Question: I read about your mountain bike with a drop handlebar. I have an old Trek 800 that I’d like to set up like that so it’s better for rides that include both pavement and dirt. Is there anything else I need to make the conversion? — Jerry W.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: Converting to a drop bar is a little more complicated than it sounds.
You need a handlebar, ofcourse, and I recommend wide ones for more steering leverage. I like Rivendell’s Dream Bar. Wilderness Trail Bikes makes a bar with flared drops that riders used on rigid mountain bikes back in the old days (1980s). It’s heat treated for strength.
You’ll also need a stem that puts the bar high enough for comfort and control. Mountain bike stems are made for smaller diameter flat bars, so road bars don’t fit them. I suggest checking Rivendell for a Nitto Technomic or Dirt Drop stem.
You didn’t mention what kind of cantilever brakes your Trek has. Some road levers work better with certain cantis than others. Visit your local bike shop and chat with the mechanic, who can see what you’re running and give you advice.
Bar-end shifters are the best choice. It may be hard to find some that are compatible with the cassette on an older bike. If you strike out and can’t use index shifting, remember the friction option. It’ll allow you to use any cassette, freewheel and rear wheel.
You’ll need some odds and ends, too, like a cable hanger for the front brake. If you’re recycling shifters and brakes from a spare parts box, be sure to start over with fresh cables for safety and better operation. Have fun!
Coach Fred Matheny is an RBR co-founder who has four decades of road cycling and coaching experience. He has written 14 eBooks and eArticles on cycling training, available in RBR’s eBookstore at Coach Fred Matheny, including the classic Complete Book of Road Bike Training, which includes 4 eBooks comprising 250 pages of timeless, detailed advice and training plans. The Complete Book is one of the many perks of an RBR Premium Membership. Click to read Fred’s full bio.