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Transition to Drop Bars - Questions

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Transition to Drop Bars - Questions

Old 05-27-19, 09:38 PM
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AU Tiger
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Transition to Drop Bars - Questions

Iíve been riding a flat-bar fitness hybrid for four years, and Iím considering replacing it with a drop-bar gravel bike, primarily for the more natural hand position the hoods offer. My local shops donít have many available to test ride, but the few rides Iíve been able to try have left me with a few questions about drop-bar shifters.

I tested a Fuji Jari with 1x11 SRAM gearing. I really like the idea of a 1x, but it may be out of my price range. I definitely liked the SRAM shifters. I understand why some people wouldnít, but the one-lever system felt simpler to use and easier to reach.

I also tested a Giant ToughRoad with 2x8 Shimano gearing. I probably wouldnít go with an 8-speed, but it was all the shop had available to try. Besides not liking the Shimano shifters as well, I also found it difficult to shift from the small chain right to the large one on the front, presumably because of the larger jump than Iím used to on my current 26/36/48 triple.

So my questions are:
1) Is that difficulty normal when transitioning from flat bars to drop bars, and is it something most people get used to after a while?
2) Would the difficultly be about the same with SRAM shifters vs. Shimano, or would the nature of SRAM shifters make it a little easier?
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Old 05-27-19, 09:50 PM
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1. I'm sure it's different for everyone, but after a lifetime of nothing but flat bars, I took to drop bars within hours. The added number of hand positions is wonderful.
2. After tens of thousands of miles with Shimano, I switched one bike to 1X SRAM. It's all the same, really. Your brain will pick up either very quickly. Shimano does take much less force to shift, though. So when I'm going back and forth between a SRAM bike and a Shimano bike, there's usually a little while where my hands and brain "re-calibrate." I don't know that I even have a preference. They both shift smoothly and quickly without ghosting, they just go about it in slightly different manners.
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Old 05-28-19, 08:50 AM
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The hoods of SRAM and Shimano shifters are different, so if one fits your hands better, that is as good a reason as any to prefer one brand.
I certainly havent found it difficult to shift between a small and large chainring with Shimano STIs, but I am sure it is different from the smaller jumps you are used to on a 3x hybrid crank.

Its often said that SRAM pushed the 1x drivetrain because they cant make a front derailleur that works well. No idea if thats true or not- the 1 SRAM 2x bike Ive ridden was for 5min and it shifted fine.
If you find Shimano 2x shifting to be difficult, thats a reason to consider 1x for sure. I havent ever experienced this, but I see it often enough in these forums(people struggling to shift a 2x crank) that its certainly a real issue for some. I cant imagine wanting 1x based on how and where I ride, but everyone is different.
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Old 05-28-19, 09:53 AM
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Thanks for the replies.

Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
1. I'm sure it's different for everyone, but after a lifetime of nothing but flat bars, I took to drop bars within hours. The added number of hand positions is wonderful.
That's good to hear. I've been using bar ends to help avoid numbness, but I don't like not having direct access to the brakes and shifters in that position. So I'm pretty sure I'll appreciate the drop bars.
Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
Shimano does take much less force to shift, though.
That's interesting, because it seemed just the opposite to me. But I didn't get to try the SRAM on the front, so I may have noticed it more if I'd been able to try a SRAM 2x.

Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
The hoods of SRAM and Shimano shifters are different, so if one fits your hands better, that is as good a reason as any to prefer one brand.
Hmmm, I didn't even think to pay attention to that. I was just focused on the difference in shifting. I'll take note of that when I test ride again.

Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
I cant imagine wanting 1x based on how and where I ride, but everyone is different.
Yeah, I'm a little hesitant myself, since I ride a lot of hills. I calculated the ratios, though, and found I would only lose the very bottom and the very top gears if I went to the 1x on the Fuji I test rode. I don't use either extreme very often, and I could get by without them... motivation for building up leg strength and dropping some pounds myself.
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Old 05-28-19, 10:21 AM
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1. It depends. There are so many different drop bar designs - I would lean towards dirt or touring oriented drop bar geometries.
2. They are both easy to shift especially in 11 speed. I would say SRAM is clunkier/faster while shimano is crisper.
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Old 05-28-19, 10:35 AM
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Can you touch your toes easily ? , a sign of flexibility.. and doing pushups and situps
strengthens your arms and torso ..

since you have to support your upper body..
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Old 05-28-19, 02:02 PM
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Originally Posted by AU Tiger View Post
Yeah, I'm a little hesitant myself, since I ride a lot of hills. I calculated the ratios, though, and found I would only lose the very bottom and the very top gears if I went to the 1x on the Fuji I test rode. I don't use either extreme very often, and I could get by without them... motivation for building up leg strength and dropping some pounds myself.
Your specific gears may be different, but you generally can get a similar range with 1x or 2x. The biggest difference is the jumps between gears. It doesn't bother me much on my own, but riding in a pack where someone else is setting the pace I need smaller jumps.

