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  1. #1
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    How are dropbars comfortable

    How do you make dropbars comfortable? My shoulders are uncomfortable after 15 minutes and killing me after an hour.
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  2. #2
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    What bar are you using? I went to a flared-ish bar and I love it.

    Bike/cockpit fit?
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  3. #3
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    Stock bars on Nashbar Single Speed Cyclocross.

    They are 42cm wide

  4. #4
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    I can't speak for anyone else, but here's an overlay of two of my custom frames that i've had for a good long while. They're both stupid-comfortable.
    How are dropbars comfortable-dropbars.jpg

    They were designed coming from opposite directions, and the overlay is after-the-fact, but it makes sense. The 'tops' position on the road bike is the same saddle-bar distance as the mtb, but narrower and thus more upright. The 'hood' position on the road bike is longer than the mtb, but narrower. It fits like my mtb and I can hang out there all day. The 'drops' position is definitely lower, and with super deep drops (or back when i had a belly) it's not comfortable for long stints. With the short drop bars i can hang out there as long as is sensible and comfort isn't really a factor.

    IMO road/gravel bike geo and cockpit setup gets muddled by 700c wheels dictating frame geo for half the population, and racer fashion demands slammed stems. A properly fitted drop bar frame with drop bars is unquestionably more comfortable and aerodynamic than a flat bar.

    I'm quite tall, so i don't need to do weird stuff with the cockpit to fit myself around 700c road wheels. That said, i have a smidge of toe overlap on the bike pictured above.
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    How are dropbars comfortable-11174801314_8873112951_b.jpg

    You have this thing? If yes, start by throwing that retro style junk bar in the trash, and get a proper compact bar.

    We need pics, to show the saddle to bar drop, the position of the bar and the levers etc. Maybe you have a bike that's 3 sizes too big, maybe you mounted your bars upside down, who knows. We need more info.

  6. #6
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    How are dropbars comfortable-20190209_132308.jpg

    How are dropbars comfortable-20190209_132320.jpg

    How are dropbars comfortable-20190209_132327.jpg

    How are dropbars comfortable-20190209_132336.jpg

    It is 58cm and I am 6'2" which seems to be the right size.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by 93EXCivic View Post
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    It is 58cm and I am 6'2" which seems to be the right size.





    Switch to a 46 cm bar or even wider, reduce the saddle to bar drop. My two pesos.
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  8. #8
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    I'm also 6'2 and have pretty normal proportions. You can eyeball the dimensions i stuck in that pic above to spot anything hugely different in your cockpit setup. If they had a larger size i probably would have gone with that.

    Quote Originally Posted by life behind bars View Post
    reduce the saddle to bar drop. My two pesos.
    Agreed. Tough to see exactly, but it looks like he has like 10" of saddle-bar drop. Try 2-3".
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  9. #9
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    If you get a riser stem, angle the nose of your saddle up a bit, just enough to not crush your junk.

    If you can flip your stem that may help too

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by 93EXCivic View Post
    How do you make dropbars comfortable?
    I see lots of roadies. I live in roadie-central. Hundreds of them. Out of all the roadies I've seen I can count the number of them who were on the drops on the fingers of one elbow.

    While roadies rave about how great drops are the reality is that they rarely use them. They spend ninety-percent of their time on the hoods. Just look for yourself and you'll see. What does that tell you?

  11. #11
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    It all has to do with a proper bike fit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by scottzg View Post
    I'm also 6'2 and have pretty normal proportions. You can eyeball the dimensions i stuck in that pic above to spot anything hugely different in your cockpit setup. If they had a larger size i probably would have gone with that.



    Agreed. Tough to see exactly, but it looks like he has like 10" of saddle-bar drop. Try 2-3".
    Is the saddle to bar drop the height from the top of the saddle to the top of the bars? I measure that at 5 inches.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by 93EXCivic View Post
    Is the saddle to bar drop the height from the top of the saddle to the top of the bars? I measure that at 5 inches.
    Yes, and that's a lot. I would probably feel just as you described with a 5" drop. First thing to do is flip the stem over.


    It looks like you've got the nose of your saddle pointed down, which is usually a fix for
    -saddle too narrow
    -reach too long
    -excessive handlebar drop

    Tipping the nose down forces your upper body to keep your butt from sliding forward. Typically if i see a saddle varying more than ~3* from level i expect there is a fit problem somewhere.
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  14. #14
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    As mentioned, you are riding mostly on the hoods, right? In the drops is more for descending or just a change of position or when really hammering. And I agree that you've got a lot of drop. My son is just under 6 ft and I bought him a 58.

