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Flat vs Drop Bars for 300lbs

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Flat vs Drop Bars for 300lbs

Old 07-06-17, 01:24 PM
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theK00L_AIDman
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Flat vs Drop Bars for 300lbs

Hi All,

For those who didn't read my introduction in that thread, I'm about 6'0" and 320lbs at the moment. I'm a guy with a big gut. I have a road BSO right not from Walmart that I bought on a whim while at the store and I've been enjoying...let call it, the POTENTIAL that a road bike has. One issue I've had is likely down a lot to fit, and that's riding drop is difficult because my legs hit my gut, so I spend most of my time on the top of the bars (best for the issues) or on the hoods (bearable but not perfect). I've fitted that BSO as best as I could and I know my saddle is an appropriate height for my legs at least.

I'm researching getting an entry level road bike (a real one) in the sub $550 range. This has led me to debate whether or not I would be better off with flat bars or drops. The way I see it

Flats
+more upright position without having to mess with stems or spacers
+brakes more readily available
+cheaper (a couple hundred dollars difference when looking at Trek or Specialized)

Drops
+obviously cooler looking
+more hand positions to relieve pressure on long rides
- less room for my gut due to more aggressive riding position
- would need to mess with spacers and stems to get a flat bar like position.

Now, granted this is an individual decision and without getting on some bikes and trying them no one here can tell me what to do. However I'm interested in your experiences and opinions of those experiences. The way I see it I can get flat and either save some $$ or put that $$ towards a better bike, or I can get drops and utilize spacers and a more angled stem to have a more relaxed position. Either way I doubt I'd spend much time in the drops and would be on the top of the bars or hoods anyway. Has anyone had to make a decision like this before? How did it turn out? Will I be out of place with flats in a riding group?
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Old 07-06-17, 01:35 PM
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As someone of your height that weighs 360 at the moment, I like the flat bars better, for the upright position and not hitting myself in the gut or making it hard to breathe from being too bent over.

I went with the Trek FX2, as that was most comfortable to me (and the 2017s are on sale for $400). I also like the slightly wider tired for bearing the increased load we put on a bike, while not going out to off-road tire width. I still find the bike fast and agile. For hand positions, I put on a set of Ergon GP2 grips with the attached mini bar ends, gives me a place to give my hands a rest.
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Old 07-06-17, 01:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Aahzz View Post
As someone of your height that weighs 360 at the moment, I like the flat bars better, for the upright position and not hitting myself in the gut or making it hard to breathe from being too bent over.

I went with the Trek FX2, as that was most comfortable to me (and the 2017s are on sale for $400). I also like the slightly wider tired for bearing the increased load we put on a bike, while not going out to off-road tire width. I still find the bike fast and agile. For hand positions, I put on a set of Ergon GP2 grips with the attached mini bar ends, gives me a place to give my hands a rest.
I saw that in your post. Looks sharp! That's a good idea and might be the most...pragmatic option given the keg I'm carrying around. However the kid in me that still remembers idolizing guys like Lance Armstrong (seemed like a good choice at the time) wants those drop bars even if I never used the drops themselves because TOUR DE FRANCE and GIRO D'ITALIA!
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Old 07-06-17, 01:41 PM
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Yeah, I'm watching the Tour and I loves me some road bikes, but I'll get to that in a year or so, after I drop 100 pounds. If I want to - I also really like the look of flat bars with short bar ends.

I also started on a WalMart bike - only made it 4 days before I returned it.
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Old 07-06-17, 05:39 PM
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I started with flat bars and now have drop down bars. Honestly, the only real difference for me is the look. On longer rides I would get a little numbness on both style bars. I don't have any problems bent over, and I ride on the tops and hoods often as well. Like you said, it is a personal choice and go with what is the most comfortable for you.
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Old 07-06-17, 07:40 PM
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I almost caused myself permanent nerve damage in my hands trying to do long miles on flat bars. Drops, all the way.
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Old 07-07-17, 08:06 AM
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Correct me if I'm wrong guys, but I could always go with drop bars and if I feel the need to be a bit more upright could add a spacer and even a stem with a different angle, correct? This would give me closer to a flat bar riding position when on the tops of the bars with the adding utility of being any to ride on the hoods or the drops.
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Old 07-07-17, 08:09 AM
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It all comes down to comfort. If its uncomfortable you won't ride.

