Touring bike switching to flat handlebars

Discussion in 'rec.bicycles.rides archive' started by Jo, Mar 24, 2003.

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  1. Jo

    Jo Guest

    When I bought my wonderful TREK 520 I installed randonneur handlebars thinkg that they woudl be a
    gret idea. In retrospect they are too narrow for me to feel steady and comfortable. (They are
    signficantly narrower than the width of my shoulders and in traffic this feels terribly unstable).
    Riding with hands on the brake hoods is a better position for me most of the time but that is the
    narrowest point for the bars and hence feels unstable. riding on the drops gets tiring on my
    posture and does not feel too good in traffic. I have grown to love the more upright position on my
    mountain bike.

    SO... I am wondering about switching to flat handbars for greater stability as I am not doing a lot
    of touring these days. I do metric centuries and trips of no more than 60 km a day. Otherwise I
    could switch back to ropped bars that are wider in place of the randonneur bars. Any suggestions
    from others who have broken loose from the school of dropped bars??
     
    Tags:


  2. In article <[email protected]>, JO <[email protected]> wrote:
    >When I bought my wonderful TREK 520 I installed randonneur handlebars thinkg that they woudl be a
    >gret idea. In retrospect they are too narrow for me to feel steady and comfortable. (They are
    >signficantly narrower than the width of my shoulders and in traffic this feels terribly unstable).
    >Riding with hands on the brake hoods is a better position for me most of the time but that is the
    >narrowest point for the bars and hence feels unstable. riding on the drops gets tiring on my
    >posture and does not feel too good in traffic. I have grown to love the more upright position on my
    >mountain bike.

    None of this is really an a problem with drop handlebars as much as it is an indictment of poor fit.

    The hand positions can be wider. The drops are probably too low. Upright riding position is
    available to you with drop bars if only fitted correctly. Personally I have never cared for
    randonneur bars but there are a lot of other choices out there - handlebar width, reach, drop, and
    shape all vary. If you want more upright, look for short reach bars (eg, 70-75mm reach) with shallow
    drop (~140mm) in the correct width, and then a stem to place it where you want.

    >SO... I am wondering about switching to flat handbars for greater stability as I am not doing a lot
    >of touring these days. I do metric centuries and trips of no more than 60 km a day.

    I would wish for drop bars on rides of that distance. It is of course possible to use flat bars and
    still complete the ride.

    > Otherwise I could switch back to ropped bars that are wider in place of the randonneur bars.

    Why not?

    > Any suggestions from others who have broken loose from the school of dropped bars??

    Start by figuring out the fit problem. Decide where you want your hands and select handlebars & stem
    that put them there.

    --Paul
     
  3. Ken

    Ken Guest

    [email protected] (JO) wrote in news:d94e163d.0303240948.3afcb771 @posting.google.com:
    > When I bought my wonderful TREK 520 I installed randonneur handlebars thinkg that they woudl be a
    > gret idea.

    I'm not familiar with this bike, but are you talking about cyclocross style handlebars that are
    narrower at the hooks and wider at the drops? Many people like these because they allow you to use a
    shorter top tube without having your knees hit the handlebars (especially important if you have bar
    end shifters). Try it for a while and see if you can get used to the narrow top width. If not,
    switching to a wider handlebar makes more sense (to me anyway) than going to a flat bar. Flat bars
    have only 1 hand position, which will get uncomfortable on long road rides.

    Mountain bikers can use flat bars because they are constantly shifting their body weight around as
    they go up and down hills and around obsticles. Road tourists often have long flat stretches where
    their fixed body position will create nerve pressure points and/or muscle cramps. You need more hand
    positions to avoid these problems.

    Ken
     
  4. JO wrote:
    > When I bought my wonderful TREK 520 I installed randonneur handlebars thinkg that they woudl be a
    > gret idea. In retrospect they are too narrow for me to feel steady and comfortable.

    What size tires does it have.

    Wider, bigger tires will give you just a touch more trail and enhance stability.

