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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have been looking for a bike for my daughter.
She is pretty short like 5'1" and seems to fit on the smallest sized frames like 44cm or XS. She has test ridden a Cannondale Synapse, Trek FX 7.2 Hybrid, and a Liv (Giant) Thrive 1. She didn't really feel comfortable with the drop bars on the Synapse but otherwise liked it. The Trek Hybrid was ok but pretty heavy and clunky. She liked the Liv Thrive which a basically a flat bar road bike, but its $950 and weighs 23 lbs. She wants the bike to commute to work on and there are some hills and she isn't that strong. The Synapse and Liv have 50/34 compact cranks and the cassette is 11-30 so the gears are not quite low enough. I could probably change the cassette to a 34, but the 50/11 she would never use. Being that I have built many road bikes including my current one and my tandem, I am thinking I could find a slightly used women's road bike like a Synapse or Ruby and convert the bars to flat bars and it would be a lot lighter than the Giant Liv.
 

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Certainly people have done that. One benefit of drop bars is the ability to have multiple hand positions which helps ease fatigue on long rides. If she is just noodling around town, maybe that is not an issue. (you seem experienced enough to know all that).

I would stick with a bike with comfort geometry like the Synapse, Domane or similar.

On second thought, what about a cross bike for better gearing, room for fenders/larger tires and etc?
 

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Everyone starting out is unfamiliar with drop bars. But that unfamiliarity passes quickly and the benefits come to light for most. For commuters who want a more 'heads up' position maybe the flat bar is best. I say the choice would depend on the bike's primary use. That's why N+1 exists, multi-use bikes are always a compromise.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
I think the reason she doesn't like drop bars is having to reach for the brakes and shifting especially with her smaller hands and as result she has to bend her back farther over. Also compared to flat bars I think they feel narrower which feels less stable. She did like that the Synapse felt faster and more "fun". Of course she might be able to adjust to them but I think she will feel a lot better starting out with flat bars. She wants the bike mainly for commuting, not for the kind of riding you and I would do.
 

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The Synapse is a great bike, and it would be great if you could make this work for your daughter.

There are many options here. But before you go tearing down and rebuilding a new bike, there are a couple of things to try before ditching the drop bars.

If she doesn't like drop bars because of the lower position, it is easy enough to tilt the bars up slightly and put in a more upright stem. If the brakes are an issue because of smaller hands, a set of inline brake levers (b-levers) can solve this problem.

If this still does not work for her, a straight bar (or slight riser bar) would be a good choice. You can choose between thumb (Rapid Fire) shifters or twist grip shifters. Personally, for a straight bar setup, I like the SRAM Attack shifters which are made to be used with Shimano derailleurs. These are all either 8 or 9 speed. If you want a 10 speed, you will have to go with thumb shifters. It is important that the number of speeds of the shifters matches the gears. It is also important to get the right brake levers specifically designed for a straight bar road bike conversion. The cable pull on mountain bike brake levers is different and will not work properly.

An 11-34T cassette is definitely an option, but you will need to change the rear derailleur to a mountain bike derailleur as the one on that bike cannot handle such a large cog.

The parts you buy will probably run you over $200, but the upside of that is that you can sell the take-off components on Ebay and recoup most of your expense. The road shifters themselves will probably get you around $150 on Ebay.

Will you be doing the work yourself or are you having a bike shop do it?
 

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Sounds like a lot of trouble and expense to essentially convert a road bike to a hybrid when you could just buy a hybrid from the start. A couple pounds isn't going to make any difference.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Sounds like a lot of trouble and expense to essentially convert a road bike to a hybrid when you could just buy a hybrid from the start. A couple pounds isn't going to make any difference.
Its not really just a couple of pounds more like 5 lbs and cheap aluminum frame and low end components compared to a carbon frame and 105 or Ultegra. Its not trouble because I like doing it. I am looking at Specialized Ruby and Cannondale Synapse. Women or their husband buys them, they hardly ride it and can be had for under $1,000. Even if I have spend a few hundred on it, still worth it.
 

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Sounds like a lot of trouble and expense to essentially convert a road bike to a hybrid when you could just buy a hybrid from the start. A couple pounds isn't going to make any difference.


