Thursday, February 09, 2006

Bar Time: Away From MTB For Awhile!

This is a reminder to read the four previous "Bar Time" posts if you haven't already. Now, on to today's post.........

After the shop I first wrenched at went under, I found myself working for the dark side at a local automobile repair shop. The hours didn't leave a whole lot of time to ride, so I found myself riding the road much more. One or two other contributing factors played into this, as well. During this time, I still looked with wonder and interest at what was going on in the mountainbiking world. The biggest change that I just couldn't understand, and still don't, was the change in fashion to using riser bars. As I mentioned in another post, why not use a flat bar with sweep and a higher rise stem? The shortest distance, ( and therefore usually the lightest) between two points is a straight line. Riser bars seem to work against that wisdom. Additionally, if you want alternative hand posistions, be ready for harassment from your mtb'ing peers. Riser bars and bar ends are a sure way to find yourself the target of jeers! (Don't you just love The Fashionistas?)

So, I never really got into the riser bar thing, although I did buy one to see what the fuss was about. I was not impressed! Later on, I would get bitten by the off road bug again. This would lead to the re-birth of handle bar experimentation, as well.

This was also about the time that I got back into wrenching on bikes. I was surfing the internet, and found out about 29"ers. I ended up getting a Karate Monkey, and the first bar I put on it was a steel riser bar, because that's what the shop had available. I was trying to keep the costs down. However; just like before, I never really got on with the riser. One day, a former employee of the shop came in and after discussing different handlebars, he mentioned that he had something for me to try. It was an aluminum mustache bar. I thought that it would be cool, kind of like a flattened out drop bar. I loved it immediately! I really liked how you could change up your hand and body posistioning, much like a road drop bar. I probably would have kept that mustache bar, but it was on loan, and it was one of the rare ones compatible with mtb controls, so I couldn't duplicate it. Oh well!

The next bar that went on the Monkey was an old Titec 118 titanium bar. Narrow, flat, and at only three degrees, you would think that I would have hated that bar. In aluminum I would have. But this was titanium! Hmmm...........there is nothing like a titanium bar for comfort! Very smooth! I eventually found some Ergon grips, which made my hands very happy, and I ran this configuration for awhile until...............Midge came into my life!

I got the Midge bar, which really was the culmination of searching, and of an idea that I had had for years. I overcame the required use of aero roadie brakes, and I have loved that bar alot. It still isn't quite there yet though, and here is what I think would be better. Drop bars still require that more material be used due to the curves in the bar itself and the required high rise stem. I think that there is a better solution, but I have yet to try it. It's name is The H-Bar.

The H-Bar is flat- no extra material. It also is titanium, so it should be comfy. It gives you several hand posistions, and therefore, body posistions. That's good. still has it's shortcomings too. It can't be utilized with all current mtb controls, notably SRAM twist shifters. So, maybe the search will continue.

Only time will tell!

The next installment will conclude the "Bar Time" series. I will give my opinions on the current crop of alternative bars, and some ideas on what I think might make a better handle bar for off roading. Until then.....................

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