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Drop handlebars

Keiron CurtisKeiron Curtis Posts: 126
edited November 2007 in Commuting chat
Hoping for your advice,

Currently I part commute 5 miles or so,and am looking to increase to 10,then go the whole hog,of 18 miles each way.I'm 56,overweight,though I'm pleased to say I've lost 14 pounds since taking up cycling,18 months ago.

My problem is that I ride a Carrera Subway 8 commuting bike on road and towpath,with straight handlebars.I'm told and have read that drop handlebars are far better for comfort,muscle development and back pain/problems.

What do you all think,and would it be plausible to put drop handlebars on my Subway 8?




  • If you're comfy enough with what you've got then I wouldn't change it. Drop bars will give you more positions allowing you to rest parts of your back and arms but they won't stop you aching (building up your core body strength will be more beneficial).

    You could change the bars on the Subway but you'll probably have to for out for new brake / gear levers so it won't be cheap.
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  • jedsterjedster Posts: 1,717
    Will be pretty expensive to make the switch - new bars, perhaps stem, shifters, brake levers. On the other hand for 18 miles, I'd definitely want drops. I'd suggest trying the ten miles for a while then considering buying a new bike when you are ready to switch up to 18 - it will probably be much better value to sell the subway, buy a (say) cross bike than bastardise the subway.
  • There are a few problems with putting drops on a hybrid (after you have changed your gear levers). The first is the braking performance, since I guess that the Subway will have Vs and these don't work with standard roadie brake levers. You can get some by Diacompe I think that do the job (but no integrated gears) or go for different cantis designed for use with road levers, such as the Tektro Ornyx (Sp?).

    The second issue is the top tube length - generally much longer on a hybrid than road bike, leaving you far too stretched out on the drops. You might be able to adjust the position by moving the saddle forward and getting a shorted stem, but this might not be enough. I reckon you could cobble something together but it might not be super comfortable.

    I would also recommend a cross bike (perhaps second hand to keep the cost down). Or most touring bikes will be fine on towpaths and there is lots of choice there including some fairly cheap ones.
  • nottscobbnottscobb Posts: 147
    It may not look 'cool' on a hybrid but if you want extra hand positions you could fit some barends to your existing handlebars.
  • I commute 15 miles each way with straight bars on an old MTB, and I don't find it a problem.

    However it is getting old and I'm thinking about getting a new bike next year, and I'm looking at a road bike, my only issue will be the handling in traffic, as I ride into central london, during rush hour
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  • Lots of sensible advice there.

    My geuss is that if you are riding a lot on the towpath then the more upright position of the flat bars makes sense. We wouldn't want to read of you ending up in the canal!

    On a 10 mile road ride you are just getting to the length that makes drops more sensible.

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  • GambatteGambatte Posts: 1,453
    nottscobb wrote:
    It may not look 'cool' on a hybrid but if you want extra hand positions you could fit some barends to your existing handlebars.

    Kieran, I'd go with this one. Cheap and quick to do.

    Best thing is it somehow upsets all the 'purists'. I was going to get flat bars and bar ends on the MTB, but stayed with bar ends on the riser bars 'cos it seemed to upset them so much! :twisted:
  • RykardRykard Posts: 582
    would bar ends help? would give you more hand positions

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  • straight bars give you better control in tricky situations too - better for quick changes of direction to avoid other people on the tow path or the water
  • buddhabuddha Posts: 1,088
    You could try On-One Mary bars. They offer a more relaxed/natural hand position compared to flats or normal risers. Which, for me, makes climbing a bit easier too.
    They may look a little 'strange' but worked wonders for the hand numbness problems I was having. Currently £35, though you can occasionally find them on ebay for around a tenner.

    Also check out the Mungo bar on their site. Which is half way between a flat and a drop bar - if that's possible.
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  • tardingtontardington Posts: 1,379
    I've got a hybrid, with riser bars, and bar ends - the bar ends make a lot of difference. Though I got some cheap bar tape and wrapped them - it looks a bit odd, but make a huge difference on your fingers on cold mornings!

    Was half considering swapping to drop bars (they were £7.50 on wiggle) - I guess you have to get new brakes, and gear switchers - or could I use my old gear changers, on the bars, near to the stem? I know it'd be ugly, but I don't mind!

    And how come V-brakes won't work with drop bars? :shock:
  • V-brakes allegedly don;t work with 'Brfiters' although i've read of people being quite happy with them. Apparently there's too much mechanical advantage or something...

    I've got On-One Midge bars which are great, and use Bar end shifters and Dis Compe 287V levers. the whole conversion cost me about 90 quid though. It would have been a lot cheapr to do the bar end thing, but the MIdges are fab...
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  • Yes - v-brakes don't work with drop bar levers because of a mis-match of mechanical advantage. Basically drop bar levers don't pull very much cable, cantis need more and V's even more than that. I once had a hybrid converted with drop bars and the braking was disappointing, it used cantis and the braking would have been much worse with vees.

    However, it is possible to rig up a half decent gear system with MTB thumb shifters. I placed mine right below the brake levers and they were fine to use when on the drops although no good on the hoods. I was quite pleased with that system for a year or two and it was only my frustration with the brakes that made me get rid of it.
  • alfabluealfablue Posts: 8,497
    These Campag V brakes work with STI levers - see this thread.
  • Bar ends first. If you're having back problems you could also look into getting a tall adjustable stem and a more sit up and beg position. Of course this will make you less aerodynamic and therefore harder work (important if you're doing 18miles each way). It will also probably put more pressure on your bum so could perhaps lead to saddle issues.
  • GussioGussio Posts: 2,452
    +1 for bar ends. "Purists" be damned.
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