|The Soma Gator Bar as seen on my Karate Monkey|
The Soma Gator Bar is definitely one of the oddest drop bars I am aware of. At first glance, it looks vaguely similar to a Salsa Cycles Woodchipper Bar, but the resemblance is only cursory. The reality is that the Gator Bar stands alone with no known drop bars even coming close to its unique features. And just what are those, you may ask? Well, for starters, the extensions are mountain bike control compatible. What that means is that you could mount brakes and shifters right off your mountain bike to the longish extensions, as Soma made the diameter of this part of the bar 22.2mm. Here's a short bullet list from Soma's site on the features of this bar:
- - 6061 butted aluminum
- Size/Width: 655mm at ends, center-to-center
- Width: 505mm at front of drops, center-to-center
- Width of flats on top: 340mm
- Center: 31.8mm
- Drops flare out at 20° angle
- Drops are 190mm long and have an OD of 22.2
(i.e. they can take flat bar grips)
- Reach: 65mm / Drop: 112-160mm
(Reach and drop is relative to the angle you install these bars at. On these types of bars, you want to angle the drops down, not have them parallel to the ground as with road bars)
- Weight: 400g
- No cable grooves
- Shotpeen finish
- Black or silver
|The Gator Bar has narrow tops, a lot of flare, and a deep drop.|
|Those extensions are really long!|
|The radius of the drop section suffers from what I call "Woodchipper Syndrome". Hey- if you like Woodchippers, that's great, but that radius makes lever placement tough.|
The drop radius is what really tanks this bar, in my opinion. It is a similar beef I have with the Woodchipper. If you want your hoods to come off the ramps at an angle parallel to the ground, you have no choice but to have the extensions pointing downward at such an angle I find many people won't use them. (Based on experiences setting up Woodchippers for others.) This isn't at all what off road drop bars are about. In fact, it is the antithesis to the whole reason for a flared, swept drop bar. In the case of the Gator Bar, I had to compromise my ramps/hood position to get a usable extensions grip that, in the end, meant that neither position was suitable for my tastes. Well, not when you have Midge Bars, Cowchippers, and Gary Sweep OS bars that do the job so much better and afford one all the grip options with little to no compromises. So, yes......I ended up taking these off my Karate Monkey.
My final verdict on this bar is that it is so odd that it may only work for a very few folks. Soma makes the June Bug, a Midge Bar knock-off, which, in my opinion, is three times as usable as this bar is for most people. If a highly swept, angled extension bar is your cup of tea, I would point you toward the Woodchipper before taking a chance on this one. That said, this could be the bar you've been waiting for. In that case, I'd jump on this quick. In the fickle world of off road drop bars, you never know how long you'll be able to get such an odd handle bar.
Note: Soma Fab sent me this bar ages ago for test/review and I was not paid, nor bribed for this review. I strive to give my honest thoughts and opinions throughout.