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betterbow

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Reply with quote  #1 
Flat bars vs. Drop bars for older rider who does not like to bend over very much? Are the extra available hand positions on a drop bar setup beneficial on longer rides? I want to gradually build up my endurance to 4-6 hour 60/40% gravel/tar rides.
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kriskexplorer

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Reply with quote  #2 
I would go with drop bars personally gives you a lot of options over the course of a 100-200 mile ride.
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GravelDoc

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Reply with quote  #3 
betterbow, as an older rider, I've found that a combination of drop bars with a taller steerer tube and/or stem works well. 
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Dan Reese

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Reply with quote  #4 
I don't know how old you are, I'm 51 and have a couple of disks in my neck that cause issues with tilting my head up.  I have both a drop bar bike and a bike with Titec J bars, which are a Jones bar knockoff,  both with positive angled stems. 

The drop bar bike has an adjustable stem, I can move the bars up or down depending on how my neck is doing.  I had them at about 5 degrees, then I aggravated my neck lifting weights and now it's a steeper angle, not sure what.  I have my shifters sitting a little higher on the bars also, which keeps me more upright.

The J bars offer about the same number of hand positions as the drop bars.  Back on the grips, up where the bars join and an aero position.  Plus if you like to climb on the tops of drop bars, that position is available too. 

Watch the video on this page:  http://www.jonesbikes.com/h-bars/
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betterbow

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Reply with quote  #5 
Dan, I like that H or J Bar idea. I will give it some thought.
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Dan Reese

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Reply with quote  #6 
I may switch to the actual Jones bars in the 7xx size.  The Titecs are a copy of the earlier models which were smaller.  There isn't quite enough hand room behind the shifters and brakes as I would like.
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bobknh

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Reply with quote  #7 
My $.02: First, I'm an older rider (75 orbits of the Sun in Jan.). Second, after uncounted thousands of miles in the saddle since taking up serious cycling at age 15 in 1958, my lower back is a train wreck. That being said, I would suggest that overall position on your bike, is far more important than the specific selection of the type of bar you use. Then things get complicated --- frame geometry, your body shape and measurements, your flexibility and so on. For this reason, a visit with a skillful bike fitter might be much more important than the selection of handle bars. In my case, over the years, I have had good success using professional bike fit experts that have helped me deal with the loss of flexibility , and chronic lower back pain. Lately, I've had very good luck in finding a very good custom bike frame builder that designed a perfect bike for my long legs, short torso, and achy back. For gravel though, I much prefer a gravel specific drop bar - the Ritchie Venturemax because of it's short reach and shallow drop, as well as, the flared ramps that allow me to ride comfortably in the drops. On sketchy dirt roads, I find that I spend much more time in the drops, because it gives me better control of the bike and better leverage on on my brake levers.
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Alan_D

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Reply with quote  #8 
I second what bobknh said concerning bike fit. Plus, I also chose the Ritchey Venturemax bar for exactly the same reasons.
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Volsung

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Reply with quote  #9 
When in doubt just listen to Bob.
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drwelby

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Reply with quote  #10 
The Jones bars seem to work best with a shorter/taller position anyway so they retrofit well onto bikes designed for drop bars.

That being said, I have two friends with back/neck problems and their "gravel" bikes are Jones mountain bikes with Schwalbe Big One tires.
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HollyBoni

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Reply with quote  #11 
I'm not old but my neck is not the best. I can't do longer distances on a flat bar, even the narrower ones feel too wide and there is only one hand position. I don't like a stretched out road bike position with drop bars either.

My solution was a drop bar with a few spacers, and a slightly shorter upright stem. I love it! My neck doesn't hurt, it feels natural and comfortable. 
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GrinnellTim

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Reply with quote  #12 
Rode Jones bars for two years and love them for my achey tilesetter/ex-moto rider wrists. Drop bars, now the cow chippers, are my preference though, I feel like I can get out of the wind by riding in the drops AND it stretches out my achey back, especially when standing in the drops. I ride big tubeless 2.25 schwalbe super motos slicks for my back and wrists as well.
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betterbow

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Reply with quote  #13 
Great advice coming in on this thread. I have a flat bar setup now so I leaning toward just getting the Jones bars for the extra available hand positions.

