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The most comfortable bike I've ever owned was a road bike with bullhorn (aka pursuit) bars. I actually had a pair of STI levers on it, mounted upside down (with the handles pointing forward). They looked kinda scary, but they were really good that way - I found it was much easier to use the levers that way than on normal road bars.

I've since moved on to a flat-bar road bike with hydraulic disc brakes. So my question is - is there any way of getting bullhorn bars going with the current setup - ie hydraulic levers and mountain bike style gear changers. I could conceivably turn the brake levers upside down again and then get bar end shifters for the gears. Would that work?

Or is there an off-the-shelf solution?

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3 Answers

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Your options are fairly limited, nearly all bullhorn bars are sized for 23.8mm road brake levers, while mountain levers are sized for 22.2mm handlebars. There do appear to be some 22.2mm bullhorn bars listed on eBay currently, but your mileage may vary.

You may also have luck finding some 22.2mm "north road" style bars that you can flip over or trekking bars with close to the right shape that you can cut down. Alternatively, a set of hydraulic brakes with suitably modifiable clamps.

As far as better levers than just using your mountain levers, it's expected that drop-bar hydraulic levers are coming in the not-too-distant future due to disc brakes' recent legalization in UCI cyclocross. In the interim there are some pretty ugly hacks, basically involving running a set of cables from a cabled brake to an interim hydraulic lever. It's not elegant, to say the least.

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Or you could sleeve some 22mm tube inside the bullhorns. That would be a task for a framebuilder or someone with good knowledge of industrial gluing (paging Mike Burrows :). If it wasn't the brakes I'd suggest just giving it a go, but brakes are kinda important. Also, bar end shifters right out the front like that are pretty exposed and might get broken (but the SA 3 speed fixed hub uses a bar end shifter so people have probably tried that on bullhorns and there might be actual experience out there). –  Мסž Mar 1 '11 at 23:15
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They are a bit hard to find, but if you look, you can find 25.4 clamp which can mount mtb components (like http://www.fabrikcycles.ch/fabrik-black-bullhorn-handlebar.html) and some 31.8 clamp bars like the On-One Bingo (I don't know if this is still made, but it existed at one point).

However, the simplest way to get some bullhorn advantages while running mtb components is to start with a mtb flat/riser bar and add some bar ends (not bar end shifters, but something like the Ergon GP5 without the grips) - this gives you a bit more spacing options for placing the shifters+brakes.

There are also now cable actuated hydraulic disc brakes (like the TRP Hy/Rd) which may be worth looking at (though obviously, replacing mechanical disc brakes (which are quite good these days) lets things like interrupter levers and what not work but that doesn't solve your problem).

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TRP make road hydraulic brakes at a reasonable price, I'm thinking about a pair of these, with bar-end shifters.

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