    When I put together my Gunnar Street Dog, it wasn't comfortable, it was actually most comfortable in the drops. Then I got on my Jamis Quest (older model that is more classic road geometry than the newer ones) and was "wow, this is comfortable". So I took a bunch of measurements and adjusted the Street Dog to match the Quest. Point is, it can take some dialing in to get it comfortable. I've probably had to swap to a different stem on every road bike I've ever had.
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by 93EXCivic View Post
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    [ATTACH=CONFIG]
    It is 58cm and I am 6'2" which seems to be the right size.

    I'm about 6'2" and I need at least a 50 cm, that looks like a pretty aggressive drop from that camera angle.

    Not everyone likes drop bars though, you might not even if your bike was set up perfectly for you.
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    I see lots of roadies. I live in roadie-central. Hundreds of them. Out of all the roadies I've seen I can count the number of them who were on the drops on the fingers of one elbow.

    While roadies rave about how great drops are the reality is that they rarely use them. They spend ninety-percent of their time on the hoods. Just look for yourself and you'll see. What does that tell you?


    I'm down in the drops every single ride, maybe only about 20-30% of the time? Don't know but I wouldn't want to be without them. Everyone I ride with is about the same, the drops are all well used.
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  17. #17
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    I agree. Not sure what he is talking about. Especially with gravel bikes, the drops are easy. I spend 2 hours in the drops yesterday and no comfort issues.

    Stuff like this is easy to solve if you just do a proper bike fitting.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    I'm about 6'2" and I need at least a 50 cm, that looks like a pretty aggressive drop from that camera angle.

    Not everyone likes drop bars though, you might not even if your bike was set up perfectly for you.
    I think you mean 60 cm.
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    Every sizing chart I saw was seeming to say 58cm for 6'2". I had a 58cm flat bar bike and it was reasonably comfortable. Either way I am stuck with it for a while.

    The saddle was moved to that position cause it was killing my balls if it wasn't tilted down that much. I also think the angle of the picture makes the seat look more tilted down then it is. Maybe I need a different seat?

    I will flip the stem to start and then look at different bars.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by chazpat View Post
    I think you mean 60 cm.

    Yeah, that.
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  21. #21
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    Have you tried non-round drops?

    I use 45 degree bend drop bars ( ergo) that are really comfortable. I canít use regular round drops or compact drops.

  22. #22
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    A buddy of mine is ripping it up on this dropbar creation...

    How are dropbars comfortable-fullsizeoutput_a9.jpg

    How are dropbars comfortable-fullsizeoutput_aa.jpg

    Don't worry. He has more bikes than anyone I know.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    I see lots of roadies. I live in roadie-central. Hundreds of them. Out of all the roadies I've seen I can count the number of them who were on the drops on the fingers of one elbow.

    While roadies rave about how great drops are the reality is that they rarely use them. They spend ninety-percent of their time on the hoods. Just look for yourself and you'll see. What does that tell you?
    Even though the OPs bike is not exactly a gravel bike, this is the gravel subforum.

    Not always true, but most of the time gravel bikes put you in a more upright position, and it's not as trendy to use a negative rise stem and slam it. So it's easier to reach the drops.

    On a drop bar offroad bike it's a must to actually use the drops. It's a 1000x more stable position than using the hoods. Even on a slightly rough offroad descend the bars can simply just rattle out of my hands if i'm holding the hoods.

    Regarding the OPs issue, I agree that the saddle to bar drop looks huge. I love drop bars but I couldn't tolarete a position like that for 5 minutes.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zest28 View Post
    It all has to do with a proper bike fit.
    This.

    If the bars are not within comfortable reach, they're just a fashionable ornament.

    The problem is that bikes with dropbars these days ape road racing bikes with the bars set low and with deep drops.

    That's perfectly fine if you're road race fit and flexible. Most people coming from mtb are reasonably fit but not used to being locked in one position for long periods.

    Anyone trying to set up their bike like that and who doesn't have the body adaptation and fitness, is unlikely to find the dropbars comfortable.

    Instead, look at the period when sport bikes were also the daily transport.

    They had dropbars, and if you look at period photos you'll notice the top of the bar was usually level with the saddle, not slammed right down.

    They also had quill stems, so it was also possible to raise or lower the bars according to what you wanted to use it for. So up for commuting and slammed down for the weekend club runs and races etc.

