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Question background: I am on the cusp of buying a 'do it all' bike for commuting and light touring.

The bike i'm looking at (Genesis Croix de Fer 2015 model) comes with drop handlebars. I would like to use a flat bar with a slight rise instead and bar ends.

I am aware that replacing drops with flats (in addition to requiring new levers and shifters) will change the handling of the bike somewhat. I can see that the most obvious way this would be will be a shortening of the reach, due to the extra forward distance from where a drop bar is clamped to the stem to the hoods/drops. Looking at frame geometries can also see that framesets for bikes with drop bars tend to have a shorter top tube to compensate for this.

My personal experience of riding most bikes is that I feel more stretched out than I would like to be, and I have test ridden the Genesis Croix De Fer and felt this to be the case. (I think I have a relatively short upper torso/arm reach). I appreciate that a stretched out position is good for racing, but I would actually like a more upright position - this bike will be used for commuting and light tourer, and may one day take a child seat. I won't be racing on it.

Given this scenario, it seems to be that swapping drop bars that the bike is shipped with for flats (with a slight rise) may well make the overall geometry and riding position of the bike more suitable for my needs.

My question therefore, is, are there any other problems this will cause? e.g. will the handling be significantly adversely affected? I.E Are there ways in which framesets are optimised for drop bars OTHER than a shorter top tube, that I am not taking into consideration?

  • You also have height but you do have some adjustment there. Swapping out bars and levers is expensive. Recommend you find a bike set up like you want. Many bikes with flat bars to select from.. – paparazzo Jan 18 '16 at 16:49
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    Depending on how conservative a manufacturer is in terms of geometry, shorter top tube may be made up for with steeper seat tube angle to keep the same wheelbase. This puts your centre of gravity slightly more to the front and encourages higher cadence (accoring to some sources). – Slovakov Jan 18 '16 at 16:50
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    Slovakov - that is helpful, thankyou – Rich Jan 18 '16 at 17:22
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    Frisbee - I have spent a long, long time looking at various bikes available. The only other flat handlebar 'do everything' steel bikes I've found that compares is the planet-x kaffenback - however many people report that it flexes quite significantly with only a moderate amount of luggage. The 2015 model of the genesis is currently also reduced with £500 off - i.e. if I get it I could justify buying new levers (and hopefully sell the old ones for something). The other options of fully loaded tourers just seem a bit too heavy and less nimble for my needs – Rich Jan 18 '16 at 17:22
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    And I suppose the other reason for doing this is that given that I feel that most off the peg bikes have too long an effective top tube length for my liking, I thought maybe this was a way to get a set up that fits me better without having a custom built frame. I just want to know if I'm oversimplifying things and going to be trading off against something else. – Rich Jan 18 '16 at 17:31
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If the effective top tube (horizontal measurement) is OK for you - then the only other things I can think of might be the head tube angle & chainstay length. A road bike may have a steeper head angle & also have shorter chainstays. Which quickens the handling & steering. Mind you, at the smaller end of the road bike sizing - the head angles tend to be a little slacker which helps with toe overlap. So head angle also depends on size.

Best thing to do is a compare a few geometries from a manufacturer for hybrid and road. There isn't a hard and fast rule for geometries.

Also consider spacers as an alternative to a riser stem - might save you a few pennies.

  • Thanks. This is helpful. The bike does have slightly shorter chainstays and fork rake than genesis' (flat barred) fully loaded touring bike. Does anyone know what the result of pairing this with a flat bar might be? Am I right in thinking that steering twitchiness would be the same, but you'd have more precision as using a wider grip? Or is it more complicated than that? – Rich Jan 18 '16 at 17:34
  • Shorter stays will affect the clearances for mudguards and bigger / fatter tyres. If you're touring or carrying load - the additional clearances might be welcome for additional comfort and if your roads are not quite as smooth. Longer rake, slacker head angle will mean the bike won't be quite as responsive to rapid change in direction - which gives a more stable, less twitchy, less responsive ride ~ which is probably what you would want if you were more into touring. I am not sure how much you can compensate for this with wider bars. It probably works to a degree. – OraNob Jan 19 '16 at 9:15

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