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Flat Bars v Drops

Fat KidFat Kid Posts: 28
edited December 2008 in Commuting chat
Hi all

Newbie here. I've been lurking for quite some time.

I would appreciate some advice. I'm thinking of upgrading to a road bike from my hybrid, but my biggest concern is the switch to drop bars. iI'm a fairly experienced rider, commuting about 20 miles a day. I find flat bars comfortable with a few postions when using bar ends and give me plenty of control. I'm concerned about my comfort and safety (and speed) when moving to drops.

What's the experience and recommendation of the forum?

Thanks
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Posts

  • redddraggonredddraggon Posts: 10,862
    Fat Kid wrote:
    I'm concerned about my comfort and safety (and speed) when moving to drops.

    Drops are more comfortable, safer and faster than flat bars.
    I like bikes...

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  • drops really come into their own for longer rides, you can tuck out of the wind and move your hands about, as to safety well compared to a flat bared hybrid, the drops will tend to give a more forward postion thus not as good sight lines as on a sit up and beg postion, most drop bikes are less easy to control at very slow speeds.

    bottom line is they are very good bars and far from a danger, start on the tops, and hoods and work your way around the bars as you feel more comftable. with them.
  • Clever PunClever Pun Posts: 6,778
    Fat Kid wrote:
    I'm concerned about my comfort and safety (and speed) when moving to drops.

    Drops are more comfortable, safer and faster than flat bars.

    safer? how'd you work that out

    when I switched years back your body position is shifted forward a bit and the bar are narrower so you'll be a little wobbly for 5 minutes but soon it'll be great. you have more positions to cycle in

    do it
    Purveyor of sonic doom

    Very Hairy Roadie - FCN 4
    Fixed Pista- FCN 5
    Beared Bromptonite - FCN 14
  • I commute almost wholly on the hoods. It's not a big deal.

    The only adjustment I had was the more aggressive position meant that I had to hold my head up more to see the road ahead. I wasn't used to this, and had headaches for the first few days. Soon passed.

    Don't think Chris Hoy on the track, think some domestique in the middle of peleton in Northern France ambling along and enjoying the ride.
    Swim. Bike. Run. Yeah. That's what I used to do.

    Bike 1
    Bike 2-A
  • I ride about 20-22miles commuting which is fine but I have to say, drop bars are much better. I have been tempted to flat bar my road bike, but I love my drop bars too much to change. Now thinking about drop barring my MTB...
    jedster wrote:
    Just off to contemplate my own mortality and inevitable descent into decrepedness.
    FCN 3 or 4 on road depending on clothing
    FCN 8 off road because I'm too old to go racing around.
  • redddraggonredddraggon Posts: 10,862
    Clever Pun wrote:
    Fat Kid wrote:
    I'm concerned about my comfort and safety (and speed) when moving to drops.

    Drops are more comfortable, safer and faster than flat bars.

    safer? how'd you work that out

    Why wouldn't they be safer? I find I have more control with narrow drops compared to the wider flats.
    I like bikes...

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  • Clever PunClever Pun Posts: 6,778
    Clever Pun wrote:
    Fat Kid wrote:
    I'm concerned about my comfort and safety (and speed) when moving to drops.

    Drops are more comfortable, safer and faster than flat bars.

    safer? how'd you work that out

    Why wouldn't they be safer? I find I have more control with narrow drops compared to the wider flats.

    you find....

    Doesn't a wider base give more stability?
    Purveyor of sonic doom

    Very Hairy Roadie - FCN 4
    Fixed Pista- FCN 5
    Beared Bromptonite - FCN 14
  • redddraggonredddraggon Posts: 10,862
    Clever Pun wrote:
    Doesn't a wider base give more stability?

    Maybe, but what good is stability if the controls are slow - it's much safer to have a bike that will respond rather than carry on on it's own merry way.
    I like bikes...

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  • Clever Pun wrote:
    Doesn't a wider base give more stability?

    Maybe, but what good is stability if the controls are slow - it's much safer to have a bike that will respond rather than carry on on it's own merry way.

    that'll be why MTB's have drops then?
  • redddraggonredddraggon Posts: 10,862
    Clever Pun wrote:
    Doesn't a wider base give more stability?

    Maybe, but what good is stability if the controls are slow - it's much safer to have a bike that will respond rather than carry on on it's own merry way.

    that'll be why MTB's have drops then?

    Dave Zabriskie sure thinks so, and I agree with him.....

    davezssw3.jpg
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  • snookssnooks Posts: 1,521
    Drops do take a bit of getting used to, and I'm not sure the breaking position of drops is as good as it is on flats (from someone who had comedy crunch into the back of a bus this morning!! :roll: )

    On flats your brakes are there, you can squeeze for your life, but if you're riding on the hoods you have less leverage (espesh when changing gear)

    If you're riding on the drops you do have the same leverage as flats and your brakes seem more efficient than on hoods for less squeeze...tho the time you actually get to use the drops in traffic is minimal.

    With drops they are more comfy over a longer period of time, and you have the advantage that you can disappear off into the roads in the country without acing wrists.