    If you are fitting dropbars to a mtb frame, also consider the reach - it should be a bar and stem swap in most cases, not just the bars.

    At the end of the day, bars are just a bent bit of tubing to getting your hands in the right place, so if a bar doesn't do the job, don't worry about how the bike looks, get something that does.

    OT: I like dropbars and have used them quite a lot on my mtbs, but mtb bars win in most cases for me simply because the brake levers on mtbs are much much better, and braking is a high priority. For that reason I prefer a dropbar shape which used to be known as Great North Road because it has a drop, and can take mtb levers.
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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by HollyBoni View Post
    Even on a slightly rough offroad descend the bars can simply just rattle out of my hands if i'm holding the hoods.
    This was my mail issue when I tried road bars. I found that the position I naturally wanted to be in was on the hoods but in terms of grip and control it was very compromised. Yet this is the position I see almost all roadies using most of the time. I would rather use a flat bar which might not offer the same degree of airo options but is more comfortable and more secure most of the time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    This was my mail issue when I tried road bars. I found that the position I naturally wanted to be in was on the hoods but in terms of grip and control it was very compromised. Yet this is the position I see almost all roadies using most of the time. I would rather use a flat bar which might not offer the same degree of airo options but is more comfortable and more secure most of the time.
    I'd say if you level the seat and the bars the drops are not torture. Road bikes usually have a more aggressive and aero position, I hate that too. Most people try drops on those kinds of bikes, so of course they find it uncomfortable most of the time. My main position is on the hoods too, and I use the drops for rougher stuff and/or descends or when there is a massive head wind.
    For technical riding nothing beats a flat bar of course.
    This is an extreme example, but i'm sure you can see how easy it would be on this bike to use the drops:
    How are dropbars comfortable-2019_cutthroat_force1_blue-uc-1.jpg

    And this is with one spacer and a negative rise stem...

    I hate being stretched out, I get neck pain easily and I don't give a poop about being aero but I love drop bars. To me it's just a more natural, more comfortable position, and I can move around on long rides to avoid fatigue. I'm building a hardtail next, i'm gonna miss drops for sure on long rides.

  27. #27
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    5" saddle to bar drop is really aggressive, tdf aggressive. I would start by raising the bars an strongly consider a larger frame for your next bike.
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  28. #28
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    As far as bars, what if I went with something like a Ritchey Ergomax where it has a rise in the bar and is flared to help?

    I am going to flip the stem today and try that out.

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by 93EXCivic View Post
    As far as bars, what if I went with something like a Ritchey Ergomax where it has a rise in the bar and is flared to help?

    I am going to flip the stem today and try that out.
    It seems like while the Ritchey has raised tops, it drops at the sides again:

    How are dropbars comfortable-ritchey-bar-wcs-road-ergomax.jpg

    No bueno IMO.

    Specialized has the hover bar series. These could work, I have a "regular" Specialized bar and I love it.

    How are dropbars comfortable-specialized-hover-expert-alloy-handlebars-15mm.jpg

    Or if you want to go all out there is the Soma Condor 2...

    How are dropbars comfortable-soma_hbar_condor2_blk1_web.jpg

    Is the sizing on this bike accurate? That headtube looks tiny for a 58.

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    I don't want to go all out on this. I really just got it as a cheap bike to try gravel and Cyclocross and if I like it then spend a bit more money.

    I will check out the Specialized bars.

    I measure the seat tube at 58.

    Flipping the stem, adding an extra spacer under the stem and slightly lowering the saddle (I had been messing with it before I took the pictures and I think I got it too high) puts the drop at 2.5in.

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    In all out I meant that the Soma has the biggest rise, but yep it's probably the most expensive too.
    The Specialized should start from around 50 bucks.

    Just out of curiosity, how long is the headtube?

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by 93EXCivic View Post

    The saddle was moved to that position cause it was killing my balls if it wasn't tilted down that much. I also think the angle of the picture makes the seat look more tilted down then it is. Maybe I need a different seat?

    I will flip the stem to start and then look at different bars.
    Ya you might find you can flatten the saddle once you raise the bars, which will in turn take more load off your upper body.
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  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by 93EXCivic View Post
    How do you make dropbars comfortable? My shoulders are uncomfortable after 15 minutes and killing me after an hour.
    I made my bike comfortable by selling my drop-bar Crossrip and getting a Trek FX with flat bars. Much has been made of the "multiple hand positions" that drop bars provide. I don't think that three uncomfortable hand positions is any better than one. Anyway, flat bars give multiple hand positions that don't have to be associated with uncomfortable body positions.

