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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
In my 19 years of riding MTBs this is my first drop bar bike. Its been sitting unfinished for a few months now and Sat morning I finished the build and then took it out for a quick ride on the trails. Felt really great up the 40 minute climb. Great standing while on the hoods and even felt great on the the tops while seated even with the high and short stem. I really liked them all the way up. I was thinking maybe I could handle this full time. Then the trail turned down. The first part was a rough semi-steep narrow trail with lots of rocks. Felt really uneasy. Then it got steeper and more wide open but still rough with some ruts. Even scarier. Then I got into some nice woodsy singletrack and felt better and started to get more used to them but still felt really not too ready for really letting it roll at normal speeds. I felt like I couldnt shift as easily as I could with rapidfire. I really gained a new respect for Tomac thinking back to the way he would descend with those bars. And that was even with a longer AND lower stem!! Anyway, overall I really liked them and I seemed to get used to them towards the end of the ride. I did notice that while on the pavement on the way back I was more aero for sure! I think I may need to raise them up a tad bit more and dial in the brakes better to really feel good on it, but of course I need more time on them as well. I think part of the weirdness was also the narrowness of the bar, Im used to around 56cm I think with a flat bar and these are only 42. It was fun though! I will definitely be taking this one back out to the trails.
 

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VRC Illuminati
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Fillet-brazed said:
In my 19 years of riding MTBs this is my first drop bar bike. Its been sitting unfinished for a few months now and Sat morning I finished the build and then took it out for a quick ride on the trails. Felt really great up the 40 minute climb. Great standing while on the hoods and even felt great on the the tops while seated even with the high and short stem. I really liked them all the way up. I was thinking maybe I could handle this full time. Then the trail turned down. The first part was a rough semi-steep narrow trail with lots of rocks. Felt really uneasy. Then it got steeper and more wide open but still rough with some ruts. Even scarier. Then I got into some nice woodsy singletrack and felt better and started to get more used to them but still felt really not too ready for really letting it roll at normal speeds. I felt like I couldnt shift as easily as I could with rapidfire. I really gained a new respect for Tomac thinking back to the way he would descend with those bars. And that was even with a longer AND lower stem!! Anyway, overall I really liked them and I seemed to get used to them towards the end of the ride. I did notice that while on the pavement on the way back I was more aero for sure! I think I may need to raise them up a tad bit more and dial in the brakes better to really feel good on it, but of course I need more time on them as well. I think part of the weirdness was also the narrowness of the bar, Im used to around 56cm I think with a flat bar and these are only 42. It was fun though! I will definitely be taking this one back out to the trails.
That is SO cool! The project looks great (even if a little uneasy on the downs).
I've been giving light thought to doing the same...
It looks fun to try anyway...perhaps I'll 'borrow' yours before I commit to the drop bar movement.
 

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a few tips from a 19-year drop-bar veteran

That's 19 years behind an MTB with drops, not counting road decades. Currently have two MTBs with drops.
Tip #1. Your statement that you felt good on the hoods and on the bar tops tells me your bar is way too low. The fact that you can even get your hands on the hoods also tells me that your brake levers are set way too high on the curve. These observations are related.
Unlike with road drops, or cyclocross, the idea behind MTB drop bars is to ride in the drops ALL the time. This requires a freakishly tall stem with a pretty short extension. Ibis's LD stem, which I'm lucky enough to have on my two dropbar MTBs personifies the design. I don't know of any stems made today that are tall enough, possibly a Terry 1" road quill stem, which is available with a very tall quill. I have never seen a threadless clamp-on stem that even comes close, not even with a 50 degree rise.
With the bar high enough, you don't ride on the hoods, so you can position the levers farther down the bend, so you can activate the brakes with one finger, comfortably, from the drops, without reaching forward for the lever as you would on a road bike. The end of the levers should be right there where your finger normally is. Othewise, your hands will get majorly worked reaching reaching reaching every time you have to brake, and your wrists will ache too.
42cm is really narrow for MTB use, though back in the day, I used to start with a Cinelli 66-42 and bend the ends out a couple inches per side with a big ol length of pipe. You can do that safely ONCE. After that the aluminum is gonna object and break off maybe.
I have a WTB on one bike and like it, but couldn't find one when I set up my other bike, so I bought a 46cm (at the hoods, they flare a few cm per side at the ends) Salsa cyclocross bar, the cheaper 6061 alloy one. Turns out I am totally fine with it and don't lament the lack of a WTB bar at all. Indeed, the Salsa if more flexy than the WTB, and so absorbs a whole lot of shock that the WTB passes on. Both bikes are, of course, full rigid.
So those are my observations based on your discourse. Take them for what it's worth.
 