    The biggest difference is moving from hands being horizontal to being vertical "resting" on your thumbs

    I use both, flat bars for the wet , drops for the dry - But that's also the quality of the bikes I ride :wink:
    FCN:5, 8 & 9
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  • Greg66 wrote:
    I commute almost wholly on the hoods. It's not a big deal.

    The only adjustment I had was the more aggressive position meant that I had to hold my head up more to see the road ahead. I wasn't used to this, and had headaches for the first few days. Soon passed.

    +1. I then invested in some spacers (thanks) and now don't have to crane my neck. I actually find the hoods a better place for your hands at low speed... more stable. Also, wrist pain from longer rides reduced.
    Greg66 wrote:
    Don't think Chris Hoy on the track

    But I want to...

    *thinks about Chris Hoy anyway* :D
  • If your brakes are worn or badly adjusted, or you have a habit of riding the brakes (i.e. blast away, brake hard on encountering obstacle, repeat) then commuting with drops can cause a lot of pain across your thumb arch compared to flats, purely from providing the fulcrum point and most of the leverage for braking when on the hoods. But these issues are easily fixed and not directly caused by the bars themselves.

    Once you've tried drops though you'll probably not want to go back.
    Trek XO1
    FCN4
  • Clever PunClever Pun Posts: 6,778
    snooks wrote:
    Drops do take a bit of getting used to, and I'm not sure the breaking position of drops is as good as it is on flats (from someone who had comedy crunch into the back of a bus this morning!! :roll: )

    On flats your brakes are there, you can squeeze for your life, but if you're riding on the hoods you have less leverage (espesh when changing gear)

    If you're riding on the drops you do have the same leverage as flats and your brakes seem more efficient than on hoods for less squeeze...tho the time you actually get to use the drops in traffic is minimal.

    With drops they are more comfy over a longer period of time, and you have the advantage that you can disappear off into the roads in the country without acing wrists.

    The biggest difference is moving from hands being horizontal to being vertical "resting" on your thumbs

    I use both, flat bars for the wet , drops for the dry - But that's also the quality of the bikes I ride :wink:

    Only if you have stumpy fingers
    Purveyor of sonic doom

    Very Hairy Roadie - FCN 4
    Fixed Pista- FCN 5
    Beared Bromptonite - FCN 14
  • snookssnooks Posts: 1,521
    Clever Pun wrote:
    snooks wrote:
    On flats your brakes are there, you can squeeze for your life, but if you're riding on the hoods you have less leverage (espesh when changing gear)

    Only if you have stumpy fingers

    Stumpy fingered snooks replies

    My fingers might not be stumpy, but I'm no Edward scissor hands either...I like to think my hands are perfectly in proportion, they fit my gloves like....erm....gloves and I can use my camera, but that's prolly designed for Asian hands...so maybe I have got stumpy fingers :shock:
    FCN:5, 8 & 9
    If I'm not riding I'm shooting http://grahamsnook.com
    THE Game
    Watch out for HGVs
  • jedsterjedster Posts: 1,717
    *thinks about Chris Hoy anyway*

    Isn't he a bit short for your taste?

    :wink:
  • jeepiejeepie Posts: 495
    OK. I don't know all the physics terms and stuff.

    But isn't the problem with riding on the hoods and less leverage because you pull on the top of the lever (brake). What I mean is that you don't have the rotational force that you do when you are on the drops. When are you on the drops you can pull the brake very easily with power because you are a long way away from the pivot so more rotational force.

    I commute with my flat barred ridgeback and the braking is a breeze. But on my roadie I can brake well when using the drops, but I mostly ride on the hoods and braking here is not very good I think cos of the problem snooks mentioned and therefore you have a few dodgy moments!
  • jedster wrote:
    *thinks about Chris Hoy anyway*

    Isn't he a bit short for your taste?

    :wink:

    He's 6'1... It'll do!
  • jeepiejeepie Posts: 495
    So - am I right about the fact that if you are on the hoods you have less braking leverage than if you are on the drops? Chris Hoy's height aside ;)
  • DavidTQDavidTQ Posts: 943
    Jeepie wrote:
    So - am I right about the fact that if you are on the hoods you have less braking leverage than if you are on the drops? Chris Hoy's height aside ;)

    You will have more leverage on the drops but you SHOULD have plenty sufficient leverage on the hoods. I use the drops mainly when descending hills, and have to be very moderate in my brake use or else I will be taking an impromptu flying lesson. Good pads and sharp adjustments (I run my pads about a milimeter off the rims). I have never had any issues at all with braking power on the hoods and I ride through traffic like this:-

    http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=PYE_zFer0Zk

    And have to watch out for people like this :-

    http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=XHUwMPU4WWA

    http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=s9eoQXaxbqM
  • jeepiejeepie Posts: 495
    Need to try to tune my brakes more I think. Awesome clips David. The avoid ones do make me laugh! Why bother? So true.
  • DavidTQDavidTQ Posts: 943
    Jeepie wrote:
    Need to try to tune my brakes more I think. Awesome clips David. The avoid ones do make me laugh! Why bother? So true.

