Getting a Grip on the Handlebars

Handlebars have been on my mind for quite some time and certainly since I bought Reggie Ridgeback; he has drop handlebars and I am finding it difficult to adjust to them. This website – Handlebars for Touring – gives some alternatives which are worth thinking about. I don’t like the drop handlebars for three main reasons

1. I don’t use the “drop” (so why bother having them?)

2. In what I would call the “standard” gripping position where my hands are on the horizontal part of the bar, the gears and not accessible (they are on the drop part of the bar of course)

3. The brakes on the horizontal part of the bar are the more effective ones but when travelling at high-speed downhill, that gripping position doesn’t feel that safe as the hands are quite close together and small movements are exaggerated (not such a good idea if travelling quite fast)

I feel much more comfortable and safer on the straight bars of my Trek…

Categories: Cycling

4 replies »

  1. sheldon brown website is great. To get your head around bikes from the basics to more complicated you can’t beat it. For me the parts list in English/French might come in handy given my lack of linguistic skills.

    On the matter of drops I’d say stick with them a while. It is an individual prefefernce but I think they’ll grow on you. They are by far quicker when riding on the hoods due to stretching you out more comfortably than you could naturally with a flat bar (even if set low down with a flipped step). Plus you can brake and change gear fine when on the hoods. The option of dropping down to the drops when down hill/cornering gives better handling than sitting up straight on flats. Plus in a head wind you can get down and sit out some plugging away into the wind for 10 minutes or so until it gets too uncomfortable but helping you make some miles.
    I’d be tempted to strip the brakes off the flat bit of the bar, fit your bar bag and use the hoods/drops.

  2. Hello again Andrew
    Don’t drop the drops yet. Look at the set up here…
    The fellow is riding in most of the shots the same as about all racing/road cyclists do which is 90% of the time on the brake hoods.The brakes are totaly accessable from this position although you do have to actuate them with your weaker fingers. As are the gears.
    If you have been measured up correctly then your hands should fall fairly naturally to the hoods. If you have to stretch for the hoods then the stem (replaceable) could be either too low or too short. The bike is at it’s most controllable from the hoods position unless you need extra braking power when this is usualy done from the drops (bigger fingers using more of the lever) If the brakes feel underpowered it may be just cheap standard brake blocks! a swap to koolstop or swissstop ones may be necessary.
    If you find you don’t use the drops much find a day with a good headwind and peddle into it. This is where they are usefull on a touring bike. Also it is a welcome break to the ulnar nerve on long tours to rest on the drops for a bit. If you find the drops uncomfortable, raise the bars up! I found myself loath to use them at first but after I took them upwards with an angled stem and some spacers I now find them comfortable.
    Perseverence and a few long rides/minor tweeks should sort out both you and reggie. It is worth it.
    On the other hand changing to flat bars needs consideration as to first the expense of new bars, shifters and cabling/ brake routing bits and second how the geometry of the frame (which is designed for drops) will fit you after the conversion ( most drop bar bikes come in larger frame sizesthan hybrids)
    I only ride on the secondary levers (the ones on the bar tops) when I am decending in a straight line, siteseeing or needing a rest for my hands. These brakes are nowhere near as effective as the main levers.
    Riding on the hoods is ergonomically more efficient as the elbows are not forced outwards and you can more easily adopt an aerodynamic tuck without sticking the elbows outwards. After a while drops become natural and you probably will never buy a tourer without them.
    Hope this dosn’t come across as a nag and I hope it helps.
    Jim ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. A definition rom the website that I mention in the post;

    Trekking Bicycle
    This seems to me to be basically a bit of marketing hype. “Trekking” bikes are basically indistinguishable from 700c “hybrids” except that they come with a lot of accessories that are not stock on a hybrid, such as fenders, racks and generator lighting systems.
    Another way of looking at it is that a trekking bike (or a hybrid for that matter) is basically a touring bike with upright handlebars instead of drops.
    Although the word “trek” is of Afrikaans origin, meaning a long painful journey on foot or by oxcart, I believe the term “trekking” bike originated in Germany in the 1980s.

What do you think?