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holy gum drops! eye candy for sure!

Fillet-brazed said:
In my 19 years of riding MTBs this is my first drop bar bike. Its been sitting unfinished for a few months now and Sat morning I finished the build and then took it out for a quick ride on the trails. . . . . . It was fun though! I will definitely be taking this one back out to the trails.
That's neat! Looks like a fun one to ride!

-mtnwing
 

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bulC said:
That's 19 years behind an MTB with drops, not counting road decades. Currently have two MTBs with drops.
Tip #1. Your statement that you felt good on the hoods and on the bar tops tells me your bar is way too low. The fact that you can even get your hands on the hoods also tells me that your brake levers are set way too high on the curve. These observations are related.
Unlike with road drops, or cyclocross, the idea behind MTB drop bars is to ride in the drops ALL the time. This requires a freakishly tall stem with a pretty short extension. Ibis's LD stem, which I'm lucky enough to have on my two dropbar MTBs personifies the design. I don't know of any stems made today that are tall enough, possibly a Terry 1" road quill stem, which is available with a very tall quill. I have never seen a threadless clamp-on stem that even comes close, not even with a 50 degree rise.
With the bar high enough, you don't ride on the hoods, so you can position the levers farther down the bend, so you can activate the brakes with one finger, comfortably, from the drops, without reaching forward for the lever as you would on a road bike. The end of the levers should be right there where your finger normally is. Othewise, your hands will get majorly worked reaching reaching reaching every time you have to brake, and your wrists will ache too.
42cm is really narrow for MTB use, though back in the day, I used to start with a Cinelli 66-42 and bend the ends out a couple inches per side with a big ol length of pipe. You can do that safely ONCE. After that the aluminum is gonna object and break off maybe.
I have a WTB on one bike and like it, but couldn't find one when I set up my other bike, so I bought a 46cm (at the hoods, they flare a few cm per side at the ends) Salsa cyclocross bar, the cheaper 6061 alloy one. Turns out I am totally fine with it and don't lament the lack of a WTB bar at all. Indeed, the Salsa if more flexy than the WTB, and so absorbs a whole lot of shock that the WTB passes on. Both bikes are, of course, full rigid.
So those are my observations based on your discourse. Take them for what it's worth.
Ya, I've noticed how Charlie C runs his levers. Way down. This of course makes the hoods not so great a place to put your hands. I just like having multiple hand positions. Ive spent a decent amount of time on the road and thats why I set it up this way. I guess doing it like Charlie pretty much gives you the drops and the tops? I dont know if Id like that...I guess maybe I'll have to try it. The hoods are really a nice place for standing. I would hate to lose that. You could really fine tune the rear wheel traction with your hands there.

As for the height, the stem Im using cant be too far off from the rise and reach of an LD, atleast in visually comparing the two. Its about an inch below my saddle height. Im gonna raise them a bit and see how it feels. I did notice that these road bars have more forward reach compared to some of the off road bars. A little more rearward weight distribution would be welcomed on the descents. As for bending them to get a flare, I would be worried about strength. Its ok though? Theyre not gonna weaken on me?? How do you do it and how do you keep the tops from bending next to the stem?

I dont know if I want to go "Charlie-style" quite yet with the lever placement. I like the hoods too much... We'll see. Ive only got one ride so far and they felt good. But ya, the width I think was the main thing that added uneasiness on the rough stuff.

Thanks for the tips!
 

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Mantis, Paramount, Campy
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I would lower the stem or go with less rise...

...to make it a more comfortable decender. As I'm sure most of you remember I set up my MTB's with drops almost exactly like a road bikes. They climb great, singletrack great, and descend pretty well. My only complaint is that rough trails sometimes make me downshift inadvertantly because I use Ergo Levers instead of STI.

Again clearly I'm in disagreement with the "norm" for MTB drop bars but what's the point of using drop bars if you cant use all the hand positions that they offer. You might as well just run a pair of cowhorns backwards on a normal MTB stem...that will give you virtual drops, you can run road levers down low ala C.C., it will weigh less, and you wont have the bars/stem sticking up in your way in the avent of a crash or foreward dismount.
 

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If it feels comfortable to you F-B, then it's perfect. I do think you would like wider bars though. STI levers won't work well with W T B bars, though. If I recall, Modolo used to make a 46cm bar (c-c) that was really nice. I had one on my Ibis Cousin It tandem years ago for off-road riding http://forums.mtbr.com/showthread.php?postid=241027#poststop . Come to think of it, I loved the bar and position on that bike - sniff, bike is since long gone. A wide bar is definitely a plus off-road. I also like the 46 Salsa Bell Lap too.
 