That being said, my wife loves her flat bar bike. She also has the Ergon grips with the bull ends. It gave her another hand placement option and she is very happy with them. She's logged about 1300 miles so far this year. Stems and spacers are always on the table to get the fit correct. My wife has had 3-4 different stems to get her comfortable.
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Old 07-07-17, 08:52 AM
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My preference is drops for the varied positions. Don't be afraid to ride on the tops -- many people, even skinny people, do just that. You've also got the bend on the top, and the hoods. If you get a shop to fit your new bike to you, insist on getting a stem that raises the bars to a comfortable level.


Also, if and when you take off the extra weight, you'll love ducking down in the drops to catch a slipstream, or cut the wind resistance!
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Old 07-07-17, 09:56 AM
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my preference is drops. Key reason is flat bars are a pain in the wrist for me, even on short rides. ymmv

Long term they give you more positions/options as you get in better shape both aerobically and outline wise.

just having the drops for when you have a headwind is worth it, even if you normally ride on the hoods (nothing wrong with that)

I find i interesting that flat bars are newish thing in bicycles, essentially until mountain bikes got going, you never saw flat bars. IMHO the reason for that is flat bars are not naturally ergonomic.
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Old 07-07-17, 10:43 AM
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Thanks for the input everyone. Just went for a 2 mile ride (all I can really muster on this tank at this point). Only averaged 10mph. I'm going to assume part of that is due to the bike and part of that is due to my lack of fitness. Reminds me a lot of when I started running/jogging to train for 5Ks a few years ago. Could barely make it down the street before I was huffing and puffing.

I paid attention to my hands, and other than them hurting quickly from my weight and likely poor bike fit I noticed that I switch positions a lot from tops, to corners, to hoods. Even tried the drops which was hilarious as I could barely pedal thanks to my gut lol. I must have been quite a sight!!

I'm researching some bikes now and will post here for opinions/experiences soon.
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Old 07-08-17, 06:16 PM
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Get a stem that puts you in a more upright position (I did this), and get drop bars..... I am 6'3" and down from 406 to my 345 pounds (it has taken a few years, but I keep off what I lose).
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Old 07-09-17, 08:56 PM
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So, for those that weren't aware, Nashbar had one of their big one day only sales, 30% off nearly everything they sell including all bikes. While I would have liked to have gone to my LBS to try some bikes for fit...I simply couldn't pass up the opportunity to buy their Nashbar AL-1 road bike.

It's got Sora derailleurs and shifters, aluminum frame with carbon forks. Normally $599, which is a good price for those components. 30% off got it down to $420. I could have taken a look at a Trek 1.1 or Specialized Allez E5 and spent over $700 for generally lower level components. I called Nashbar to get the standover height as that measurement was lacking. I'm 5'11 and a half with a properly measured biking inseam of 31.5" (i have short legs for my height, my wife like to remind me). The 56cm (the biggest they have in stock) has a 31inch standover so I'm good there. Effective Top tube is also 56cm. Very much hoping it will be a good fit. If not I'll have to send it back and I'm not sure I really have the desire to spend $300+ for a basic road bike at my LBS. Might have to look at the Trek FX instead...anyway, hoping to get it this week but with Nashbar shipping who knows! I'll have to put the front wheel and brake on along with a couple other components, but trying to make our Walmart bikes rideable + Youtube taught me to do a lot of that stuff already (see Wallworld bikes DO have value!!). Also picked up a pair of clipless pedals and cheap shoes to try out.

