Flat bar handlebars to drop bar handle bars



Cerbin24

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Jul 19, 2011
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I have recently bought a new Schwinn Varsity flat bar 700c road bike almost 2 months ago. After a while of riding i have found drop bar handlebars to be more comfortable and would like to make the change on the bike. The bike has 21- speed gear setup w/ shimano rapidfire shifters along with v-brakes. I have done some looking around and would prefer not to just put on flat bar drop ends.

How would i make the conversion and what parts would be needed?
 

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tafi

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Jul 31, 2003
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In most cases you would simply swap the bars and levers over to the correct (drop bar) type.

However, in this case you have only 7 speed. Road bike groupsets (and therefore the levers used) start at 8.

So you will need an entire 8 speed groupset and possibly a rear wheel to suit (8 speed needs cassettes, 7 speed uses freewheels).

In my opinion, this conversion is not worth it. Given that it is a "supermarket bike" this sort of conversion will easily triple the cost of the bike. If I were you I would either wear the bike out completely, or simply sell it off, before looking for a new road bike (from a bike shop) which is set up for the purpose.
 

Cerbin24

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Jul 19, 2011
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ok, well seeing that that kind of money isn't even an option for me since im only 16, if I put the flat bar drop ends what would i need to swap the brakes over to a vertical pull at least in a reasonable price range/....I'll just leave the gear setup the way it is
 

tafi

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Jul 31, 2003
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Bar ends, you can do. Why do you want to change the brakes?

In any case, I doubt any caliper brake will fit on there. It looks like there is too much distance between the mounting points (assuming there are any), in the fork crown and brake bridge, and the rims.

Now by "flat bar drop ends" do you mean these ?

I'd be pretty wary of adding something like that since it takes your hands far away from the controls (further than normal flat bar ends). But that is up to you.
 

Cerbin24

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Jul 19, 2011
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that is true but couldn't I also postion them slightly closer to the center of the handlebars...and yes those are the drop ends i was looking at. But what i meant with the brakes is with the handles is could i move them onto the drop bars?



But then again condradicting myself here that would mean taking apart the gear shift levers as the brakes are in that....but what i was thinking of doing is leaving the gears as is with this but moving the brakes to the drop bars.......would this simply be a waste of time to mess with the brakes because either way the drop ends would still function as they should
 

dabac

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Sep 16, 2003
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Originally Posted by Cerbin24 .

that is true but couldn't I also postion them slightly closer to the center of the handlebars...and yes those are the drop ends i was looking at. But what i meant with the brakes is with the handles is could i move them onto the drop bars?



But then again condradicting myself here that would mean taking apart the gear shift levers as the brakes are in that....but what i was thinking of doing is leaving the gears as is with this but moving the brakes to the drop bars.......would this simply be a waste of time to mess with the brakes because either way the drop ends would still function as they should

It should be possible to move the drop bar ends closer to the center of the bar. There's often a small lip on the bar end clamp to prevent it from sliding too far in, but a few strokes with a round file would take care of that.
A more difficult situation is that I don't think your forearms will clear the bar if you were to mount them that way.
Also, riding with the hands closer to the center will interfere with the handling/balance of the bike. TT riders have similar setups, but there's a good reason why TT/tri bars aren't allowed in regular road races.
Moving your current brake/shifter onto the drop bar end is a so-so suggestion. They'd mount up well enough to the lower flat section, but you'd end up with the cables exiting forward, then curving all the way back again. It'd probably work (with new cables) but it'll put the levers in a fairly awkward spot. Not many people stay in the drops for long anyhow.
Putting them in the spot for drop bar levers is worse. Your brake levers are angled to give good travel when mounted on a flat bar. If you stick them on to the apex of a curve you'll have a hard time reaching them. And they still wouldn't allow for the "on the hoods" position.

What you could do is simply ignore the brake in the integrated brake/shifter combo, and then get a pair of aero brake levers to put on the drop bar ends.
There are two technical hurdles to this:
1) most drop bar levers are short-pull, while your brakes are long pull. Either you get the Tektro drop bar brake lever that's made for v-brakes, or you get a pair of doodads called travel agents, which will compensate for the difference in pull. Or replace the v-brakes with cantis.
2) I'm guessing here that drop bar ends have the same diameter as a flat bar, which is somewhat smaller than the diameter of a real drop bar. You may need to shim the clamp of the drop bar levers to get them to mount up properly. A strip of sheet aluminium will work fine for this purpose. An old VCR/computer casing will make a good donor. Don't bother trying tape, leather or anything else like that. It'll squish and slide.
 

schwinnhund

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Jul 20, 2013
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Chatsworth, Ga.
Well, yes, and no. If you want new parts, yes, you'll need to go to 8-speed. But if used parts are OK with you, just get on EBay and find a set of compatable old 7-speed road shifters. Better yet, maybe you can find a set of old stock 7-speed road shifters, and have never even been used. And, you can always just use your power-train as a friction-shifter. I rode like that for 30 years before they came out with this fancy stuff. We also rode with just 10,or 12 speeds, and managed to get where we were going, for quite a long time. ( I digress...sorry..)

I have one other alternative, that I have used on two of my bikes, one MTB, and one hybrid (also referred to as comfort, or fitness bikes, but I despise that characterization. They are great long-distance bikes, when set up and equipped properly). Just replace the flat handlebars with either Scott Commuter handlebars, PRO Comfort bars, or Nashbar Trekking handlebars. They are all inexpensive (especially when used...) and are a nice compromise between straight and drop bars, and even have some of the advantages of aero bars. Your current shifters and brakes should fit on them with little or no modifications.

Here is a pic of one of my Urban Assault Long-Haul bikes with Nashbar Trekking handlebars on it (1998 Specialized Crossroads Hybrid). I am the only owner it has ever had. I regularly rider over 100 miles a week on this one (I have no car or Drivers License...). I've done over a dozen century's with it, and never had any problems. My longest ride on it so far has been a 2-week ride from Chatsworth, Ga. to Destin Fla. (around 1000 miles, round-trip), with around 60 pounds of gear (30 of it was my inflatable kayak, paddle, etc...). I had no issues at all on the trip, and plan another one this year to Brunswick, Ga. or the Okeefenokee Swamp.



Originally Posted by tafi .

In most cases you would simply swap the bars and levers over to the correct (drop bar) type.

However, in this case you have only 7 speed. Road bike groupsets (and therefore the levers used) start at 8.

So you will need an entire 8 speed groupset and possibly a rear wheel to suit (8 speed needs cassettes, 7 speed uses freewheels).

In my opinion, this conversion is not worth it. Given that it is a "supermarket bike" this sort of conversion will easily triple the cost of the bike. If I were you I would either wear the bike out completely, or simply sell it off, before looking for a new road bike (from a bike shop) which is set up for the purpose.