Jones loops vs drop bars

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benp1
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Jones loops vs drop bars

Post by benp1 » Mon Sep 14, 2020 3:07 pm

Been pondering this on and off for a while, how do you explain the benefits or differences between the two? Other alt bars can be included in the question

I use carbon loops on Solaris at the moment, previously had normal flattish carbon bars. Bike is set up rigid, though have a suspension fork for it

I'm wondering what the difference is between an MTB style drop bar bike (Fargo, Bombtrack Beyond, Shand Bahookie, Mason ISO, Salsa Cutthroat), as opposed to a gravel bike, and a rigid MTB running alt style bars.

I guess there's something about aero, tyres, geometry etc. But a drop bar MTB assumes MTB style tyres I guess, and with loops you can sort of do an aero tuck as well

For what it's worth interesting bars aren't new to me - I had ally loops on my El Mariachi, have the VO crazy casey bars under my worktable, have butterfly style bars on my Big Dummy, and have an arkose with the standard drop bars.

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In Reverse
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Re: Jones loops vs drop bars

Post by In Reverse » Mon Sep 14, 2020 3:43 pm

Hmmm, good question Ben.
  • Wider mtb bars are a lot better for technical climbing, for me at least. Even on wide drops I still get a lot more of a wobble on than with, for example, Jones bars.
  • The main riding position for me on drops is on the hoods, but off road my delicate hands take a right pounding. The hand position and better flex on the Jones is more forgiving (I find carbon Jones very comfortable)
  • I've got a Surly Ogre that's gone from loops through butterflies and now has wide flared drops. Main reason for changing to drops is that they're better for posture for road/gravel/any terrain where you're holding the same position for a long time.
  • Descending offroad on drops is its own kind of special fun too. Descents that you'd barely raise an eyebrow at on a conventional mtb can often be thrilling on drops.
No hard and fast rule for either I guess. Stu said on the BB200 thread that on a long ride there will be bits that are better with mtb bars and other bits where you might prefer drops so ultimately neither's perfect.

Carbon Jones Cuts for me if I have to choose.

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Re: Jones loops vs drop bars

Post by jameso » Mon Sep 14, 2020 4:03 pm

I'm wondering what the difference is between an MTB style drop bar bike (Fargo, Bombtrack Beyond, Shand Bahookie, Mason ISO, Salsa Cutthroat), as opposed to a gravel bike, and a rigid MTB running alt style bars.
Maybe a tighter geometry on the drop-bar 29er, as MTBs have got more trail/LLS-influenced.

Bar-wise.. I spent too much time on this a few years back. My (very personal, fwiw, ymmv etc) take on it is that drops are used off-road on a 29er (as opposed to a lighter gravel/all-road bike, as you say) mainly because they're familiar to the rider or the hand positions are preferred, plus there's the lower position option for road miles if you accept the drops are then too low for 'good' (what I'd call good, anyway) off-road handling ability. I like drops off-road, always did from the first time I tried it. But fun aside, I had to admit they're always going to be detrimental to my off-road ability when it comes to smooth technique or anything technical.
Whether you ride in a way that needs that added handling ability is another matter, a lot of my off-road riding could be managed on a good flare drop. But by the time I set it up so that it's not a hindrance it's not really worth it - and they still feel wrong on the fun stuff.

I always end up saying something like 'but ride what you like' here too, but really, there's no logical reason for drops off-road. It's all preferences and subjectives. I'd say there is logic or an objective benefit to the H-bar for mixed-terrain use - it's wider to the rear where you want DH or technical control and narrower at the front where you get a longer, slightly tucked-in position.

It would be interesting to let XCO / UCI stage race riders the option of using drops to see what would be used on eg Cape Epic. TDR seems mixed, with more drop bars in recent years as more useful options have become available. I used an H-bar and wouldn't change my mind on that if I were to do it again.

