How to put straight handlebars on a drop bar road bike.

Discussion in 'Cycling Equipment' started by Enowil, Apr 21, 2013.

  1. Enowil

    Enowil New Member

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    Hi folks. I've got a vintage late 80's Centurion Ironman Dave Scott road bike. The trouble is that I'm much older now, and because of arthritis in my neck and shoulders I can no longer ride the bike as it is, at least not comfortably and not for more than a few minutes. I want to replace the drop bar with a straight bar so that I can sit in a little more comfortable more upright position. The bike is outfitted with a complete Shimano 600 group. The shift leavers are on the down tube. I want to leave them there. Rendering them obsolete and replacing them with a brake leaver/shift leaver combo mechanism is not an option. All I want is a straight bar with the appropriate brake leavers and grips. The bike is red and white and the handlebars original with white handlebar tape. I want to maintain the esthetic value of the bike so I'd like an aluminum un-anodized straight bar if possible, and I'd like to keep the original stem, also if possible. Taking all this information into consideration is this conversion feasible? Selling the bike or buying a new road bike set up with a straight bar is not an option. This is a perfectly good bike in super good condition that is just gathering dust as it is now. If you all agree that this kind of conversion is doable, then what do I need to consider in choosing and installing a straight bar? Thank you in advance for your consideration.
     
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  2. maydog

    maydog Well-Known Member

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    Have you considered adjusting or replacing the stem to bring the handlebars up and closer to the seat? Simply putting straight bars on will not change the fit much.
     
  3. oldbobcat

    oldbobcat Well-Known Member

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    A simple handlebar swap is pretty straightforward, Simply get a handlebar whose center clamp section fits your stem, or buy a quill stem to match your handlebar. There are many brake lever sets that will bolt to your bar. You want levers that are compatible with side-pull or cantilever calipers, not linear-pull. You will also need new brake cables and housing, and handlebar grips. Your LBS can help you select parts so everything bolts together with no fuss.

    Installing indexed shifters is more complicated because you're dealing with the compatibility of shifters, derailleurs, and cog count and spacing (rear and front). Expect to purchase levers, front and rear derailleurs, a rear wheel and cassette, a chain, and possibly a new crank set. A new fitness bike (Trek FX, Specialized Sirrus, etc.) won't necessarily be cheaper, but it will be less bother and then you'll have two bikes with no box of leftover parts.
     
  4. alfeng

    alfeng Well-Known Member

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    What you propose is both feasible AND relatively easy to do ...

    BUT, you will probably lose the aesthetic value of the bike regardless of the type of non-Drop handlebar you put on it.

    REGARDLESS, before you make any changes, YOU need to establish (as close as possible) the appropriate handlebar position which will allow you to sit comfortably for whatever distance(s) you anticipate riding ...

    • sit at your kitchen or dining room table and lean forward
    • reach forward with your arms with your forearms on the table's top
    • when you find a comfortable location where your neck & shoulders are comfortable, then mark where the crook of your thumbs are ... measure the place where the back of your butt is (place your butt against the back of the chair OR against the front end of the seat) to the where you marked your thumb location
    • repeat with your hands on a surface of a different height (use one or more phone books or whatever is handy, as necessary)
    • and, repeat with your forearms in a location on surface below the chair's seat level
    • compare the distances -- they should be very close to one another ... repeat if there is a great disparity & HOLD the position(s) for 5-to-15 minutes ... compare, repeat if necessary
    • now, go to your bike & figure you where the theoretical handlebar GRIPS need to be to determine the amount of rise that you may need based on the reach of the top tube + stem length WHILE compensating for the width that you find comfortable for your hand separation ... remember to compensate for the distance between your "back" measurement & your sit bones, too (or, note that point on your chair from which you are measuring).

    You may determine that for comfort, rather than straight handlebars, you may prossibly want some beach cruiser type handlebars which were once common on balloon tire & midweight 26" tire bikes back in the day ...

    OR, the less severe handlebar shape found on a 3-speed bike may be sufficient.

    Possibly, a High-Rise (goose neck) stem is all you need & will allow you to continue to use your Drop Bars.

    A taller BMX handlebar may be required to mitigate the discomfort which your arthritis is causing you ...

    You have many options other than "Flat" MTB handlebars to consider, IMO.

    BTW. I think that MOST alloy handlebars are black, now. After you determine the appropriate handlebar SHAPE, then go to Home Depot or Lowe's (or, similar store) and buy some FLAT ALUMINUM paint & spray the handlebars with it (before mounting!) ... touch up, as necessary ...

    Alternatively, if you cannot find the handlebars in a polished aluminum appearance, then get some emery cloth & mechanically strip the 'black' anodized surface from the handlebars OR use something like NAVAL JELLY to chemically remove the 'black' anodized finish.
     
  5. Enowil

    Enowil New Member

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    Yes. The stem is up to the minimum insertion line now. Not safe to raise it any higher. Yeah. I guess the stem will have to be replaced. OK. That's one issue solved. Thanks.
     
  6. Enowil

    Enowil New Member

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    Thank you very much. I appreciate your effort. I think you're right. Based on the information you gave me I can't picture that beautiful bike with the kind of straight bars it would take to make me comfortable. I have three other vintage bikes with the old fashioned cruiser type handlebars, a 1979 Schwinn ten speed with the 27" tires, a 1979 Schwinn Colligate 26" five speed with a front free wheel, and a 1980 Ross three speed, so don't want to make this bike into anything like them. I think I'll try the high-rise stem.
     
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