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When I started riding road bikes again around 2009, I read a lot of opinion on the “internets”, and a few things were spoken of as gospel.  One of these was:

I’m a dedicated experimenter/tweaker when it comes to building and riding bikes.  I had been on road bikes with drop bars for a short period of my life from about 1983-1991, but mainly as a part-time commuter.  I never raced, and only did one 2-day 150 mile ride in high school.

My old road bike – Raleigh Reliant

When I moved to Seattle in 1991, I rode a friend’s mountain bike down some fire  trails in Whistler, BC, and was totally smitten.  From then until 2009, I had various mountain bikes with flat bars.  When I bought my first Rivendell, I tried 46cm Noodles, but found them uncomfortable.  Specifically, when I was in the drops, they felt really deep/extreme, and my forearms hit the tops disconcertingly.  There was something off.

Cupcake and Homer with 46cm Noodles

I found VO Porteur bars to be a better fit for me initially, as they had a nice stretched-out thin position on the flat fronts, and I could also get very upright on the swept back part of the bars.  I went through a few iterations with these bars until I started riding in longer Randonneur events.  On one Populaire, I developed a bit of numbness in one hand at the 50-mile mark, even with soft cork tape.  I was definitely the only rider using upright bars of any kind, and most of  the folks were using drop bars of some sort.

Porteur with Cork and Cotton

I decided that I would have to try some drops for the longer 200k ride I had planned.  I had an older pair of Nitto B-115 Olympiade bars from the 80s, and the width was a tiny 39cm (compared to the 46cm).  I set these guys up, and found them comfortable on my commute (7-12 miles each way). I also found that my forearms didn’t hit the tops of the bars when I was in the drops.  The next test was the Bellingham 200k.


At the end of the event, I had no hand discomfort, and felt that the bars were close to ideal.  They just needed more width, and a bit of curve back like the old noodles had on the tops.  This led me back to the beginning (almost) and the Noodle style I started out with.  I went with the next bigger size of Noodles and have not gone back to uprights.

Sometimes it is best to listen to the wisdom/opinion of experienced riders in the first place.  At least cheaper…

Faves! Nitto Noodle 42cm with SRAM S500 Levers