Thursday, June 25, 2009

Handle Bar News And Notes

A whole post dedicated to handle bars? Yep! You wouldn't believe the number of hits I get on this blog that are handle bar related. Some days, it is the highest rated search topic!

Drop Bars For Mountain Biking: Here's the big one. The topic my blog gets hit on more than any other by far. Weird isn't it? Well..........anyway........

-The Midge Bar: This was an On One product that sold really well in off road drop bar circles. (Which are really tiny circles, by the way!) Two things happened here. The Fargo came out and Brant Richards left On One to start up his own design firm and brand. These two events have caused the Midge Bar to disappear from the market place. On One seemingly has ceased to exist on the mtb/mtb accessory side and supplies of the Midge have all but dried up. On the other hand, the Fargo has folks scrambling for bars like the Midge. Obviously Midge Bars are in high demand now with little to no supply.

-The Gary Bar: The Gary Bar is J&B Importers version of a Midge with some important differences. Mainly, the slope of the bar is rather severe, which puts off a lot of folks, and they do not accept bar end shifters. Other than those two things, the Gary Bar is a cheaper, widely available option for off road drop bar users. The thing is, those two issues I mention with the Gary Bar are pretty serious issues for a lot of folks, so the appeal of this offering has been somewhat limited by those quirks.

-The WTB Bar: Here we have a really nice, wide, flared drop bar that is offered in 31.8 and 25.4mm clamp sizes. The WTB bar does have a bit more drop than the Midge or Gary, so if you have to have your bars high, it becomes an issue. Also, the WTB bar has a somewhat of an "ergo" bend to the drop section which some find to be a negative. Personal preference I suppose.

-The Future: Soon we will have two more choices in off road drop bars. They should be available soon. Here's what I know.........

Shed Fire/Ragley: When Brant Richards left On One he took with him some ideas to improve some stuff he had done at On One. One of those ideas, apparently, was to do another off road drop bar design. Seeing as how I had been spouting off about the shortcomings of all the off road drop bar offerings, Brant asked me to give him a solution, instead of grousing! So.....I did. Some of what I told him/showed him is incorporated into the new design, but I assure you, it is a Brant Richards take on drop bars for off road. (Yes, I have seen the computer renderings, and no- I am not going to tell you anything!) These bars are in prototype stages now. I haven't a clue as to when they will be ready, but I assume it would be quite soon.

Salsa Cycles: When the Fargo was announced, certain of us drop bar aficionados were thinking, "Ah ha!- There must be an appropriate bar in the works!" Well, we were right. Many of us drop bar freaks were asked to add some input for the design. I do not know what the final product will look like, and I do not know when it will be done, I just know they are working on this. I would assume that something will surface soon. Trust me.....I'm keeping an eye out for this one. All I can say is that with a bike like the Fargo in Salsa's line, it just doesn't make sense not to have a bar to go with it. I mean, it isn't like Salsa Cycles doesn't do handle bars, ya know?

So, that covers the drop bar arena, but wait! There's more alt bar madness!

-The "J-Bar": The ridiculously ugly Titec H-Bar has now been rendered in a true "Jones" style called the Titec "J-Bar". (Sounds like a western cattle brand name, eh?) Anyway, it is a great rendering of the uber-spendy titanium Jones Bar in aluminum. Available now.

-Space Bar: The J&B Importers Space Bar, a close rendering of On One's Mary Bar, was a hit with me until I noticed a bunch of failures with that bar. I then ceased using it, and J&B Importers started marketing it as not suitable for off road. Then J&B had a beefier version done, which they dubbed the "Space Bar OR". Saying it is now up to the rigors of off road use, the Space Bar OR is now available. I will be trying one soon, so stay tuned....

-Sweep Bar: J&B also noticed that a lot of flat bars were being rendered with more sweep. Anything from 10 to 12 degrees is common now with Salsa Cycles doing a 17 degree sweep. Well, J&B saw that and decided to split the difference and do a 15 degree sweep bar. The "Pro Pulsion Sweep" is coming in 31.8mm clamp size for a 166 gram bar. There is a heavier, less expensive version as well that is offered in 25.4mm or 31.8mm clamp sizes. Look for a Pro Pulsion Sweep review from me in the future.

That wraps up my Handle Bar News and Notes. Go ride yer bike!

Update: Know yer MTB history! This is long, so get a beverage, sit back, and relax while you learn where this sport started from: Highly recommended listening!

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