As if a sign from the gods, the same day I ordered the bike, my wife and out were sitting outside and heard a loud BANG from the garage. Opened it up to find that the rear tube on the Wallmart Roadtech had burst while sitting in the garage. The max cold inflation psi is 85 and I had it pumped to between 80 and 85. The hot garage must have caused the air to expand and the horrible quality tire just popped on its own! Was happy to return it to Walmart.

Since I was getting a nicer bike my wife wanted one as well as no matter how many times I indexed her rear on her Wallmart 7 speed Schwinn, after each ride I'd need to do it again. Plus the thing was heavy like a tank. She is 6'0" with a 34" inseam and finding womens bikes is really really hard because many womens bikes don't come in a size she really needs. FOr example, she really liked some of the hybrid comfort bikes Liv offers, but they just don't fit her height and long legs. We went to the LBS near us, Tom's Pro Bike, and they were absolutely fantasic. Settled on a Specialized Crossroads Sport, which is a Hybrid/Comfort bike. They professionally fitted her for no charge and got her on the size XL, which is the first time she's had a bike that allows for proper leg extension. She's in love with it, though it's new for her to have to truly mount a seat, as all past bikes even with the max seat height were still short enough that she could sit on with her feet nearly flat on the ground.

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Old 07-12-17, 10:27 AM
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I ride the tops of my drop bars most of the time. My bikes have "ergonomic" drop bars where the tops are "flatter" than they are "round." It allows the pressure on your hands to spread out over a larger surface area. I'll also ride the hoods. About the only time I find myself in the drops is on a descent.
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Old 07-13-17, 01:21 PM
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Originally Posted by InTheRain View Post
I ride the tops of my drop bars most of the time. My bikes have "ergonomic" drop bars where the tops are "flatter" than they are "round." It allows the pressure on your hands to spread out over a larger surface area. I'll also ride the hoods. About the only time I find myself in the drops is on a descent.
So far that's what I've been doing. The AL-1 arrived a couple of days ago and I've had a couple short rides to figure out the fit. I have a pair of gloves that also helps make the bars more comfortable. I'm not very flexible so I also have a 110mm adjustable stem on its way that will allow me to raise the bars a bit more. With the bars where they are now my breathing is slightly restricted when I'm on the hoods, so I need to get a bit more upright for now.
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Old 07-18-17, 10:30 AM
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I switched to a drop-bar bike from a flat-bar and I much prefer them to flat bars. I love being able to change around my hand position, especially as my hands tend to go numb (I have to work on not putting too much weight on them).
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Old 07-18-17, 10:33 AM
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In the old days we used to do what they called a (flop and chop) giving you a bullhorn bar. If you haven’t seen that google flop and chop bullhorn.

You are not using the drops anyway and when you flop them you can tilt them up and the hook gives you a hand placement like on the hoods only higher and not as much reach. Shifting and braking is easy from that position as well.

All you need is a hacksaw to find out.

I have an old Cannondale that I did the chop but no flop to. That leaves the brifters so that the hoods still work and I turned the bars up about 15 degrees. Hand position on that is great and it is quite a bit more upright.

I agree with above flat bars have their place but it is not a natural hand angle for me.
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Old 07-19-17, 11:38 AM
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Drops for me, only because they offer a multitude of different hand positions to stay comfortable.
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Old 07-19-17, 12:04 PM
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Drops ... there's no need to hammer in the drops unless you're racing, so pedaling with a gut isn't a huge issue (though as someone with a gut I understand it).

I use the drops when I'm going downhill ... and primarily spend my time on the top of the bars or on the hoods. But there are so many different options for hand placement with drop bars it seems like a no brainer to me.
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Old 07-19-17, 01:16 PM
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since you already bought a bike with drop bars, there is no longer any reason to discuss one Vs. the other, but just a side note....not many recreational riders spend a large percentage of their riding time in the drops...most of us spend the majority of our riding time on the tops and hoods...a lot of folks only use the drops when they actually need better control or when they are doing their version of hammering it.
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