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I really like the Kona Sutra from both a price and specification point of view. As I have only ridden flat bar bicycles I am not sure if I can used to the drop bar. In case I cannot, I would like to convert the bicycle to Velo Orange's Crazy Bar. I know for sure, I will like that.

What do I have to know when I purchase a Kona Sutra? I know that drop bar bike frames are shorter and that I need be careful about the brake and shifter pull ratios (i.e. MTB vs. Road bike components). The second is not a problem in case of the Sutra, but I am a little bit afraid of purchasing a bigger size bike just because of a potential conversion.

Is there anything else you need to watch for?

  • 2
    Why wouldn't you be able to use the drop bar? That seems like something to worry about before buying an expensive drop-bar bicycle. – Andrew Henle Feb 22 at 14:19
  • @AndrewHenle As I said I have never used one, and I think that it is not enough to ride on one for a few hours to know if I'll like it (to be hones I tried my friends bike and it was strange, but I have ridden flat bar bikes for 25+ years). Moreover I really like the spec of the Sutra for that price (I couldn't find any other bikes in that price range with more or less the same spec and with flat bars). It can be a good experiment too. I can give drop bars a try, but I don't need to sell/buy bicycles if I don't like them. – Gabor Meszaros Feb 22 at 14:48
  • @GaborMeszaros Sorry but it's a silly experiment unless you have £1400 to burn. Also, honestly, the specs of the Sutra don't look all that hot, to me. The mix of Alivio and Deore is fairly low-end componentry; there are plenty of bikes that have bosses for mudguards and racks and those things aren't expensive to buy as accessories. – David Richerby Feb 22 at 15:04
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    @GaborMeszaros, so you are saying that the Sutra is a good deal for the specs it has - but you are then going to drop significant money buying a bar, new shifters, new brakes levers and getting it all installed? That's not a good deal anymore! – Argenti Apparatus Feb 22 at 15:16
  • @GaborMeszaros, I would suggest asking your local bike shop if you could rent a bike with drop bars to test out for a weekend let's say. That will give you a good idea. I personally prefer having flat bars in the city but would rather ride with drop bars for longer rides. Knowing that Sutra's are touring bikes, I'd stick with the drop bars and get used to them. – forgetaboutme Feb 22 at 20:27
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Converting between drop and flat bars is generally a huge amount of hassle. As you say, there are all kinds of incompatibility issues around brakes and shifters, and the geometry of the frame is designed with particular bars in mind, because changing the bars makes a big difference to riding position. There's no point spending £1400 on a bike and then spending a couple of hundred more to turn it into some weird Frankenbike that will ride worse than a hybrid costing a quarter of the price.

I wouldn't advise spending anything like that much money on a bike that you're not sure you'll be able to ride comfortably. Decathlon will sell you an entry-level road bike for £250; Halfords will sell you one for £180. You can probably get an old, second-hand one for £50 – and then sell it again for the same price. Even if you get an old bike with down-tube shifters, you can still evaluate the riding position. Or hire a bike for a weekend or a week. Do you know somebody who can lend you one?

Once you know what you want, you can consider more expensive options.

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    You can probably get an old, second-hand one for £50 That is probably the best way to go - maybe even spend a bit more and get a really nice used bicycle. – Andrew Henle Feb 22 at 14:52
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    +1 for the principle but if the OP is an unusual height or shape, 2nd hand bikes can be hard to find, especially as tourers aren't very common. I gave up trying to find a 2nd hand tourer or CX because I'm at the top end of XL frames in makes that come up big. – Chris H Feb 22 at 16:13
  • @AndrewHenle: And as a bonus, you then have a beater to ride if it's raining and you don't want to expose your nice bike to the elements. (Assuming you have somewhere to store a 2nd bike, and that you find the cheap bike rideable at all.) – Peter Cordes Feb 22 at 22:09
  • I have done it in the reverse direction (changing from flat to drop). I can heavily recommend drop bars, and in general it isn't good idea to switch between flat and drop bars because the bike fit is so important. – juhist Feb 23 at 13:22
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You have other options as well if you get on with the bike but not so well with the bars.

I bought a new primary bike a couple of years ago - it was a steel tourer with similar specs to the Sutra, and I'd only spent a couple of hours total on drop bars before. I believe fit on a gravel/adventure road bike to be closer to a touring fit than a race fit - easier to get right, and based on a slightly higher stack (I'd think of the Sutra as a gravel-tourer, while mine is more of a tourer with rough-road capability, due to its longer wheelbase and slightly thinner tyres). That more relaxed fit makes the transition from flat bars easier.

I took it for a reasonably long test ride (~1 hour, >20km including two blocks of 6km in the drops), mainly testing for fit and confidence, as I was used to a high vantage point on my hybrid (I'm tall). The test ride is crucial.

I had a plan B for if I didn't get on very well with drop bars: interruptor levers. They allow you to brake from the bar tops and are easily retrofitted. I never bought them and after the first few days had no desire to. Riding on the hoods is easy, as it's mean to be. Good bar tape and good gel gloves (even cheap ones) will deal with any hand comfort issues.

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This is just a generally bad idea. There are plenty of flat bar bikes with similar specs (700c wheels, 40mm tires, disc brakes, 9 speed mountain drivetrain) available. Swapping out the bars shifters and brake levers is expensive, time consuming, you have to work out the compatibility problems - and you don't know if you'll even like the end result. It's a much better idea to test ride bikes that you think you might like, then when you purchase you know what you are getting.

  • Thanks for the answer! Which bike would you recommend for about 1500 USD available in Europe (Germany/Switzerland) that have: steel frame (fork is also steel), Schwalbe Marathon/Tour/Mondial tires with punc. protection, mechanical disc breaks (dual pistor Spyre would be the best), deoreish components (the best would be a gear for hills), Brooks saddle (I always wanted to try them out), mudguards, rear racks, multiple mounts for bottles/front rack, 700c wheels, comfort fit (good for long distances)? Dynamo would be even better. If you cannot, which would be the cheapest bike for this spec? – Gabor Meszaros Feb 22 at 16:45
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    @GaborMeszaros Product recommendations are specifically off topic here, and I don't know about availability in Europe. Touring bikes with lots of mounting points tend to be drop bar as they offer more hand positions for comfort over long distances. If you are looking for all-steel that will limit your choices too. If you were in the US, Salsa and Surly are the brands I'd point you to. Cotic is a UK based brand that does steel flat and drop bar bikes. Have you looked at what Cube offers? – Argenti Apparatus Feb 22 at 17:06
  • @GaborMeszaros I think you need to figure out what you want to do with a bike. If long(ish) distance with a load, think hard about drop bars - they exist for a reason: riders like them because they off lots of hand positions. – Argenti Apparatus Feb 22 at 17:12
  • @GaborMeszaros You can put Schwalbe tyres and a Brooks saddle on any bike; you can put mudguards and racks on any bike with appropriate mounts. You probably don't need to pick a bike that has exactly what you want right out of the box. I'd never consider a consumable item such as the tyres as a reason to buy one bike over another, unless the bikes were so similar that the tyres were the only real difference to me. I'd probably care about paint colour more than tyre brand, for example! – David Richerby Feb 22 at 19:18
  • @ArgentiApparatus Gabor's suggested flat bars also seem to offer a lot of hand positions (though only one of them gives you access to the brakes and gears, unlike drop bars). – David Richerby Feb 22 at 19:19

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