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Convert Bike to Drop Handels or get a new Bike?
#1
So, because I cannot run anymore (thank you Army) I am getting back into cycling. The only bike I have is a 2008 Trek Soho Commuter bike. (https://archive.trekbikes.com/us/en/2008/trek/soho30#/us/en/2008/trek/soho30/details)

There is a nice bike path right near where I live and what I am wondering is what I would have to do to convert the Soho from a straight bar to drop bars for more of a road riding posture. The Soho is a good bike for commuting but for any distance rides (over 5 miles) it is a little uncomfortable. Is this possible or is it better money to get the low-end road bike?

In theory, the conversion if it is just the handlebar and shifters is cheaper and I get to keep my disk breaks! What I don't know (because I do not work on bikes every day) is if doing that conversion would mean I would need new derailers, gears, and drive sprockets. I also do not understand the difference in geometry will plays in all this.

If the conversion is possible are there any recommendations or tips?

If the conversion is not possible what is a good entry-level road bike that can be upgraded over time and is a low entry cost?

Obviously cost is an issue. I am not looking to race but only to ride for fitness with a more comfortable posture for rides over 5 miles.
  Reply
#2
(06-26-2020, 09:20 AM)falldownpioneer Wrote:  So, because I cannot run anymore (thank you Army) I am getting back into cycling. The only bike I have is a 2008 Trek Soho Commuter bike. (https://archive.trekbikes.com/us/en/2008/trek/soho30#/us/en/2008/trek/soho30/details)

There is a nice bike path right near where I live and what I am wondering is what I would have to do to convert the Soho from a straight bar to drop bars for more of a road riding posture. The Soho is a good bike for commuting but for any distance rides (over 5 miles) it is a little uncomfortable. Is this possible or is it better money to get the low-end road bike?

In theory, the conversion if it is just the handlebar and shifters is cheaper and I get to keep my disk breaks! What I don't know (because I do not work on bikes every day) is if doing that conversion would mean I would need new derailers, gears, and drive sprockets. I also do not understand the difference in geometry will plays in all this.

If the conversion is possible are there any recommendations or tips?

If the conversion is not possible what is a good entry-level road bike that can be upgraded over time and is a low entry cost?

Obviously cost is an issue. I am not looking to race but only to ride for fitness with a more comfortable posture for rides over 5 miles.

Welcome!

That looks like a pretty nice bike! I personally don't think you need to go to any extremes to make it more road bike like, but my concern is with your comment "it is a little uncomfortable", since a road design with a drop bar is not as much a design for "comfort" as it is for efficiency and aerodynamics, both stretching and lowering your upper body. Technically, that bike should not be uncomfortable even for a plus ten mile ride, set up and fit are most important regardless of the bike type or cost! I don't know your age or condition, but if you are feeling discomfort and/or pain after 5 miles or more; it could be related to your present set up of the bike (saddle type, and/or too high/low/forward/back/angle). Where and or what is uncomfortable? If you get a drop bar your hands are closer together (in general, and a little less stable) and your upper body is lowered; and if you increase the stem length you will be stretched out a bit more. Since your bike has a stem that has quite a bit of rise to it (l cannot tell if it has spacers on the steerer tube) you may just want to have the spacer(s) removed, get a straighter or "flat" profile stem, or (if feasible) just flip it upside down. All of those options will certainly lower your riding posture to a lesser or greater degree, and unless you change out the stem (not expensive) will cost nothing (if doing your own work). Also there will be no need to change shifter/brake lever hardware, so again a very cost effective way of making a change. Also, if you get a drop bar, but won't be riding in the "drops" (most "casual" riders do not) then it won't make sense to have that set up in the first place. I would recommend starting out making minor set up changes, one at a time, and test riding after each change. Hopefully, this will allow you to "dial in" the bike according to your riding needs. You can (on the low cost/low labor side) extend/shorten the stem and/ or add a more offset seatpost. Also, you could get a different bar that would give you a slightly different riding posture and still allow you to keep your same shift/brake hardware on the bar. Remember, getting a road bike will have a different geometry, narrower/higher pressure tires; and overall a somewhat "harsher" ride. Doesn't matter much if it's low cost or high cost bike. If you do put a drop bar set up on the bike (it is possible); you will have to get shifters and brake levers which properly mount and that are compatible for the indexing of your gears and your disc brake system. Also an option, "bullhorn" style variants for a handlebar; no drop (in most cases) but more stretch. Try things out, there are many options aside from getting another bike, but if you are still interested in a road bike make sure you able to test ride it for the expected distance you plan on riding; you may still find "it a little uncomfortable"!