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what's an inch below your saddle?

If you're saying the top of your stem is an inch lower than your saddle top, then I'd say your stem is 3-4 inches too low. With the "ride the drops 100 percent of the time" setup used by Jacquie, Chuck Ibis, myself and many other dropbar devotees, the bottom of the drops are an inch or two below the height of the saddle top, depending on arm and torso length of course. The tops of the bar at the stem clamp are inches above the saddle.
You're free to ride as you like and more power to you, but I think if you're setting your drops up for riding on the hoods (and I've ridden road bikes since the 60s, raced, done more centuries and doubles than I want to remember, and one sick 300 miler in 15 hours, with a good string of 14k years so I'm not unfamiliar with a good comfy road position) then you're missing the best of what a drop bar can do for you on the dirt. Set up our way, dirtdrops are more than just a cool novelty and a change of pace, they're better.
 

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the point

what's the point of using drop bars if you cant use all the hand positions that they offer

first let me say you must have extremely long arms and/or an extremely limber back, or just a really high tolerance for discomfort. even Tomac, who rode a low bar setup like you advocate, would be the first to tell you the position wasn't so hot offroad. we've had the discussion...

the point of offroad drops isn't that the bar offers a bunch of hand positions as with road bikes. instead, it offers ONE perfect comfortable position that, when paired with a stem of proper dimensions, will allow you to ride all day long in comfort and bliss. The offroad drop bar position does many things better: Your arms are more vertical so you can soak up trial shock better, just as motor vehicle shocks tend to be oriented vertically, not sticking out forward at a 45 degree angle. The single, perfect, hand position in the drops lets you ride with relaxed hands with just a light grip, yet you can't slip forward off the bar on bumps as you can with flat/riser bars. The drops offer a strong great position for seated climbing, yet because the bar is nice and high, you can climb standing in the drops, something that doesn't work too well with a road bike. A dirt drop's width is narrower than most flat/riser bars, BUT if you straightened out the tubing, the tube would be longer than any flat/riser bar. That's the same principle as a spring, and that longer length of tubing permits it to flex more, thus absorbing trail shocks admirably. Couple that with nice thick dense padding on the drops and you're good to go. I cringe when I see someone with a nice set of dirt drops and a suspension fork, always wonder if they really gave the bar a fair shake with a rigid fork first or just automatically assumed they need a suspension flexyfork.
To sum up, it ain't about having a variety of hand positions, it's about having one perfect hand position.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
bulC said:
If you're saying the top of your stem is an inch lower than your saddle top, then I'd say your stem is 3-4 inches too low. With the "ride the drops 100 percent of the time" setup used by Jacquie, Chuck Ibis, myself and many other dropbar devotees, the bottom of the drops are an inch or two below the height of the saddle top, depending on arm and torso length of course. The tops of the bar at the stem clamp are inches above the saddle.
You're free to ride as you like and more power to you, but I think if you're setting your drops up for riding on the hoods (and I've ridden road bikes since the 60s, raced, done more centuries and doubles than I want to remember, and one sick 300 miler in 15 hours, with a good string of 14k years so I'm not unfamiliar with a good comfy road position) then you're missing the best of what a drop bar can do for you on the dirt. Set up our way, dirtdrops are more than just a cool novelty and a change of pace, they're better.
Heres a shot of Charlie with drops. His bars also look to be roughly an inch below the seat...
 

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bulC said:
If you're saying the top of your stem is an inch lower than your saddle top, then I'd say your stem is 3-4 inches too low. . .. ..
Can you post a picture of your personal drop setup. Curious to see how it looks with the drops that high vs the picture above. Does the stem have a long quill that allows you to get it up that high? Do some of the older bikes which ran these high drops have different frame geometry to help accomodate this postion or is it purely a bar/stem setup?

-mtnwing
 

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drop position is personal preference

Obviously there are a lot of opinions. Shayne likes a low position. bulC likes a high position. Personally, the tops of my drops are exactly 1" lower than my seat. While I haven't ridden nearly as much as bulC, I have ridden this position from Moab to Aspen 75% off-road, done the White Rim trail and... Each position on my bike is perfect for me - drops, hoods, tops.

Regarding Charlies, Jacquie's and Daryl Lickt's position, are you sure that their stem is inches above the saddle? I don't recall them riding with the tops of their bars above the seat. Steve Potts, yes, but not the other three.
 

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Even this Ibis from '85 has the tops about an inch below the seat. The bike is leaned over a bit and the bars are rotated such that they look taller than they are, but the tops are still at or below the seat level.
 

