I want to put drop handlebars on my commuter bike which has a straight bar. The guy at the bike store said that drop handlebars are too thick to fit my standard brake/shift system.

I don't want to change my braking/shifting system. Can i modify my brake levers to increase the diameter so they can fit on dropped handlebars?

  • More information about your brake levers, such as a picture, might help.
    – freiheit
    Commented Oct 19, 2011 at 21:54

2 Answers 2


It's very unlikely that your brake levers can be modified to increase the diameter enough to handle the change from 22.2mm to 23.8mm. The brake clamps just aren't adjustable like that, typically.

Where on the handlebars were you thinking to mount the brake levers? If you were thinking at the middle (next to the stem), then you're likely in the area where the handlebar is wider (the "clamp diameter") which is even worse.

One option is going with "trekking" (aka "butterfly") handlebars. These are typically the same diameter as straight bars and can easily accomodate the same brake/shift levers. They look a little funny, but do give you more handlebar positions similar to what drop bars do.

Or just add bar ends to your existing bars. The right bar ends can give you a comfortable sideways hand position similar to the main hand position people use on drop bars.

Another thing to consider is handlebar positions on the drop bars. Typically the position people use most often is on the brake hoods. Brake levers made for drop bars tend to have comfortably shaped hoods with a little bit of give in them. Brake levers made for flat handlebars don't generally have a comfortable place to rest your hand.

If you do decide to switch your brake levers, be aware that the amount of pull is likely different so you'll either have to be careful with which brakes you get or do something to accomodate the difference.

Here's a nice article that includes more details about changing to drop bars: http://sheldonbrown.com/deakins/handlebars.html

  • Thanks for the info. Don't think those butterfly bars would fly in NYC. I'll keep the straight bars for now.
    – J Gomez
    Commented Oct 20, 2011 at 14:17
  • 1
    You can also get "drop bar bar ends": sjscycles.co.uk/… I'd be very cautious about keeping straight bar brake levers on them though.
    – armb
    Commented Sep 17, 2013 at 12:17

If you did, it would be a lot of work. You would have to have your braking/shifting system fit within the drops, most likely. If you did that, you would essentially have very narrow grips while braking, since your hands would be close to the stem. With narrow grips, you lose stability, especially when going slower.

The other issue would be that your system would have to be retightened, as your cable lengths would probably change. And the fact that your system is modified will leave it more likely to failure if you had to grind away some areas.

I would say it isn't worth the trouble without replacing your system. Even if you replace your system, it would likely be expensive, and depending on how much you paid for your commuter, probably isn't worth the cost

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