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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I`m in the last stages of a budget resto on an old "ten-speed" and trying to get my fit more-or-less worked out. The last bike I rode with drop bars was stolen in `82 and I wasn`t a very avid rider at that time, so I`m not sure what`s "normal" and what needs fixing. I`ve been riding with flatbars and Schwinn-style cruiser bars for several years and the feeling is very different. One question and one comment:

Do wider bars help to keep a straight line? I have no problem holding a resonably straight line on my other bikes even while looking over my shoulder, but with the "new " bike I wander all over the place. I can`t even shift (stem mounted friction shifters) when there`s a car next to me or comming up behind because I`m afraid of swerving. I realise that geometry plays a huge part in this, but it`s pretty mysterious to me and I don`t even know how to measure HTA and trail. Since the bar on this old bike is only 15 in wide and my other bars range from 23.5 to 25 in, I`m wondering if wider bars might help. Might be more comfortable for me, too.

Dang, it`s hard to take it easy on this bike. For some reason, I find myself always going full steam. Maybe that`s good because it doesn`t have squat for a granny and if I don`t hit the hills fast I won`t make it. Speed isn`t my cup of tea, but it`s kind of fun for a change.
 

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So I understand: it's the same bike, you've only swapped from flat bars to drops? Nothing else changed?

If yes, your hands are closer together, so yeah, the handling will be different. Use your torso / core muscles to hold you steady, you can't lean on the bars in the same way when riding one-handed. You'll get used to it.
 

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Whe you turn to look over your shoulder it's natural for you to turn to the left. This is just the "hand - eye coordination rule." You are going to go where you're looking. To counter act this, when you look over your left shoulder, give a little forward push on the bar with your right hand. Try it in a parking lot first. You'll be surprised how well it works.

Another remedy is to move your hand(s) to the top of the bars as close to the stem as you can get them. This just reduces the leverage you have when turning the bars.

Always remember - practice makes better.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
It`s a whole different bike- much different from any of our others. Since I really don`t want to dump any more money into it and don`t plan on riding it very long I guess I`ll just practice and work on a "technique" fix rather than a parts replacement fix. Next one I`ll buy new at a shop and get a fitting while I`m at it. Thanks for the advice.
 

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rodar y rodar said:
It`s a whole different bike- much different from any of our others.
As you suspect, you're feeling the different geometry of frame and fork, including wheel base. In short and very simplified terms, your old bikes wanted to go straight all the time—when you nudged the bar, they self-corrrected back to straight line travel. The one you have now wants to help you make a fast turn, so when you nudge the bar, it starts turning.

These differences are there because people who make bikes ask the question "who is going to ride this bike?" Commuters and tourists love self-correcting bikes; racers prefer bikes that help them go through a fast turn or make lightning-quick race moves.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Yeah, it just seems that since it has every sign of a low level (stem mounted shifters, low end Suntour, kickstand plate, etc) bike it would have been designed with the Sunday driver in mind. That`s OK though- the main thing I want out of the bike is to get somewhat accustomed to skinny wheeled bend-over bikes so I don`t feel 100% out of place while I`m trying to test drive new stuff in the fall. Still not quite the style I have in mind for a more permanent ride, but much closer.
 

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Mystery.

rodar y rodar said:
Yeah, it just seems that since it has every sign of a low level (stem mounted shifters, low end Suntour, kickstand plate, etc) bike it would have been designed with the Sunday driver in mind.
Of course, that's the amazing thing about all this: for many years now, 99% of these quick-handling bikes have been sold to people who don't race and have no intentions of ever doing so. So even the lower-level stuff has to have "the look." Similar to those pro-level digital cameras people buy to take the same crappy snapshots with that their parents took with a $20 Kodak Instamatic . . :D
 

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wim said:
Of course, that's the amazing thing about all this: for many years now, 99% of these quick-handling bikes have been sold to people who don't race and have no intentions of ever doing so. So even the lower-level stuff has to have "the look." Similar to those pro-level digital cameras people buy to take the same crappy snapshots with that their parents took with a $20 Kodak Instamatic . . :D
I'm w/wim here--the racer look has made a lot of people unhappy who might have become regular riders (and customers) if the bike manufacturers would give them what they NEED instead of what they think looks cool--lower gears, more comfortable riding positions etc.
Depending on your budget, a couple of things you might check:
--15-inch bars are very narrow, only about 38cm (they're typically measured center-to-center, so yours may be even narrower than that). I ride 48s, and most people use something in the 42-44 range. Wider bars might help.
--An old bike probably has a quill stem, the kind shaped like a 7, that can be raised and lowered easily. If the bars are low, try raising them as far as you can (watch for the "MIN INSERT" mark on the stem and don't go past it). New stems are still available in shops, though they're not used much anymore (there's nothing wrong with them; the change was mainly a marketing gimmick).
If you can't find the parts you need cheaply at a shop, try looking in thrift shops like Salvation Army or Good Will. At least around here, you can buy whole, usable bikes for $10-$50, cannibalize what you need and recycle or re-donate what's left. I've fixed up several old bikes that way for casual-riding friends and some neighborhood kids.
 
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