    Randonneur's are great. Instead of dumping them, raise them.

    The handlebar height of most modern bikes is insane.

    I had a bike that I never felt steady and comfortable with before. It was near impossible to breathe
    when in the drops I was bent over so far.

    I raised the bars about 75mm and put on slightly wider, and hence bigger tires: 700x25. It is
    a whole new bike. Much more comfortable, very stable, I have good visibility in traffic and I
    can breathe.
     
  5. I've had flat bars on my '92 Trek 700 for the last couple of years. I've done several centuries and
    even more 50+ mile rides with no problems. I'd recomend some bar ends for varied positioning. The
    only thing I can't vouch for is the difference in the geometries of the 520 and 700 that could
    alter comfort.
     
  6. Well I've a foot in both camps as I have racing bars on my tourer and flat bar with bar ends on all
    the others.

    With the flat bar I always have bar extensions and to get these right, have them about 15% above
    horizontal. Also, brakes and gears should be angled down about 45 degress for comfort. I've toured
    with these often and they are equally comfortable. The only thing you need racing bars for is racing
    and riding a long way into wind.
     
  7. On 24 Mar 2003 09:48:10 -0800 in rec.bicycles.rides, [email protected] (JO) wrote:

    > SO... I am wondering about switching to flat handbars for greater stability as I am not doing a
    > lot of touring these days. I do metric centuries and trips of no more than 60 km a day. Otherwise
    > I could switch back to ropped bars that are wider in place of the randonneur bars. Any suggestions
    > from others who have broken loose from the school of dropped bars??

    i've been using scott at-4 "bow tie" handlebars on the hardtail mountain bike i use for touring up
    here in the far north, where the roads are bad enough you wouldn't want a thin tired bike.

    i love 'em. tilted at about 45 degrees, i get a wide variety of hand positions (brakes and shifters
    on bottom part of bow tie) and there's also an aero bar area that lets me hunch down for headwinds
    and downhills.

    i don't think scott still makes 'em but they show up on ebay every so often. sometimes bike shops
    have 'em when folks have tried 'em and switched back to standard bars.
     
  8. I got hit by a car this past Friday evening and totaled my TREK 520. It's been a good bike and I
    intend to get another one, but with flat handlebars, as I have on my other bikes. "JO"
    <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...
    > When I bought my wonderful TREK 520 I installed randonneur handlebars thinkg that they woudl be a
    > gret idea. In retrospect they are too narrow for me to feel steady and comfortable. (They are
    > signficantly narrower than the width of my shoulders and in traffic this feels terribly unstable).
    > Riding with hands on the brake hoods is a better position for me most of the time but that is the
    > narrowest point for the bars and hence feels unstable. riding on the drops gets tiring on my
    > posture and does not feel too good in traffic. I have grown to love the more upright position on
    > my mountain bike.
    >
    >
    > SO... I am wondering about switching to flat handbars for greater stability as I am not doing a
    > lot of touring these days. I do metric centuries and trips of no more than 60 km a day. Otherwise
    > I could switch back to ropped bars that are wider in place of the randonneur bars. Any suggestions
    > from others who have broken loose from the school of dropped bars??
     
  9. Jack Kessler

    Jack Kessler Guest

    JO, I argued last year in this newsgroup that drop bars are are racing bars and make no sense on
    a tourer and got the same standard brain-dead responses that you just got. A few months later I
    was touring in northern Norway and met bike tourists from all over Europe. Not one of them had
    drop bars.

    So far as I can figure out the reason for this inanity, it is that "tour" is used in the name of the
    "Tour de France" which isn't a tour, it is a race. Riders in the Tour de France all use drop bars
    and ride down in the drops during the whole race.

    Drop bars keep the rider in a low, radically bent-forward posture. This reduces wind resistance a
    little and increases stroke leverage a little. It is good for riding in races in which winning
    matters and comfort doesn't.

