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Convert fat bike to drop bar..... Should I?

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Convert fat bike to drop bar..... Should I?

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Old 02-17-19, 09:12 AM
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DarKris
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Convert fat bike to drop bar..... Should I?

So I recently came into ownership of a fat bike and the unique thing about it is that the top tube and overall reach is short enough that I can reasonably convert to drop bars. The question is: should I?

Usually the main issue with conversions is the cost. However I scored a used pair of SRAM Rival 2x10 shifters for a little over $110 that should work with my X5 front and rear derailleurs from all the other bikes that I’ve seen running SRAM MTB derailleurs with SRAM Road shifters. I also have a pair of Specialized Hover Flare drop bars (46cm) that I was using on my Toughroad which I took off and put the stock drops back on it, and the stem on my fat bike should be short enough that the overall reach would be identical to my Toughroad. Lastly I ordered a pair of brake calipers for ~$60 that will work with road brakes, and I have all the necessary cables as well.

So I definitely can convert this bike, but I’m wondering if it would be in my best interest to do so or to just find some better flat bars like a Jones bar? This bike will basically be my winter bike and the bike I take to explore new mtb trails, however my main plan will just be riding around the city in the winter and messing around with it. I did a test ride with the flat bars and my hands were aching after finishing my 2 mile gravel loop, which is what usually happens when I ride with any flat bar bike.

TL: DR - Flat bars are uncomfortable for me and I have 90% of what I need to convert my fat bike to drop bars. Should I do it or should I get Jones Bars (and a longer stem) instead?
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Old 02-17-19, 09:59 AM
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Drops on fat bikes look cool. Ask Hypno Toad.
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Old 02-17-19, 11:03 AM
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The setup you have is uncomfortable and you aren't sure if you should change it to something you like?
yeah- change it to drops.

as mentioned, @hypnotoad rocks what you describe and rides all across his state with a dropped fatty. <---- I am shamed for typing that.
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Old 02-17-19, 05:11 PM
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You should definitely do it...drop bar fatties are as awesome as they look! Plus, you seem to have the parts and/or are ordering them. Doooo-eeeeet!

I have a cheapo BD fatbike (was sold as 29x3, but itís a fatbike frame...currently running 29x2.2). I converted it to drop bar, because:
1. Aero - Iím not winning any races but I go fast on downhills and the Kansas wind is often a factor.
2. Comfort - I need to adjust hand/back position on long rides.
3. Why not?

I tried Jones bars first...they have lots of good hand positions but youíll notice as you run through each of them, your back barely budges. With the right stem, you can have upright or aero, but not both IMO.

I am also running Sram 2x10 with an x5 rear derailer. I thought about buying some apex or rival levers, but that along with new (short pull) disk calipers was more than I wanted to spend not being sure how much I would like the end product. So in the spirit of the bike i was working with, I went cheap: I bored out the flat bar shifter clamps to fit drop bar diameter (I attach them on the drops, just before the hook). I then got a pair of Tektro RL520 drop bar brake levers that work with long pull brakes.

I thought the shifting would bug me, but it actually works pretty well for what I use it for...a fun tooling around bike on some shorter rides, or for longer rides up to a couple hours when the roads suck and I need a more serious tire.
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Old 02-17-19, 05:25 PM
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Originally Posted by DarKris View Post
So I recently came into ownership of a fat bike and the unique thing about it is that the top tube and overall reach is short enough that I can reasonably convert to drop bars. The question is: should I?

Usually the main issue with conversions is the cost. However I scored a used pair of SRAM Rival 2x10 shifters for a little over $110 that should work with my X5 front and rear derailleurs from all the other bikes that Iíve seen running SRAM MTB derailleurs with SRAM Road shifters. I also have a pair of Specialized Hover Flare drop bars (46cm) that I was using on my Toughroad which I took off and put the stock drops back on it, and the stem on my fat bike should be short enough that the overall reach would be identical to my Toughroad. Lastly I ordered a pair of brake calipers for ~$60 that will work with road brakes, and I have all the necessary cables as well.

So I definitely can convert this bike, but Iím wondering if it would be in my best interest to do so or to just find some better flat bars like a Jones bar? This bike will basically be my winter bike and the bike I take to explore new mtb trails, however my main plan will just be riding around the city in the winter and messing around with it. I did a test ride with the flat bars and my hands were aching after finishing my 2 mile gravel loop, which is what usually happens when I ride with any flat bar bike.

