There are certain themes I seem to come back to time and time again. When it comes to my bicycles the past is prologue which means it must be time for me to give up on the drop bars and return to a flat handlebar setup.
After several thousand miles and two different drop bars—the OEM compact set and a reused 44cm Salsa Cowchipper 2—I spent a weekend rebuilding my primary bicycle into this:
Let’s get a few things out of the way before the drop bar mafia makes their presence known.
Compared to the variety and comfort of flat bar grips the usual drop bar solution of grip tape basically sucks. You can point me to extra cushioned tape or thick natural cork tape or gel pads under tape…it all sucks compared to a set of Ergon grips. Plus, I can never seem to wrap a bar neatly or in such a manner that the grip tape starts to come undone in less than a month. My Ergons are held in place with a single bolt and stay rock solid.
When it comes to hand positions, which is the primary reason that the drop bar mafia claims to love drop bars, I found myself riding almost entirely on the flats or hoods. You know what those two positions look a lot like in my current setup? The two primary hand positions. Hmmm…
Additionally, the position on the flats of my Salsa Cowchipper 2 never felt wide enough. It was the most comfortable position for my hands, but it felt like someone was squeezing my shoulders inward. That is not a sensation that is particularly comfortable on a big day ride. I could have opted for a wider drop bar or gone to a bar with more flare. However, that would have made the outer hand positions feel wider to a degree that was also uncomfortable. Do you see where I am going with this? I could not find a good spot to put my hands for a long ride. Any ride over the two hour mark really started to hurt my hands and wrists.
In addition to switching to a flat bar I switched out the OEM Shimano Sora 9 speed drivetrain for a SRAM GX based 10 speed drivetrain. Both setups utilized a single 42 tooth chainring up front. If this setup looks familiar that is because it is reusing parts from a prior build I did on my old bicycle. Hilarity, so to speak, ensued when I discovered late Sunday night that the derailleur cable for my rear shifter was about an inch short. Naturally, no bike shop was open and my build had to wait to be completed until Monday evening.
A big shout out to the guys at Goldfinch Cyclery in Cedar Rapids. When I could not get my drivetrain to shift accurately—it would not get into the largest cog—they got everything working lickety split. Turns out you need to exaggerate the alignment a little bit to get everything working. Who knew?