    The riding-down-in-the-drops posture is murderously stressful on one's back, makes one's hands go
    numb and painful from being leaned on, and is an agony for one's balls unless one stands up on the
    pedals frequently (which the Tour de France riders do, even though it slows them down).

    The boneheads who are in favor of drop bars for touring admit that they ride with their hands on
    the upper part of the bars not in the drops, which defeats the whole purpose of a racing handlebar.
    This has the lovely effect of putting the brakes where the rider can't quickly reach them for a
    panic stop.

    On top of being uncomfortable and dangerous they have the additional advantage of keeping the
    rider bent over so far that it is a considerable effort to keep one's head up. Eventually one's
    head droops down and one spends the whole tour seeing nothing but the pavement. No purple
    mountains majesty, no fruited plain, no rainbow, no deer on a hillside, no eagle soaring on high -
    just pavement.

    "JO" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > When I bought my wonderful TREK 520 I installed randonneur handlebars thinkg that they woudl be a
    > gret idea. In retrospect they are too narrow for me to feel steady and comfortable. (They are
    > signficantly narrower than the width of my shoulders and in traffic this feels terribly unstable).
    > Riding with hands on the brake hoods is a better position for me most of the time but that is the
    > narrowest point for the bars and hence feels unstable. riding on the drops gets tiring on my
    > posture and does not feel too good in traffic. I have grown to love the more upright position on
    > my mountain bike.
    >
    >
    > SO... I am wondering about switching to flat handbars for greater stability as I am not doing a
    > lot of touring these days. I do metric centuries and trips of no more than 60 km a day. Otherwise
    > I could switch back to ropped bars that are wider in place of the randonneur bars. Any suggestions
    > from others who have broken loose from the school of dropped bars??
     
  10. Joel Solomon

    Joel Solomon Guest

    Some of what you say depends on the height of the handlebars. If a bicycle is set up as a racing
    bike, with the handlebars much lower than the seat, what you say is true. If, OTOH, the handlebars
    are set up close to the height of the seat, riding on the tops is very comfortable, riding on the
    hoods is comfortable (and is my primary position). Riding in the drops is a bit more aero, but not
    excessively so. Riding in the drops is nice for riding into wind, downhill and for a change of
    position, without being an exercise in masochism. And if you ride in the bend of the handlebars (not
    sure if that's the correct term) the brake levers are right there.

    Regards,

    Joel Solomon
     
  11. M Gagnon

    M Gagnon Guest

    "Jack Kessler" wrote:

    > JO, I argued last year in this newsgroup that drop bars are are racing bars and make no sense on
    > a tourer and got the same standard brain-dead responses that you just got. A few months later I
    > was touring in northern Norway and met bike tourists from all over Europe. Not one of them had
    > drop bars.
    >
    > So far as I can figure out the reason for this inanity, it is that "tour" is used in the name of
    > the "Tour de France" which isn't a tour, it is a race....
    >
    > Drop bars keep the rider in a low, radically bent-forward posture. ...
    >
    > The boneheads who are in favor of drop bars for touring admit that they
    ride
    > with their hands on the upper part of the bars not in the drops, which defeats the whole purpose
    > of a racing handlebar. This has the lovely
    effect
    > of putting the brakes where the rider can't quickly reach them for a panic stop.

    I prefer drop bars for touring, but I also have a high but short-reach stem so the top of the bars
    are about level with the saddle. Likewise, I see many people who like to ride with flat bars and
    have their bars very low, so they are quite bent.

    But in spite of all adjustments you might want to have, there is a good difference between using
    drop bars and straight bars: it's in the hand and wrist position. With modern straight bars, wrists
    have to be flat and elbows a bit out, and this position is great to control a bike in technical
    terrain, but I find it tiring if I have to keep it for more than 5-10 minutes. With road bars,
    wrists are in a fore-aft line, aligned with the arms, so the arms aren't twisted and the elbows may
    be kept in a straight line. When the bars are placed at a proper distance, height and angle, there
    is also no wrist flexion. For those who like straight bars, I would suggest you take a look at old
    bars that were used on cruisers and 3-speed bikes in the 1950s to 1970s: they were curved towards
    the user and were more comfortable.

