Are there any tricks to setting the correct angle for the drop bars on my road bike, when adjusting my handlebars in the stem?
Is it just a matter of personal preference or is there a general consensus on what angle you should use?
From the rules.
There are more than a few factors to consider when adjusting the angle of your drop bars. Moreover, it is important to consider that your stem length and angle, in combination with drop bar dimensions and shape, will affect your final drop bar's ideal (albeit ultimately personal) setting.
I'll use the following image for my examples below:
Consider the bar alone, as a floating object in 3-dimensional space. The alignment of the drop portion of the bar in relation to the ground provides a starting point for creating a natural alignment. Commonly, you will find the ends of the drops to extend to the tail of the bike in a parallel fashion to the floor. However, due to the wide variety of bar shapes, this method will fail to help you set up your bars. As seen in the example image, the drop portion extends towards the floor due to the "short" drop segment.
In combination with the brifter, some may prefer the connection between the bar's tops and the brifter's hood to be parallel to the ground. This creates a smooth transition between the bar and brifter, creating a comfortable surface for your hand to rest on for long periods of time. The example image shows this quite well. The hoods resting area has a smooth transition with the bar. The angle of this resting area is a matter of personal preference, but as with any adjustment, a neutral 0 degree (parallel to floor) setting will do (as in our example image).
The ideal method for adjusting the combination of bar angle and brifter angle would be to remove the bar tape and start from scratch (bare bar).
But as @DanielRHicks mentions, this all comes down to personal preference, however a good starting point always helps!
I will post my "non-specialist" way to do this setup, considering:
Of course, these steps might be adapted freely.
Hope it helps.