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  1. #1
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    Anyone else feel awkward on drop bars...switch to flats?

    I have 700mm flat bars on my mtb and commuter bike and 44cm Salsa Cowbell drops on my cross bike.

    The drops are fine and dandy until it is time to corner or grind up a hill then I just find myself wishing I had the flats again.

    Anyone else have this experience? I measured bikes and with a 110 stem on the crosser I could get the same cockpit position as the mtb...wheels in my mind turning...

    Wondering if I just keep riding the drops I will get used to them or just go ahead and put some flat bars on to make all three bikes feel the same.

    Yes, this would make it a hybrid. I'm okay with that.

  2. #2
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    I only use the drops when I'm trying to go fast or hide from the wind. My hands are usually on the hoods.

  3. #3
    AZ
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    Spend 85% of the time on the hoods myself.

  4. #4
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    Spend 100% on the hoods.

    I could never get comfortable in the drops. Maybe it's the gut? ;-)

  5. #5
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    Get in those drops

    That's what works for me. The wider grip gives you more control and stability like your MTB bars, not to mention better braking and shifting. I have the Cowbells too and love them. The shallow drop, mild flair and smooth transition are just perfect. The key for me was getting them set-up higher, just about even with my seat height. This past weekend I was in the drops the whole race, and it was a pretty technical course with lots of single track.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Anyone else feel awkward on drop bars...switch to flats?-img_5678.jpg  


  6. #6
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    They're a tool. They're a tool that I like a lot for 'cross, so here are some suggestions that will help you feel more comfortable on them. If you play with them for a little longer and can't make it work, do whatever does.

    To me, there are a few jobs that drops are particularly good at. Sprinting, big efforts in the saddle, and descending spring to mind. So, practice some balanced sprints from the drops, try what happens when you develop max power spinning while in the drops, and do some descents that way.

    I think a lot of people put their handle bars too low. I think that tendency can be worse with road bikes.
    SLAM THAT STEM
    It can be even more worser-er with 'cross bikes because people sometimes insist on setting them up the same as their pavement-going road bikes. I don't know about you, but my back is not happy if I ride my 'cross bike with as much drop as I have on my road bike. It's also not very useful - if it hurts too much to use the drops when I should be in them and cranking out lots of power on a straightaway or something, then what are they there for?

    So, proper setup is crucial. I experimented with putting the handlebars on my 'cross bike high enough to make the drops the primary position, and found that to be kind of crappy. They're now roughly midway between a drops-primary position and where I put my road bars to ride on the hoods. It feels a little funny riding road, but I think I get good use out of the drops when I'm doing 'cross, and the hoods are in a position that works a lot better for me on singletrack or a particularly bumpy section of a 'cross course than when they matched my road bike.

    Obviously, your mileage may vary. But remember - there's a reason stems come in a bunch of sizes and angles and steer tubes are usually cut to use a spacer stack.
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  7. #7
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    Tried flat bars once on a cross bike.. never again.

  8. #8
    jrm
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    Yes, but

    noticed a reduction in performance. More wind resistance on the flats and climbing suffered.

    Like others i spend most of my time in the hoods and my bar set up reflects this. If you want to use the drops more you need to bring the bar up say level with your saddle.

    You might try a different bar? maybe a midge. i love the cowbell.

  9. #9
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    Never been a roadie and I ride pretty wide MTB flat bars, so when I got a cross bike I was all up on the hoods at the start. The drops reminded me of being 8 and trying to ride my older bros' 10 speed that was 4 sizes too big. Nevertheless after a few weeks, once I got comfortable on the bike, I started using the drops from time to time for a change-up. Slowly I've become more comfortable there and I see certain advantages (mostly those already listed). So give it some time.

    I have 46cm bars, which seem to be the widest they come and I'm pretty happy about that. I'm also considering the Salsa Bell Lap bars because I think the flared sides will give a little better comfort.
    My other bike is a /7.

  10. #10
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    I killed my drop bars at my last race. Oops. Gives me an excuse to try something new, though. I have 40cm FSA compacts on my road bike. They're a little too narrow at the hood, because I didn't understand how the flare would effect that position. So the 'cross bike will get them in a 42cm, with a round top section.

    It's a pretty sweet bend shape for 'cross. The ramps are shorter and shallower, so between that and a little flare, there's a ton of forearm clearance around the drops. Great for getting out of the saddle and hammering, and a lot of flexibility for a good position for efforts in the saddle.

