The Grand Tour: Fife and Beyond

Ramblings of an inveterate cyclist

The butterfly handlebars I had ordered from Amazon arrived a couple of days ago and having fitted them to the bike I took it for a spin to try them out.

I would normally ride a bike with a 21 to 22-inch frame and a 21 to 22-inch top tube, the one I have has a 19-inch top tube. This puts the rider in a much more upright position, almost a sit up and beg. Extending the top tube means a much flatter posture on the bike.

Setting up your bike, two things are important; saddle height, and the distance from the seat to the handlebars. Optimum saddle height is achieved by placing your heels (flat shoes) on the pedal and then turning the pedals backwards, your heel should just about start to lift from the pedal. HSS (high saddle syndrome) and LSS (low saddle syndrome) will cause knee problems. The other size that is important is the distance from the seat to handlebars. Ideally, this will be measured by placing your elbow in front of the saddle and stretching out your fingers, they should just graze where the handlebars fix to the steering head. When drop handlebars are fitted you have the option of sitting up with your hands on the top of the bar, with your hands over the brake/changer, or down on the bottom of the handlebars (cheating the wind). On mountain bikes this is seen as less important so the handlebars are straight. This is fine for control on rough ground but will be painful on the wrists after a while on the road, hands permanently in one position. This was the type of handlebars that came with the bike I am riding at the moment. Having mountain bike changers, I could not fit drop handlebars, but butterfly handlebars have become more popular; they are designed to take the mountain bike changers and still give the rider a variety of holds around the wings of the butterfly. The other advantage they have is that they are covered in a thick foam rather than bar tape so they absorb much of the road shock. Last, but by no means least, they extend (in a sense) the length of the top tube by around four inches, giving a much flatter riding position.

You really have to ride the bike to understand the difference it makes. As I came home along the straight out of Pitscottie I was able to simply rest my forearms across the bars (time trialing style), very relaxing. Really pleased that I made the change.   

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