Take care,
Jesper
"I am become Death, the destroyer of bicycles." NJS
  Reply
#3
Careful with the disc brakes! Brakes designed for straight handlebar brake levers will not work with road style brake levers. The mechanical advantage is different. So you will need to replace the brakes as well.

Adding to Jesper's remarks: I personally prefer a (not too aggressive) road position. I can (and regularly do) use the drops, because I don't set up my bike as if trying to emulate a pro (and actually those do set up the bikes in a more sensible way than many amateurs do).

Your discomfort can be caused by several things. The contact points (shoes, saddle, bar grips) really make a difference, as does the position. And then there's your fitness level. This is currently my problem (a bit). Work on core / upper body strength, and also note that the increased leg strength that comes with riding more will alleviate a sore... saddle region (a bit).

So try to identify what hurts most and focus on changing that. I myself need to do more (i.e. at least a little bit) core work outs.
  Reply
#4
With regards to the comfort, I find myself on longer rides resting my forarms on the bar to ride and moving my hands to the very ends of the bars. If anything the 'discomfort I have is in the very low part of my back when I ride upright with my hands on the grips.

I will by swapping the seat around and if that does not work move the stem.

I appreciate the feedback, Thank you.


(06-27-2020, 02:19 AM)Jesper Wrote:  
(06-26-2020, 09:20 AM)falldownpioneer Wrote:  So, because I cannot run anymore (thank you Army) I am getting back into cycling. The only bike I have is a 2008 Trek Soho Commuter bike. (https://archive.trekbikes.com/us/en/2008/trek/soho30#/us/en/2008/trek/soho30/details)

There is a nice bike path right near where I live and what I am wondering is what I would have to do to convert the Soho from a straight bar to drop bars for more of a road riding posture. The Soho is a good bike for commuting but for any distance rides (over 5 miles) it is a little uncomfortable. Is this possible or is it better money to get the low-end road bike?

In theory, the conversion if it is just the handlebar and shifters is cheaper and I get to keep my disk breaks! What I don't know (because I do not work on bikes every day) is if doing that conversion would mean I would need new derailers, gears, and drive sprockets. I also do not understand the difference in geometry will plays in all this.

If the conversion is possible are there any recommendations or tips?

If the conversion is not possible what is a good entry-level road bike that can be upgraded over time and is a low entry cost?

Obviously cost is an issue. I am not looking to race but only to ride for fitness with a more comfortable posture for rides over 5 miles.

Welcome!

That looks like a pretty nice bike! I personally don't think you need to go to any extremes to make it more road bike like, but my concern is with your comment "it is a little uncomfortable", since a road design with a drop bar is not as much a design for "comfort" as it is for efficiency and aerodynamics, both stretching and lowering your upper body. Technically, that bike should not be uncomfortable even for a plus ten mile ride, set up and fit are most important regardless of the bike type or cost! I don't know your age or condition, but if you are feeling discomfort and/or pain after 5 miles or more; it could be related to your present set up of the bike (saddle type, and/or too high/low/forward/back/angle). Where and or what is uncomfortable? If you get a drop bar your hands are closer together (in general, and a little less stable) and your upper body is lowered; and if you increase the stem length you will be stretched out a bit more. Since your bike has a stem that has quite a bit of rise to it (l cannot tell if it has spacers on the steerer tube) you may just want to have the spacer(s) removed, get a straighter or "flat" profile stem, or (if feasible) just flip it upside down. All of those options will certainly lower your riding posture to a lesser or greater degree, and unless you change out the stem (not expensive) will cost nothing (if doing your own work). Also there will be no need to change shifter/brake lever hardware, so again a very cost effective way of making a change. Also, if you get a drop bar, but won't be riding in the "drops" (most "casual" riders do not) then it won't make sense to have that set up in the first place. I would recommend starting out making minor set up changes, one at a time, and test riding after each change. Hopefully, this will allow you to "dial in" the bike according to your riding needs. You can (on the low cost/low labor side) extend/shorten the stem and/ or add a more offset seatpost. Also, you could get a different bar that would give you a slightly different riding posture and still allow you to keep your same shift/brake hardware on the bar. Remember, getting a road bike will have a different geometry, narrower/higher pressure tires; and overall a somewhat "harsher" ride. Doesn't matter much if it's low cost or high cost bike. If you do put a drop bar set up on the bike (it is possible); you will have to get shifters and brake levers which properly mount and that are compatible for the indexing of your gears and tour disc brake system. Also an option, "bullhorn" style variants for a handlebar; no drop (in most cases) but more stretch. Try things out, there are many options aside from getting another bike, but if you are still interested in a road bike make sure you able to test ride it for the expected distance you plan on riding; you may still find "it a little uncomfortable"!

Take care,
Jesper
  Reply


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