, and flat bar is all I really need for utility/commute riding anyway?

Since I reckon there are some good enablers around here I’d welcome whatever thoughts anyone has, equally I wouldn't begrudge anyone to ignore my waffling and leave me to make up my dang mind by myself :)
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Re: Can I move from flat bars to drop bars

Postby gabrielle260 » Thu Jan 03, 2013 9:41 pm

Lizzy, I'm guessing the main issue with the drop bar bikes you have tried
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Re: Can I move from flat bars to drop bars

Postby gabrielle260 » Thu Jan 03, 2013 9:44 pm

Sorry - fat finger problem.... The main issue impacting your degree of comfort on a drop bar bike is the fit. You should be as comfortable on the brake hoods (or more comfortable) as you are on a flat bar if the fit is right.
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Re: Can I move from flat bars to drop bars

Postby jasonc » Fri Jan 04, 2013 9:19 am

gabrielle260 wrote:Sorry - fat finger problem.... The main issue impacting your degree of comfort on a drop bar bike is the fit. You should be as comfortable on the brake hoods (or more comfortable) as you are on a flat bar if the fit is right.

+1
lizzy - go the CX. it'll be much quicker than a flat bar.
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Re: Can I move from flat bars to drop bars

Postby JohnJoyner » Fri Jan 04, 2013 11:44 am

+2 the drop bar.
I changed a little over 12 months ago from a flat bar (Trek 7.5fx) to a drop bar, Focus Cayo 2.0. It did take a few rides to feel comfortable, but that was only because it was new to be riding in that position, but now it's second nature & I would never go back.

There are lots of benefits to a drop bar... Speed being the best one, but it is also more comfortable & you have more positions to ride in. In the drops, on the hoods or top of the bars, as opposed to just one on the flat bar.
And I did get mine for just under $2k, as it was previous years model.
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Re: Can I move from flat bars to drop bars

Postby high_tea » Fri Jan 04, 2013 12:48 pm

I suggest going with what you know. I find it easier to make drops work for me than flats and it's exactly t'other way around for some. I have swapped both ways, changing only bars and collateral stuff, and haven't noticed a huge difference in speed. Maybe drops will work for you, maybe not. I don't see any compelling reason to find out, not for commuting anyway. If you were having issues with your existing bike, that'd be another matter, but I gather not?
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Re: Can I move from flat bars to drop bars

Postby Lizzy » Sat Jan 05, 2013 10:07 am

Thanks for the replies all :) Hmm, maybe I'll keep trying for a bit longer.
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Re: Can I move from flat bars to drop bars

Postby GeoffInBrisbane » Mon Jan 07, 2013 3:42 pm

First time I tried a drop bar bike (coming from a lifetime of mountain bikes) I found it extremely disconcerting. Handlebars felt too narrow, steering felt too fast, I didn't feel comfortable with the brakes etc. However after a week's worth of riding, drop bar bikes had become awesome. Definitely recommend you test a few more (making sure the shop do a fit for you).
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Re: Can I move from flat bars to drop bars

Postby Lizzy » Sun Jan 20, 2013 10:44 pm

So, "just for research purposes", I test rode a Trek Lexa, just to see if there was actually any difference in comfort level with women-specific bikes. And almost instantly it looked back up at me and said "ogreat, you're here, can we go home now?" :shock: I must be long-legged & short-armed or something, because on every other road bike I tested, as soon as I got high enough up off the ground, I was having to reach way too far forward.

It is only the basic model, last year's runout, etc, which appealed to my inner cheapskate (moar $ for extras!). It was the last one left in my size apparently (scarcity theory of influence, anyone?) plus shopdude promised me I wouldn't regret it! I did have a couple of mild horrors that I might have fallen for a floor stock hard-sell & maybe I should have held out & ordered in the higher-spec version, blah blah whatever, shiny new bike, wheeeeee!!! :D

Have put 80km on it over this weekend and although my neck started to complain a little after about an hour, hopefully just a matter of getting used to / HTFU.

::happy::
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Re: Can I move from flat bars to drop bars

Postby clackers » Tue Jan 22, 2013 6:26 pm

Lizzy wrote:Have put 80km on it over this weekend and although my neck started to complain a little after about an hour, hopefully just a matter of getting used to / HTFU.

::happy::


Good to hear, Lizzy. Get say, 20 hours under your belt and your wrists/lower back will stop complaining and it will all feel natural. :smile:
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