    BTW, people who add bar ends to their flat bars get more or less the same wrist position as one may
    find by riding on the drops (and similar to a point than riding on the hoods of drop bars). I would
    suggest they also suffer from the same "hazard" as those who ride on the top of drop bars: not an
    immediate access to the brakes.

    Riding on the tops offers yet another different hand and wrist position, and the change of position
    is beneficial to long term comfort. This is one of the points proponents of drop bars consider when
    they suggest they are better for touring: more hand positions, meaning more ways to relieve stress
    and prevent numb hands.

    Now, I think there has been one mostly unfortunate consequence to the fact tourers and roaders like
    to ride on the tops of drop bars, while MTBers (and tourers with flat bars) like to ride on
    bar-ends. It is the fact that all modern brake systems favour excessive mechanical advantage.
    V-brakes stop a bike on a dime if one brakes with anything but the little finger, and they can't be
    re-adjusted to become harder, contrary to cantilevers whose geometry can be modified. Such effective
    brakes are good for people with small or weak hands and they also allow easy braking even when one's
    hands are not in the ideal position (ex.: from the hoods), but they need a well aligned wheel. Gone
    are the days where a wheel could wobble by 5-10 mm without any interference with the brakes.

    Now to come back to the subject of touring with drop bars (vs. flat ones). It's important to use
    bars that one finds comfortable (an entirely personal choice), but one problem with many touring
    bikes (even real loaded touring ones) is that they aren't designed for a really comfortable ride on
    the drops with their original stem. For instance, my new touring bike, a 2000 Trek 520 (last year
    with a threaded headset) with a 25" frame, came with a stem that had a 170-180 mm reach. When I
    tried the bike, the shop swapped the stem with one that had 120 mm reach: that one was OK,
    providing, as you said, that I ride mostly from the tops. After 2-3 months, I took the plunge and
    bought a new stem with a longer quill, and it is adjusted so that I have a 110 mm extension and only
    60 mm reach; now, the drops are a very comfortable position. It is very possible indeed to ride from
    the drops and see the sky, without hurting one's neck.

    And to come back to the request of the original poster (OP), I see that he already has a well used
    bike, so he can't ask the shop to swap parts for free or for a minimal charge. I don't think my
    first post had gone through, but I had suggested that the OP buys a stem with a long quill and a
    short or adjustable reach (Zoom or Nitto Technomic are two with a 200-230 mm quill), because it's
    easier to spend $30-40 on a such a stem instead of $200-300 on new bars, new brake levers, new
    shifters... and maybe a new stem anyway. If the guy already knows he wants the hands and wrists
    position of flat bars, then he should change the bars. But if, as he suggested, he finds he is "too
    stretched out", then trying to place the same bars closer and higher should solve the problem.

    Finally, a quick French lesson. In "Tour de France", tour is not short for touring (it would then be
    tourisme); it stands for "going around France". The original tours were more true in that regards:
    they started at one end and went a good way around France.

    Regards,

    Michel Gagnon
     
  12. Cycling Joe

    Cycling Joe Guest

    I have a 2nd mtn bike with slicks.. makes a great touring bike and is fast as heck.

    JO wrote:

    >When I bought my wonderful TREK 520 I installed randonneur handlebars thinkg that they woudl be a
    >gret idea. In retrospect they are too narrow for me to feel steady and comfortable. (They are
    >signficantly narrower than the width of my shoulders and in traffic this feels terribly unstable).
    >Riding with hands on the brake hoods is a better position for me most of the time but that is the
    >narrowest point for the bars and hence feels unstable. riding on the drops gets tiring on my
    >posture and does not feel too good in traffic. I have grown to love the more upright position on my
    >mountain bike.
    >
    >
    >SO... I am wondering about switching to flat handbars for greater stability as I am not doing a lot
    >of touring these days. I do metric centuries and trips of no more than 60 km a day. Otherwise I
    >could switch back to ropped bars that are wider in place of the randonneur bars. Any suggestions
    >from others who have broken loose from the school of dropped bars??
     
