Handlebar Question

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Private Message

Dec 14 2012 at 10:46pm #

Hi guys, i’m new here and signed up to ask this question, but I am sure I will participate in the community and hopefully take part in some of the activities posted on here.

My question is about changing handlebars on a bike.

I currently have a Tommaso Bestia Cyclocross bike and, of course, it has the drop handlebars.

I am just not at a place yet in my health or experience with cycling to ride on drop handlebars comfortably.

I also have a cheapo hybrid bike from Dick’s and while I prefer the ride of the Cyclocross much more, I feel more comfortable with the positioning on the hybrid.

I was wondering if I could replace (or have someone do it for me) the drop bars on my cyclocross with some “regular” (not sure what they are called) handlebars until I lose some more weight and get into better shape and am more capable of riding with the drop bars.

Any insight would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!


Chris Mayhew

Private Message

Dec 14 2012 at 11:09pm #

You can get flat bars for your Tommaso but it will be expensive because the shifters and brake levers will have to be replaced to fit on a flat bar.

I think your best options would be one of two things. One, raise the drop bars up as much as you can, via stem, headset spacers, stem extenders. That’ll give you the same feeling (more or less) as a flat bar.

Option two would be something like an alternative drop bar like a mustache bar or Nitto Dirt Drop or something. Again, that let’s you use all your current stuff while getting you up higher and in a more comfortable position that you prefer.


Private Message

Dec 15 2012 at 12:21am #

I took my bike in to Performance Bicycle to have them finish setting it up for me, since it wasn’t set up correctly when I received it via UPS. The guy lowered my seat and raised the drop bars as far as he possibly could, according to him.

I’ll check out the Nitto Dirt Drop like you suggested.

I think I may just purchase a better hybrid that I enjoy riding as much as my Tommaso until I get into better shape.

Thanks so much for your help!



Private Message

Dec 15 2012 at 1:02am #

Patricia, I hope the adjustments on your current bike are working better for you. I feel your pain too when it comes to drop bars. I’ve never liked them much on any of my bikes. I blame it on being short and stumpy!

Over the years I’ve experimented with a few different handlebar set-ups and I finally like what I’ve got right now (Velo Orange Porteur bars on my Surly LHT and riser bars on my single-speed). I’m sure you’ll find something that feels good! Good luck. :-)


Private Message

Dec 15 2012 at 5:22am #

Before spending any money, I highly recommend a group ride. You might find the solution you are looking for on someone else’s bike. Or, you may discover that the bike isn’t a good fit for you, or that other adjustments are necessary. Just learning how to brake from the “hoods” could be a game-changer.

As for options, you probably only need a few things for the swap. Obviously, the handlebars. You’ll need some flat-bar road brake levers and flat-bar road shifters in your given speed (I assume ten).

The alternative to flat bar road shifters, is mtb shifters… but that would require a new front derailleur in addition to the shifter.

Figure it would be about $120 for the shifters, $20 for brake levers plus what ever you would spend on handlebars.


Private Message

Dec 16 2012 at 2:35pm #

Thanks a lot, guys. I have adjusted my search for a new hybrid bike that I might enjoy riding as much as my cyclocross bike, until I am able to ride my cyclocross bike comfortably.

I am pretty sure the reason that I am not comfortable on the road bike is because of my weight. I have lost about 90lbs so far mostly from eating right and riding my bike, but there’s still a lot more to go.

I think I will just put my cyclocross away until my body is better suited for the positioning that comes with drop bars.

I currently have a Diamondback that was around $200 and, after riding the Tomasso, it feels like an old clunker and I don’t enjoy it as much as I once used to. I never noticed the terrible shifting and the heavy frame.

I was thinking of getting this one (or something similar):

And if the wheels are really thick, maybe put some cyclocross wheels on it. I’m not sure if that’s possible. I planned on talking to one of the workers at Performance Bicycle.


