Drop Bar Archives: Since one of the biggest reasons folks come to this blog is to reference drop bars for off road and to find info on that, I have set up this page to gather together in one place all the info I have gotten, written, and documented over the years. At one time I had maybe a half dozen links to exceptional articles on the history and use of drop bars for off-road. Unfortunately over the years those old links have been deactivated.
I have taken the liberty of reposting two of Matt Chester's drop bar articles. One is a historical perspective on flared drops and a bit of a Midge Bar review and the other is a tutorial on how to tape flared drops with vibration absorbing pads. See those after this bullet point list below.
Links: These are all to pages on my blog.
- "Why Radius Matters" I explain why, in my opinion, the radius of the bend of a drop bar is critical to getting a good off-road drop bar set up.
- Drop Bar Mountain Bike Tips Updated: A 2007 post I wrote with updates from 2011
- "More On Design": I show and explain features of off-road drop bars and how those affect set up and ride performance.
- "The Importance Of Frame Design And Stems": Here I talk about why stems for converting a MTB to drops are important and why MTB's are difficult to convert to drop bar use.
- "Velo Orange Cigne Stem Overview": In this post I show the Velo Orange Cigne stem and how it can transform your converted MTB to drop bar set up.
- "Drop Bar Terms Defined": An article dissecting the different features of a flared, off-road drop bar.
- Soma Gator Bar Review: A pretty weird drop bar concept that has a lot of compromises due to poor design choices.
- Salsa Cycles Cowbell II Handle Bar: First Impressions: A 2011 review of this bar with a few updates at the bottom of the article.
- The Luxy Bar: Why It Is The Bar Many Want But Few Can Get: A deep dive on the ultra-rare Luxy Bar designed by Brant Richards for Ragley Bikes/Chain Reaction Cycles UK. Very nerdy post.
- Update On The Whisky Parts Co Winston Bar: It isn't a drop bar, but mustache bars are about as close as you can get to a drop bar and work similarly.
- Before There was "Gravel": Flared Drop Bars: A brief historical timeline from the WTB "Dirt Drop" to the vast array of modern day flared drops for gravel.
- Guitar Ted's Massive, Huge Flared Drop Bar Review: A run down of the most interesting flared drop bars I have ridden.
Historical And Past Articles: Following are a couple of Matt Chester articles I copied and pasted in complete form. (I hope Matt doesn't mind, but he's hard to get a hold of.) It's a long page, but I have no better way to easily make this available.
by Matt Chester
If you are 6' tall or less, aim to have the tops of your bars a bit over your saddle height... up to a few inches. Exactly how much depends on a range of factors: your flexibility, the length of your arms, the terrain you ride, etc. If you are 6' or over, you can get by with tops about level with the saddle. A little above isn't bad and if you are particularly tall or have long arms, you can get away with having them slightly below. I'm 6'2" and I run my bars about level with the saddle.
Dialing this in tandem with (1) is the tricky part. Often times with a stock frame, you'll get the bars up to height only to find that your cockpit is bunched up like that of an 8+ hour finisher at the Flattown All Tailwind All the Time Memorial Century. Get your cockpit dialled lengthwise, and your bars will be too low for comfort on steep, technical descents. (This is crucial when riding fixed as you cannot unweight your hands by getting back off the saddle.)
These are not road drop bars. Do NOT level the bottom of the hooks with the ground. The whole beauty of a flared drop bar is that it allows your hand to stay very close to its natural position, the way it would fall if you were standing relaxed with your hands by your sides. Try it! Stand relaxed and then bend your elbows 90 degrees so your hands are in front of you. The position your hand is in is quite close to what it is riding in the hooks of a Midge bar. So, how much angle? It is best to have the tips of the bars pointing downward towards the rear dropouts. This will mean that the bars are rotated forward somewhat. Depending on how upright/stretched out you ride, the bottoms of your bars should be 10--25° from level.
Even though the Midge has a 25.4mm clamp diameter (MTB standard), it uses road brake levers. Any quality road lever is great if you are using sidepulls, centerpulls, or cantilevers. The DiaCompe 287-V is the choice for V-brakes and will also work with disc brakes like the Avid road mechanicals. When mounting the levers, bear in mind that you won't be using the tops and hoods as your dominant position. Set the levers as low as you feel comfortable. Remmber, you want optimal braking from the drops. Everything else is secondary.
2) You haven't ridden flared drops like the Midge bars.
3) You don't know what you're missing!
Matt Chester: How To Wrap and Pad Drop Bars
Now finish your taping. I use two layers of cotton tape, mostly because it's the only thing that really holds up to off-road use and the usual bike dropping, scraping and crashing. It's also good as you can pull it really tight as you wrap (you pretty much have to so it doesn't look like shit). I find that just about anyone can ride the combo of one layer of cotton tape + pad + two layers of cotton tape as long as the right lever is selected for hand size. You can't go nuts with thickness as it can cause problems, especially for riders with smaller hands. I have really long hands and I had issues with straining the tendons in my arms reaching for the lever when I was piling on the padding over the course of my short time at the Great Divide Race...a ride I had no business being on due to my lack of fitness amongst other issues, that's a story for another time though. Another thing that you're going to find is that you're going to run short of tape as these bars are already big and wide compared to traditional road bars...especially in the case of 46cm Woodchippers and Luxy bars. That's why I suggested getting the fancy electrical tape as you may find that you're having to wrap your finishing tape a little wider depending on your bar, tape, and wrapping technique. With the Midge above, it didn't require anything too crazy. It'll make road traditionalists cringe, but your bike probably does too so 'oh well.'