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I bike around the city on a daily basis, usually for short distances (5 km tops, typically less than that). I currently have a cheap, battered down touring bike that is nevertheless doing the job surprisingly well, and I think it can work for quite some time more with the proper maintenance.

However, I'd like a more upright riding position. I used to have a dutch-style bike and I found it much more comfortable than my current one, even though it was way too small for me. When riding my touring bike I very often find myself sitting as upright as I can while still holding the handlebar with the tips of my fingers, and I think, "only if this handlebar would curve towards me..."

So I think I have about three options right now:

  • Spend around $600 in a dutch-style bike (new or second hand). That's going to get me a very heavy bike with 3 gears, maybe 5. My experience with this (the 3 gears part) is terrible.

  • Spend way more than that. I don't want to do this, not because I can't afford it, but because I park my bike in the street all the time, and bike theft is a thing here, not a rampant problem, but it happens. The more the bike is worth, the more likely it is to get stolen.

  • Spend a fraction of that on a dutch-style handlebar and install it on my bike. I'd need longer cables too, and maybe a wider seat in case the increased weight on it makes it uncomfortable, but it's still cheaper and I end up with a better bike than in option 1.

So I guess the question is, is this a good idea? Or is there some danger that I'm not aware of? I feel there must be something wrong with it, otherwise I would have seen plenty of bikes like this already.

Edit This is the model I have now (only the seat is different)

bike example

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    You can do whatever you want. It used to be quite common to see bikes with "drop" handlebars turned upside-down, to provide a posture similar to what you seek, and I have seen other bikes where "longhorn" bars were installed in place of drops. The real issue (if you're happy with the change in posture) is the brake levers and shifters -- you need to find something that works safely and reliably, and this may require buying new components. – Daniel R Hicks Jun 17 at 23:44
  • BTW, in the US you can buy any number of "cruiser" style bikes for (much) less than your $600 figure. Some of these are junk (and single speed), but some are pretty good (and 7 speed, with probably a few 21 speed units). Next step up are "city" bikes, often with 21-24 speeds, a bit higher priced (nudging your $600 figure), and usually with "straight" bars vs the upright bars. – Daniel R Hicks Jun 18 at 2:27
  • With different bars your bike would look similar to a classic English roadster or rover. Use an image search to find examples and compare their bars and geometry and find out if it roughly matches. As others mentioned, you'd need to change the stem and play with seat position. A wider seat might be needed as well. – gschenk Jun 18 at 11:40
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is this a good idea? Or is there some danger that I'm not aware of?

You can safely install different shapes of handlebars on all bikes (when done properly). If you want to keep your current stem, make sure you buy a handlebar with the exact same diameter as the old one (this is exact to a fraction of mm). Or if you want/need to replace the stem make sure you buy a stem that is compatible with your fork.

Edit after photo has been added:

I am quite confident you can safely replace these handlebars with "Dutch"-style bike handlebars. The most complicated would be to make sure you can safely use the brake levers. Adjust the angle by rotating the lever before tightening it down. Most brake levers allow to adjust the reach of the lever, in case you have trouble comfortably reaching for them. If you don't feel comfortable making these adjustments yourself, it would be best to have a bike shop do it for you.

Good luck!

You didn't provide much information on what handlebar you have now. Nor what brake levers and shifters are fitted on them. And this is where the costs might go up quite a bit. For example, if you currently have drop handle bars, your levers are not going to (safely) fit on the handlebar you want to use. So then you need to replace the brake levers and shifters, keeping then in mind that you need to buy levers and shifters that are compatible with your current brakes and derailleurs.

  • Thanks for the answer! I've added a link to my current model. It has a bullhorn handlebar with 'regular' brake levers, no drops. That said, I wasn't aware that there's such amount of different handlebar diameters (with models differing to fractions of a mm). This looks like it'd be harder than I initially thought. – abl Jun 18 at 7:12
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    Thanks for adding the picture. Luckily you can install that shifter and those brakes on a "dutch" handlebar. I would guess your handlebar stem is 25.4mm (please measure accurately as 26mm is also a standard...), in which case you can get inexpensive bars from any online shop or local bike shop. The adjustable stem brings your handlebar quite high up. Maybe a simple shorter (non-adjustable) stem would make it more comfortable. You can get a stem and a handlebar (even in set) for as little as EUR25. Well worth trying before buying a new bike. – Superman.Lopez Jun 18 at 13:27
  • If the current stem diameter is 22.2 and the current handlebar diameter is 25.4 (which would be common sizes for such a bike. you could for example get a stem that looks like this (amazon.co.uk/IPOTCH-Performance-Bicycle-Handlebar-Extender/dp/…) and this handlebar that looks like this (amazon.co.uk/Skyride-Oxford-Allrounder-Handlebar-Bicycle/dp/…) and move over the shifter and brake levers. I can't tell if you have handlebar grips currently, so you might need to buy those. Spend time adjusting the brake levers in a comfortable position. – Superman.Lopez Jun 18 at 14:19
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    Thanks again, it's good to know that this can safely be done. I guess I'll shop around for a while, and if I don't find anything that fits me (being 193 cm tall, it's not that easy) I'll try changing the handlebar. – abl Jun 19 at 22:08
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Although that bike has "touring" written on it, I wouldn't describe it as a touring bike. To me (and, I think, most cylists), a touring bike is a drop-handlebar bike similar to a racing bike, but with more relaxed geometry, mounts for racks and fenders, and longer seat-stays so that your heels don't hit your panniers. Typical tourers have reasonably narrow tyres (25mm or maybe 28), whereas yours seem much wider (35mm+). I would describe your bike as a city bike or hybrid.

