Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Feel of the Bars

Hook me up to some simple, classic, approximately parallel drop bars

Next to saddles, handlebars must be next item on bicycles which are most susceptible to individual preference, whim, and the obsessive search for comfort and utility. I've tried different shapes and configurations, from straight mountain bars, though trekking bars, to drop bars--in fact I have bikes mounted with all of those currently, with three different sets of drop bars: a newer set of ergo drop bars, which I like, an older, smaller, narrower set of drop bars from the early 70s on the fixie which are perfect for it, and these, my Nitto B-115 bars mounted on a single speed.

The B-115 bars just feel right to me. In different hand positions, my hands just sit right, and don't seem to get fatigued or numb at all. Fingers wrapped around the bar, the ride feels solid but not harsh. The bars don't seem to bend or flex much. And the drops are just in the right place, not to far away, not too close, with just the right amount of flare.

I know the bars are just the interface to the rest of the bike, and to the road, so we're talking about a combined effect here, which includes variables like trail, head tube angle, frame material, and so on. I have to think the fork plays a big part in the way the bars feel. The bar tape plays a role. Tire size and pressure probably has a huge effect on how your hands feel, since they have such a big effect on handling road bumps.But the bars get the credit. Is that right, is it fair? Tires want fair consideration! Well, I did have different, no-name, track bars on this same bike, with the same tires, same stem set up the same way, and I more or less hated them. Too much drop, too much slippery slope up top, even too short in the drops, all around not good. So, tires, stem, fork, frame, et. al., you get some credit, but in terms of sweet buttery hand rests, bars get all the credit. The Nitto B-115 bars just work for me.


  1. I agree....we should give our bars more credit more often......Neat post!


  2. Oh yeah, there's a little Irish-style pub just south of Thomas Road on ...
    ... wait a minute ... have I got that type of "bar" right?

    Trekking bars rule.

  3. Even the bar tape should get some credit :-) I hated the drops I'm currently happy with when, as stock, they came with a particular cork tape that felt slimey and soapy when wet, yuck!


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