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ALT Bars for Surly LHT

Old 06-15-21, 08:53 PM
  #1  
smokeycanuck
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ALT Bars for Surly LHT

Greetings

Currently my life is such that long tours wont be happening. Generally my rides will be 3-4 hours out, with the odd over-nighter here and there and just lots of bombing around town and neighbouring regions. My LHT currently has it's drop bars which I'm OK with but I'm intrigued by all of these newer ALT bars I see e.g. Jones, Molokos, VO Crazy bars, etc. I'd like to try the LHT out as more of an upright comfort bike for now - sacrifice some of the aero benefits of drops for comfort. I'm sure this has been discussed ad nauseam here so I apologize for that. I'm really quite overwhelmed with all of the choices available these days.

I should mention I'm looking at ordering some Paul thumbies to move the microshift shifters up on to the news bars and some canti levers to retain the use of the Surly OEM Tektro brakes which I'm happy with at this point.

Thanks in advance for any thought or experience you can share.
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Old 06-16-21, 01:33 AM
  #2  
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In my experience when reach is correct drop bars are vastly more comfortable than alt bars. When there is too much reach drop bars are usually still manageable whereas alt bars become unbearable.
I've tried a few. I have a Surly bar I don't remember the name of, Koga Denham bars, FSA Metropolis and a few no names.
The reason why I started experimenting with the alt bars in the first place was comfort issues. But it wasn't the bars themselves, it was reach. When I fixed the reach I found that there's nothing inherently uncomfortable in drop bars. In fact, they keep the wrists in a pretty darn good angle and allow for better shock absorbtion at the arms. You also don't need to be aero when using drop bars, they can be raised higher to make a more upright riding position.

The one thing I really dislike about alt bars is the lack of hand positions in general AND the lack of hand positions where one can use the brakes. The denham bar has these horns which supposedly mimic the lever position of a drop bar, so you can be "more aero" in headwinds and whatnot. Yeah nah. For me at least they absolutely do not work.

The one comfort addon drop bars can benefit from is going wider. I have 50cm wide Salsa Cowchipper bars on my DT and they are better for relaxed riding than the more typical 44cm wide drop bars
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Old 06-16-21, 05:43 AM
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Thanks Elcruxio - I looked briefly at the Cowchipper and it seems they have shorter ramps and shallower drops than the OEM bars on the LHT - both features will likely yield a more upright position. And considering I can keep my levers/shifters, other than some new bar tape, it's not much of an investment.
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Old 06-16-21, 06:24 AM
  #4  
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I tried a Jones bar. It put me in a weird riding position with unnatural hand positions, so for me at least drop bars work better. I have butterfly bars on my MTB with trigger shifters, and they are OK but still prefer drop bars. I also want to try the Cowchippers, and in-fact have a set hanging in my garage - just have to decide what bike to put them on, and get of my a$$ and do it.
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Old 06-16-21, 07:09 AM
  #5  
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I am sticking with drop bars, but I recognize that lots of people prefer flat bars, so go for it.

Happy Feet tried an older mountain bike conversion to trekking bars, you should look at his thread.
Another 26" mtb - touring conversion - Bike Forums

This website has not been updated for years, but you can see hundreds of photos of touring bikes, you may get some ideas from some of the photos. Lots of flat bars on touring bikes, I think that flat bars are more common for touring in continental Europe.
https://www.pbase.com/canyonlands/fullyloaded

