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  1. #1
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    Once again: why not flat bars?

    [Todd Wells' brake] levers are also positioned particularly high up on the bars. "They never go on the drops anymore," said Hatfield. "It's all on the tops and on the hoods; that's where they get most of their power from. Not many of the top riders get [down there] anymore."

    http://www.cyclingnews.com/tech/2007...d_wells_gt_gtr

  2. #2
    Do not touch the trim.
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    Quote Originally Posted by pretender
    [Todd Wells' brake] levers are also positioned particularly high up on the bars. "They never go on the drops anymore," said Hatfield. "It's all on the tops and on the hoods; that's where they get most of their power from. Not many of the top riders get [down there] anymore."

    http://www.cyclingnews.com/tech/2007...d_wells_gt_gtr
    You know, I don't get this. How do people keep their hands on the bars in techinical sections riding on the hoods. My hands want to slip off the top, not to mention I have nowhere near the braking power or control from the hoods.

  3. #3
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    Because flat bars don't offer the stable, high torque position of riding on the hoods. If you could use something like a bullhorn with brifters on the ends or flat bars with bar ends and brake levers mounted on the bar ends then there'd be a reason to ask that question. That bike in the picture is set with the hoods about as low as a recreational rider's drops, so it isn't like this is an upright position.

    It is very hard to generate a lot of power with flat bars, you simply cannot grip and rip like you can on drops. For most mountain bike races, traction limits how much torque you can deliver, so flat bars are rarely a problem, you need to get out of the saddle and climb with a still upper body. For occasions where you can grab and go you're allowed to use bar-ends, not an option in cross.

    Even the bar-ends on a flat bar are compromised relative to the position you get on a road bike with drops. The ability to climb or sprint with power depends a lot on the balance of the front of the bike, the line between the shoulders, the grip on the bars and the contact patch of the tire. If this isn't together, you won't get the same acceleration.

    OTOH, if you like flat bars and are comfortable with them, go ahead, but comfort doesn't mean squat in a 45 - 60 minute race.

    Ron

  4. #4
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    I think it is tradition more than anything else.

  5. #5
    CDB
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    Riding w/ your bars tilted up more, and the hoods further up on the bar helps keep your hand from sliding forward off the front. If you keep your hands on the hoods more, you can ride w/ a lower stem. I have noticed, with my own bikes, as well as photos of the top riders who are currently using the Sram levers, that you have to rotate them up higher than usual to keep from slipping off. Especially in the mud. They just don't give as much to hang onto as Shimano.

    It's nice to have the drops for the rare occasion where you are doing a sprint, or sitting on a wheel in a particularly road racey course w/ lots of asphalt and pack riding. I also sometimes use them on super steep descents. Road bars are generally narrower and a little less likely to hook onto other riders when things are close together, like the start and what not. Also, when shouldering the bike, a flat bar is harder to grab onto than a drop bar. I'm talking about when you have forearm under downtube and reach for the lowers of the drop. That is a more stable shoudering position than up/over the stem. I used to race w/ a mtb way back when and never could keep the bike as stable on my shoulder as I could w/ drop bars. I also used to use a mtb as my backup "pit bike" and when swapping laps w/ the two different bikes, I found that I couldn't corner as aggressively w/ the flat bar, which is more upright. Now, on a rough straight downhill, that's more mtb'ey, it's a different story. But, that's not really a typical cx course anyways.

  6. #6
    Yo no fui.
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    Quote Originally Posted by PeanutButterBreath
    I think it is tradition more than anything else.
    . . . because Belgian racers will mock you until their throats are too sore to only eat bread crusts.
    "It is better to conquer yourself, than to win a thousand battles." -Dhammapada

    "Fact is only what you believe; fact and fiction work as a team." Jack Johnson

    "A true cyclist sometimes has to bite the dust before he can reach the stars. Laurent Fignon

  7. #7
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    My first year of CX I used a hybrid bike frame (Schwinn Crosscut) with some lighter weight wheels and road components that I swapped over to it. It had flat bars and gripshift. The top tube was level, so I could shoulder it. It worked very well (and only cost $150 for me to put together). I think the main advantage of the flat bar setup is that it has much better control in really technical stuff. I felt like I had better braking and better body position especially on technical downhills. For instance you can sit way back or off the end of the seat and still control the brakes and steering. That's a lot more awkward when you need to keep your hands in the road bar drops to get good braking leverage.

