Drop Bar Comfort
Just after some advice on fit/comfort really from someone (or some people) who do a lot of gravel or drop bar riding.
I’ve built up my On-One Bootzipper with the below.
Salsa Cowchipper 52cm
Ibis 60mm stem
TRP Levers with TRP Hy/Rd calipers
Charge Knife Ti saddle
Hope carbon seatpost
I can’t seem to get comfortable on this setup at all. I start getting a bit of a twinge in my lower back after about 20-30 mins and feel like I’ve got a lot of pressure through my hands when on the hoods.
I’m on an XL frame and 6’2″ (shorter legs, longer body). Honestly just thinking of putting a flat bar back on it and investing in some brakes.
Any tips on what I can try before it all goes up for sale? 🙂Posted 11 months ago
52cm wide bars are very wide for a drop bar. You’re going to be pitching yourself quite a long way forward I’d have thought. Some narrower bars may be worth thinking about.
Also, the lower back pain can just be getting used to the position, time in the saddle may remedy that.Posted 11 months ago
Tried raising the bars a bit through spacers position, +ve stem position, slightly longer and more +ve stem?Posted 11 months ago
Cheers for the thoughts lunge.
They are flared, so I thought that extra width was measured from the ends, or am I wrong? I also chose to keep the 60cm stem, rather than a longer one to compensate for it.
I’m all upper body with width and length, so went for the wider bars, but do you think this could be bringing me too far forward?
I’ve had skinnier bars in the past on a few failed attempts at road bikes, but always felt like I wanted to go wider (probably my MTB brain not being used to it).
n0b0dy0ftheg0atPosted 11 months ago
to be honest, It’s already pretty high (not far off level with the saddle) and I don’t think I’ve got any steerer left.
Same position with short arms.
Think maybe some people are just not meant to ride drop bars.
I’ve solved to extent with spacers under a Ritchey short / high rise stem. Still everyday think if I’m not in a road race and need aero what’s the damn point.
Looks like the gravel bike co’s are edging more towards MTB geometry. Like the look of the Merida Silex.Posted 11 months ago
I think the feeling of the bars being to narrow compared to an MTB is expected, they are narrower. I ride 750mm bars on my MTB and 420mm on anything drop barred, different tools for different jobs. Those are normal drops though and not flared, I didn’t get on with flared at all as I felt like everything was in the wrong place.Posted 11 months ago
I too own a pair of monkey arms.
Yeah true, I’ve had normal drop bars before so thought I’d try flared instead. I settled on 800mm on my MTB and that feels perfect for me (740-760mm if it’s a flat bar on an xc bike).
I just don’t want to keep throwing money at it, I’m trying to get that bit under control 🙂Posted 11 months ago
The reason your weight feels all in your hands is because it is. Looking at your photo and compare where your hands are on the hoods v where they would be with a MTB bar?
Unless you have remarkable core strength you will be supporting yourself with your hands and arms. It also looks like a very long reach compared to drop bar MTBs. Something like a Salsa Fargo or a Genesis Vagabond is a lot shorter in the TT and a taller front end than yours.
It’s either shorten the stem by as much as possible and give it some rise, or get used to it if you are determined.Posted 11 months ago
Hmm, that’s a good point I hadn’t even considered how much more forward the hands will be.
I think I’m on a losing battle with this one then, I suppose it was worth a try
I’ll probably put the flat bar back on once I can get some brakes and flog the drop bar kit.Posted 11 months ago
First dibs on the levers and, possibly, the brakes…Posted 11 months ago
I also chose to keep the 60cm stem
I’d be looking at a shorter stem as a start… seriously though I think I’m running a much shorter stem (50mm) on my gravel bike. Try swapping about stems from other bikes if you can as a start before spending.Posted 11 months ago
I’ve got a few 50mm stems knocking about I could try, but do you think 10mm would make enough of a difference? Suppose it’ll cost nothing to give it a go.
I just realised that I wrote 60cm! 60mm haha.Posted 11 months ago
Some thoughts based on what I like on my own bike fit:
1. That frame looks too long for drop bars. A short stem is going to make it mega twitchy.
2. The hoods appear angled upwards a bit, that would kill my back.
3. Get the saddle in the right place for your knees, don’t use it to adjust reach.
4. (Edit) Is the saddle angled down slightly? That would also upset my back
I realise what I like in a fit may not suit anyone else. 😉Posted 11 months ago
I think the frame being too long for drops is the main thing. After looking at the pics, It honestly didn’t click at first.
Back to flat bars I reckon for this one…
I’ll drop you a PM when I take them off the bike if you want?
Thanks for the input guys, I could try a shorter stem, but I don’t want to make it too twitchy.Posted 11 months ago
Yes, please. I’m looking at upgrading a similar project to yours that I’ve had on the go since February, getting the bits together for a rebuild at the end of winter.Posted 11 months ago
A stem around 110mm and +40 degree will give a similar reach to a 60mm +6 degree, depending upon head tube angle.
For specifics, plug in figures into http://yojimg.net/bike/web_tools/stem.phpPosted 11 months ago
Fit the shortest stem you can find.
