Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Redneck Tech #1: Dirt Drops

This is a super low tech way to make dirt dropbars out of a pair of old steel road bars. Totally hot rod, back yard tinkering, but cheap is fun! I first saw this technique done on a bike on and emailed the kid who did it. He shot back that he has had no problems with the bars fatiguing or anything, so I figured it would be a cool way to get some decent bars. I have a pair of Salsa Bell Lap bars that I love, but they are taped up and firmly ensconced on my Bianchi single speed. With a dozen or so bikes that I run drop bars on, there's no way I am buying all those pairs of dirt drops! So here you go, and I hope the pictures will match up to the descriptions, this is my second try at this post.

Standard old school drop bars rarely give you more than 40cm on center, drop to drop. Not much for torque when coming up out of the river valleys! Not much for variety of hand positions either. But you have a way around these demons.

Like my old friend Ricky Bobby, everyone has a floor jack sitting around the double-wide, right?

Just position the jack like so, between the stem and end of the drops. Check that there is plenty of contact on all surfaces, and slowly pump some pressure into the jack. Release the tension and measure from the center of the stem to see how you're doing. The bar will relax a bit after the tension is released, so measure with no load on the bar!

Watch this bend right here for pinching. The forces at work on the bar will cause it to pinch at the weakest point, naturally, and this is that point.

Wham Bam Thank You Ma'am! Repeat the process on the other side of the bar and be careful not to go too far with the second side. Take your time and check often with no load on the bar. As you can see, this bar gave up about 2 1/4 " and is now ready for dirt duty! As a bonus on most old bars, the drop is not very deep and may allow you to use the proprietary stem/bar combo from the bike it came off of, without sacrificing handling and/or fit. It works for me, but then I have low standards! *I apologize to Alex Renner, Mike Johnson, and any other engineers who are offended by this post! Later!

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