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Re: Jones loops vs drop bars

Post by lune ranger » Mon Sep 14, 2020 8:10 pm

I had a Fargo with drops and have a Krampus with Loops.
IME I have more hand positions with well set up loops than with the drops. The drops were positioned high as per drop bar MTB doctrine. Giving me a hand position a touch higher than the saddle when in the hooks. A great position to be sure but that limits the other options. On the off road drops the hoods were too low and forward to offer me a hand on the hoods position, The tops were really too high and didn’t feel natural. I did use the top as it bends forward in lieu of the hoods but only on easy pootling.
I recently swapped all myFargo running gear to a Transition Rapture steel CX bike and like the ride a lot more. There is maybe 5cm drop from the saddle to the tops and it feels comfortable and natural. It’s not an MTB but it’s a very capable machine within the limitations of 40mm tyres. With the Krampus for proper off road I don’t think I’ll be rebuilding the Fargo anytime soon.

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Re: Jones loops vs drop bars

Post by benp1 » Mon Sep 14, 2020 11:23 pm

Interesting thoughts, thanks

I love the looks of the new drop bar MTBs, they look great. But your thoughts are compounding mine where I don't know if off road drops do any more than loops

I find myself using the front loop more than the bit next to the stem, they're wrapped in both places. The outer ends face down a bit so I guess it feels a but like very flared drops.

Also interesting to think how you get the best of the drops and the hoods when the former is set quite high

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Re: Jones loops vs drop bars

Post by due » Tue Sep 15, 2020 7:44 am

I had the same experience as LR with my Fargo. The drops were about where a flat bar would be and felt really secure off road, but the hoods weren't that useable - it felt weird just reaching forward for them without any drop. I think a loop style bar actually provides more viable hand positions than a drop bar that is too high.

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Re: Jones loops vs drop bars

Post by Dyffers » Tue Sep 15, 2020 7:59 am

The thing I found with drops was I wanted to use the widest part when off-road...but that's not where the brakes are.

On luxys I found myself cruising along the road sections on the 660 wide drops, then having to go into superman stretched narrow position on anything you technical to cover the levers.

Jones and Crazy bars are much better in that they give you a narrow forward road position and a wide, more upright position where the brake levers are.

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Re: Jones loops vs drop bars

Post by Cheeky Monkey » Tue Sep 15, 2020 10:10 am

The drops were positioned high as per drop bar MTB doctrine. Giving me a hand position a touch higher than the saddle when in the hooks.
Higher than the saddle. Golly :o

I've got mine high but that would be a bit too much, HYOH though :cool:

I've tried a few drop bars but no alt ones. Woodchippers I struggled to get angled right. Genetic digest were nice enough but a bit narrow on the tops / flats. Love Mud Spitfires were way too narrow and felt just like a road bar, which is not for me. Luxy's are on the Roadrat but haven't been ridden yet as I still need to finish frigging with it. I suspect they will be a bit narrow and the hooks seem to flare outwards more than other bars so :???:.

By favorites are Venturemax XL which I feel have transformed the fit form a bodgy compromise to something that actually seems to work in most ways (Top/hoods/drops). Really wide (though there are wider), shallow drops compared to others (there's probably shallower), the ledge / aero section flats are surprisingly comfy (once angled to suit), there is a touch of outward flare to the hooks though not huge, just enough to stop my wrists fouling when resting on the bottom. Even the little dimple in the bar that "fills" the hollow of the palm is quite comfy :oops: I'd happily recommend them to anyone who wants a comfy and effective, wide, drop-bar set-up.

I think the shallow drop is a *good thing* for MTB / off-road (whatever :roll:) drops as it means there isn't such a drastic change between flats, hoods and drops, but maybe that's also just me as an MTB-er with no road background and not particularly liking "proper" road set-ups (arse up, head down). Plus I'm broad and apey, not silly-wide MTB bar style, but enough that most drops have felt "cramped" and narrow until the Venturemax.

Bit expensive (c.£100 in Al) but worth it for me. So much so I bought another set for the Roadrat or whatever my next gravelwanker is :cool:

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Re: Jones loops vs drop bars

Post by jameso » Tue Sep 15, 2020 12:01 pm

I think the shallow drop is a *good thing* for MTB / off-road (whatever :roll:) drops as it means there isn't such a drastic change between flats, hoods and drops,
I agree, since drop bar specs were designed for the road and why would you want a 120-140mm drop off-road? otoh I also think it's reducing one of the oft-quoted advantages of a drop bar? Or, bringing them closer to the narrow flare bar equivalent with the negatives of a brake lever position that can be less ergonomic for descending, at which point an H-bar shape wins for me.