  13. --------------010109010402050802060907 Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii; format=flowed
    Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit

    Bone head!!!

    Drop bars are not for riding in the drops unless you are really pushing for speed or pushing into a
    big head wind.

    Drop bars are for riding on the tops and the hoods. Properly set up, drop bars will give at least 5
    differernt riding positions. Flat bars have just one. Unless you get the MTB style bar ends - then
    you get a couple more. On the hoods or on the tops, on a well set up bike, should have the back at a
    nice angle to optimise comfort and wind resistance. When you ride, the weight is shared between the
    bars, the saddle, and the feet. Drop bars for touring were developed by folks who rode lots because
    they had no cars. They had the option of various high bars and flat bars. Guess what works.

    Not even racing cyclists use the drops of drop bars unles the pace is really on. Racing cyclists
    ride on the hoods or the tops as often as they can.

    Jack Kessler wrote:

    >JO, I argued last year in this newsgroup that drop bars are are racing bars and make no sense on
    >a tourer and got the same standard brain-dead responses that you just got. A few months later I
    >was touring in northern Norway and met bike tourists from all over Europe. Not one of them had
    >drop bars.
    >
    >So far as I can figure out the reason for this inanity, it is that "tour" is used in the name of
    >the "Tour de France" which isn't a tour, it is a race. Riders in the Tour de France all use drop
    >bars and ride down in the drops during the whole race.
    >
    >Drop bars keep the rider in a low, radically bent-forward posture. This reduces wind resistance a
    >little and increases stroke leverage a little. It is good for riding in races in which winning
    >matters and comfort doesn't.
    >
    >The riding-down-in-the-drops posture is murderously stressful on one's back, makes one's hands go
    >numb and painful from being leaned on, and is an agony for one's balls unless one stands up on the
    >pedals frequently (which the Tour de France riders do, even though it slows them down).
    >
    >The boneheads who are in favor of drop bars for touring admit that they ride with their hands on
    >the upper part of the bars not in the drops, which defeats the whole purpose of a racing handlebar.
    >This has the lovely effect of putting the brakes where the rider can't quickly reach them for a
    >panic stop.
    >
    >On top of being uncomfortable and dangerous they have the additional advantage of keeping the rider
    >bent over so far that it is a considerable effort to keep one's head up. Eventually one's head
    >droops down and one spends the whole tour seeing nothing but the pavement. No purple mountains
    >majesty, no fruited plain, no rainbow, no deer on a hillside, no eagle soaring on high - just
    >pavement.
    >
    >
    >
    >
    >"JO" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    >news:[email protected]...
    >
    >
    >>When I bought my wonderful TREK 520 I installed randonneur handlebars thinkg that they woudl be a
    >>gret idea. In retrospect they are too narrow for me to feel steady and comfortable. (They are
    >>signficantly narrower than the width of my shoulders and in traffic this feels terribly unstable).
    >>Riding with hands on the brake hoods is a better position for me most of the time but that is the
    >>narrowest point for the bars and hence feels unstable. riding on the drops gets tiring on my
    >>posture and does not feel too good in traffic. I have grown to love the more upright position on
    >>my mountain bike.
    >>
    >>
    >>SO... I am wondering about switching to flat handbars for greater stability as I am not doing a
    >>lot of touring these days. I do metric centuries and trips of no more than 60 km a day. Otherwise
    >>I could switch back to ropped bars that are wider in place of the randonneur bars. Any suggestions
    >>from others who have broken loose from the school of dropped bars??
    >>
    >>
    >>
    >
    >
    >

