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808+909 = Party Good Time
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Like all things I see on MTBR if I look at them long enough I start thinking maybe I should give that a go... now it's drop bars... I'm curious. What's the advantages and disadvantages. What sort of riding style does it suit? And on a side note what are good bars to use? Not sure if Mungo bars strictly count but they look hot.
 

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Expert Crasher
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Check out this series by Guitar Ted: http://g-tedproductions.blogspot.com/search/label/drop bar

If you've got mechanical discs - you can do this experiment fairly cheaply. Find an appropriate stem (probably Salsa or Kalloy), some Midges (Shiggy's fund sale), and some Tektro RL520s. Hit the LBS for some bar phat/tape and the different style brake cables. I put probably $100 into the conversion and it was well worth it in my book.
 

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I've spent a lot of time on midges and the like, rode them exclusively for all of last year. This spring I switched both my bikes to more conventional bars. As of now, I've switched my rigid SS back (to a Gary bar), and kept the riser on my Lenz. A summary of my opinions on drops bars on bikes (presuming you'll be riding everything on it, especially very technical singletrack):

Pros
-Rides wider than it is
-Excellent climbing position for SS-style
-Very natural position for wrists and elbows (nice for rigid riding)
-Easy/inevitable to weight the front (fantastic for twisty and tacky, what I think of as midwest singletrack)
-Several distinct and quite different hand positions
-Feels very "in" the bike (a result of 3 and 4, above)
-Makes you look cool ;)
-It's FUN! (the reason I went back)

Cons
-All things being equal, inferior for technical riding (without some crazy Shiggyesque custom stem, you cannot effectively get a position shorter than what a 120-30mmish stem and conventional risers would give you)
-Requires a "different" stem and lots of spacers
-Puts pressure on the ulnar nerve
-Limits choices of brakes and shifters
 

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I really like the way my road bike feels for less technical rides and particularly longer climbs so I just took my Monocog Flight - and rebuilt it for winter riding/commuting...

I'll be doing some long road rides in the spring and wanted something to train on and this is perfect for the winter and for dirt roads. Current gearing is 34 x 11-32... plenty for the steep climbs and early season spinning. The drop bars have plenty of positions to switch around on.

Based on my first evening pedal through the snowpacked streets of Colorado Springs I think this is gonna be a great ride!

Meet Frank (a.k.a. Franken-cross):

S
 

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Expert Crasher
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Ion's list is pretty good, I will add better breathing and a great 'attack' position to the pros. I don't get any ulnar nerve (outer palm) pain per say - but it is taking some 'getting used to' on the part of my thumb muscles - different pressure points than the Ergon grips I've been riding for the last year. I don't own a road bike so it's been 25 years or so since my first drop bar Schwinn 10 spd.

 

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Self-defeatist
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Here's Matt Chester's review of Midges and how-to article from a few years ago. This is what I referred to when I set up my Kona Unit.

https://www.63xc.com/mattc/midge.htm

Ionsmuse's list is bang on. I wasn't sure how to say 'rides wider than it is,' but that's the way. I ride 710mm risers and am perfectly comfortable on my 60cm (more like 50cm at the ergo bends) WTB's.

I also love the increased front traction. I always struggled to weight the front in the past, now it's just planted. It's a bit of a trade-off in technical terrain though, ie. a bit more effort to unweight the front wheel. To be fair, my bars could stand to be 10mm higher. Next year.

Here's mine again.
 

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Keep on Rockin...
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Well....

PROS:

Wicked SS power. The body mechanics that drop bars induce make for killer power transfer. You don't realize how much an effect this has until you ride drop bars for a while then go back to straight bars.

As long as trails are smooth you can hit the turns super fast.

For winter riding it's more aero and your chest isn't getting pelted with the chilly wind.

CONS:

MTB frames are not geometrically designed for drop bars. The effective TTs are too long, and the the HTs are way to short. I've tried running a super short stem with a several inches of HT spacers to get the bar where it should be, but it was a tough sell. My head couldn't get past the look of all those ridiculous spacers.

(Salsa had the chance to address these issues when they came out with their MTB-Cross frame, but looking at the geo they dropped the ball IMO.)

Technical prowess suffers. Navigating through the heavy chop on drop bars is much more difficult than on wide flat/riser bars.

MIDDLE GROUND:

Using a narrow flat bar with long bar ends is a good compromise.
 

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Harmonius Wrench
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Why Drop Bars For Off Road?

The basic deal with drops for off roading is that the hands, wrists, and fore arms are aligned in a unique way in comparison to how we ride on flats and risers. This is the "why" of drop bars. If you get that, the rest starts to fall into place.

Getting the drops into a position that mimics your flat bar set up is simply a matter of getting the right stem. Period. Top tube length need not be altered. You could custom design a frame with a shorter top tube, which would maybe make your stem choice a standard one, but you don't have to.

You could get a smaller frame to get your shorter top tube in a production model....but running a frame one size too small in any other set up for mountain biking is foolish, it is no different here, so why compromise when you don't have to. ;)

Head tube lengths on most mtb frames are too short, necessitating a custom stem. Custom stems are readily available, if you look for them. ;)

The Looks: Well, if this overides my first point, drop bars for off road were never meant for you. :)

Finally, drop bars off road are not for everyone. Either you love the way they ride, or you will hate it. That's cool. But getting the proper set up right will be the only way you will be able to effectively figure that out.
 

