Dura-Ace 7900 Road Shifters
SRAM Red Road Shifters
Campagnolo Super Record Road Shifters. 11 speeds!
Microshift Arsis Road Shifters
However, hardly any folding bike comes stock with road shifters! One main reason is because if dropbars are used with road shifters, it will definitely make the folding awkward, and the folded package will not be compact. Also, a folding bike is usually not designed to be a road bike, which excludes the need for a dropbar. Some folding bikes that do come with dropbars are certain models of Airnimal, Alex Moulton, iF Reach, and Bike Friday bikes. There may still be other brands of folding bikes that come with dropbars.
The bullhorns were great, as it allowed many different hand positions, which totally solved the problem of having numb hands on long rides. However, one thing which kept bugging me was the cable routing of the road shifters on the bullhorns. Because road shifters were not fully designed for bullhorn mounting, it is not easy to mount road shifters on bullhorns, and some of the shifters are also incompatible. If I changed to normal dropbars, there would not be cable routing issues with the road shifters.
On the Speed Pro TT bullhorns, the brake cable can be routed internally through the bullhorn bars, or routed externally. I could not route it internally as I wanted to install cyclocross brake levers. However, the external routing was not ideal either.
Black flexible v-brake noodle used to help guide the brake cable.
I needed to use the flexible v-brake noodle to guide the brake cable coming out of the shifter as the brake cable housing I was using (Goodridge, from CRC) was just too stiff! Cannot get it to bend properly at the area shown in the picture above. On hindsight I should have just used a more flexible brake cable housing at that area. In any case, the sharp bends are bad for cable efficiency, adding lots of friction when using the brake lever.
Anatomic dropbars. Note the flat portion at the drops!
Strong and lightweight aluminium dropbar, at a reasonable price!
I came across these very nice dropbars at MyBikeShop, and it was inexpensive too. Which was why I decided to get those dropbars and eventually convert from bullhorns to dropbars. That was around 3 months ago, and during all these time I was happily using my bullhorns. No hurry!
There are many positive aspects to using bullhorns when compared to flat handlebars, with a major benefit being greater comfort. However, I must also state that there are some downsides, which were not immediately apparent when I had only used the bullhorns for a short while. But now, after 3 months, I can give a more complete picture of the pros and cons of the bullhorns.
Comfortable primary hand position
Multiple hand positions
Less stable compared to wider flat handlebars
Tricky when going down steep slopes
TT position not possible (not really a disadvantage, just disappointed that this aerodynamic position which I like is not possible)
Large folded package
I don't need to explain the advantages, but I shall elaborate on some of the disadvantages which I experienced with the bullhorns.
Bullhorns usually come with a handlebar width of around 42 to 48cm wide. Whereas the previous flat handlebar I was using is 560mm wide. This lack of width means that using the bullhorns makes the ride less stable, especially when you use only one hand to ride. Not a serious problem, but not recommended for less experienced cyclists.
When going downslope, the only position at which you can brake effectively is to hold the bullhorns on the side, as shown below. This is also the primary bullhorn hand position. Holding at the cyclocross brake lever position is too dangerous as it is too narrow for you to control the bike properly at high speeds.
Primary hand position for bullhorns
Hand position during braking. However, the grip on the handlebar is less secure.
When coasting downhill, you will need to brace your hand against the hoods, or grip the handlebar tightly. In the primary hand position for the bullhorn, it is not possible to brace the hands against the hoods. Therefore it is essential to maintain a firm grip on the bullhorns. However, there is a need to open up the fingers of the hand to grip the brake levers when braking for the corners, as shown above. This means that during braking, the hand is kept in that position only by friction between the bar tape and the palm!
I found myself constantly switching between gripping firmly and braking, but it is not possible to maintain a firm grip and also brake at the same time.
Another one of the major reasons why I got bullhorns is so that I can use the time trial position, where I can rest my elbows on the handlebars, go low and aerodynamic.
TT position, with the hand gripping the "horns" and the forearm resting on the handlebar. However, the elbow is too far back, and it is very tiring to maintain this position.
Alternative TT position, with optimum elbow position for comfort. However, there is nothing to grip, and this makes the ride unstable.
Eventually, I found that there is no suitable TT position for these bullhorns, as the positions are either too tiring for the arms or too unstable to use safely.
Overall, changing to bullhorns has more advantages than disadvantages. I know that there are other Dahon folding bikes which have also been converted to bullhorns. This makes the bike really fun to ride, and can also seem faster!
I will soon be posting the next part of Journey of the Boardwalk, where I will document the conversion of my Dahon Boardwalk TT to a Boardwalk X20-R!