The truth is you can fit pretty much any mountain bike with drop bars if you really wanted, but it’s not always as simple an operation as you might think. Your bike was designed without them for a reason, so haphazardly fitting some aftermarket drop bars can mess with the geometry a great deal.
It’s not that you shouldn’t give it a go. We absolutely love drop bars. They allow for more points of contact, keeping you comfortable during those mammoth rides, and they enable a more aerodynamic posture when you need to reduce drag and pick up as much speed as possible.
Just because someone owns a mountain bike, doesn’t mean they have to live and breathe mountain riding.
Mountain bikes are famously versatile, and drop bars can really help tap into their full potential.
If you can get the fitting just right, that off-road bike is now fit for long road and trail routes.
The industry is taking notice of this demand for one-size-fits-all-bikes, producing a ton of great designs that come with drop bars as standard.
Particular favorites that come to mind include the Bearclaw Beaux Jaxson, the Curve GMX Overlander, and the Decathlon Riverside Touring 920.
With one of these in your garage, you’re set for a huge variety of different rides, and you no longer have to clutter your environment with tons of alternative frames, wheels, and of course handlebars.
Before We Show You How It’s Done
We’re going to run through how you’d go about making the switch from flat to drop bars, but before we start cutting wires, it’s important to consider the alternatives.
- Bar Ends
Before you put your pride and joy under the knife, you should take a look at the options out there in the way of bike ends.
Basically extensions you can fit to your current flat bar to open up a few more points of contact, you won’t need to make any permanent alterations whatsoever. You can check out some of our favorites via this link.
If you’re a little squeamish about this DIY nip tuck session, we highly recommend sticking with this simple solution.
And hey, if you’re still not satisfied once you’ve given them a try, then you can reconsider a full-blown switcheroo.
- Taking Your Bike to a Professional
If you want to do right by your bi-wheel baby, contact a professional. They’ll be able to get the job done whilst preventing the geometry from taking too much of a hit.
At the very least, they can give you some advice on how to proceed should you settle on the DIY route.
- Buying a Mountain Bike with Factory Drop Bars
This isn’t the most affordable solution, but if you want peak performance, it’s the only way to go. A bike built from the ground up with drop bars will always feel more comfortable and ride better than one with aftermarket fixtures.
- Leaving Your Bike as Is
Will you really benefit from putting drop bars on your mountain bike? They’ll only be worth your time, money, and effort if you use them frequently. Unless adding them to your ride is going to change your life, you may want to hold off.
How to Add Drop Bars to Your Mountain Bike
With those little disclaimers out of the way, we can get down to business modifying that sweet MBT of yours. Before you get started, here’s what you’re going to need.
- A Pair of Wire Cutters - You’ll use these to snip some cables.
- Allen Keys - These are to remove the stem bolts to free up your flat bar and to tighten and loosen clamps.
- A Riser Stem - The stem will provide some lift, making the drop bars more of a comfortable option.
- Cantilever Brakes - Some road levers aren’t compatible with mountain bike V brakes.
- Drop Bar Handlebars - The main event!
- Long Hex Wrench - Use this to tighten your new brake levers into place.
- Grease - Helps with brake installation.
- Cables - To replace the cables you’re going to cut.
- Cable Hangers - For threading your new cables.
- Cable Housing - Protects your cables.
- Road Bike Derailleur - Mountain bike derailleurs have a different pull, so you’ll need to switch them up.
Right, we’re all geared up. Are you ready to get started? Good, let’s get to it!
Step 1. Cutting the Cables - The cables on your converted bike will need to be different lengths, so you can go ahead and snip them, as you won’t be able to use them later.
Step 2. Remove the Stem Bolts - These hold your flat bar in place. Use your Allen key to remove them, then slide your handlebars free.
Step 3. Remove the Stem - Use the Allen key to loosen the top cap and the stem clamp. It should then slide right off the bar.
Step 4. Mount Your Hanger and Stem - Slide your cable hanger over the bare bar, then slide on your new stem, reducing the number of spacers when necessary.
Step 5. Tighten the Top Cap - Use your Allen key to screw the top cap back in place over your new stem.
Step 6. Tighten Hanger and Stem Clamps - Use your Allen key to secure these components, making sure they’re centered as you go.
Step 7. Install Drop Bars - Your new handlebars should slip right in through the upper stem clamp. Hold them in position as you tighten the clamp.
Step 8. Mount Your Levers - Thread your levers onto your drop bars and tighten their bolts using the hex wrench.
Step 9. Replace Your Brakes - Your brakes are easily removed using your Allen wrenches. Once they’re off, grease their mounts, then make the switch.
Step 10. Adjust Brake Pads - Make sure they’re only hitting the rim rather than the tires.
Step 11. Repeat Steps 9 and 10 for Rear Brake
Step 12. Install Rear Hanger - This little bit of gear normally threads onto the seat post clamp.
Step 13. Remove Old Derailleur and Mount New One - Break the chain, pull it loose, loosen the derailleur clamp, and remove it. Now you’ll need to install the road derailleur
Step 14. Route and House Your Cabling - To finish things off, you’ll need to set up your brake wiring. This can be quite complex, so make sure you do your research first.