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Why are the drop bars on some of these Free Spirit 10 speeds shaped like this?

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Why are the drop bars on some of these Free Spirit 10 speeds shaped like this?

Old 10-21-21, 09:55 AM
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Why are the drop bars on some of these Free Spirit 10 speeds shaped like this?

Why did they have that weird curve shape on them?






Last edited by grant40; 10-21-21 at 09:59 AM.
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Old 10-21-21, 10:02 AM
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Because they used lesser tube benders than the companies that make better handlebars. They couldn't bend them around as far, or get the radius as tight.
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Old 10-21-21, 10:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Velo Mule View Post
Because they used lesser tube benders than the companies that make better handlebars. They couldn't bend them around as far, or get the radius as tight.
So it's a cost thing?
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Old 10-21-21, 10:10 AM
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Obviously not designed by someone who actually uses drop bars effectively, taking advantage of the multiple hand positions a proper set of drops provides.
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Old 10-21-21, 10:38 AM
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Actually, look at some of the older drop bars and they look similar to these, Also the shallow bend at the top allows a person to get on the drops without hitting the top of the bar (short stem, remember these are Dept store bikes). A nice trait back in the 70's bike boom. These were designed for two position. Top bar, drop bar. Not for the hood.
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Old 10-21-21, 10:48 AM
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OP apparently has a fetish for bicycles with their handlebars set up wrong...
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Old 10-21-21, 11:14 AM
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Originally Posted by grant40 View Post
So it's a cost thing?
Yes. It was not about hand positions. It was about making a drop bar looking handlebar on a machine that the manufacturer already had that might have been making upright bars.
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Old 10-21-21, 11:46 AM
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The closest that I've ridden to those that was made of aluminum (so not the cheapest bar) would be on my late-1962 Schwinn Continental.

It would probably work ok, except for the Schwinn frame's extremely short reach dimension, so it's just the wrong bar for this bike thus I struggle to enjoy riding it.
My 1975 Varsity has identical frame dimensions, but by this time Schwinn had gone to a normal-bend bar in steel. So the Varsity is a pleasant-riding bike for me.

The OP's examples are a lot more extreme, look like certain bars from maybe 100 years ago(?), and I've never had a good ride on a bike with bars set up that way.



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Old 10-21-21, 01:50 PM
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Maybe they were copying these Stratalite "South of France" bend bars from the '50s?
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Old 10-21-21, 02:09 PM
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if you angle the end of the bars so they point to the rear hub, then cut an inch or two off the ends, they would be similar to modern day bars, no? They just look kind of funny because the stems are so short.
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Old 10-21-21, 02:33 PM
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While seeing a picture of dddd '62 Schwinn Continental provides proof that this bend style was at one time used on "real" bikes, by the time the bikes shown in the original post were manufactured, all bike store bikes had bend like DDDD's Varsity. In other words more curvy and enabled placing the hands on the brake hoods and not such a deep drop.

I am jumping to a conclusion that the handlebars in the original post were made that way was based on cost. Unless it was on a far older bike, like from the 1950's and older, this bend just looks doesn't look right.

If you come across a old bike that is missing it's handlebars, perhaps this style bar might look good on it.
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Old 10-21-21, 03:32 PM
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Arent those are basically old track bike bars and they weren't intended for brakes?
https://duckduckgo.com/?q=vintage+tr...ages&ia=images
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Old 10-21-21, 05:12 PM
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look at some of the old photos of jacquie phelan's drop bar mtn bikes. the bars are not too dissimilar
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Old 10-21-21, 06:32 PM
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
OP apparently has a fetish for bicycles with their handlebars set up wrong...
I don't think these are set up wrong. The only reason I'm posting this thread is because I got a Sears bike for free that had those handlebars and I was curious of why they made them like that.
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Old 10-21-21, 06:39 PM
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Basically, it's a less expensive and lighter handleabar than a traditional bend for a given reach, drop and width, as it uses less material. Typically, a handlebar this bend is about 6.5% lighter than an equivalent dimension handlebar in a tradtional bend. Less material also means less cost.

These were popular of the early chain store 10 speeds that were basically adapted from light touring 3 speed bicycles with the addition of a dropped handlbar, narrow racing saddle and derailleurs. Some of them even retained the upright touring bar brake levers and hand grips
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Old 10-22-21, 01:11 AM
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Originally Posted by grant40 View Post
I don't think these are set up wrong. The only reason I'm posting this thread is because I got a Sears bike for free that had those handlebars and I was curious of why they made them like that.
They looked to me like they're turned down too much, but after looking up some old catalogs/ads, I guess that's how they came! Unlike Schwinn, they must have expected you to ride in the drops.
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Old 10-22-21, 03:04 AM
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ARGH!

During the Bike Boom Fad era from the late 60's to the early 70's, the buzz word was 10 SPEED RACING BIKE!