Trying to figure out what you want for stem will be a consideration. There might be some trial and error there. If there is a bike coop or bike charity in your community you might be able to buy some low budget used stems. And for brake levers too.
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Old 06-16-21, 08:52 AM
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+1 on the Cowchipper bars. I just moved over to the 46cm version. I also added the Cruise Control Top grips from Redshift Sports. I am really happy with the change and all of the different hand positions. I agree though that it is really important to determine the correct reach for all the positions on drop bars to feel good and natural. I would add to pay close attention to the width of the bars as well. I normally ride with 44 cm bars on my road bike. My touring bike came with 42 cm bars. I am amazed at how much better the 46 cm Cowchipper bars feel on the touring bike and I don’t feel it has much negative aero effect, although that was not a huge concern.
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Old 06-16-21, 09:18 AM
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I got rid of drop bars 20+ years ago because of hand issues.
Went with a shallow riser bar on a hybrid next, which was an improvement but my hands still hurt.
Went with a butterfly bar next. Definite improvement because I could spread out my hands instead of gripping a bar. I still didn't like leaning forward, though. I used aerobars on the butterfly bars on tour to remove all pressure on my hands.
Now I have a Jones Bar. I can sit perfectly upright ( I have no interest in going fast). No more hand pain and plenty of alternate hand positions. I even rigged up a cargo net in the opening for a basket.
I'm pretty sure I caused some nerve damage in my hands using drop bars in the 80's and 90's.
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Old 06-17-21, 11:43 AM
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I hated the bars that came on my LHT back in 2017. I went to buy a set of Cowchippers at a bike shop. The shop had Cowchippers and Woodchippers in stock, I walked out with 46cm Woodchippers. I bought a slightly shorter and steeper stem to put the bars where I wanted them. I absolutely love the Woodchippers!
I'm considering a set of Moloko bars for one of my other bikes, they look comfortable to me, I need to feel a set in person before buying.
I hope you find the right bars for you, the LHT is a great bike.
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Old 06-17-21, 01:40 PM
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My custom touring bike was setup with drop bars. I tried a wider drop bar then trekking bars. I then tried jones bars and the last three years have settled on the Crazy bar. I have the optional left hand shifter for the Rohloff hub. Casey's Crazy bars have enough hand positions to switch around on for me. I have the Paul Klamper brakes and the Paul cantilever brake handles.
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Old 06-18-21, 05:44 AM
  #10  
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Thanks to all for the feedback. I've ordered some Paul thumbies and canti-levers but between production issues and shipping internationally these days it could be several weeks before they arrive. ALT bar selection right now seems limited with many makers/shops having limited or NO supply. So my game plan is wait for the Paul goodies and once they arrive, I'll start looking again at ALT bars. In the interim, I'm going to try a compact drop bar e.g. Soma Highway 1, Woodchppers, etc.
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Old 06-18-21, 08:14 PM
  #11  
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Originally Posted by smokeycanuck View Post
Thanks to all for the feedback. I've ordered some Paul thumbies and canti-levers but between production issues and shipping internationally these days it could be several weeks before they arrive. ALT bar selection right now seems limited with many makers/shops having limited or NO supply. So my game plan is wait for the Paul goodies and once they arrive, I'll start looking again at ALT bars. In the interim, I'm going to try a compact drop bar e.g. Soma Highway 1, Woodchppers, etc.
the salsa cowbell has less flare, 12 degrees, and shallow drop and short reach. I really like mine, nice if you don't want so much flare.
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Old 06-18-21, 08:19 PM
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Originally Posted by elcruxio View Post
In my experience when reach is correct drop bars are vastly more comfortable than alt bars. When there is too much reach drop bars are usually still manageable whereas alt bars become unbearable.
I've tried a few. I have a Surly bar I don't remember the name of, Koga Denham bars, FSA Metropolis and a few no names.
The reason why I started experimenting with the alt bars in the first place was comfort issues. But it wasn't the bars themselves, it was reach. When I fixed the reach I found that there's nothing inherently uncomfortable in drop bars. In fact, they keep the wrists in a pretty darn good angle and allow for better shock absorbtion at the arms. You also don't need to be aero when using drop bars, they can be raised higher to make a more upright riding position.

The one thing I really dislike about alt bars is the lack of hand positions in general AND the lack of hand positions where one can use the brakes. The denham bar has these horns which supposedly mimic the lever position of a drop bar, so you can be "more aero" in headwinds and whatnot. Yeah nah. For me at least they absolutely do not work.

The one comfort addon drop bars can benefit from is going wider. I have 50cm wide Salsa Cowchipper bars on my DT and they are better for relaxed riding than the more typical 44cm wide drop bars
such good points on dropbars, and how when you get the reach sorted out,and overall height, I too find they are simply the most comfortable for day after day, week after week riding.

oddly enough, I've just put some Jones h bars on my commuter, and find them pretty darn comfortable, and like riding with them.
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Old 06-21-21, 06:48 AM
  #13  
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Smokey fellow, if you do end up trying out some different alt bars, do be aware that there's a very good chance that you'll have to replace housings and cables with longer stuff.
when I recently changed my trekking bars to Jones h bars, I got away with some original stuff, but had to put longer ones on because things kinked cuz of being so much wider.

worth it to do it yourself, buya good cable housing cutter, it will pay for itself quickly.
have you ever done this mechanical stuff before? Have an interest? You'll save a lot of money.

honestly, the only way to know if you like a specific bar is to live and ride with it for a while.
I had no idea I'd like the Jones bars until now.
And have a source for inexpensive stems, as a different stem will change comfort greatly. Trial and error though.
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Old 06-21-21, 07:28 AM
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Stem Comparison Tool | yojimg.net

Heres an online stem length comparison tool that will take much of the trial and error out of determining the best length and angle of the stem that will best serve you.
It worked really well for me.
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Old 06-21-21, 07:48 AM
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Originally Posted by ober27 View Post
Stem Comparison Tool | yojimg.net

Heres an online stem length comparison tool that will take much of the trial and error out of determining the best length and angle of the stem that will best serve you.
It worked really well for me.
thats a neat tool, I've seen it but never used it.
One tricky thing with alt bars is that where they put your grip area varies greatly, and or there are various hand positions (like with the Jones bars , with such a long main grip area)
My recent experience with the Jones, on a frame shaped similar to a LHT (traditional high toptube type frame) was to use a pretty standard 90 or 100mm stem I had, and live with the bike for awhile to get an idea after weeks of riding of where I would perhaps prefer to have the bars, closer, farther away, higher etc.
My Jones bars are also the ones that have some rise to them, which changes things too---all I'm saying is that its also good with a given bar to go with it and your bike as is, to a store , and just place diff stems beside the present stem and bars to get a rough idea how a specific alt bar will be positioned.