Private Message

Dec 16 2012 at 3:26pm #

re: the Schwinn in your link, if you’re looking for a light good handling bike strictly for the road, avoid something with the suspension fork. It adds unnecessary weight and will not give the precise handling that you like about the cross bike.

Try out some like this:

I have been super impressed with these DB Insights, light and super handling.

Add fenders, lights, and a rack, and you’ll be ready for anything.


Private Message

Dec 16 2012 at 3:54pm #

I second the recommendation about group rides. Seeing what equipment other people have, especially seeing 10 or 20 or 50 at a time, and talking to people face to face, is priceless. Ask us, say who you are, and maybe even get to try riding various bikes.

Nor would I worry all that much about weight. Several of us (not me specifically) are not of “ideal” weight, yet get on and ride darn near everywhere. Some have taken off a few (dozen) pounds, some aren’t concerned about it. Lots of stories out there.

The main thing is to get out and ride, and to reduce the reasons that keep you from doing that.


Private Message

Dec 16 2012 at 4:58pm #

I think all of our local shops would be a good choice for selecting a bike, but since you’ve been going to Performance, you may want to talk with Scott (the manager). He’s a larger sized guy who is a very strong rider who also rides a road/cross bikes. He can probably make suggestions for things like wheels/saddles/etc. that he has personal experience with, and can answer questions that us skinnier people might not be familiar with.


Private Message

Dec 16 2012 at 8:10pm #

In addition to what edmonds59 said, the extra give of the suspension fork is just wasted energy when riding up any incline. At the very least, you want something with “lock-out.”

I really don’t like the idea of setting a bike aside, to use at a later point. You already have a nice bike and replacing it with a cheaper substitute is not the best approach imho. Use what you have and find a way to make it work for you.

But, ultimately, do what makes you happy and comfortable.


Private Message

Dec 17 2012 at 1:29am #

Edmonds, thanks for the link. I don’t really know much about bikes, to be honest, so any input on the purchasing of a bike is welcomed. I would probably discuss the purchase with someone working at Performance before buying. I was also looking at some slightly better bikes at Dick’s.

StuInMcCandless, well.. I am a lot bigger than a few pounds overweight. I am on the lower end of 5’5 and around 270. So i’m pretty big. It definitely affects my ability to position myself properly on a bike with drop bars more than a few extra pounds.

Drewbacca.. I understand what you mean. I don’t really like the idea of setting aside a bike I just paid about $900 for, but i’m just trying to be realistic for myself. I found myself not riding as much and when I do ride, I generally end up taking my hybrid out and it’s just not as pleasurable anymore. I feel like i’ve made a purchase that I wasn’t ready for, because I was really gung ho about riding and got a bit ahead of myself.

While I don’t like the idea of putting it away, I feel like it’s the best decision for me to get something that I will actually be able to comfortably ride and then work my way into riding the cyclocross more often.

Marko, thanks! I think i’ll be making a trip out there sometime this week. If Scott is there, i’ll definitely pick his brain and see what he has to say about my situation.

Thanks a lot to all of you for the input. It’s way more than I expected. Seems like you guys have an active community here.

I’ve never actually gone riding with anyone before. While I really like the idea, I feel like I may not be able to keep up with a group, so I think that is what has stopped me.


Private Message

Dec 17 2012 at 1:42am #

I just want to say… please join us for a Flock of Cycles ride sometime! That’s the whole point of them — we ride for fun, at a pace that’s accessible to everyone (really, I promise you would be able to keep up), and that would also give you a chance to meet some of these people in person and see what they ride :D


Private Message

Dec 17 2012 at 1:50am #

Don’t worry about keeping up. Just go ride.

Also check out these two blogs:

Ernest has lost 200 lbs but he’s still around 370 and he recently rode in his first cyclocross race.

And our very own Terry. 6′ something and 350ish lbs (down from a bit over 400) and rides all over the damn city.


Private Message

Dec 17 2012 at 1:58am #

I could never tolerate drop bars – and didn’t cycle for a number of years because of neck issues – even with non-drops.

