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  1. #1
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    Compact drop handlebar question

    I'm looking to replace my handlebar. I went to 3 LBSs to get a closer look and noticed that those so called compact (or shallow) drop handlebars are mounted on cyclecross bikes but not on road bikes. Is there a reason for it? Also, what are the advantages and disadvantages if used on road bike?
    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
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    That's counter to my experience. It seems just about all new road bikes have compact bars. I guess it depends where you draw the line between compact and non-compact.

    It depends on how you ride and you're preferred setup. I ride with my bars pretty low so bars with a big drop would put me too low in the drops which is why I like compacts.

  3. #3
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    Go to Steve Steve Hogg's blog. He explains very well why he recommends compact bars like 3T Ergonova, FSA Compact and Deda RHM.
    They do anything just to win a salami in ridiculous races. I take my gear out of the car and put my bike together. Tourists and locals are watching from sidewalk cafes. Non-racers. The emptiness of those lives shocks me. It was the illest of times, it was the dopest of times. And we looked damn good. Actually the autobus broke down somewhere on the Mortirolo.

  4. #4
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    In the past, handlebars never were considered or used in fitting a bike since the dimension ranges didn't differ much. Now with all the reach and drop options, they are an integral part of how a bike fits and feels.

    Just one case in point for me - I have long femurs so my saddle setback is big. This places me further away from the bars so I can't have too long a reach and top tube. Fortunately have a 72.5 degree seat tube to help with this. On my bike a stem length of 100mm places the hoods at a comfortable torso reach with "standard" bars (~85mm reach). However my long femurs then graze the backside of the handlebars on climbs. To fix this, I installed a 110mm stem which moves the backside of the bars away, and a compact handlebar with a short 73mm reach to bring the hoods back to the same position.

    Cyclocross is not aerodynamic critical, so having a smaller drop is easier and a slightly more upright position with a shorter hood reach is usually preferable to more people, so OEM handlebars are spec'd to the majority.

  5. #5
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    Compact bars allow us average riders to spend more time in the drops.

  6. #6
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    The actual drop distance on compact bars isn't what won me over. What I really like about them is the angle my wrist sits when they're in the drops. On most other traditional and anatomic bars my wrist isn't very straight. With the FSA and 3T compact bars, they are. So they're a lot more comfortable for me to be in them.

  7. #7
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    compact bars have become more common due to the trend of everyone having too much saddle to handlebar drop in order to look 'pro'.

    if the bars are too low to begin with, well then the drops on standard bars are way out of reach.

  8. #8
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    I like how flat I can make the ramp, and the flat transition from the ramp to the brake hoods. (FSA Compacts.) The relatively lower reach is nice because my road bike is a little big for me, but I think if I downsized the road bike, I'd probably keep the bars and run a longer stem. (Or not.)

    I like the flare. It keeps the corners of the bars clear of my wrists when I sprint. It's also sort of cool to have the narrower bars I like for distance at medium effort and a little extra leverage, both on the same bike.

  9. #9
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    I too like how I can create a flat ramp (well actually there is a slight upward angle from my bars to my levers, it gets both my drops and hoods in my preferred position), but I still prefer the flat lower section of a classic bend bar. I don't find there is much of a difference in access to the brakes and shift levers when comparing my classic bend road setup to my compact CX one. I spend most of my time on the hoods in CX anyway, unless there is a very long straight that goes into the wind.

    To directly answer the OP's question: the advantages are down to personal comfort. Some riders want their hoods to be very low but that could limit access to the drops so a compact bar is a good choice there. They are also designed with modern integrated levers in mind to create that flat transition. Look at bike with classic bars and you'll usually see some kind of angle between the bars and the hoods.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by captain stubbing View Post
    compact bars have become more common due to the trend of everyone having too much saddle to handlebar drop in order to look 'pro'.

    if the bars are too low to begin with, well then the drops on standard bars are way out of reach.
    seems like someone is trying to sound 'pro' by stating their use of a deeper drop handlebar

    this info might be helpful, i got it form another thread on RBR: Road Drop Bar Geometry : La Rueda Tropical

  11. #11
    wim
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    Quote Originally Posted by tfinator View Post
    seems like someone is trying to sound 'pro' by stating their use of a deeper drop handlebar
    Well, there is some truth to the captain's assessment of the compact drop handlebar popularity. As one astute RBR member put it recently, "...those silly modern 'compact' bars, [whose] drops are way to short to be useful for anything other than giving some wanker the appearance of riding a 'real' road bike."