I have a bar sample here that's very similar to the Venturemax w/o the 'dimple', it was made for me while trying to improve my drop bar off-roading before begrudgingly accepting it was a set of compromises that just can't be balanced up and I was left with only emotive reasons for using the drop bar (or mixing more road into the rides to justify having them, defeating the point of 'adventure' bikes in a way?). They're just under 100mm drop (as tight a radius as could be made with the tube section), flared, fairly parallel tops and hooks, 480mm ish at the hoods, short reach. Nice, but I wasn't any more into them as I was the Luxy bar.

Damnit, all this 29er vs drop bar stuff is setting me off again. That path to nowhere that's still a lot of fun to ride :grin:

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Re: Jones loops vs drop bars

Post by ScotRoutes » Tue Sep 15, 2020 12:56 pm

I don't know where this is going, so bear with this brain dump...


I was "happy" with standard MTB bars until I got my first fatbike, 8 years ago. I built that up with Loops (the original, narrow ones), partly just to try and partly to see why other folk had. I liked them. It's hard to explain, but on that bike, in snowy/icy conditions, I felt the hand position gave some very fine control.

I had my VN Amazon already but saw some Woodchippers and, again, fitted them just to try them out for off-roading. I liked them. A lot. I like the angle they set my arms at when using the drops, almost like an automatic "attack position". They are set higher than the bars on my proper road bike, so still a wee drop from the saddle to the tops.

When I built up the Pact, I again fitted Loops (the wider ones this time) as it seemed they'd be great for bikepacking and I'd got used to them on the fatbike, but...

When I got my new fatbike, it came with standard MTB bars and (crucially I think) suspension forks and a more trail-oriented MTB geometry. This felt just like riding a big-wheeled MTB and I started to appreciate that Loops just didn't seem to suit me so much for gnarlier riding.

That sent me back to the Pact and I managed to source some lovely 12deg backsweep Ti Thomson flat bars. Kitted out with Ergo bar ends, I've decided this feels much better for some of the gnarlier bikepacking I've been doing and just more suited to non-bikepacking MTB riding.

The upshot of this is that I've now stopped using Loops at all.


Conclusion? I think it's great to try things out for yourself. Be prepared to be swayed by fashion. But also step back and re-consider your choices occasionally.

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Re: Jones loops vs drop bars

Post by Lazarus » Tue Sep 15, 2020 2:46 pm

Descending offroad on drops is its own kind of special fun too. Descents that you'd barely raise an eyebrow at on a conventional mtb can often be thrilling on drop
I agree the wrong bike for the terrain can indeed be classed as exilirating :grin:

My opinion
Wide drop bars are great for a gravel bike and tolerable for road use. The extra width [ and shallower drop] is very handy when it gets techncial IME but rding n the hoods Is something I no longer do due to weird twisty angles

As for on a MTB the only reason to put drop bars on a MTB is because you want worse performance off road compared to normal bars * I see no reason to want to chose this.

* i dont even think they will be that much faster on the flat tbh.

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Re: Jones loops vs drop bars

Post by jameso » Tue Sep 15, 2020 2:57 pm

Scotroute's point on the MTB side is similar to what I've found RE H or loop bars - by the time I have suspension and a more trail-bike geometry I want a wider trad MTB bar. 9-15 degree sweep and 710-750mm. I see the H-bar rigid 29er combo as a technically-capable and efficient hybrid. I'm continually spuprised by what I can ride on my Jones considering it's an efficient bke over a long distance, but it's either slow-mo tech or fast and flowy, a step on from 'gravel'. Fast and rocky sort of tech is a step further, well away from drops/H-bars etc.

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Re: Jones loops vs drop bars

Post by lune ranger » Tue Sep 15, 2020 3:48 pm

Lazarus wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 2:46 pm


My opinion...

As for on a MTB the only reason to put drop bars on a MTB is because you want worse performance off road compared to normal bars * I see no reason to want to chose this.