E.g. onoff stoic is 10 or 20cm and puts the bar up highPosted 11 months ago
In hindsight, a large rather than XL would have probably been more suitable for drops but to be honest it wasn’t the original plan.
It’ll be decent as a rigid mtb I reckon. I’ve got an idea to build a lightweight carbon (chinese) HT towards summer and most of the parts will transfer over.Posted 11 months ago
A flat bar frame will have a reach at least 50mm longer than the equivalent sized drop-bar frame, so you’ll be really stretched out. Usually, to convert a flat-bar to drops you need to drop a frame size for shorter reach. Plus, if you’re not used to riding drops, then it puts extra strain on your neck, arms and lower back and can take a while for you to adapt.Posted 11 months ago
Cheers dovebiker, I think it’s a good combination of all you’ve mentioned. It was worth a try and I’m sure I won’t have trouble selling any bits on to people who know what they’re doing haha.Posted 11 months ago
Try some alt bars (with flat bar levers), you get 90% of the drop bar comfort without affecting reach.
I really like the Fleegle but they’re heavy and a little harsh (but the position makes up for it).Posted 11 months ago
1. That frame looks too long for drop bars.
Yep, it looks way too long. The bar height should be fine as it is very high, the saddle is setback a typical amount so you should not have excess pressure on hands with that bar height.Posted 11 months ago
Do you feel like you are really stretching to reach the hoods?
Can you take your hands off the bars when riding along and keep you body in same position with no effort or do you fall forward?
Yep, does feel quite stretched. I would fall forward without holding the bars or sitting up.Posted 11 months ago
I would fall forward without holding the bars or sitting up.
Sounds too long then as that shouldn’t happen, especially with bars that high up and the position they would put you in on a correctly sized bike.Posted 11 months ago
1) saddle set back is a means of adjusting pedalling efficiency and comfort not reach. Set the saddle a little further forward than its mid position as a starting point and move your cleats way back in the shoes. The old ball of the foot rule is a little out dated. You might also like to try an inline seatpost and a saddle with more adjustment in the rails. That one looks like it has very short rails.
2) the bars are waaaay too wide. This might sound like a stealth ad, but I am about to sell a set of virtually brand new Zipp Service Course 70 XPLR gravel bars that have a short reach, a short drop and a less pronounced flare. They are 42cm wide ctr-ctr at the hoods. I am also 6ft 2 and these fit me perfectly. I used them to get my fit right and then bought some fancy Enve carbons once I was sure. £20 posted if you are interested.
3) when you fit new bars, rotate the bar down so that the drops are parallel to the ground as a starting point and then set the lever height on the bars quite high. By rotating the bars up as you have them you are effectively increasing the reach whilst in the drops as a side effect of trying to set the levers back.
4) the frame might be a little bit too long looking at it so you could try a shorter stem, but get the bar width right first and go from there. The stem already looks quite short for a drop bar bike though. Ultimately stem bars and seatpost will only go so far if the frame is just too big.
5) ironically you might actually have the bars too high, placing more pressure on your hands. Perhaps your body wants to rotate more forward and you are putting it in an unnatural position. Simply flip the stem and reposition the spacers. Don’t cut the steerer until you have it right! Try the saddle and cleat position, then the handlebars, then the height separately. Doing them all at once won’t help you to irradicate what specifically is wrong.
Bike fit is a profession and it is hard to give internet advice without seeing you and having much more experience. All that we can do is offer amateur well intentioned advice. This is quite a good starting place however:
As are the bike fit Tuesdays on Francis Cade’s YouTube channel.Posted 11 months ago
Thanks @solarider for that detailed post, much appreciated.
I realised I was on to a loser when I tried moving the saddle to adjust reach. I also have my cleats set quite far back as I used to use them on my MTB too.
I still think it’s just too big of a frame to use drop bars on, it was more of an experiment to see if I liked it on this type of bike.
I think I fell into the trap of trying to set it up like my MTB (it wasn’t meant to be a drop bar bike originally).Posted 11 months ago
It will definitely work with a bit of adjustment and narrower bars. I would keep going. The following will cost nothing:
1) adjust your cleats back on the shoes
2) move the saddle forward on the rails
3) flip the stem
4) move one of the spacers above the stem (and maybe more if it works)
5) rotate the bars to level
6) move the levers further up the bars once you have done so
Changing the bars will cost a little more, but will be transformational. After all of that if it still doesn’t work, I would give up, but that frame can definitely be used with drop bars quite happily.Posted 11 months ago
hmmm – just looked up the geometry of that frame. Reach is 480mm in your size. For context the Kinesis tripster in 60cm (your size as recommended) is 392.8mm. The tripster is not the last word in extreme for a gravel bike and there will be plenty of others that are longer for a given size but even so that’s a hell of a lot of ground to make up to get a good fit.
Personally if set on a drop bar gravel I’d shift the frame on and rebuild the components into a new gravel specific frame. Or I’d pop some flats on it and love it as intended – a rigid 29er. A pair of bar ends for a more stretched mile munching position or even look at something like the Kogo Denman bar for a bizarre alternative (despite being newish it frustrating only comes in an new effectively defunct bar size because Koga are odd and you’d need to think carefully on the stem to get the extension to work as well as the swept bars).Posted 11 months ago
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