    The thing is that you hardly ever have stuff that is that technical in CX races, so the flat bar setup really isn't necessary. I think road drop bars have more advantages, i.e. more positions for getting aero, better hand positions for dismounts and remounts, and being able to hold the bars when shouldering the bike. I like using campy road brifters too, and I have them setup pretty much the same as on my road bike.

  8. #8
    Cyclocross is Seasonal?
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    Because 3 of my last 4 races ended with a sprint from my group for series points.

    That's my reason.

    Wells? Well, there's a UCI rule about flat bars. Frischy ran them in 97 in Munich prior to the ban.

  9. #9
    You call that running?
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    Aside from functional/practical concerns, I think having your shifters up real high like Wells looks really dorky. Being fast is more important than looking good, but looking good counts for something.

  10. #10
    Samurai on Two Wheels
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    Quote Originally Posted by pretender
    [Todd Wells' brake] levers are also positioned particularly high up on the bars. "They never go on the drops anymore," said Hatfield. "It's all on the tops and on the hoods; that's where they get most of their power from. Not many of the top riders get [down there] anymore."

    http://www.cyclingnews.com/tech/2007...d_wells_gt_gtr
    Tell that to Katie Compton...I could swear she never leaves the drops....seems to work just fine for her. I've been experimenting with it and I think I am starting to like riding in the drops more and more. For me more power, more dexterity.

  11. #11
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    I like riding in the drops also, but I'm a small guy like you Taipan. I feel more like a race car in the corners when in the drops. I can also reach the brake levers better. I have no problem power climbing from the drops either.

  12. #12
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    the pro have to

    they created the rule for uci races that you must have drop bars on your bike right after Frishi got second at the worlds (and little mig won the u23 race) on flat bars............

    i think if the uci didn't make the rule all the pros in europe would have 1 or 2 more bikes in the pits for certain races?

    As far as not being able to sprint with flat bars, the video of the worlds that year (97 i think)is funny because Paul Sherwen says something about Frishi not going to have a chance in the sprint for silver due to his flat bars, which he then proceeded to win.....

  13. #13
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    Sometimes on very steep short climbs that are borderline rideable, climbing in the drops is the only way I can get enough power to make it up. Can't seem to get enough leverage in the hoods. There's also a way of pulling on the bars with the peak power of each pedal stroke to kind of dig your rear wheel into the ground to prevent wheel slip. Also your butt will be slightly out of the saddle and well back to put as much weight over the rear wheel as possible. This only works for me when I'm in the drops, holding the curvy part of the bars.

    On my singlespeed I have moustache bars and these also work well for generating extra power on climbs.

    I got rid of my interrupter cross levers because the only situations where I could use them were on steep descents, but they were too close together for good control. Flat bars would be good in such situations.

    btw, if anyone did the foothills cross race in Colorado on Sunday - there was a brutal wind and anyone on a mountain bike got crucified. I think I sprinted for the line at about 9 mph - would have been about 7 on an MTB I reckon.

  14. #14
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    I've noticed this goofy preference on cx drop bar set up. The UCI sucks-- I really can't believe their reactionary rule-making.

    The whol issue of drop or flat bar can be answered by On-One's "Midge" bar. Absolutely the best drop bar ever-- especially off road.

    They are a descendant (a very close copy?) of a design by Charlie Cunningham (IIRC) in the late 1980's.

    The feeling of control and security when riding in the hooks is impressive. A rider spends 95-percent of their time in the hooks. The top and hood positions are for crusing and noodling around. After putting a Midge on my 'cross bike I was so impressed with them that I installed another on my MTB.

    If you've never seen or ridden a bike with a Midge handlebar (stay away from that junky "me-too" Gary bar from Origin-8) you owe it to yourself to check them out.

    And no... I don't work for On-One. It's just that there are so very few thoughtfully designed components out there that are truly paradigm shifting. We've been stuck with completely unergonomic flat bars that are just super-expensive piece of pipe and the same old drop-bar design with so-called "ergonomic bends" that actually place your hands farther away from the control levers unless you ride on the hoods.


    www.on-one.co.uk

    USA distributor www.zedsport.com

  15. #15
    You call that running?
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    I'd consider the midge for a mountain bike but the combo of short drop and 58cm width means they would suck on any kind of pavement/high speed/drafting situation. There just isn't any even remotely aero position on those bars, making them very similar to MTB bars in my opinion.

  16. #16
    FTM
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    Love the Midge bars on my mountain bike but way too wide and unnecessary for cross; Deda Newton Classic Shallow works just fine.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Sundance Kid
    I'd consider the midge for a mountain bike but the combo of short drop and 58cm width means they would suck on any kind of pavement/high speed/drafting situation. There just isn't any even remotely aero position on those bars, making them very similar to MTB bars in my opinion.
    Sure there is. The no-cost option is to just grasp the top of the bar near the stem clamp and lean over. I've also seen clip-on drops installed near the stem-- that way you have another set of conventionally shaped drops farther inboard.

