Handlebars for contortionally challenged rider

Discuss light weight issues concerning road bikes & parts.
Posts: 24
Joined: Wed Mar 28, 2012 12:53 pm

by Regret

A combination of age, arthritis and genetics gives me problems staying in the drops for very long at a time.

The main issue is that I can't bend my neck enough backwards to see where I am going and this is slightly unfortunate when descending.

Apart from the obvious "well you shouldn't have cut the column so low" (it was already cut) I am looking to improve on my bike, and one thought was new bars with a shorter drop.

Can anybody that recognizes this issue make any recommendations? I am willing to pay decent money.



Posts: 27
Joined: Tue Dec 06, 2011 9:13 am

by bformanes

any short shallow designated bar should do the trick- however- the other thing you can do is get a steeper angle stem, or an adjustable stem.

3T has a +/- 17 degree stem that a lot of professionals use.

ZIPP's handlebars are seemingly very popular, I personally use Mark Cavendishs' Shimano PRO Star Series handlebars.

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Location: Los Angeles

by wath

I second trying a new stem.

The 3T ARX Team (which is available in 17 degrees) comes in under well 150 grams at 100mm, is one of the stiffest, and looks clean and sexy.

They're kinda pricey but I think it's worth a try if you can get one off eBay for less than 60. If it doesn't work you could always just sell it for the same price.

Posts: 28
Joined: Sun Oct 11, 2009 7:40 am

by unseen

As mentioned, there are short/shallow reach/drop bars from virtually every manufacturer now. Your options are to either go with a +rise with your stem but if that is not aesthetically pleasing to you shallow drops probably are your best bet.

The typical offerings are made in the alu or carbon flavor and notables for me are:

3T Ergonova ~123mm drop available in carbon Team/LTD or alu Pro model
Deda "RHM" shape which they use on a variety of their bars ~ 128mm RHM01/02, Zero 100 ect.
And others I have tried with about the same drop
PRO Compact II shape vibe 7S or PLT
Zipp Service Course or sl2 "SS" shape

These all have oval/egg shapes and are likely suitable for your needs. Just decide what you want to spend and pick a brand you like, chances are they have a shallow drop bar for you.

Posts: 335
Joined: Mon Mar 12, 2012 4:43 pm

by headwind816

What is your current drop and reach? What is your stem length and angle? I cannot offer a suggestion without knowing a little about your current set up.

Posts: 24
Joined: Wed Mar 28, 2012 12:53 pm

by Regret

Thanks for all the answers. I have considered the stem and I would flip it but the logo only turns one way and I'd rather have a sore neck than look silly 8-o.

If I replace the bars I will certainly consider a stem that allows flipping without causing aesthetic distress.

headwind816, my current setup is an ITM K-Sword with a drop of 171mm and ITM 100% stem - not entirely sure of the angle actually.


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Joined: Sun Mar 23, 2008 7:31 pm

by Camilo

Of course shallow drop bars do nothing for the riding position most of us use most of the time: on the hoods. I'll bet your best option will be to get a high rise stem or just bite the bullet and get a new frame with a taller head tube, uncut fork, and also maybe a flipped up "normal rise" stem on top of that. That's what I have, and it may look fredish to a super bad racer, but it's very comfortable and I ride faster and longer because of that.

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Joined: Wed Mar 28, 2012 12:53 pm

by Regret

Camilo, I agree that we spend most of the time on the hoods. However, I do a fair amount of intervals in a windy area, and I simply get dropped if I can't stay down. Moreover, I will be doing a lot of mountain riding this year and I need to be in the drops to descend.

A new fork or frame is rather outside my budget but I do take the point of the flipped stem.


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Joined: Mon Mar 12, 2012 4:43 pm

by headwind816

I think the stem has a 10* drop ... and the bar is a deep drop as well.