    Look into getting your bike re-fitted with flat bars...or sell it and get a bike that has a handlebar configuration that is comfortable for you. You aren't going to improve your bike's comfort with its current handlebar.

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cuyuna View Post
    Anyway, flat bars give multiple hand positions that don't have to be associated with uncomfortable body positions.
    I'm pretty sure there are a lot of XC guys with flat bars that have more aggressive positions than what I have on my drop bar bike.

    Doesn't matter if you have flats or drops, you can achieve an uncomfortable and aggressive position, or a comfortable and upright position with both.
    You associate drop bars with uncomfort because of the roadie trend, slammed and negative rise stems on aggressive road race bikes.

    Of course when you slap a straight bar on a road bike you end up with a super short reach, which immediately feels more comfortable... For 5 minutes. Then you realise having your arms locked out might not be ideal on long rides.

    You just had a bad fitting drop bar bike, simple as that.

    I've tried uncomfortable straight bar bikes too.

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cuyuna View Post
    I don't think that three uncomfortable hand positions is any better than one.



    I don't either but 3 comfortable positions are better for sure. As mentioned they may not be for everyone but there's no denying that a good percentage of riders find drop bars more comfy, especially on longer rides.

    At any rate I don't think it's fair to judge any type of handlebar until the position is dialed first, and imo the op's position looks like it could probably use some work.
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  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    I don't either but 3 comfortable positions are better for sure. As mentioned they may not be for everyone but there's no denying that a good percentage of riders find drop bars more comfy, especially on longer rides.

    At any rate I don't think it's fair to judge any type of handlebar until the position is dialed first, and imo the op's position looks like it could probably use some work.
    Bah!

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cuyuna View Post
    Much has been made of the "multiple hand positions" that drop bars provide. I don't think that three uncomfortable hand positions is any better than one.
    I must admit that after fitting flat-bars with bar ends on my road bike I didn't look back. I understand that it's not as airo so you're sacrificing a bit of speed but I don't care. I find it much more comfortable and stable and that's more important to me.

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    I must admit that after fitting flat-bars with bar ends on my road bike I didn't look back. I understand that it's not as airo so you're sacrificing a bit of speed but I don't care. I find it much more comfortable and stable and that's more important to me.
    I did the same and found it super uncomfortable. I also hated that when I was holding the bar ends I needed to move my hands to operate the shifter or the brake.

    So yep, different strokes for different folks.

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    OP,

    I like your idea of flipping the stem/adding a spacer etc.

    Also I'd seriously look around for a cheaper saddle with a large cutout, after reading your balls comment. Once you have that, level the saddle and get your saddle position/height sorted. Look at the front setup after that.

    If you've come from a mtb background, going to a drop bar with that much drop (which is too much imo) is going to take your body some time to get used to.

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    The flipped stem/added spacer helps a lot from riding a bit earlier.

    I agree I need to look at saddles first. I am wondering if I get the seat level and comfortable if it will get me the rest of the way there.

    I am coming from MTB and BMX. So the body position is it is taking some getting some used to. It really couldn't be more different then riding a 20in BMX.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HollyBoni View Post
    In all out I meant that the Soma has the biggest rise, but yep it's probably the most expensive too.
    The Specialized should start from around 50 bucks.

    Just out of curiosity, how long is the headtube?
    6 inches

  42. #42
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    I didn't like the deep drop I had on my original bars, and moving to Salsa Cowchippers was the best move I made.

    I also use the drops a lot, even when climbing. For downhill there is no other place I feel comfortable.
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    Quote Originally Posted by 93EXCivic View Post
    6 inches
    Yeah... On my gravel frame it's 155mm or around 6.1" but it's a 56 not a 58 (external cups same as yours) and i'd say the frame is even a tiny bit small for a 56.
    That explains your problem.

  44. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by HollyBoni View Post
    So yep, different strokes for different folks.
    Absolutely. I know guys who switched to road bars and loved them so clearly a personal choice. I would say to be open minded either way. Try both and use what you prefer, sod what anyone else thinks.

  45. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by HollyBoni View Post
    Yeah... On my gravel frame it's 155mm or around 6.1" but it's a 56 not a 58 (external cups same as yours) and i'd say the frame is even a tiny bit small for a 56.
    That explains your problem.


    The length of the head tube is sort of irrelevant because different sized frames can be designed with the same head tube length, or vise-versa.