At some point I got an extended stem (the part that holds the handles bars). It went about 6 inches up at the same angle as the head tube (part of the frame that holds the steering mechanism) and made me able to ride again.

I ride plenty now and have for the last 15 years.

I’m considering going back to drops – buyt having them high enough that my neck won’t be an issue.

It would be bizarre looking, of course, to have drops as high as I’m thinking of having them. But no weirder than my bike looks now.


Private Message

Dec 17 2012 at 4:34am #

@PedalToTheHotMetal – first, i’ll say that i think you’ve found a great place to ask any and all questions that you have about biking. i don’t think i knew much at all before i got here, but even jerry kraynick only slightly intimidates me now.

i think there’s great advice here (and i second edmonds’s alternative handlebar recommendations), and i just want to add a couple things. i think there is probably no need to cast the diamondback aside, if you’re willing to purchase a new bike. a new set of wheels (and maybe tires), a new saddle, and maybe new handlebars can really transform a bike. if the shifting isn’t to your liking, you can probably change to something new with a new set of shifters and maybe a new rear derailleur. i recently replaced the saddle, handlebars, and shifters (for about $70 + saddle, plus labor, which i did myself) on my old hybrid that i never rode, and felt like a completely different bike. i didn’t even want to ride my road bike any more. it turned out, i just don’t like flat handlebars (bad wrist positioning for me) and grip shifters.

there are a ton of awesome bikes out there, and if you remain curious, people here can help you find them. you can also try out as many bikes as you can find, and see what you like.

ps: i dig the user name! a friend of mine was involved with making the pedal to the hot metal shirts (which i presume you have seen). glad to see it catching on!


Private Message

Dec 17 2012 at 4:40pm #

HiddenVariable.. Yes! I have one of the shirts and loved it. I ride the Waterfront trail, through Sandcastle, to the South Side trail and over the Hot Medal Bridge and to the point all the time, so the shirt was perfect. And when I joined the forum, it was the first thing I thought of.

I wore the shirt to a concert and someone asked me about it, so hopefully they got another sale out of it. It’s one of my favorite shirts.

I don’t know terribly much about bikes when it comes to technical stuff, so I feel like I might be a bit intimadated when you guys talk about rear derailleurs and putting on new shifters and whatnot.

I don’t mind the Diamondback, but the shifting is really something terrible. The gears slip and I have to shift very oddly in order to get into certain gears. I have to shift into a lower gear way too soon before going up a hill, just because I have to make sure it’s actually in the gear I want it to be in, because i’ve been pushing hard on the pedals and the gear slipped.. luckily, I didn’t get hurt, but it’s an accident waiting to happen.


Private Message

Dec 17 2012 at 5:02pm #

PedalToTheHotMetal – I’m far from an expert but when I started riding I had the same problem with gears/chain slipping while shifting when climbing hills. I found that easing up on the pressure I was applying to the pedals took care of it.


Private Message

Dec 17 2012 at 5:04pm #

If you are on the southside already you should stop into thick bikes. They are easily one of the best shops in town and would be the ones to talk to about commuter stuff for sure. Plus if anyone can get your diamondback running right, it’s those guys.


Private Message

Dec 19 2012 at 12:28am #

There are other options besides replacing the handlebars and shifters. If the handlebars are just too low for you to ride comfortably, you can raise them with a stem extender such as this:

If you don’t like riding with your hands on the hoods of the shifter/brake levers, but are comfortable riding in the flats (the part closest to the stem), you can have “interrupter levers,” which are a second set of brake levers, installed on the flats, like so:

Then you only need to reach forward to the shifter levers for shifting.

You could also have both of those parts installed in combination. Since you are inexperienced with bikes, it’s probably worth having a bike shop do this work.


Private Message

Dec 19 2012 at 1:28am #

Welcome! I don’t know anything about the mechanics either, so you’re not alone (although reading the boards may pique my curiosity enough that I’ll make the effort to learn).

I hope you’ll join a Flock ride–if you love riding your bike, you’ll fit right in.

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