    --
    Sue and Alan Bishop PO Box 156 Exmouth WA 6707 Ph/fax 08 9949 2950

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    http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html;charset=ISO-8859-1"> <title></title> </head> <body>
    Bone head!!!<br> <br> Drop bars are not for riding in the drops unless you are really pushing for
    speed or pushing into a big head wind.<br> <br> Drop bars are for riding on the tops and the hoods.
    Properly set up, drop bars will give at least 5 differernt riding positions. Flat
    bars have just one. Unless you get the MTB style bar ends - then you get a couple more.
    On the hoods or on the tops, on a well set up bike, should have the back at a nice angle to
    optimise comfort and wind resistance. When you ride, the weight is shared between the bars,
    the saddle, and the feet. Drop bars for touring were developed by folks who rode lots because
    they had no cars. They had the option of various high bars and flat bars. Guess
    what works.<br> <br> Not even racing cyclists use the drops of drop bars unles the pace is really
    on. Racing cyclists ride on the hoods or the tops as often as they can. <br> <br> <br>
    <br> Jack Kessler wrote:<br> <blockquote type="cite"
    cite="[email protected]"> <pre wrap="">JO, I argued last
    year in this newsgroup that drop bars are are racing bars and make no sense on a tourer and got the
    same standard brain-dead responses that you just got. A few months later I was touring in northern
    Norway and met bike tourists from all over Europe. Not one of them had drop bars.

    So far as I can figure out the reason for this inanity, it is that "tour" is used in the name of the
    "Tour de France" which isn't a tour, it is a race. Riders in the Tour de France all use drop bars
    and ride down in the drops during the whole race.

    Drop bars keep the rider in a low, radically bent-forward posture. This reduces wind resistance a
    little and increases stroke leverage a little. It is good for riding in races in which winning
    matters and comfort doesn't.

    The riding-down-in-the-drops posture is murderously stressful on one's back, makes one's hands go
    numb and painful from being leaned on, and is an agony for one's balls unless one stands up on the
    pedals frequently (which the Tour de France riders do, even though it slows them down).

    The boneheads who are in favor of drop bars for touring admit that they ride with their hands on
    the upper part of the bars not in the drops, which defeats the whole purpose of a racing handlebar.
    This has the lovely effect of putting the brakes where the rider can't quickly reach them for a
    panic stop.

    On top of being uncomfortable and dangerous they have the additional advantage of keeping the
    rider bent over so far that it is a considerable effort to keep one's head up. Eventually one's
    head droops down and one spends the whole tour seeing nothing but the pavement. No purple
    mountains majesty, no fruited plain, no rainbow, no deer on a hillside, no eagle soaring on high -
    just pavement.

    "JO" <a class="moz-txt-link-rfc2396E"
    href="mailto:[email protected]"><[email protected]></a> wrote in message <a
    class="moz-txt-link-freetext" href="news:[email protected]">news:d94-
    [email protected]</a>... </pre> <blockquote type="cite"> <pre
    wrap="">When I bought my wonderful TREK 520 I installed randonneur handlebars thinkg that they
    woudl be a gret idea. In retrospect they are too narrow for me to feel steady and comfortable.
    (They are signficantly narrower than the width of my shoulders and in traffic this feels terribly
    unstable). Riding with hands on the brake hoods is a better position for me most of the time but
    that is the narrowest point for the bars and hence feels unstable. riding on the drops gets tiring
    on my posture and does not feel too good in traffic. I have grown to love the more upright position
    on my mountain bike.

    SO... I am wondering about switching to flat handbars for greater stability as I am not doing a lot
    of touring these days. I do metric centuries and trips of no more than 60 km a day. Otherwise I
    could switch back to ropped bars that are wider in place of the randonneur bars. Any suggestions
    from others who have broken loose from the school of dropped bars??

    </pre> </blockquote> <pre wrap=""><!----> </pre> </blockquote> <br> <pre class="moz-signature"
    cols="$mailwrapcol">-- Sue and Alan Bishop PO Box 156 Exmouth WA 6707 Ph/fax 08 9949 2950 </pre>
    <br> </body> </html>

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