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by tfinator View Post
    Nice link. Thank you.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by wim View Post
    Well, there is some truth to the captain's assessment of the compact drop handlebar popularity. As one astute RBR member put it recently, "...those silly modern 'compact' bars, [whose] drops are way to short to be useful for anything other than giving some wanker the appearance of riding a 'real' road bike."
    A statement that is so full of bull that it can only be two:
    1) Narrowmindedness, making the person not able to understand the great leap in ergonomics the modern integrated controls have made possible.
    2) A joke.

    Now over to Rueda Tropical again:


    Bike Fit from Coppi to Contador : La Rueda Tropical

    One note though: Contador doesn't seem to like to use his drops much, which probably means he's just a poser wanting to look pro.
    They do anything just to win a salami in ridiculous races. I take my gear out of the car and put my bike together. Tourists and locals are watching from sidewalk cafes. Non-racers. The emptiness of those lives shocks me. It was the illest of times, it was the dopest of times. And we looked damn good. Actually the autobus broke down somewhere on the Mortirolo.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by wim View Post
    Well, there is some truth to the captain's assessment of the compact drop handlebar popularity. As one astute RBR member put it recently, "...those silly modern 'compact' bars, [whose] drops are way to short to be useful for anything other than giving some wanker the appearance of riding a 'real' road bike."
    This!

    To me, just give me classic bars, sloping down round bend, flat hoods lower than the tops, round hooks and flat low drops parallel to the floor.

    Try it. Classic rounds or Italian shallows, set them up right. Then you'll realise how silly are those compact bars.
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by tfinator View Post
    seems like someone is trying to sound 'pro' by stating their use of a deeper drop handlebar

    this info might be helpful, i got it form another thread on RBR: Road Drop Bar Geometry : La Rueda Tropical
    haha....nah i actually use compacts myself!

    my orig statement wasn't necessarily a criticism, and with my reference to 'look pro' i'm not inferring that the person is a 'poser'. Just saying that more drop these days is prob due to the fact that 'pros' have their bikes set up that way.

  16. #16
    wim
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    Quote Originally Posted by kbwh View Post
    A statement that is so full of bull that it can only be two:
    1) Narrowmindedness, making the person not able to understand....
    My apologies to the person I quoted.

  17. #17
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    compact is the way to go..Here's why-with the shallow drop you can lose the spacers on the headset to achieve the same drop with traditional bars. That and the tighter bend will stiffen up the front end noticeably . Also, for the weight obsessed, few grams lighter. If you need a traditional look get a model that has a more rounded grip area. Traditional bars are not as stiff because more material and large bends.

  18. #18
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    I am planning to go to a compact bar in the next few weeks, so thanks to all on this thread for providing good information.

  19. #19
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    good info here from Competitive Cyclist review FSA Omega


  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by stevecaz View Post
    Just one case in point for me - I have long femurs so my saddle setback is big. This places me further away from the bars so I can't have too long a reach and top tube. Fortunately have a 72.5 degree seat tube to help with this. On my bike a stem length of 100mm places the hoods at a comfortable torso reach with "standard" bars (~85mm reach). However my long femurs then graze the backside of the handlebars on climbs. To fix this, I installed a 110mm stem which moves the backside of the bars away, and a compact handlebar with a short 73mm reach to bring the hoods back to the same position.
    I have a similar build and that's the biggest reason why I like compacts. In addition, I prefer the flatter tops that follow the brake levers. They offer more contact area that traditionals, so my hands can ride the tops longer.

  21. #21
    EMR
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    I ordered the Omega compact a few days ago, can't wait to try it.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by tfinator View Post
    seems like someone is trying to sound 'pro' by stating their use of a deeper drop handlebar

    this info might be helpful, i got it form another thread on RBR: Road Drop Bar Geometry : La Rueda Tropical
    Thread in question? Why Compact Handlebars?

    My comments on what good use they are would echo from that thread: in short the reach parameters between tops, drops, and hood is less different/radical. There's no rule of thumb insisting how different they should be, but I wouldn't be surprised if one were to find themselves with one parameter in a perfect spot at the cost of everything else being too far/near. With compact bars you could effectively change hand positions with less dramatic change for the rest of your body.

  23. #23
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    omega good

    Quote Originally Posted by EMR View Post
    I ordered the Omega compact a few days ago, can't wait to try it.
    You'll love em, cheap and good - love mine - saw plenty in use by (female!) pros at tour of flanders last spring... so hey, compacts aren't just for w***kers, they are also for girls ;)

  24. #24
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    I have the FSA Pro compacts on my SuperSix.. Love the curve and the transition to my hoods. Much more comfortable than my 3T ergo bars on my old bike.
    ~ Long Live Long Rides~

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