How to set up drop bar on your MTB bike

I wanted to try a drop bar on my mountain bike. It's pretty popular topic on forums but it has no clear solution. I couldn't find a simple and cheap method to do this and I've tried to do something myself. And that's what I got.

Before I'll start my story, let me explain why I wanted to set up the drop bar on my MTB. I have two bikes - road and MTB. I like to ride on the road bike and I like drop bar.

Usually, I ride on the MTB not in mountains as the most of the people :) It's simple roads without asphalt and when you ride on these roads, nice to have a suspension. But also, I want to ride fast and to have a lot of positions for my hands on the handlebar. Because it's convenient.
I think that not only companies who produces bikes can do experiments :)

So, what the problem? Seems it should be simple - just buy the drop bar and set up it! What can be easier? 

The main problem is that handlebars on road bikes and mountain bikes have different thickness. Handlebars for the road bike have thickness 23.8mm, but handlebars for MTB have 22.2 mm. It means that you cannot just set your shifters and brake levers from your MTB on the drop bar. 

Some people on forums proposes to buy shifters for a road bike. But it brings few problems:

The first problem is that these shifters are costly. Their cost can be $120-$150 or more (it depends on a level of shifters). 

The second problem is that usually, MTB bikes have hydraulic brakes and hardly you can find shifters for road bikes will be compatible with hydraulic brakes.

I just wanted to try to set the drop bar on my MTB, but I don't want to buy new shifters, buy new brakes and spend a lot of money for this experiment.

I found cheap and simple solution
Let me explain step by step how I did it.

1. Find a drop bar which will be compatible with MTB shifters and brake levers.

I've checked a lot of online bike shops to find the drop bar with a thickness of 22mm. But I couldn't find it. All they had thickness 23.8mm or thickness was not specified.

As a next step, I went to the local bike repair service, where was a cool master, who could make some bike parts. I've asked him to help me with my experiment and make a handlebar for me. But he told that it is a very bad idea and he doesn't want to participate in it.

Okay, I've tried to make an order in local workshops which specialized on work with metal. I wrote several emails but the most of them answered that they cannot do it.
Those companies who were ready to do this told that the cost will be $60-100. I thought that it's also too expensive and I couldn't be sure in quality of a final result.

As a last hope, I have tried to find required handlebar on AliExpress and bingo! I found it.

It's this product. This drop bar has thickness 22.2mm and I could use it.

I ordered this handlebar and received it 1.5 months later. The handlebar looked great!



I couldn't wait and tried to set it immediately.

2. How to set shifters and brake levers

My first idea was install shifters and brake levers in the same position as shifters on the road bike. It's would be pseudo road shifters.

But I found that my hydraulic lines for brakes are too short and I have to replace hydraulic lines to set them in this position. I rejected this idea.

I have tried to put my shifters and brake levers in the middle of the handlebar. And I found that it's not the best but pretty good position for them.

Handlebar with brake levers and shifters

Handlebar with brake levers and shifters

Handlebar with brake levers and shifters

What is important: if you will try to move your shifters and brake levers through bends of the handlebar, you should be careful to do not break them.

I used a screwdriver to slightly expand clamps at the moment when I dragged them through the bends of the handlebar. I've expanded them just on 1-2 mm in the moment when they were too narrow to move through the each bend of the handlebar. 

But I cannot guarantee that you can expand clamps on your shifters and brake levers and don't break them.

3. Wrap the handlebar by tape

It's easy. You can find a lot of videos about it on youtube. You can face with only one little problem. This handlebar is a bit thinner than standard handlebar for the road bike and standard caps do not fit for this handlebar. But I have modified them a bit and I set them without problems :)


4. Let's summarize

I have tested new handlebar and it's very good. This handlebar is very convenient and I don't have a problem with a switching of speeds or braking. You just should try to brake a bit earlier, than usually to have time to move your hands on the brake levers. But I think that it is a matter of habit.

Here are several photos of the final result.

Handlebar with brake levers, shifters and bar tape

Handlebar with brake levers, shifters and bar tape

I spent ~$13.5 for handlebar and ~$1.5 for a tape for the handlebar.
The total budget is only $15. Hardly it can be cheaper.
The result exceeds my expectations and I'm enjoying it.

I hope that this instruction was useful for somebody.