The seat tube seems to be very leant-back, to me, which gives quite a long reach to the handlebars. Your stem is also pretty vertical, which means you don't have many options for bringing the bars closer with a shorter stem. You might get some mileage out of moving the saddle forwards on its rails, but that will also change your position with respect to the pedals. You could try a taller stem. Fitting different handlebars won't make any real difference, because you already find it hard to reach the flat part of the bars you have, and those will always be the closest part. Check with a bike shop to see if there's anything they can do for you.

Fundamentally, it looks like your bike doesn't fit you, and I don't see a lot you can do to make it fit better. And if you're not comfortable even on a ride as short as 5km, I'd say your bike is a long way from fitting you. Ultimately, I think you're looking at replacement.

I would get another hybrid, but one that actually fits you. Make sure you take it for a test-ride before you buy. That should be able to give you a reasonably upright riding position (make sure the shop knows that's what you want!) in a bike that doesn't weigh a ton and has a decent number of gears. And it won't be any more theft-prone than your current bike. I'm not sure what kind of dollars you're talking about (presumably not US dollars, since you use kilometers) but I'd expect to get a competent hybrid for about £400. Your current bike looks like it's in good condition, so you'll be able to recoup some of that by selling it.

You could also look at adapting yourself to your bike, as well as adapting your bike to you. In the context of road cycling, people often recommend yoga and core strength exercises to help get you more comfortable in a lower riding position – I assume the same would apply in your case. Also, if you're carrying stuff in a rucksack, you might be more comfortable with that load in panniers on the racks your bike already has. And cycling with a full belly makes getting low uncomfortable.

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    "Although that bike has "touring" written on it, I wouldn't describe it as a touring bike. To me (and, I think, most cylists), a touring bike is a drop-handlebar bike [...]." I'm not so certain. The OP's bike is exactly what most people here would consider a touring bike. That might be the case for other parts of Europe as well. While what you describe would be somewhat obscure and called by many names, eg randonneuer, but also including touring bike. Bikev types are not very well defined. – gschenk Jun 18 at 11:31
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    David, Dutch style bars would bring the hand position much closer to the seat. A shorter stem might not even be necessary. – gschenk Jun 18 at 12:03
  • If the OP wants a very upright riding position, having the seat relatively rearwards may be appropriate. – Argenti Apparatus Jun 18 at 16:10
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If the currently installed stem is relatively long you could also solve this with a shorter stem.

You should also check your saddle position. Most of your weight should be supported by your feet, some of it by your butt and only a relatively small amount with your arms/hands. If your saddle position is bad it can make it hard to keep weight of the hands.

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If you are living in one of the larger European cities you have the option of bike rental schemes that rent out decent city bikes. That is, not the vandalism proof kind of 'Boris Bike'. Some work on a daily rate with price caps for weeks or months. Others on fixed monthly rates.

For example, one of my family rents a good 7-speed Dutch bike for €18 a month from a Dutch start up company. In three years that accumulates to about the price of buying new an equivalent bike.

Such rentals may give you an idea what you really need. Or they may even obviate the need to own a bike.

  • That's an excellent suggestion! I didn't know that such long-term bike rental schemes existed (and for hourly and daily rents the bikes are usually not that good). I'll be on the lookout for those. – abl Jun 19 at 22:01
  • I did not include actual companies in the answer, since they might not be around in a year or two. I'm very happy with Swapfiets so far. – gschenk Jun 20 at 10:41
  • One more thing: There's always a security for the bike. Read the conditions carefully to find out if they are safe in case of bankruptcy. A credit card guarantee is perfectly good. Actual payments to the company are not. (One of the Chinese startups used the securities as capital and even in a fraudulent way to delay bankruptcy.) Between those extremes are options you have to evaluate yourself. – gschenk Jun 20 at 10:46

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