Anyone riding MTB with drop bars?

Trail Talk

Well-known member
I'm fine-tuning my Norco Revolver for the riding that I do, which involves a lot of road/dirt path/gravel transitions between single track trails. Also keeping an eye on eventual bike-packing trips. So when I find myself riding with elbows resting on the stock flat bar, I get more curious about the hybrid drop bars like Surley's Corner Bar. Anyone tried this or something similar?

Surly-Corner-Bar-Review_2-1536x1024-347457450.jpeg
Bikepacker image
 

Mfitz

Active member
I have a Salsa Cutthroat (the bike in the pic above), which is marketed as a drop bar mtb due to the mtb hub and bottom bracket spacing, frame geometry designed to have the option for suspension forks, and clearance for mtb tires. It has the woodchipper bars as well. I also have a Transition Spur, which isn't too far off from your Norco Revolver.

If you are thinking about keeping the rest of the Revolver set up as a mtb but then adding the hybrid bars, I think you will lose as much or more riding singletrack (unless its' really buff/ smooth greens and blues) as you gain in efficiency on the road sections. My Cutthroat can be fun on singletrack when I have xc mtb tires on it, but only if the singletrack is really non-technical. It's not that I couldn't ride somewhat chunkier trails set up this way, but it wouldn't be any fun. Sure, having full suspension would make it more capable, but I really don't like the drop bar setup for anything technical. Any setup is a compromise, for sure, but I would rather ride the road transfers a little bit slower and then have full fun on the singletrack.

The solution I went to was to get another set of wheels for the Spur and set them up with light xc tires. On rides where I prioritize efficiency over grip, I ride with the light/ fast setup; on days when I need grip to keep me out of the hospital, I ride the burlier setup. On days when there is only a little bit of trail and a lot of smooth dirt road, I ride the Cutthroat. If I had to go back to one bike, it would be the Spur with two sets of wheels. No drop bars, no Cutthroat. Who only wants one bike, though? N+1.

Ultimately it depends on which end of the ride spectrum you prioritize- dirt road efficiency or trail capability. Survive the road to ride trails, or survive the trails to ride the roads. I don't think I would be happy with the hybrid bars on a mtb on trails.

I completed the Leadville Trail 100 race in '22, and it is mostly dirt road- some smooth and fast, but also a lot of pretty chunky jeep track. There was almost nobody doing it on a gravel bike despite this, and all the professionals were on xc mtb's. Personally, I would never try it on drop bars, regardless of what they were connected to.
 

Trail Talk

Well-known member
Thanks for this feedback. Did you ever find yourself in a dangerous situation using hybrid bars, unable to get at the brakes fast enough for instance?

I would have to extend my cables about 6" but then it would be easy to swap the bars back and forth depending on the intended journey; more flats = corner bar, more trail = flat bar.
 

rruff

Explorer
So when I find myself riding with elbows resting on the stock flat bar, I get more curious about the hybrid drop bars like Surley's Corner Bar. Anyone tried this or something similar?
I think you answered your own question... get some clipon aero bars. They come in many lengths and types.

The Corner Bar wouldn't appeal to me because I have no use for a hand position that is more rearward. I already have a 130mm stem. There are other "alt" bars that may suit though, as well as clips that go inside or outside the grips.
 

Mfitz

Active member
I think you answered your own question... get some clipon aero bars. They come in many lengths and types.

The Corner Bar wouldn't appeal to me because I have no use for a hand position that is more rearward. I already have a 130mm stem. There are other "alt" bars that may suit though, as well as clips that go inside or outside the grips.
There are some bar attachments that have elbow rests and a hoop-like projection out from the bars that you grab with your hands- which can also support bag mounts and bike computers. I have never used them but they look interesting. bikepacker.com has a ton of useful product info/ reviews, bike checks for races like the Tour Divide where such things are used with flat bar bikes. OP should do a deep dive into that site if they haven't already.

Leadville is an out and back race, which means you get to see the pro riders and race leaders coming back inbound from the midpoint while you are still going outbound. Keegan Swenson passed me (he was leading the race) going the opposite direction on a flat stretch outside of Twin Lakes, forearms resting on his bars just outside the the stem, hands dangling into the air, in full tuck, probably pedaling 28 mph, looking fresh and undisturbed..... very cool experience.
 

Trail Talk

Well-known member
There are some bar attachments that have elbow rests and a hoop-like projection out from the bars that you grab with your hands- which can also support bag mounts and bike computers. I have never used them but they look interesting. bikepacker.com has a ton of useful product info/ reviews, bike checks for races like the Tour Divide where such things are used with flat bar bikes. OP should do a deep dive into that site if they haven't already.
Looks like they are now bikepacking.com. Lots of good alt bars there, thanks for the tip.
 

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