Back then bikes were still considered to be "KIDS TOYS"!

Anything with 2 wheels, drop bars and derailleurs were marketed to unwitting customers and sold as quickly as they could be unpacked.

Poorly constructed gas pipe department store bikes cost ~$59.95 USD. They were unsafe at any speed. A few were butt brazed but most of them had resistance welded frames. The tubes were pushed against each other, an electrical charge was applied and hoppefully the tubes fused together at the joint. Like spot welding. Saw many of them where the head tube was so poorly welded that it broke away from the top and down tubes while being ridden.

Kid Killer bikes like those were what caused the ill conceived CPSC (US Consumer Protection Safety Commission) rules to be instituted. Those kinds of bikes used the absolute cheapest components available and they were frequently assembled by inexperienced store clerks or customers ala Ikea.
Waxing poetic about those bent pieces of pipe and calling them handles bars is stretching the definition!

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Old 10-22-21, 04:07 AM
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The bars the OP asks about came on my Free Spirit (now Babe the Blue Oxen) and I was also amazed/distressed. I figured the designer was roaring drunk the day that design was due.

I tried to use them, even rotating them up and installing mtn bike bar ends for drops. Useless. I binned them and installed conventional alloy bars, saving precious ounces. Babe is my salty roads winter bike so precious ounces are irrelevant. 'If you're gonna ride less often, you may as well ride heavier and take more hills.'
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Old 10-22-21, 06:03 AM
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Old 10-22-21, 06:30 AM
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The first 10-speed bike I ever got to really closely examine was one like this that my father had purchased c.1970 or so. Allegedly he rode it when he was at UNC working on his never-completed doctorate, though truthfully I can't picture my dad ever actually riding the thing. It was everything loathsome about what I came to think of as a BMA/6 bike, that loose consortium of Huffy, Murray, etc. that made crap bikes in the early 70s.



When my father went to purchase my first 10-speed bike for $49.95 at the Ben Franklin five and dime in Rocky Mount, Virginia, he got me something similar. To my eternal gratitude, when he went to assemble it, it was missing some crucial fastener, so he returned it. They were all out of whatever it was he had gotten originally, so they sent him home with a "Brownie" 10-speed probably built by Kalkhoff, but cheaper than this one, as mine had Altenburger Synchron brakes -


- and it was a definite step up, too!
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Old 10-22-21, 12:44 PM
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Originally Posted by canopus View Post
A nice trait back in the 70's bike boom.
So many bikes I saw in the 1970's had the handlebars turned upside down... in that case, perhaps these would work?
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Old 10-22-21, 01:51 PM
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Originally Posted by tiger1964 View Post
So many bikes I saw in the 1970's had the handlebars turned upside down... in that case, perhaps these would work?
It was so much easier to wheelie that way!
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Old 10-22-21, 04:55 PM
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Originally Posted by verktyg View Post
ARGH!

During the Bike Boom Fad era from the late 60's to the early 70's, the buzz word was 10 SPEED RACING BIKE!

Back then bikes were still considered to be "KIDS TOYS"!

Anything with 2 wheels, drop bars and derailleurs were marketed to unwitting customers and sold as quickly as they could be unpacked.

Poorly constructed gas pipe department store bikes cost ~$59.95 USD. They were unsafe at any speed. A few were butt brazed but most of them had resistance welded frames. The tubes were pushed against each other, an electrical charge was applied and hoppefully the tubes fused together at the joint. Like spot welding. Saw many of them where the head tube was so poorly welded that it broke away from the top and down tubes while being ridden.

Kid Killer bikes like those were what caused the ill conceived CPSC (US Consumer Protection Safety Commission) rules to be instituted. Those kinds of bikes used the absolute cheapest components available and they were frequently assembled by inexperienced store clerks or customers ala Ikea.
Waxing poetic about those bent pieces of pipe and calling them handles bars is stretching the definition!

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The memories of Iversons - the worst of the worst (worse than Murray, Huffy, or Rollfast) - sold only thru catalog (the forerunner of big box) stores immediately comes to mind. We had a couple of Iversons, not one summer's old, dropped off at AR Adams Cycle with the steerer tube sheered off cleanly from the top and down tubes. And the customers wanted to get them fixed!
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Old 10-22-21, 06:24 PM
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I suggest folks google images of "antique track bicycles" - I don't know the formal name for that bar bend, but they were on many old track bikes and probably oldie roadies too.
What are they doing on these bike boom road bikes? They were RACERS! and just what the market imagined they should look like.



Anybody else watching the UCI track championships this week?
Seems like the bars now are shallow drop, very narrow Maes bars. Could this be the end of 46 wide bars and return to 38's being trendy?

Edit = The name
And the style for those bars is Pista. You can buy them today in multiple colors.
https://www.statebicycle.com/products/pista-bars

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Old 10-25-21, 12:44 PM
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Western Flyer too, apparently!
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