TL: DR - Flat bars are uncomfortable for me and I have 90% of what I need to convert my fat bike to drop bars. Should I do it or should I get Jones Bars (and a longer stem) instead?
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Old 02-17-19, 07:48 PM
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I’d do it.
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Old 02-18-19, 04:15 PM
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As the owner of a drop bar 29er, I'd do it. I find flat bars uncomfortable as well. If you are still using this bike offroad a fair bit, I'd also consider a drop bar with some flare to it.
I've also got 2x10 SRAM Rival shifters working an X7 FD and X9 RD so I can vouch for the interchangeability of SRAM 10sp parts between road and MTB. I used Avid BB7-R calipers and Jagwire cable-disc-specific cables. The cable housing is run full length and honestly the feel is right on with the flat bar hydraulics that came off the bike originally.

Do budget for some playing around with stem length to match the drop bars, but used stems are cheap on eBay.
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Old 02-18-19, 07:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Caliper View Post
As the owner of a drop bar 29er, I'd do it. I find flat bars uncomfortable as well. If you are still using this bike offroad a fair bit, I'd also consider a drop bar with some flare to it.
I've also got 2x10 SRAM Rival shifters working an X7 FD and X9 RD so I can vouch for the interchangeability of SRAM 10sp parts between road and MTB. I used Avid BB7-R calipers and Jagwire cable-disc-specific cables. The cable housing is run full length and honestly the feel is right on with the flat bar hydraulics that came off the bike originally.

Do budget for some playing around with stem length to match the drop bars, but used stems are cheap on eBay.
So I came across a pair of inexpensive Mech-to-hydro road/mtb calipers on Amazon for about $60 which should be interesting to try. So for now the only thing I would need is the compressionless brake housing (already have cables) and some bar tape.

The great thing about the fat bike that I bought is that with the stem it comes with the reach that I measured from the center of the saddle to the center of the stem/bars is about identical to my Giant Toughroad GX which is also a drop bar bike. So I "shouldn't" need a new stem if all things work as intended
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Old 02-19-19, 08:26 AM
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Looking forward to pics!
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Old 02-19-19, 08:47 AM
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Do it because it is fun, but not to fix anything.

The leverage of wider fat bars is definitely an advantage at fat bike speeds. Its what the bike was designed for. If your hands are aching with a flat bar, I would suspect something is wrong with your fit. Something swept back (like Jones) could help position your wrists at a better angle, and personally I love the comfort of Ergon grips on a flat bar.

I don't like flat bars, but I would dislike drop bars on a fat bike even more.
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Old 02-19-19, 09:51 PM
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So here's the deal so far:

I just got my bike back from the shop for a tune up and my intent is to ride to bike for the rest of the winter as it, just to get a better feeling for the bike. What I will say is that fixing my bar positioning from the initial test ride did help a bit, however I haven't had a chance to do an extended ride to see how I feel comfort wise.

What I want out of this bike is to basically be my winter bike (if there's snow/ice on the ground, I'm riding this) and my trail bike in the summer. Granted I have not ridden any local mtb trails at all really so I wouldn't know what to expect. At this point however I have all the parts I'd need to pull a conversion off minus bar tape.

I was 100% going to commit, now I'm a little bit more nervous/anxious about it. I think I'll figure something out about it after giving myself more time to ride the bike.
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Old 02-21-19, 11:02 PM
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So I decided to play around with my potential bar/stem setup for the conversion.








The stock stem is a 70mm 6 degree rise stem. The Giant stem is an 80mm 20 degree stem with a bit more stack compared to the stock Specialized stem so I had to remove a 10mm spacer from under the stem to fit.