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I use dropbars on two of my mountainbikes. One is a Steve Potts, the other a Willits. Both have the tops of the WTB-drops within half inch of the top of the saddle. I have ridden the Steve Potts everywhere with those drops the last fifteen years, Colorado Singletrack, Great Divide Route, Iditabike and many trips in the Alps over here in Europe. I like the dropbars for the comfort, but also the multiple handpositions they offer. On longer rides even with the relatively high dropbars, it feels nice to stretch the back riding top of bar or the brakelevers.
One thing to consider though is that WTB or Nitto Dirtdrops have relatively little drop. This means that riding the drops is higher than another dropbar with the same stem-dimensions. This might explain why several Rivendell-bikes use higher dropbar-position with regular roaddropbars.
 

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Do some of the older bikes which ran these high drops have different frame geometry to help accomodate this postion or is it purely a bar/stem setup?

-mtnwing[/QUOTE]

oh yeah. i always wondered why the phoenix had such tall headtubes.... besides them and cunninghams though.. you have to find tall tall stems.
 

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colker1 said:
Do some of the older bikes which ran these high drops have different frame geometry to help accomodate this postion or is it purely a bar/stem setup?

oh yeah. i always wondered why the phoenix had such tall headtubes.... besides them and cunninghams though.. you have to find tall tall stems.
Good question. No and yes. No in the general sense of geometry - pretty standard head and seat angles. These frames are not designed for suspension forks so the fork is short which means the head tubes are long - think about it as they are extended down to meet the fork. The top of the head tube is about even with a bike that would be designed around a suspension fork. This picture should illustrate this nicely.

Some custom builders would build the frame around your bar choice. Steve Potts and Ross Shafer would - but then a custom Salsa of 10+ years ago was truly a custom work of art. Ibis built the same frame - flat or drop bar - although I had my SS customized with a longer t/t and a custom LD stem.

Most of the time, though, we just worked around the frame to fit someone to the bike when installing drops. We used the Cunningham Fit-Finder stem to set the bars where they were the most comfortable. Then with the numbers on the Fit-Finder would have custom stems made by Salsa or Ibis - usually Salsa.

(looking at that picture, it is a bit misleading - looks like the Ibis has 29" wheels compared to the other. Both are 26" wheels).
 

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sorry

mtnwing said:
Can you post a picture of your personal drop setup. Curious to see how it looks with the drops that high vs the picture above. Does the stem have a long quill that allows you to get it up that high? Do some of the older bikes which ran these high drops have different frame geometry to help accomodate this postion or is it purely a bar/stem setup?

-mtnwing
no digital camera here.
an Ibis LD stem is a length of crmo tubing that is bent to curve forward at the top, where the clamp is welded on. It's shaped like a limp d**k, hence the name "LD." There's no separate quill and extension, just one piece of tube that's curved towards the top. The stem fits over a 22.2mm plug inserted into a threaded 1" steerer tube. You can either have a steel insert brazed inside the steerer so it protrudes a few inches, or you can use a plug with a bolt and expander, identical to that of a quill stem only with no extension, just a straight quill with a wedge and bolt. I've never seen or heard of an Ibis LD in other than 1" size. Pretty sure every one was custom made to measure, with no stock sizes. My two put the center of the bar clamp about 6" above the top of the headset. Tall. Perfect.
 

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clueless
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.. another dropped project

... aaaah curves are sexy :D





... an old rocklobster expert, freshly powdercoated in greenback green :D

26° salsa k10 moto stem, nitto dirt drop 46cm, as much xc pro as availiable in my basement (levers will be changed to superbe pro, m900 front der. to suntour top pull), 7s suntour barcones, huegi "machine gun" rear hub, king front, german made conbrio mt900 rims, ird seatpost, bontrager ti saddle, diacompe 986 brakes ...

it's a fun riding her despite the too low stem for riding in the drops :)

ciao
flo



 

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I would say your bar/stem height is about right.

Sounds like the the bars have too much drop and are too narrow though, and it helps to have bars with some flair. Also move the brake levers way down on the bars so you can reach the brakes easily from the drops. You can still ride on the hoods - I do a lot on the smooth flats and climbs.

Until you get use to descending in the drops lower you saddle an inch or two just to make it a bit easier to move your butt down and back.

Personally I HATE anatomical bend bars. Worst thing ever done to drop bars. They force you into limited grip positions and put my hands to sleep.

The new On-One drop bars will be available in a few months. Similar to the WTB drop with wider tops, wider at the hoods, less drop and reach, and more vertical lever position.
 
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