* i dont even think they will be that much faster on the flat tbh.
Doesn’t sound like an opinion based on experience or fact, but let’s not let small details like that get in the way of a sweeping statement. :roll:
There is plenty of off road riding where drops on an MTB are absolutely fine. On smoother faster tracks it’s a lot of fun.
You don’t need massive wide bars in order to ride most off road well and in perfect control.

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Re: Jones loops vs drop bars

Post by htrider » Tue Sep 15, 2020 4:56 pm

Got both - loops on the Jones (of course :grin: ) and drops (Surly truck stops) on the straggler. The flat bit of the drops on the stragg is about an inch and a half above seat level. Very comfy on the hoods and flats for long distance stuff (its all in the angles!) Off road its the width that seems to be my limit - the extra effort to waggle the bars around often ends up with you fighting the thing (this is when you've strayed onto something a bit rough for 40mm tyres) But I do like having the drops for a bit of aero riding and bombing down track and road descents.

The loops are ace for techy riding, particularly drops and steep descents as you sit so far back (loops are 2" higher than saddle), the multiple hand positions aid comfort and allow a bit of aero tucking into brutal headwinds (!). I have Surly Sunrise bars on the Kramp (860 wide) and Stooge motos on the fatbike (800 wide) both very high. I keep trying to do an objective comparison as to what works best on techy stuff but the bikes are so different its not an easy compare.

My mate reckons I should bung a set of loops on the stragg (which he persists on referring to as a hybrid, I ask you!) but the 40mm tyres are its limit off road so happy with the drops on it for now. I'll review this when I turn 60!

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Re: Jones loops vs drop bars

Post by Lazarus » Tue Sep 15, 2020 7:24 pm

On smoother faster tracks it’s a lot of fun.
Can I call that a broad sweeping generalisation :wink:
Yes drop bar is indeed fine till its gets proper technical. I wont be doing a 5ft drop on mine anytime soon.

Personally I dont know anyone who chooses the same route for a MTB as a drop bar bike- with the later being " tamer"*. You can off course ride anything on anything its just how quick you will be and how much walking you do.,
Being an ex roadie I love drop bars but I just dont see why I would put any on a MTB as I dont see any advantage


YMMV

* Yes I know all routes have been ridden with drops etc but you get the point surely we all choose a different bike for the terrain., I am not sure what the terrain is for a drop bar MTB that its the perfect fit/solution. WHat is this terrain - genuine question.

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Re: Jones loops vs drop bars

Post by lune ranger » Tue Sep 15, 2020 7:38 pm

I won’t ever be doing a 5ft drop, maybe that’s the point.
For me good terrain for a drop bar MTB is any long mixed route. As has been said many times - any given bike or set up will have advantages over another at some point on a mixed terrain route.
I’m not a huge fan of drops for technical riding just as I’m not a fan of riding my plus bike on the tarmac for long, but you can do both on both.

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Re: Jones loops vs drop bars

Post by lune ranger » Tue Sep 15, 2020 7:39 pm

Lazarus wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 7:24 pm
On smoother faster tracks it’s a lot of fun.
Can I call that a broad sweeping generalisation :wink:
No. It’s pretty specific.

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Re: Jones loops vs drop bars

Post by Cheeky Monkey » Tue Sep 15, 2020 8:52 pm

It's all just dicking about on push irons and almost every choice is a compromise, sometimes just for the sheer shits and giggles. See rigid bikes, singlespeeds, fatbikes etc ad nauseum.

A drop bar'd mtb is a perfectly decent tool with advantages (and disadv') for an *average* route. The number of 5' drop-offs encountered and attempted by the average bikepacker on here, or anyone running curly or alt bats, is probably pretty limited 🤣

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Re: Jones loops vs drop bars

Post by Charliecres » Tue Sep 15, 2020 10:56 pm

After a fair amount of experimenting I’ve concluded (for now) that I like ‘normal’ MTB bars on bikes that I want to be as technically capable as possible (my Smuggler and Fatty Trail), I like swept bars (Currently loops and On-One OGs) on rigid MTBs, to save my wrists and arms, and because they somehow feel right. And I like wide-ish flared drops, set high, on gravel bikes because they’re better than road drops off road and better than a loop or a flat bar on the road.

