‘Cross bike: drop bars or flats?

Hey gang. I’ve been riding a cyclocross bike with drop bars for about a year, and it’s been fun. I’m about to do a real build (good parts and “ideal” setup) on the Mighty S-Works Tricross, and I keep vacillating between drop bars and risers.

I plan to ride paved road, dirt road and a bit of trail. Pros and cons, pros and cons:


Rock a pair or road bars or ‘cross bars with flared drops.


– Lots of hand positions.

– Cruising with hands on the hoods is just so relaxed and neutral.

– Get nice and low in the drops. Haul ass.

– Roadie cred. I teach quite a few roadies, and it’s great to show how the skills apply to drop bars.


– Weak braking. And road levers aren’t conducive to one-finger actuation.

– Narrowness. I know that means better aerodynamics, but air resistance is not my limiting factor (especially at 190 lbs.)

– Longer reach and lower hands. While this feels great when pinning it on the road, my body isn’t used to it, and my shoulders hate it.


Reproduce the feet/butt/hands relationships on the Mighty Stumpjumper — the most neutrally bad ass bike I’ve ridden.


– Full on braaap and control.

– Run some real brake levers and brakes. I’d love discs, but the Tricross doesn’t take ’em. So V-brakes.

– Consistency. I can make the cockpits on my Stumpy and Tricross almost identical. That’ll be easier on my body, and training on one translates directly to the other. (Right now, this second, Jon Watt is getting even faster. I’m not giving up!)

– Baby trailer! An upright position and real brakes seem like a good idea. And I want The Girls to know daddy is a mountain biker.

– Bar ends! I have some original-issue Onzas, and they want action!


– Not as varied and aero on longer road adventures. Unless I get clever with the bar ends.

– Not really a road/cross bike. More like a 29er with skinny tires. And a carbon frame/fork.

– Lack of roadie cred. Is that a con?

What to do, what to do

I’m sure you folks have some thoughts. Fire away!

— Lee

Know more. Have more fun!

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