    Might be worth looking at how you brake as well I wouldnt want to teach grandma to suck eggs, but Im glad someone here told me about this when I was thinking brakes were innefficient :D. (In fact Ive learnt a huge amount that has improved my cycling no ends from being around here) A lot of people brake with the rear brake first for fear of an over the handlebars incident, especially if they have had an over the handle bars experience at some point...

    The front brake is far more effective at fast slow downs, and over the handle bars risks can be cut down hugely by bracing your arms when you go to brake. What causes the over the handlebars effect is weight transfer if your arms are braced your body trys to keep going forward with your arms braced your body slows down with the bike :D.

    I tend to use the rear brake for minor speed "control" on descents, and in combination with the fronts when stopping fast from speed or when the grounds a bit slippery. When using the front and rear together I apply the front first then the rear and "feel" to what degree I need to use the back \ balance the front etc to help slow down more \ avoid lock up.
  • Has anyone else found that ruckack can become more uncomfortable on drops as you shift your weight forward?

    I used to commute 20 miles on drops with a rucksack no problem - after I moved jobs the commute was only 6 miles and I've been using flat bars. Now, on the days I may use drops, it's started to feel less comfortable.
  • spursn17spursn17 Posts: 284
    I'm going to get a road bike for the summer with drops, but I'm factoring in the cost of converting to flat bars as I like the upright position riding in London.
  • DavidTQDavidTQ Posts: 943
    spursn17 wrote:
    I'm going to get a road bike for the summer with drops, but I'm factoring in the cost of converting to flat bars as I like the upright position riding in London.

    If you like the upright position just change the stem and ride on the hoods, it will be both upright and more comfortable (for most people). The Giant SCR range has a flippable stem that gives a pretty decent upright position.

    Heres a quick test for you hang your arms and hands down loose at your sides, which way are your hands pointing? palms back or palms to the side? this will tell you which way your body wants to sit naturally. Next hold your hands in front of you arms bent at 90 degrees and turn your hands so the palm is facing down and your hands are in handle bar position do you feel any slight "pull" in the wrist? for most people road bike bars give more positions that work "with" the body, hence more comfortable longe term.

    You can also ride holding the level parts of the bars close to the centre of the stem - I use this position for climbing a lot, when braking ISNT required :D
  • alfabluealfablue Posts: 8,497
    Why not just buy a flat barred road bike, it will save you money! Like a Giant FCR, Condor Strada, Boardman Pro Hybrid, etc.
  • alfabluealfablue Posts: 8,497
    DavidTQ wrote:
    spursn17 wrote:
    Heres a quick test for you hang your arms and hands down loose at your sides, which way are your hands pointing? palms back or palms to the side? this will tell you which way your body wants to sit naturally. Next hold your hands in front of you arms bent at 90 degrees and turn your hands so the palm is facing down and your hands are in handle bar position do you feel any slight "pull" in the wrist? for most people road bike bars give more positions that work "with" the body, hence more comfortable longe term.
    This is absolutely right, my wrists don't want to do flat bars!
  • DavidTQDavidTQ Posts: 943
    alfablue wrote:
    Why not just buy a flat barred road bike, it will save you money! Like a Giant FCR, Condor Strada, Boardman Pro Hybrid, etc.

    Aflat bar road bike is a better options than converting for sure (the cost of shifters alone is a major part of a bikes price) But I would always recommend trying a bike with drop bars first. Many people (myself included) have preconceived notions of how to ride a road bike and of the handle bars, only by actually trying them can you get the real feel for the situation. I knew as soon as I rode a giant scr that it was the right bike for me no question about it...
  • alfabluealfablue Posts: 8,497
    I'm with you David, really, but if people must have flat bars, converting is money down the drain. My girlfriend bought her first road bike in the summer, she was convinced she had to have flat bars, I persuaded her to have drops, she now loves them and gets the point. It took flipping the stem and reducing the brake lever reach to make it work for her but it all seems natural to her now (and she has turned into a fab cyclist!).
  • DavidTQDavidTQ Posts: 943
    alfablue wrote:
    I'm with you David, really, but if people must have flat bars, converting is money down the drain. My girlfriend bought her first road bike in the summer, she was convinced she had to have flat bars, I persuaded her to have drops, she now loves them and gets the point. It took flipping the stem and reducing the brake lever reach to make it work for her but it all seems natural to her now (and she has turned into a fab cyclist!).

    Definetely agree if flat bars are a must (and for a few people they are) conversion is a waste of money potentially even dangerous, not all bike mechanics could be trusted with the job :(. But I think a lot of people have the wrong idea about drops, I did, so did your girlfriend.

    I was very suspicious of what I thought was a weak boneratteling attempt to go faster than a "sturdy" MTB or hybrid. But I knew I wanted to go faster I knew I was spinning out in top so I knew there was more to be gained from a road bike. I just didnt know how much more :D. I also didnt realise just how damned comfortable they could be or that half decent road wheels can take the potholes in roads as much a cheapy MTB \ hybrids wheels. They really arent that delicate. Ive taken my road bike completely off road without any ill effects :) Will have to post the vid sometime... Most road wheels might be narrower than MTB wheels but they are normally also "deeper" the deeper rim gives more anti buckling strength straight on than a wide rim does!
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