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The preface this, I am just going to say that I am awful on a bicycle.

I have recently gotten a bike that I love, it's beautiful, and I love riding it, however the drop handlebars have no hoods so the brakes are on the tops, and I have no idea where to put my hands. I want to keep them as close to the brakes as possible because of the heavy traffic in London, and because I am not quite confident enough to be able to move my hands back in to position quickly. The problem with this is that because my hands are so close together I have less control of my bike, and I'm worried that I'm going to fall off.

Does anyone have any recommendations about what I should be doing, or am I going to need to get some new handlebars?

The Bike is a Cooper Revival 2012.

Cooper Revival 2012

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The first thing to do is to rotate the bar upward so the top is flatter. –  Daniel R Hicks Oct 28 '12 at 20:48
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3 Answers 3

The brake hoods are part of the brake not part of the handlebar. You should be able to visit your local bike shop and get hood style brakes put in rather than your existing bar top style brakes.

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You have the option of purchasing a product such as this: Dia Compe Knobs

These are secured to your drop bar where your brake hoods would normally reside. They provide a hand position on the ramp of the bar without having to use drop bar brake levers. They also can install directly over your tape (but it will eventually ruin the tape, so ideally you'd install them and re-tape everything.) While it would be the cheapest and easiest option, it doesn't address the issue of your hands being away from your brake levers (which is a very important feature when riding in traffic!)

The existing brake levers are Tektro RL720s. They're known as "interrupter" levers because they are generally installed in tandem with drop bar brake levers and they interrupt the housing, creating two sets of brake levers at two different hand positions. You could purchase any aero levers and install them on the bar along with the 720s (they need to be aero levers where the housing runs under the handlebar tape). This would require some housing and new brake cables, but it would solve both the hand position and brake access issues you've posed for ~$40.

Cross Lever Setup

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Additionally, the existing handlebar is rather narrow with steep ramps (called a "track" handlebar). Other styles of drop bars exist which have flatter ramps (so your hands don't slide forward while riding on the hoods) and swept back flat portions (so that using your interrupter levers is more comfortable). –  WTHarper Oct 28 '12 at 20:16
    
Cheers. I was quite worried about the strange shape of the handlebars, so I might have to swap in something more practical (although I do like the way that they look, so it would make me a little sad. –  Christopher Thomson Oct 28 '12 at 21:35
    
At the moment I'm busy riding with my hands spread across the part of the handlebars that curves forward. It's not the most comfortable way to ride, but it seems to help a little but. The other option that I have been thinking of is changing the hub to fixed gear so that I can peddle backwards to break. Is this something that is difficult to get used to? I spend a lot of time coasting at the moment, and I'm a bit worried that I am going to go flying over my handlebars if I try... –  Christopher Thomson Oct 28 '12 at 21:39
    
Riding a fixie is super fun but very different from riding any kind of freewheel. Sheldon Brown has written volumes of information for you: sheldonbrown.com/fixed.html Also, check out the selection of handlebars at Rivbike.com. They sell Nitto bars and have great picture comparisons (and informative articles. FYI I ride a Nitto Noodle and it is great!) –  WTHarper Oct 28 '12 at 21:48
    
I recently got a fixie and I've found that pedaling backwards isn't a very good method of braking. It works great for slowing down gradually, but I woudln't want to use it in an emergency situation. Perhaps if I had an easier gear ratio it would be better, but then I'd have to have a really high cadence to even bike at moderate speeds. –  Kibbee Oct 29 '12 at 0:40
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This bike seems to be geared more towards the fixed gear crowd, who don't need brakes all the time and instead use the rear wheel and drivetrain to slow / stop.

If you're not comfortable on this bike as is, that's understandable. Riding on the tops of the drop bars is less stable than riding in the drops (which puts your hands far from the brakes) or hanging on the hoods on your drop bars (which currently isn't an option).

I'd recommend either swapping you bars to a riser bars (or for a more vintage cruiser look maybe moustache bars or albatross bars) with different brake levers suited to those bars or adding drop bar brake levers which you can use on the hoods (which is a bit more stable in city traffic) or from the drops. If you do add new levers to the existing bars, you will probably also have to tilt the bars quite a bit so that the the top of the bars are at less of a downward angle.

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Take a look here to see some good examples of different alternate bar styles at rivendell... rivbike.com/Nitto-Handlebars-s/107.htm –  Benzo Oct 28 '12 at 22:00
    
Cheers! I've actually been looking at moustache bars. I was also thinking about putting it in fixie mode, but I coast a lot, so I'm a bit nervous. –  Christopher Thomson Oct 28 '12 at 22:27
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