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Discussion RE. Drop Bars - Flare, Width, Drop/Reach

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Discussion RE. Drop Bars - Flare, Width, Drop/Reach

Old 06-13-22, 09:40 PM
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Moisture
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Discussion RE. Drop Bars - Flare, Width, Drop/Reach

I know that flared drop bars seem to be very popular these days on gravel bikes...

Thought id share my experience on drop bars, with the different types I've tried. For reference, I ride my gravel bike on a mix of pavement, double/single track... And of course.. gravel.

The stock bars were 46cm with 8° of flare which transitioned into 16° once you started to hold lower onto the bars
​bars. After riding these along with 48cm riser bars with 12° of flare, I noticed that the shape in the drops was putting unnecessary pressure on my wrists on longer riders and didn't feel quite so natural anymore.

I set out to find some bars that were at least 46cm wide, no more than 48cm wide, between 4-6° of flare at the drops and found myself rather limited on options

I tend to aim for a bar that is about shoulder width (shoulder bone to shoulder bone..)

Do some of you prefer narrower? Wider? You guys fan of excessive flare? No flare at all? If so, why?

When using bars with different drop/reach figures, is it as simple as using different types of stems to compensate? Is there any major difference between using some combination of short stem, long handlebar reach or vice versa? Also, I assume that the handlebar drop should be based on your stack height, or how long your steerer tube is/how many spacers you want to have underneath your stem?
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Old 06-13-22, 09:53 PM
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I like HBs with no flare simply to keep my hands as close to my shoulders as is feasible. (I go wider on my fix gears, considerably wider on the ones I take into serious hills, both for better leverage uphill and control downhill.) I chose bar shape, reach and drop numbers for hand comfort. I then pick a stem to locate that bar where it needs to be to fit me best.
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Old 06-13-22, 11:05 PM
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I don't have flare and don't see a reason for it. Bar width is supposed to be about the distance between your AC joints which is what I guess you are referring to? I prefer compact bars. I seldom use the drops. I ride in the drops on some fast descents and for long OOS efforts. I ride a lot on the hoods with almost horizontal forearms, which is more aero than riding in the drops with almost straight arms. I base my stack height on that position so on my bike it's zero. I set my bars up so that with hands on hoods, my upper arms make almost a right angle with my torso. So whatever combo of bar and stem that work together to produce that position.

I rode in the drops a lot on trad bikes with French Fit and also got sore hands. I don't get that with modern hoods positions and lower bars.
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Old 06-14-22, 12:34 AM
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If you stand often to pedal, wider handlebar will give you better control and reduce exertion (push and pull) on the arms.

If you don't like wide handlebar, using a very short stem like those used in MTB (32mm length stem) will also reduce steering effort.

On my gravel bike, the frame is 4cm undersized and also using a 32mm stem on a regular, short reach / compact dropbar 42 cm wide. Handlebar drop is 1.5cm, KOPS saddle adjustment. You're probably imagining it's super cramped and probably it is but it's actually very comfortable and light on my arms and steering is light. No problem with knees hitting the handlebar when I'm standing on the pedals.
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Old 06-14-22, 06:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
I don't have flare and don't see a reason for it. Bar width is supposed to be about the distance between your AC joints which is what I guess you are referring to? I prefer compact bars. I seldom use the drops. I ride in the drops on some fast descents and for long OOS efforts. I ride a lot on the hoods with almost horizontal forearms, which is more aero than riding in the drops with almost straight arms. I base my stack height on that position so on my bike it's zero. I set my bars up so that with hands on hoods, my upper arms make almost a right angle with my torso. So whatever combo of bar and stem that work together to produce that position.

I rode in the drops a lot on trad bikes with French Fit and also got sore hands. I don't get that with modern hoods positions and lower bars.
That's a good point about hoods offering a more aerodynamic position. When I was new to drop bars, i rode with a very high handlebar stack, and almost exclusively in the hoods. This continued for a while, even once my handlebar stack changed to a more reasonable position. Now, I ride almost exclusively in the drops, although I am planning to slam my stem -7° with my new Easton bars to see whether that will open up the hoods as a viable riding position yet again.



Originally Posted by koala logs View Post
If you stand often to pedal, wider handlebar will give you better control and reduce exertion (push and pull) on the arms.

If you don't like wide handlebar, using a very short stem like those used in MTB (32mm length stem) will also reduce steering effort.

On my gravel bike, the frame is 4cm undersized and also using a 32mm stem on a regular, short reach / compact dropbar 42 cm wide. Handlebar drop is 1.5cm, KOPS saddle adjustment. You're probably imagining it's super cramped and probably it is but it's actually very comfortable and light on my arms and steering is light. No problem with knees hitting the handlebar when I'm standing on the pedals.
I used to ride very short stems two years ago when I was overweight. These days I only do 100-120mm on all my bikes, current or future. Even on my MTB the widest I'll do would be 540mm swept back bars (mounted backwards) with a longer stem to compensate. This would be my preference in riding position.

The last time I stood up to pedal would have been when I was 8 years old, or, surprise surprise, riding a bike 3 sizes too small for me with a very short stem. Coincidentally, I weighed anywhere from 35-55lb more than I do now when super short stems were my thing.

Now, I do understand that using very wide bars would require a short stem, yes. But using *very under or oversized frames is a clear indication that something is wrong, especially if you're changing stems so dramatically to compensate.

Generally speaking, I tend to always aim for a frame that fits on the larger side. I then learned that some bike manufacturers recommend going a size up, if you're stuck between sizes but have a longer than average wingspan for your size. On the contrary, there are bikes which I would consider to be "small" , within my size, Which may not necessarily be built for Extreme performance such as cyclocross but could still work well with a longer than usually equipped stem .
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Old 06-14-22, 06:15 AM
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Carbonfiberboy

I will have to try out a road bike with no flare again sometime. I'll certainly prefer NO flare than anything with more than 6°... That's for sure. However I just realized that my current preference for my Easton bars which have 5° of flare could have something to do with my prior elbow injury... It feels very natural on the joint.
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Old 06-14-22, 08:06 AM
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Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
Now, I do understand that using very wide bars would require a short stem, yes. But using *very under or oversized frames is a clear indication that something is wrong, especially if you're changing stems so dramatically to compensate.
I simply found myself over-reaching despite an already undersized frame so I went for the shortest stem available. I possibly have short torso in relation to my leg length and reach changes little between frames of different sizes so the only place to go to have bigger change in reach is the stem.

It fixed many problems for me like hand discomfort (sore wrists, hand numbness, etc), and soreness in the core muscles on >3 hr rides.
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