    And they aren't similar to MTB bars. That's missing the point.

  18. #18
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    I Midge bars a couple years ago and was intially so impressed that I set up two bikes with them. But after a while I found myself wanting the option to ride on the hoods, and the angle that the Midge bars puts the hoods is useless to me for climbing, riding rough terrain or braking. I subsequently tried them on an MTB set up so that I was always riding in the hooks, but on any kind of bumpy terrain my hands would get numb. So I am back to regular drops for CX, risers for MTB and Midges in the parts box -- much happier now.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Once again: why not flat bars?-835404591305_0_bg.jpg  

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by PeanutButterBreath
    But after a while I found myself wanting the option to ride on the hoods, and the angle that the Midge bars puts the hoods is useless to me for climbing, riding rough terrain or braking.
    True enough-- but like I stated earlier, on a Midge bar the hoods position is really only good for seated crusing or just noodling around-- nothing "mission critical". Kind of like riding on the tops on a road bike. The design is such that all control is performed from the hooks. You also need to set them up so they are higher than you would run a conventional drop bar.

    Quote Originally Posted by PeanutButterBreath
    I subsequently tried them on an MTB set up so that I was always riding in the hooks, but on any kind of bumpy terrain my hands would get numb.
    My CX bike shipped with a conventional drop bar. I rode plenty of off-road with these bars and was very uncomfortable with the concentrated pressure on the "web" of my thumb from the hoods. Riding in the hooks was just infeasible as I couldn't properly reach the brake levers.

    The Midge bar was a huge improvement in hand comfort. However, for general off-road use in the "off-season" I was riding for longer in the hooks and decided to place some Fizik bar gel under the tape. This helped greatly and was thin enough to not cause hand fatigue. (comfort during a CX race has never been an issue.)

    Quote Originally Posted by PeanutButterBreath
    So I am back to regular drops for CX, risers for MTB and Midges in the parts box -- much happier now.
    Well, if you feel like getting rid of the Midge bar let me know.

    Cheers.

  20. #20
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    "Because of our traditions, we've kept our balance for many, many years. Here in Anatevka, we have traditions for everything... How to sleep, how to eat... how to work... how to wear clothes. For instance, we always keep our heads covered, and always wear a little prayer shawl that shows our constant devotion to God. You may ask, "How did this tradition get started?" I'll tell you! ... [pause] don't know. But it's a tradition... and because of our traditions... Every one of us knows who he is and what God expects him to do. "

  21. #21
    FTM
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    I climb tech stuff on the hoods of my Midge bars all the time with no problem; I do have the bars set quite a bit lower than is standard, however. I also have long arms and am really flexible so I tend to like a greater bar saddle drop.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by i_r_beej
    True enough-- but like I stated earlier, on a Midge bar the hoods position is really only good for seated crusing or just noodling around-- nothing "mission critical". Kind of like riding on the tops on a road bike. The design is such that all control is performed from the hooks. You also need to set them up so they are higher than you would run a conventional drop bar.
    I set them up on my MTB so that my hands would be at the same height as they were with (comfortable) riser bars. This required a 130mm/40 degree rise stem. The height was fine and the control was great, but I still got numbness in my lower palm when riding in the hooks.

  23. #23
    You call that running?
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    Quote Originally Posted by i_r_beej
    Sure there is. The no-cost option is to just grasp the top of the bar near the stem clamp and lean over. I've also seen clip-on drops installed near the stem-- that way you have another set of conventionally shaped drops farther inboard.

    And they aren't similar to MTB bars. That's missing the point.
    Let me elaborate. They are similar to MTB bars in that they they only have one useful hand poistion and that poistion is too wide for cyclocross. That was my point.

    On the tops as you describe would not be stretched out enough to be aero. The tops of any drop bar are for cruising around the parking lot and that's about it.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by FTM
    I climb tech stuff on the hoods of my Midge bars all the time with no problem; I do have the bars set quite a bit lower than is standard, however. I also have long arms and am really flexible so I tend to like a greater bar saddle drop.
    For me, hoods at that angle are uncomfortable to grab and too close together for the kind of leverage I want. To be fair, I prefer 680-710mm wide risers for climbing.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Sundance Kid
    The tops of any drop bar are for cruising around the parking lot and that's about it.
    Ahem.

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