To convert to drop bars sounds like a hassle.

Thank you.
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simplemind

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Reply with quote  #14 
Another possibility with a flat bar, should you decide you need alternate positions, is add-on bar ends.  They don't necessarily need to be on the end of the bar per se, could be anywhere that works for you.
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Skldmark

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Reply with quote  #15 
Quote:
Originally Posted by betterbow
Great advice coming in on this thread. I have a flat bar setup now so I leaning toward just getting the Jones bars for the extra available hand positions.

To convert to drop bars sounds like a hassle.

Thank you.

Converting to a dropbar on a frame designed for a flat bar is usually unsatisfactory. The reach difference between each style pretty much calls for the frame design to accommodate one or the other.
Flat bar to Jones bar can be good, adjust fit with stem length/angle as needed.
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Dan Reese

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Reply with quote  #16 
I would agree that if you have a flat bar bike now, the Jones bars are the way to go. That's originally why I got the Titec bars. I didn't want the expense of buying road shifters and brakes.

I would highly recommend the adjustable stem. They aren't too expensive and it lets you experiment with different angles. Once you get it dialed in, you can swap it out.

I have thought about getting a bike fit, but the way my neck is, the same position doesn't always bother it. One day one position feels great, another day the same position aggravates it. Not sure if a bike fitter would be able to work with that.

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HollyBoni

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Reply with quote  #17 
Quote:
Originally Posted by betterbow
Great advice coming in on this thread. I have a flat bar setup now so I leaning toward just getting the Jones bars for the extra available hand positions.

To convert to drop bars sounds like a hassle.

Thank you.


If you have a flat bar specific frame right now a drop bar won't work with the geometry and depending on your current components you might have to change a whole bunch of drivetrain components.

So a Jones bar is definitely the way to go. 
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BluesDawg

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Reply with quote  #18 
I've had lower lumbar issues for many years and in recent years have have developed fairly severely limited neck mobility due to arthritis. I have had to adjust my riding position on all of my bikes to compensate for my inability to bend my neck to lift my head enough to see ahead of me at lower handlebar positions. This is the same on my drop bar bikes and my flat bar bikes. On both types, I have had to select bike frames with more stack height and run more upwardly angled stems to get my bars up higher. It is about bike fit and positioning, not about what type handlebar you use.
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zornitta

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Reply with quote  #19 
I have lumbar, neck and hand  issues...I'm riding flat bar with bar-ends inside the grips (bar-mids?) with some success...This allows to change hand positions and brake with the little fingers when on the bar-mids, too. I can also shift down (Shimano 2-way release)
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rabick

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Reply with quote  #20 
Age 67, transitioned from riding road bike to hybrid/flat bar bike on clay/sand roads.  There was a lot of vibration transferred to my neck and shoulders with my hands supinated on flat handle bars.  Bit the bullet and bought a gravel bike with drops, problem solved, much less transfer with elbows bent 
hope that helps, 
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betterbow

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Reply with quote  #21 
Thanks for all the advice and feedback. I went with the Jones bar with 2.5" rise. I like them, less bending over and lots of area's for different gripping positions. They were backordered so I had to wait a couple weeks for them. 

Jones SG 2.5 Aluminum Loop H-Bar

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Dan Reese

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Reply with quote  #22 
I was going to suggest the Jones bars with the rise.  Glad you like them.  I may replace my Titecs with actual Jones bars.  I saw a guy at a gravel race with the Jones bars.  They have a lot more length in the hand grip area than my Titecs.
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betterbow

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Reply with quote  #23 
I left them full length 710mm with the extra long grips Jones  sell for them.
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NoCoGreg

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Reply with quote  #24 
An additional thot regarding comfort...

The farther one's hands are from the stem the more the bars will flex and this will help reduce shock.  No, this won't help back and neck pain but it will reduce the fatigue to hands and arms.

Riding in the drops as Bobknh allows the bars to flex much more than riding on the tops near the stem.  Sometimes on very rough sections such as washboard, I'll go all the way to the ends of the drops.
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