Here is my suggestion if you want to do this cheap and aiming at the handlebars. I would go to a local bike shop and ask to look through their bin of take-off bars. I would pick a couple to try to see if in fact the issue can be resolved with the handlebar. Without seeing you on your bike, I would may say that a little stem would help too. I have an image of your back not being totally flat, which may cause issues of looking behind. I think a 110mm stem with the FSA Pro Wing may do the trick. My second bar suggestion would be the 3T Ergosum (not Ergonova) with the 89mm reach and 128 drop. The longer reach would allow you to keep the 100mm stem.

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by elviento

Frankly the best approach is a higher rise stem. Compact bars aren't a great idea because the bar top will still be too low and it essentially takes away one of the hand positions. But they sure help you minimize spacers.
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Joined: Thu Jun 25, 2009 5:29 am

by teleguy57

Regret, make sure the bar height is the real issue. At 57 (almost 58 now) I have my share of flexibility issues, and have just worked through a bulging cervical disc which kept me off the bike for six months. I raised my bars 2 cm from my previous height (saddle to bar drop from 5.5 cm to 3.5 cm) in an effort to ease the stress on my neck and make it easier to look up the road.

Had a new fit done today by a very experienced fitter who knows how to effectively use the Retul tool. He ended up shortening my stem from 130 to 110 and then dropping my bars by taking out 20mm of spacers and going from a -6 to a -17 stem. Net result is 15mm shorter reach and 32mm lower bars from my original position and 13mm less reach with my bar now 42mm lower than my self-prescribed attempt to adapt to my neck limitations.

interestingly, on the video it's very easy to see how I can actually look further up the road with less neck/shoulder strain in this new closer/lower position. I kept my current standard bars (85 reach/145 drop) even though I brought in a short/shallow bar thinking that would be part of the changes during my fit process.

Bottom line, unless you've been fit by a qualified/experienced professional, there may be a very different solution to your flexibility issues than raising the bar and going to a shallower drop.

Posts: 24
Joined: Wed Mar 28, 2012 12:53 pm

by Regret

Until I read your post, teleguy57, I had bought the consensus remedy of a higher rise stem. Now I am really confused.

I had a retul fit done on a previous bike. I actually took the bike and the report to a very accomplished LBS who more or less laughed and said that to implement that I would need a vertical stem :-).
Now it may well be that the bloke who did the fit made some mistakes, although he is certified, experienced and all the rest of it, but I am a bit gun shy after that.

All the same, I am intrigued how dropping the bar height could alleviate your problem. Is it all due to the shorter stem?

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by bikedoc

FSA made a bar that came up from where it clamped in the stem by an inch or so which would make the hoods higher, think it was the K-wing bar

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Posts: 2006
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by RichTheRoadie

Regret wrote:Until I read your post, teleguy57, I had bought the consensus remedy of a higher rise stem. Now I am really confused.

Don't be. What works for one may not work for another so don't take teleguy57's experience as being your own. It's not.

Also, there is no 'perfect fit', and one Retül trained fitter will not necessarily come up with the same solutions as another Retül trained fitter, despite them using the same basic equipment - it's all interpretation of what is being seen by the Retül system outputs, and what one fitter chooses to do to remedy those based on his or her experience.

If you're not happy or are confused, go back to the same fitter with some questions / feedback / things you'd like to try and see if they'll do a follow-up fit to see what they do to your position. Any fitter worth his salt should be perfectly happy doing this.

Ultimately it sounds like your do realistically need a new frame - probably with a taller head tube and shorter top tube, or at least a new fork with a longer steerer.

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Location: Georgia

by 12x23

I'm 56, and tried several compact bars after years on Deda Newton deep drop's, and now I've found the best two for me. I'm riding Deda Zero 100 compact and Ritchey WCS Curve bars. By far I like the Ritchey's best. Both have a nice semi-traditional curved drop, shorter reach, and allow for a flat transition from the top across the hoods. However, the Ritchey's have a shorter reach and round top whereas the Deda's have an ovalized top - I hate anything but round.

I found I effectively raised the bars with the shorter reach and flat transition from bar top to hoods.

Just my $0.02.

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