    "Anatomic" bends suck. I'm not sorry I'll be seeing that handle bar go.
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  11. #11
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    I am far more confident and have more control on my CX bike in the drops on technical terrain. I find that the lower had position is better, and it's easier to brake. As mentioned earlier, you may want to check your bar height. Out of curiosity, how do you find braking performance from the hoods? I can't imagine it's good.

    Also, I my 29er has a 640mm riser and my hardtail has a 620mm flat bar, so I'm not always riding on drops.
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  12. #12
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    The brakes on my 'cross bike aren't very good in the best of circumstances. In a race, they suck. I get a little better power from the drops, but nothing to write home about.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  13. #13
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    After a little experimenting the flat bar just sucked on this bike, felt all wrong.

    Cowbells are back on and after flipping the stem to a positive rise and some fiddling feels pretty dang good.

  14. #14
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    If you're racing your cross bike, then drops are probably advantageous for most courses.

    That being said, now that I primarily ride my cross bike for fun and for putting together long rides, I have a flat bar and even some came creek ergo bar ends. Super comfortable, multiple hand positions, I can climb like mad with them. Not to mention I can descend way better than in drops with road levers.

    To each his own. Do what makes the most sense for your own riding style. No harm in trying something out...

  15. #15
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    Let me just qualify this by saying I am by no means an expert. This was my first season racing cross. I have been riding road bikes for 5-6 years and mountain biking for 1 year (I hardly ever touch the road bike anymore). I spend most of my time in the drops when I am racing. It lets me get my center of balance lower to get through the tight and twisty sections. It also give more stability with fast descents and with out of the saddle efforts. Set up is probably key in getting them where you want/need them as is using a relatively shallow.drop. I see most people spending most of their time on the hoods, but I feel I have way more control in the drops.

  16. #16
    jrm
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    Hoods ->~>~>Brakes

    Im using full v brakes with the CC V levers. Theres alot of power / modulation

  17. #17
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    I switched from the Woodchipper to an original Jones bar on my Kocmo bike.

    If you angle it down enough you have a choice of hand positions that comes in the neighbourhood of a shallow dropbar.
    Ridin ridin ridin..... raw ti!

  18. #18
    A Gentleman and a MTBR'
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    I like to get rad on whatever bike I'm riding... I just can't ride drops, maybe with a pro-fit or something. I'm running vintage Nitto Flat bars on my SSCX bike and I love them... Like some other I find myself in the hoods 100% of the time when I ride drops. From BMX to MTB, fixed and commuting I just prefer flat/riser bars. For a long time I thought that made me less of a true cyclist, but now I've realized it's the riding that makes you a cyclist.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Johnny K View Post
    I have 700mm flat bars on my mtb and commuter bike and 44cm Salsa Cowbell drops on my cross bike.

    The drops are fine and dandy until it is time to corner or grind up a hill then I just find myself wishing I had the flats again.

    Anyone else have this experience? I measured bikes and with a 110 stem on the crosser I could get the same cockpit position as the mtb...wheels in my mind turning...

    Wondering if I just keep riding the drops I will get used to them or just go ahead and put some flat bars on to make all three bikes feel the same.

    Yes, this would make it a hybrid. I'm okay with that.
    No. I feel awkward on straight bars.
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  20. #20
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    Drop bars have always felt awkward to me on technical terrain. I put flat bars on my CX bike for yesterdays race and although they did not feel quite right, they still felt much better than drop bars to me. The course had a lot of steep, downhill switchbacks and I was glad I had the flat bars.

  21. #21
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    I rode 6 miles of single track yesterday and I would say I was in the drops about 75% of the time. I feel way more stable on the steep descents. In the drops I can point the bike wherever and it goes.

  22. #22
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    Cross and road frames got a shorter tt than mtb, as the bar & stem reach is longer than a mtb setup.
    If you have a cross/road sized frame, riding with a flat bar would normally have short overall reach and not a good idea.

  23. #23
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    Cross and road frames got a shorter tt than mtb, as the bar & stem reach is longer than a mtb setup.
    If you have a cross/road sized frame, riding with a flat bar would normally have short overall reach and not a good idea.
    I do run a longer stem to make it work and I am a farther forward than I am on my MTB. I am not as far forward as I am when I am on the hoods on drop bars.