I personally find it easier to do this physically with stems, trying diff ones that a store will have in drawers--plus actually sitting on your bike and seeing where the bars will be with diff stems may be a real help.
Also, depending on the riders experience, the person may or may not have insight to what is better for them, and a good store employee can make good suggestions.
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Old 06-21-21, 08:28 AM
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When I swapped over to my Woodchippers, I didn't have access to any other stems to try out. I sat on the bike holding my new bars. I moved them around until they felt right, I had some help and used some wood shims. When I felt like they were in the right place, I measured where I wanted them in relation to my old stem. I then used the online comparison tool to determine length and angle of the stem I would need to place the bars in the desired location compared to the location with the the original stem. I was then able to order the stem based on the numbers, It worked out well for me.
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Old 06-21-21, 11:43 AM
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Originally Posted by ober27 View Post
When I swapped over to my Woodchippers, I didn't have access to any other stems to try out. I sat on the bike holding my new bars. I moved them around until they felt right, I had some help and used some wood shims. When I felt like they were in the right place, I measured where I wanted them in relation to my old stem. I then used the online comparison tool to determine length and angle of the stem I would need to place the bars in the desired location compared to the location with the the original stem. I was then able to order the stem based on the numbers, It worked out well for me.
that sounds like a good technique.
Woodchippers, like my Cowbells, sort of have the same "dropbar-ness" to them as other drops, with the added flareout etc of course, but for someone like me who has ridden dropbars for decades and decades, I can fairly easily have a reasonable idea of how I want them in relation to my seat.
It certainly helped with my cowbell bike that the steerer was uncut, so once I got a nice short stem that I knew I needed for proper "reach" from seat, I was able to play with moving spacers around for the bar height--I have spent months riding this bike on tours, and really have no hand or wrist issues, even over rough roads.
but I realize that most bikes have shorter steerers so are limited in this regard.

I still think that with alt bars, it might be good just to use your existing stem, and then ride and adjust stuff (like bar angle---for instance, Jones bars feel different / better / worse with different angles of the bars---and you can really only get a feel for this by riding.)
This will hopefully help you realize more what sort of stem changes would be appropriate.
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Old 06-21-21, 02:16 PM
  #18  
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Originally Posted by elcruxio View Post
In my experience when reach is correct drop bars are vastly more comfortable than alt bars. When there is too much reach drop bars are usually still manageable whereas alt bars become unbearable.
I've tried a few. I have a Surly bar I don't remember the name of, Koga Denham bars, FSA Metropolis and a few no names.
The reason why I started experimenting with the alt bars in the first place was comfort issues. But it wasn't the bars themselves, it was reach. When I fixed the reach I found that there's nothing inherently uncomfortable in drop bars. In fact, they keep the wrists in a pretty darn good angle and allow for better shock absorbtion at the arms. You also don't need to be aero when using drop bars, they can be raised higher to make a more upright riding position.

The one thing I really dislike about alt bars is the lack of hand positions in general AND the lack of hand positions where one can use the brakes. The denham bar has these horns which supposedly mimic the lever position of a drop bar, so you can be "more aero" in headwinds and whatnot. Yeah nah. For me at least they absolutely do not work.

The one comfort addon drop bars can benefit from is going wider. I have 50cm wide Salsa Cowchipper bars on my DT and they are better for relaxed riding than the more typical 44cm wide drop bars
So that's why when there is to much reach my neck feels like it's going to fall off.

I had a Univega in the mid 80's and I brought the drops back. I can't stand drops. At least vintage ones on completely unforgiving vintage road bikes. And I am not riding with my hands in the drops. My hands are by the stem.

OP I have been curious about the Kona line.

There was an early 00's, or very late 90's Kona that had a dark rainbow paint frame. Model name completely escapes me.

Last edited by StarBiker; 06-21-21 at 02:20 PM.
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Old 06-27-21, 12:39 AM
  #19  
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In case it wasn't mentioned the "What Bars" app is awesome.

On vote here for On One Midge bars.
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Old 06-30-21, 04:09 PM
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I switch to Ritchey Kyote mtb bars on my LHT and swapped to a short stem as well. It is a dream to ride, and it also makes getting rad a lot easier.
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