I read somewhere that a 2x drive train has something like 14 distinct gears. Food for thought.
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Old 05-28-19, 09:07 PM
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Originally Posted by chas58 View Post
I read somewhere that a 2x drive train has something like 14 distinct gears. Food for thought.
Yep, that's pretty close to what I get with my 3x9 triple: the five lowest on using the small ring, the five middle on the middle ring, and the five highest on the large ring. So if I go with the 1x11, I'd essentially lose four useful gears. In terms of gear inches, I'll lose the 22 at the low end, the 119 at the high end, trade a 41 and 47 for a 44, and trade a 69 and 77 for a 73. I'm not disciplined enough with cadence that I'd really notice the two in the middle. I only use the very bottom in super steep climbs, and if I get in better shape that won't be an issue. And if I'd learn to spin faster, 100 gear inches on the high end is plenty... until then, I can coast down steep hills. In other words, I could make do with the 1x11. The question I have to decide is whether I'd rather trade away those extra gear ratios in exchange for easier shifting.
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Old 05-28-19, 09:18 PM
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Dirt drops and wide gravel bars are where it's at. No more numb fingers. But I'd recommend bar end shifters. None of the fussiness of STI's, nor mysterious setup problems and it keeps your hands in the drops at all times. Shift and trim, done. As far as gear inches....I've found little need for much over 90 inches, with occasional needs down to the 20s since I live in a pretty hilly place.
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Old 05-30-19, 04:51 AM
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Originally Posted by AU Tiger View Post
Yep, that's pretty close to what I get with my 3x9 triple: the five lowest on using the small ring, the five middle on the middle ring, and the five highest on the large ring. So if I go with the 1x11, I'd essentially lose four useful gears. In terms of gear inches, I'll lose the 22 at the low end, the 119 at the high end, trade a 41 and 47 for a 44, and trade a 69 and 77 for a 73. I'm not disciplined enough with cadence that I'd really notice the two in the middle. I only use the very bottom in super steep climbs, and if I get in better shape that won't be an issue. And if I'd learn to spin faster, 100 gear inches on the high end is plenty... until then, I can coast down steep hills. In other words, I could make do with the 1x11. The question I have to decide is whether I'd rather trade away those extra gear ratios in exchange for easier shifting.
On my road bikes I started paying attention to what gears I actually use. Depends on your location obviously and what kind of legs you got.
My last build I went 1x.
I only use the middle part of the cassette, if at all. Where I live now and ride, I rarely use any gears.
Disclaimer: I don't go hard anymore.
Now how many gears on that triple do you actually use?

BTW, getting used to drops took me a while. Different muscles and all that. A bike with a taller head tube eases that transition.
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Old 05-30-19, 05:38 AM
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Originally Posted by jideta View Post
Depends on your location obviously...
Now how many gears on that triple do you actually use?
The roads in my area have a variety of hills and flats, so I end up using most all of my gears. But not so precisely that I couldn't adapt to using one gear that's in between two of my current gears.

Originally Posted by jideta View Post
BTW, getting used to drops took me a while. Different muscles and all that. A bike with a taller head tube eases that transition.
I wish the shops in my area had more gravel bikes in stock to test ride so I could try some with different head tubes, stems, etc. I suppose I could test out some regular road bikes, but I think the geometry is different enough on them that I wouldn't really get a feel for what I want in a gravel bike. I'll probably just end up going back to the Fuji shop and rent the one I already tested. I can take it for a typical 15-mile ride on my usual roads to see how I like it on the hills.
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Old 05-30-19, 08:41 AM
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My guess is it'll take one ride before you've completely adapted to the drop bar.

The SRAM vs Shimano is a Coke vs Pepsi, Ford vs Chevy thing. You'll get passionate opinions from all angles. I've got both on mtn and road. I LOVE the SRAM mtn stuff but HATE the road shifter (it's a 1x11). I think the single lever is a flawed concept... but others love it. You'll adapt to either... and someday comment on a forum how one is awesome and the other sucks ;-)
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Old 06-01-19, 04:07 AM
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1) It always will feel weird at first, but after a couple rides it'll feel totally natural.
2) I've used both sram and Shimano. Same as above, feels weird going from one to the other but they both feel natural after a couple rides.
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Old 06-01-19, 07:04 PM
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After a lot of consideration, I decided the deal the shop had on the 2018 Jari 1.5 was too good to pass up. I spent a little more than I was planning to, but I'm very happy with the bike. So far I've only gotten in a leisurely ride with the family, but even on that I could tell I'm going to like the extra hand positions.

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