  24. #24
    Don't be a sheep
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    When I first started racing cross I spent the bulk of my racing time in the drops. After watching the World Cup pros I noticed they spend very little time in the drops, only on step techy stuff and mostly it appears because of better braking. I also noticed they have a pretty upright position on the bike, rolling their levers up pretty high. I replicated that high lever style and with the addition of mini-v's I never get into the drops anymore. Riding more upright on the hood gives me better field of vision and centers my weight in the bike better.
    "Do not touch the trim"

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rivet View Post
    When I first started racing cross I spent the bulk of my racing time in the drops. After watching the World Cup pros I noticed they spend very little time in the drops, only on step techy stuff and mostly it appears because of better braking. I also noticed they have a pretty upright position on the bike, rolling their levers up pretty high. I replicated that high lever style and with the addition of mini-v's I never get into the drops anymore. Riding more upright on the hood gives me better field of vision and centers my weight in the bike better.
    A higher stem solves both issues.
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  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by shiggy View Post
    A higher stem solves both issues.
    Not really though. It's the upturned angle of the levers that's critical. It keeps the hands from sliding forward on the hoods in technical sections. Bart Wellens Ridley.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Anyone else feel awkward on drop bars...switch to flats?-bart-wellens-ridley-x-night-cyclocross-bike-img_9649_11.jpg  

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  27. #27
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    What kind of change in your stem do you need to switch to flat bars from drops with relative reach? +30mm?
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  28. #28
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    30mm is the recommended but I have a feeling this all bs as most "rules of thumb" are. You probably have to measure where you hands end up from the saddle (just deciede on a point) and then also consider how the changed hand angle affects comfort. On my regular riser bar on my commuter I feel to stretched out and too low, but if i put my hands as if I had some barends pointing straight ahead on that same bar in the middle of the grips it feels ultra comfy and not at all low or stretched out.

    So I guess it depends. Mock something up and take measurements before you buy. I've been spending all week trying to figure out how to get drop bars ona mtb frame.

    I got one of those cheap crappy adjustable angle stems just for this. Maybe you should too.
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  29. #29
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    So Im on a 120mm stem with cowbell drops. Got a 140mm stem on the way to use with flat bars. Hoping I get enough reach out of them to make them work.

    Anyone feel any decreased performance with flat bars? Handling, climbing, sprinting?

    Obviously in the wind your going to have to use more power with flat bars....

    And what width bars are people using? This will be for my race bike. So I need to be able to cut corners near tape and not get tangled in a mass start. Im thinking 600-620...
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  30. #30
    Nouveau Retrogrouch SuperModerator
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rivet View Post
    Not really though. It's the upturned angle of the levers that's critical. It keeps the hands from sliding forward on the hoods in technical sections. Bart Wellens Ridley.
    Well, a higher stem negates the need to run the levers higher AND provides a more secure grip in the drops. Having the levers that high, for 'cross or the road, basically makes the drops unusable.

    I really do not understand the use of the hoods as the main position for 'cross. With the bars at a proper height , and the levers mounted low, the drops are the power and control position.
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  31. #31
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    anyone want to sell your drop setup cheap? I hope to build a cross bike for next season. After spending a lot of training time on the road, I'm pretty comfortable with drop bars. For CX, I'm only using drop position for straights. On the bike I used last weekend, the braking was strong enough I about ate it using brakes from the drops so just went back to hoods. I feel much more nimble on the hoods than drops. Probably will have to fix that for criteriums next season
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  32. #32
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    I thought I was going to die my first couple times in the drops on my cx bike (never having ridden a non-mtb before). now I find myself in the drops >80% of the time if not higher. I think it can just take getting used to. and I'm envious of people feeling they have good braking from the hoods.

  33. #33
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    I ordered the stem on tuesday. Just today I have decided that I will not be able to get enough reach... If I imitate my MTB 100%, reach will still be too short for me for CX.

    Im going to stick with my drop bars for now.

    Chainthruster, I feel you man. I cant ride on my hoods comfortably and I dont know how most people do. I am always in the drops when handling my bike during racing. The only time I get on the hoods is on the flats.
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  34. #34
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    For those here that use and ride the drops, are any of your cross bikes set up with Halter Tops remote brake levers?

    For those that are uncomfortable in the drops, how much of a factor is your neck position for being able to look 50 feet or more in front of you? Part of my discomfort is the extreme neck contortion needed to see dwn the road. Having to were glasses makes it even more difficult.