Some of this is based on what seem like clear performance benefits (and I think more so at the far ends of the spectrum- road and tech MTB) but a lot of it comes down to ‘feel’ and the complex psychology behind personal choices.

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Re: Jones loops vs drop bars

Post by benp1 » Mon May 10, 2021 10:39 pm

Been thinking about bikes and bars again recently. It brought me back to this thread, the comments above are really interesting

Since moving house I’m now regularly riding with a local MTB group in the South Downs, most riders on FS bikes with a couple of hardtails too, I’m the only one riding rigid. Riding is a mix of more technical singletrack, some fast bumpy and/or rooty trails, some flowy trails and some grassy stuff. Also visiting QECP fairly regularly.

So far my rigid Solaris is riding surprisingly well, though highlighting my lack of talent :grin: The carbon loops seem to work well with the Travers Prongs up front, allowing me to take more weight through my legs on the descents and put less weight through the bars. I think with the previous flat carbon bars I had I’d have more weight over the front which would be a killer on my arms on the descents. Some of the descents I’m just holding on and trying to aim in vaguely the right direction! My previous riding was entirely tame, this is much more fun. The bike is the original Solaris so hasn’t got the more recent LLS geometry of current bikes.

I think if I changed to a flat bar it would potentially suit a suspension fork more. I have my previous bar and suspension fork so could experiment if I really wanted to. Still really pleased with the bike, might end up getting a susser and keeping my Solaris for longer rides and bikepacking as the bars and fork really are decent
Last edited by benp1 on Tue May 11, 2021 9:54 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Jones loops vs drop bars

Post by BigdummySteve » Tue May 11, 2021 5:27 am

I run Curve Walmer bars, 550 at the hoods and 700 at the drops with a nice 7deg sweep in the tops.
Previously I was on a 460 carbon woodchipper. The difference is night and day, so much control, having run loops on my ECR I’d say I’m happier descending on the walmer bar/ Salsa Fargo . I always found that loops felt a little like a tiller, I was much happier with answer 20/20 bars which have a 20deg sweep. I’d say if your going to run drops make them really wide and set them high in a short stem, More useable positions and plenty of control.
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Re: Jones loops vs drop bars

Post by jameso » Tue May 11, 2021 6:49 am

I think if I changed to a flat bar it would potentially suit a suspension fork more.
This was my experience with one bike I had where I swapped between H bars and flats, rigid forks and sus, though it was some time ago now. H-bars helped with handling and engaged muscles in a way that benefitted riding rigid (and long periods or SS), I preferred flats when I had suspension. A dilemma might be the combo of long distance and needing suspension forks where I'd probably go for the H bars or something wider with a bit less sweep.

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Re: Jones loops vs drop bars

Post by FLV » Tue May 11, 2021 9:22 am

Personally, I think that the frame geometry has a lot to do with whether a drop bar will work on a bike.
If its designed for drops (shorter reach) surely it will just feel too short and weird with flat bars or possibly even worse with Jones style swept bars?
I admit this is not something I have directly tried.

For whatever reason, I have ended up with two drop bar mtb's (I should really sell one) at the moment. I pretty much use them as a road / gravel mixed ride bike. I have no problems doing a 70%+ road based ride with 29x2.25 tyres and I enjoy using drops for this. My faves are also venturemax XL. I also really enjoy gravel type riding on these bikes too and have no issue talking off more technical terrain.
However - If I was heading out knowing I would ride a decent amount of proper off road I would generally take my mtb.

When planning a trip I dont know the terrain, I spend ages agonising over MTB vs Gravel... depends on the desire for efficiency on the smooth vs comfort and fun from suspension forks. Both are fine, just different.

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Re: Jones loops vs drop bars

Post by Cheeky Monkey » Tue May 11, 2021 9:57 am

VenureMax XL :-bd

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Re: Jones loops vs drop bars

Post by Al » Tue May 11, 2021 6:07 pm

I built up a vagabond for fun during the lockdown. Took me a while to get the bars right - was originally using salsa cowchippers. Either the drops felt right but the hoods were at the wrong angle and too high or vice versa. Swapping to ritchey venturemax was amazing - super short drop, so both the hoods and the drops felt the right height and the hoods at a nice angle.

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