Dirt Drop Basics
I've long been a fan of dirt drop style handlebars. My buddy Kevin and I were typical mountain bike riders of the early 90's in BC. Our bikes had super narrow flat bars to enable us to ride between trees on the narrow single track trails of the area. A bike shop owner in Whistler, who had all the cool parts from the US that we'd only seen in magazines, convinced us to try drop bars. The bars were a hoot to use. On flowy single track, they felt more precise than traditional flat bars. The dirt drops also gave my bike an unconventional look, that helped it stand out in a sea of bikes in BC. I don't think we saw anyone else with them in years of riding in BC and the western US. I used them on my Brodie for off road riding, commuting, and touring for over a dozen years.
The basic tenant of using dirt drops is that unlike traditional drop bars, you want the brake hoods to be at least the same height as the saddle, preferably higher. The idea is that you can ride with your hands on the hoods for comfort and you can get into the drops for "rough stuff" and still maintain control. You'll see that many dirt drop bars have a fair amount of flare, compared to road drop bars, and this extra leverage gives you more control in those situations where finesse is needed- threading the needle on single track trails or trying to get through a mud pit on a remote gravel road in western PA.
What else to think of when switching to dirt drops? Shifters would be the other thing. You can set up shifting in three different ways. You can use traditional bar end shifters. The Dia Compe ones we sell work great for up to a 9 speed set up. You can do with "brifters" like Igor did on his Piolet build. Or you could be more unique and go with the thumb shifter mounts and put them up by the handlebar clamp area and shift with your thumbs on the flat section of the drop bars.
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