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Though I've never ridden a drop bar mtb (I think my '89 MB-1 was available that way) it's intriguing to someone who has spent a lot of time on a road bikes and cross bikes with different grip options.
A major con that I see is the durability of STI type shifters on a geared set-up -- they'd be the first thing munched in any crash.
I'm waiting for a set of Marys for my El Mariachi, if they don't do me, I may try the drop bar gig.
 

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Guitar Ted said:
Getting the drops into a position that mimics your flat bar set up is simply a matter of getting the right stem. Period.
This is a great thread guys... I've been interested in making this switch for a while now.

I realize that the stem length and angle can be a bit of trial and error - but is there a good recommended starting point?

For example, I currently have a 90 degree 120mm stem. I'm 6' 4" and ride a big bike. I've found one of the Salsa stems that is 130 degree and 120mm in length.

Should I stick with the same stem length - or go shorter (perhaps 105mm) being that my hands will end up being further forward once they are in the drops?

Thanks. :thumbsup:
 

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Go shorter.

BigCircles said:
This is a great thread guys... I've been interested in making this switch for a while now.

I realize that the stem length and angle can be a bit of trial and error - but is there a good recommended starting point?

For example, I currently have a 90 degree 120mm stem. I'm 6' 4" and ride a big bike. I've found one of the Salsa stems that is 130 degree and 120mm in length.

Should I stick with the same stem length - or go shorter (perhaps 105mm) being that my hands will end up being further forward once they are in the drops?

Thanks. :thumbsup:
As stated above the Geo/Drop Bars require a shorter/taller stem to offset the usually too long TT. Try an 80mm./90mm. I am 6'5" and I went from a 120mm. w/10dg. rise and 1" of headset spacers to 90mm. with 20dg. rise. It is still way to short for trail use but smooth flowy singletrack/fire roads are another story. Your best bet is to contact your LBS and make an appt. with a Fit Expert (usually at least one really good one per shop.).

Take Care,

PF:thumbsup:
 

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Also, so you know. You will have WAY more stem options/choices if you use a 25.4 bar (Midge/Gary etc.). I found this out the hard way... BOA, Profile, Salsa and Specialized are the best non custom high rise stems I have seen. I think the BOA may be the system for Profile but I can't remember. IMHO, the Salsa's are the coolest.

PF
 

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Harmonius Wrench
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BigCircles said:
This is a great thread guys... I've been interested in making this switch for a while now.

I realize that the stem length and angle can be a bit of trial and error - but is there a good recommended starting point?

For example, I currently have a 90 degree 120mm stem. I'm 6' 4" and ride a big bike. I've found one of the Salsa stems that is 130 degree and 120mm in length.

Should I stick with the same stem length - or go shorter (perhaps 105mm) being that my hands will end up being further forward once they are in the drops?

Thanks. :thumbsup:
If a "fit expert" sounds like too much trouble and too much money, check out this: http://g-tedproductions.blogspot.com/2008/10/drop-bar-for-mountain-biking-part-iii.html

I think the pictures speak for themselves. However; it shouldn't be too hard to find out whether you need a custom stem or if an off the shelf one will work using this simple method.

Here's something else to check out which also illustrates my point. http://www.voodoocycles.net/blog/?p=91

Watch the slide show of the Nakisi. You'll eventually see the stem that was custom made to get the drops where they belong on that rig. By the way, I'm hearing that the custom Nakisi stem will in fact become a stock item available from VooDoo soon.

And for those of you who think it looks rediculous, again I say, drop bars probably are not for you for off road. ;) :D
 

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This place needs an enema
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My favorite part about using dirt drops/midges was that I got to buy all sorts of new padded gloves *and* spend lots of time trying to wrap the bars in such a way that they became tolerable to ride for more than 6 minutes in a row.

It was worth it though, because they made my bike look really cool.

:rolleyes: :D :thumbsup:

In some seriousness, they work OK for some people on some kinds of trails. Only way to know for sure is to try 'em.

MC
 

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As an example, I ran a 40 degree rise, 90mm stem and 40mm of spacers with Midges on my Leviathan.

I know run a 100mm 5 degree rise stem, 11 degree sweep low rise bars, and no spacers.

The riser position is higher and a bit shorter.

Keep in mind the extent to which HTA will play into this.
 

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Expert Crasher
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There are several builders out there that do great custom stems. Pofahl (check out Milltowncycles blog, they did a recent post), Stoic (Jay does great stuff) and Matt Kaminecki (check out this thread).

One thing to keep in mind - as angle rises, reach decreases for a given length. I've got a 110mm x 40 degree, would normally ride a 90mm on this length top tube. Will probably go to a 50mm or as I get a custom built. I wish Salsa made this kind of thing in the Chromoloy S.U.L. stem.


While drop bars may not be the ideal technical riding bar, the don't preclude it either. https://forums.mtbr.com/showpost.php?p=5023598&postcount=38
 
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