    I do agree that the frame looks like it might be too small though.
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    Quote Originally Posted by scottzg View Post
    I can't speak for anyone else, but here's an overlay of two of my custom frames that i've had for a good long while. They're both stupid-comfortable.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    They were designed coming from opposite directions, and the overlay is after-the-fact, but it makes sense. The 'tops' position on the road bike is the same saddle-bar distance as the mtb, but narrower and thus more upright. The 'hood' position on the road bike is longer than the mtb, but narrower. It fits like my mtb and I can hang out there all day. The 'drops' position is definitely lower, and with super deep drops (or back when i had a belly) it's not comfortable for long stints. With the short drop bars i can hang out there as long as is sensible and comfort isn't really a factor.

    IMO road/gravel bike geo and cockpit setup gets muddled by 700c wheels dictating frame geo for half the population, and racer fashion demands slammed stems. A properly fitted drop bar frame with drop bars is unquestionably more comfortable and aerodynamic than a flat bar.

    I'm quite tall, so i don't need to do weird stuff with the cockpit to fit myself around 700c road wheels. That said, i have a smidge of toe overlap on the bike pictured above.
    QQ. Does the MTB overlay account for sag? If not, wouldn't the front end drop anywhere from 20-40mm depending fork travel? Should we account for sag if we are setting up our dropbar bike based on our MTB fit?

  47. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by smoothmoose View Post
    QQ. Does the MTB overlay account for sag? If not, wouldn't the front end drop anywhere from 20-40mm depending fork travel? Should we account for sag if we are setting up our dropbar bike based on our MTB fit?
    The overlay doesn't account for sag. I don't design around a sagged fork. (who cares how a mtb fits/handles when you're seated on flat ground??) FWIW i only sag about 10mm on that hardtail.


    Don't take that previous post as instruction; i'm just a hobbyist frame builder, not a pro bike fitter or anything. I really only know myself. I made the overlay and thought 'huh, that makes sense!' I shared it because it shows how a comfy mtb fit translates to a road fit, at least for me.
    "Things that are complex are not useful, Things that are useful are simple."
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    The length of the head tube is sort of irrelevant because different sized frames can be designed with the same head tube length, or vise-versa.
    Even if the fork length and possibly the BB drop is very similar?

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    This thread is great, itís helped me realize that my bike fit could be better and it explains some of the issues that I was having on bigger gravel rides.

    New stem ordered, shorter and a little bit of rise.

    My saddle is about 3Ē above my handlebar height and my arms were just about straight( fully extended ) on the hoods.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HollyBoni View Post
    Even if the fork length and possibly the BB drop is very similar?

    But they're not always very similar. That and many other design changes can add up to some significantly different head tube lengths amongst the same sized frames.
    I brake for stinkbugs

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    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    But they're not always very similar. That and many other design changes can add up to some significantly different head tube lengths amongst the same sized frames.
    I can't find any geometry info but i'm not comparing an MTB with a 140mm fork to the OPs bike. I'm comparing my own generic steel gravel/CX bike. The differences should not be that big. I still think the 150mm headtube for this size is a bit aggressive. Generally speaking you see longer headtubes in this size range most of the time on these kind of bikes. I'd expect something in the 170-180mm range for a 58. Even just looking at the OPs pictures I never would have guessed that it's a 58, looks much smaller.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HollyBoni View Post
    Even just looking at the OPs pictures I never would have guessed that it's a 58, looks much smaller.
    The seat tube measures at 58cm. That is all I know.

    Apparently Nashbar has stopped offering this bike but there wasn't a ton of geometry info out there.
    Niner WFO9, Sunday Soundwave (BMX), Nashbar CXSS (town/workout/gravel)

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    Quote Originally Posted by HollyBoni View Post
    I'd expect something in the 170-180mm range for a 58. Even just looking at the OPs pictures I never would have guessed that it's a 58, looks much smaller.


    My 60 cm has a 175 mm headtube. It can give a general indication of frame size but it certainly isn't conclusive.
    I brake for stinkbugs

  54. #54
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    As long as you can put the bars where you want them head tube length is largely meaningless.
    Wanted, SRAM GX 2x11 rear derailleur

    It ain't supposed to be easy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 93EXCivic View Post
    How do you make dropbars comfortable? My shoulders are uncomfortable after 15 minutes and killing me after an hour.
    I second that question. I guess riding on the hoods is okay...but getting in the drops is painful. I prefer Jones Loop bars.

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