  35. #35
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    I don't use any remote brake levers. I have my handlebars at a comfortable height for me off-road, which is a bit more conservative than my road position. IMHO, if you need to use secondary brake levers and contort your neck painfully on a handlebar setup, it's wrong. Put 'em where they make sense for your body.
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  36. #36
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    Is it just me that feels awkward on "risers"?? I mean, really, what type of mammal were these designed for? Can't be me at least because somehow when my arms are just dangling around straight down they don't automatically conform to the riser position. Basically they wanty to hang at a slight inwards (towards body with thumbs) tilting angle, this must be more "natural". Loved straight bars in the 90ies, hated them at the end. loved riders when i first got them (compared to straight ones) and ****ing hate them now, and the only logical solution is a drop bar slightly tilted out, that the natural position for me. Or buy all "alt" bars on the market and just try them out. (i might actually do this). The north road style and all even remotely similar ones such as swallow and albatross looks good too. North roads looks really promising.
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  37. #37
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    You may want to consider a set of aerobars. I haven't yet ridden with aerobars on my cross bike yet, but they made a big difference on my road bike in terms of feeling more comfortable and less awkward. Only drawback is that they make the bike feel a little less stable, especially when standing up...

  38. #38
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    I wouldn't want to race cross without drops. I used the drops a lot while racing. Never completely understood why the hoods became the primary position. I see lots of riders setting their bars up to utilize the hoods 90% of the time which generally makes the drops almost useless. Setting up drop bars is all about compromise though in my opinion.

  39. #39
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    Ive been running flats for a year now, love it. Granted im not racing, just out riding. Plus i have bar ends, which helps alot.

    I ride a fair amount of single track with my cross bike set up this way, i feel im way faster on flats then on drops.

    Bill

  40. #40
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    I find I spend quite a lot of time in the drops on race days, and a lot less on training days. Actually I'm pretty happy with that - I have a good position for big efforts, a good position for longer durations at lower effort, and good control in both.

    As an FYI for those who race - both bar ends and aero bars will make your bike illegal. Non-issue outside of competition of course.
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  41. #41
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    In about a year I've completely switched from my last post. I'm now riding a Pinarello CX bike with drops and I love them... I'm running the Soma Hwy One bar, which is short and shallow. I think it was the old style big rounded drops that were making me hate bars of that persuasion.

  42. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by shiggy View Post
    Well, a higher stem negates the need to run the levers higher AND provides a more secure grip in the drops. Having the levers that high, for 'cross or the road, basically makes the drops unusable.

    I really do not understand the use of the hoods as the main position for 'cross. With the bars at a proper height , and the levers mounted low, the drops are the power and control position.
    My opinion is one of experience. I race and win A masters races. Also, watch the best cyclocross racers in the world, rarely in the drops. Riding in the drops lowers your field of vision makes bunny hoppy'ing near impossible and puts your weight too far forward for techinical stuff. Riding a dirt drop on a MTB is not the same as racing on a cross bike.
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  43. #43
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    Having been a road rider for many years I recently switched to narrow (560mm) flat bars for singletrack stuff and I prefer them as they give me more control. I've also found improved braking power and less fatigue in my fingers and hands.

    That said I just can't get as aerodynamic and I feel it at higher speeds.

    Higher speed, less technical courses I'd prefer drop bars. Lower speed, more technical stuff I prefer narrow flat bars.

  44. #44
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    Of all the sub-disciplines of mass-start bicycle racing, cyclocross is the one with the fewest implicit rules. Sure, if you wanna line up for an elite race and not feel awkward you may choose to run a bike that "falls in line". Short of that, for most folks it is a "run what ya brung" type sport where unorthodox approaches to equipment (e.g. flat bars) can fit in for all races that are not UCI elite (which are out of reach for most average folks). Save the conformity for road or XC racing, and do CX on your own terms.

    That said, I'd practice sessions to see what fits for you rather than thinking about it theoretically. Many intelligent riders have thought they would prefer X, only to find they prefer Y when they actually get out in the field. Approaching preparation with a mindset of experimentation rather than a mindset of rigidity will serve you well in the long haul as a cyclist, and in the short term for finding out what works for you in cyclocross.

  45. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by jrm View Post
    noticed a reduction in performance. More wind resistance on the flats and climbing suffered.

    Like others i spend most of my time in the hoods and my bar set up reflects this. If you want to use the drops more you need to bring the bar up say level with your saddle.

    You might try a different bar? maybe a midge. i love the cowbell.
    Your opinion seems to be the consensus and for good reason. It's true.
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