I used to think this too. While I am not a "weight weenie", there is a considerable difference between the weight of a road bike vs. a hybrid bike. While the difference in speed may not be that much in numerical terms, the hybrid will feel more sluggish starting up from a dead stop. And feeling is part of the fun of riding.

Though the advantage of a hybrid bike is the ability to ride dirt paths as well as other rougher terrain.
 

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Its not really just a couple of pounds more like 5 lbs and cheap aluminum frame and low end components compared to a carbon frame and 105 or Ultegra. Its not trouble because I like doing it. I am looking at Specialized Ruby and Cannondale Synapse. Women or their husband buys them, they hardly ride it and can be had for under $1,000. Even if I have spend a few hundred on it, still worth it.


IMHO, I would choose the Synapse hands down over the Ruby. A used Carbon Synapse for under $1000??? Make sure there is no damage to the carbon frame before she rides it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
The Synapse is a great bike, and it would be great if you could make this work for your daughter.

There are many options here. But before you go tearing down and rebuilding a new bike, there are a couple of things to try before ditching the drop bars.

If she doesn't like drop bars because of the lower position, it is easy enough to tilt the bars up slightly and put in a more upright stem. If the brakes are an issue because of smaller hands, a set of inline brake levers (b-levers) can solve this problem.

If this still does not work for her, a straight bar (or slight riser bar) would be a good choice. You can choose between thumb (Rapid Fire) shifters or twist grip shifters. Personally, for a straight bar setup, I like the SRAM Attack shifters which are made to be used with Shimano derailleurs. These are all either 8 or 9 speed. If you want a 10 speed, you will have to go with thumb shifters. It is important that the number of speeds of the shifters matches the gears. It is also important to get the right brake levers specifically designed for a straight bar road bike conversion. The cable pull on mountain bike brake levers is different and will not work properly.

An 11-34T cassette is definitely an option, but you will need to change the rear derailleur to a mountain bike derailleur as the one on that bike cannot handle such a large cog.

The parts you buy will probably run you over $200, but the upside of that is that you can sell the take-off components on Ebay and recoup most of your expense. The road shifters themselves will probably get you around $150 on Ebay.

Will you be doing the work yourself or are you having a bike shop do it?
I will be doing the work, I am very experienced working on bikes and have all the tools and skills. I have built many road bikes from scratch and build all my own wheels. I was thinking since the bike will come with drop bars, she can try that first and then change to flat bars if it doesn't work out. I was just looking at the inline brakes levers, that might be a good option. I was thinking I could use a Wolftooth Road Link and GS derailleur for the 34T cassette.


Thanks
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
IMHO, I would choose the Synapse hands down over the Ruby. A used Carbon Synapse for under $1000??? Make sure there is no damage to the carbon frame before she rides it.
Why the Synapse? My wife has a Ruby and its a nice bike. for $1,000 It is easier to find a Ruby that is carbon, the Synapse would most likely be aluminum. She test rode the aluminum version and I think its still nice. I have seen some used ones with triple cranksets so that would take care of the low gears. I have a Cannondale EVO and love it so I am all for Cannondale.
 

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I will be doing the work, I am very experienced working on bikes and have all the tools and skills. I have built many road bikes from scratch and build all my own wheels. I was thinking since the bike will come with drop bars, she can try that first and then change to flat bars if it doesn't work out. I was just looking at the inline brakes levers, that might be a good option. I was thinking I could use a Wolftooth Road Link and GS derailleur for the 34T cassette.


Thanks
You will save $$$ doing the work yourself. This should be a "dollar zero" project for you with the proceeds from the take-off parts.


The GS derailleur is designed for up to a 32T cassette. You could probably make it work with a 34T, but you may get some jockey pulley noise against the large cog. A longer derailleur b-adjust screw may solve that. You may also need to add a chain link if the chain binds in the large-large combo.
 

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Why the Synapse? My wife has a Ruby and its a nice bike. for $1,000 It is easier to find a Ruby that is carbon, the Synapse would most likely be aluminum. She test rode the aluminum version and I think its still nice. I have seen some used ones with triple cranksets so that would take care of the low gears. I have a Cannondale EVO and love it so I am all for Cannondale.

Cannondale generally has better customer service. They are much better at resolving warranty issues.

If you can find a triple crankset, by all means go for it! They are very difficult to find these days on road bikes.
 

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This is why Jesus created trekking bars:

 
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