Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Bar Time: Three Discoveries

If you have been coming here to keep up with the "Bar Time" posts, you may have noticed that I have been hitting it at least twice a day. This is to bring the discussion up to the modern day, and so that this won't go on for days on end! If you are just checking this out for the first time, please scroll down and read the three previous "Bar Time" posts to get caught up.

This afternoon's post is going to deal with three discoveries that greatly affected my views on what would make the perfect handle bar.

The first big revelation was acquiring my first road bike in about 1995 or so. I was impressed with the several hand posistions that the drop bar provided. I also noticed that it was not only good for my hands and upper body, but that it affected my entire body depending on whether or not I rode in the drops, on the hoods, or on the tops. The effect was that I found that I was able ride far more comfortably than I could on my mountain bike.

The second discovery came from a rather odd source. I was to go on a fully unsupported, over the road tour with a couple of friends, but I didn't have a suitable bike for such an adventure. I was able to find a bike eventually in the used bike section at the shop where I worked at that time. The bike was a 1985 Mongoose All Mountain Pro mountain bike. It had "bull moose" bars on it. I decided to ride it with these bars a few times before I made the drop bar conversion I had planned. The bull moose bars had a split stem that sort of formed a triangle with it's base being the front center portion of the handlebar itself. The sweep of the bar then started at the point where the "corners" of the triangular base was. It had a mighty generous sweep too! I'd say at least over 10 degrees, maybe more. That was one comfortable bar except that it only had one hand posistion on offer.

The final discovery wasn't a handle bar, or even a bike, it was a person's philosophy and design sense. Charlie Cunningham is a genius of design. He developed several prominent features of mountain bikes, but the one that really caught my imagination was the drop bar modified for off road use. In reading about him, I discovered that an off road drop bar gave me several hand posistions and sweep! Cool! What wasn't so cool was that you had to use road levers, which at the time of my discovery, were not so compatible with the new linear pull "V" brakes that had just come out. (1996) You also had to forsake the fashion of the day, and get yourself an ultra rise stem to accomodate the drop bar. That wasn't an easy task either with the new Aheadset system for headsets. Since these obstacles were in the way, I didn't pursue that least not then!

Next time I'll get into my hiatus from mountain biking, the rebirth of the pursuit of the perfect handle bar, and some recent experiments that I have conducted. Until then............

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