I like the rise of the stem paired with the rise is the Flared Hover bars which are 46cm wide. I didnít want to change stems but I think Iíd want a 75mm stem with 24 degree rise if Iíd want to do any technical stuff with the drops. If I didnít already mention it, this bike has a 594mm effective top tube which for a MTB is short enough to where the stock stem wouldnít be too stretched out.
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Old 02-22-19, 08:32 AM
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interested in this conversion keep us updated !!
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Old 02-22-19, 09:43 AM
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You probably know this but those bars on that stem really change the fit of the bike. If you bought the flat bar version sized right that may be an issue. Toggle between the two pics to see how much longer the reach is riding the hoods or drops compared to the original flats. I would try riding around with the flat bars zip tied up so you can check that out before committing. I find a long reach ruins my balance in the saddle and I put too much pressure on my hands.
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Old 02-22-19, 10:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Happy Feet View Post
You probably know this but those bars on that stem really change the fit of the bike. If you bought the flat bar version sized right that may be an issue. Toggle between the two pics to see how much longer the reach is riding the hoods or drops compared to the original flats. I would try riding around with the flat bars zip tied up so you can check that out before committing. I find a long reach ruins my balance in the saddle and I put too much pressure on my hands.
I think my plan will involve comparing the reach to my Toughroad GX with the drop bars installed. The overall reach on this bike is shorter than most other fat bikes of this size.
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Old 02-22-19, 09:03 PM
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Update: Got a slightly different stem and some bar tape from the LBS. This stem has a 25mm rise and is 80mm as well however the Giant stem was, well, giant. I had to remove a spacer from my steerer tube to get it to fit. This stem works with the stock set of spacers.





The shop I believe has a Specialized stem thats 75mm and 24 degree rise, at least it said they had it in stock online and the same price as the stem I got, so if they have it I'm going to return this stem for that one. It's weird but I think it'll complete the look that I'm going for.

Also wanted to do some side by sides with my Toughroad to show how close they are.








Lastly one important note: I have both saddles pushed as far back on the rails as possible, however the Hellga's seatpost has a 12.5mm offset whereas the Toughroad's seatpost has no offset. I would tweak the saddle position once I had the bars fully installed.

Last part that I "need" arrives Monday so sometime next week should be the finalization of this pet project

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Old 02-23-19, 07:12 AM
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Looks awesome! it may not break any landspeed records with those tires, but I bet itíll be a blast to ride.

Monstercross taken to a new level. Monsterboss? Monsterhoss?
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Old 02-23-19, 07:35 AM
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Originally Posted by wheelsmcgee View Post
Looks awesome! it may not break any landspeed records with those tires, but I bet itíll be a blast to ride.

Monstercross taken to a new level. Monsterboss? Monsterhoss?
Its my ďis there any amount of snow on the groundĒ bike whereas my Toughroad is definitely my ďgo fastĒ gravel bike in comparison.
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Old 02-23-19, 07:55 AM
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I hope you gets lots of miles off this setup. I have 2 MTB's and 2 hybrids that I tried switching from flat bars to drop bars.

I found it really super-tough project to go from flat to drop bar, not so much in the measurements, but coming up with something that's actually comfortable to ride. I ultimately gave up on all 4 projects, I just could not get myself comfortable on those bikes, they never felt right, especially when sprinting from the drops. Hopefully your mileage varies.
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Old 02-24-19, 03:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Lemond1985 View Post
I hope you gets lots of miles off this setup. I have 2 MTB's and 2 hybrids that I tried switching from flat bars to drop bars.

I found it really super-tough project to go from flat to drop bar, not so much in the measurements, but coming up with something that's actually comfortable to ride. I ultimately gave up on all 4 projects, I just could not get myself comfortable on those bikes, they never felt right, especially when sprinting from the drops. Hopefully your mileage varies.
I'm in a pretty unique position so I think this might end up turning out very well. I'm confident that this will end up being really nice to ride
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Old 02-24-19, 06:34 PM
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Looks like a fun project and a cool bike. Don't rule out using an even higher rise stem to get those bars up a bit higher. With drop bar MTBs, most people prefer to get the drop position up to the height where the grips of a flat bar would be so the drop position becomes the home position rather than the hoods as with a road or gravel bike's drop bars. That is how I set up my Seldom Seen and it works very well.

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Old 02-26-19, 09:24 PM
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So today I set up the brakes to the Rival shifters and since the 22-11 gearing that it was stuck in wasnít too low of a gear I was able to test ride it to get a better feel of the bar and saddle positions.

Oooooooooo boy it was fun 😁

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Old 02-27-19, 07:56 PM
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So this will probably be my last update to this but I should be getting my shift cables + housing tomorrow & then it's all a mater of dialing that in & wrapping the bars. I plan on making a new thread basically going into more details with my thought process with the conversion.

Also it snowed a lot today, so I took advantage of it...

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