Wednesday, March 07, 2007

H-Bar Update and Other Handlebar Musings

I've had the H-Bar on board the Raleigh XXIX+G for awhile now and I have some initial feedback concerning it. Overall, for you impatient ones, I like it quite a bit.

For as ugly as it is, (Mike Curiak called it the "ugliest bar I have seen....ever!"), the H-Bar from Titec makes up for it in performance and comfort. The bar, as you may well know, is a design licensed from Jeff Jones, a frame maker out in the boonies of Oregon. His original version of this design is executed in titanium and looks a smidgen better than the Titec. It also, being titanium, is a bit more comfortable in the rough than my aluminum version is. That said, my bar retails for a whole lot less than Jeff Jones' bar does. Maybe someday I'll pop for "the real thing".

There's a good reason why so many would (and have) payed the full price for a Jones H-Bar. They are a well thought out piece of equipment. I first saw the benefits of the multiple hand posistions and the ways you can alter your upper body posture during long rides in the saddle. It's much like my Midge bar in that way. Also, the sweep of the extensions was a great feel, aligning my wrists and arms in a way that was more relaxed and yet gave me good power for climbing. I've got to get these on a single speed for more testing on the climbing aspect.

The good surprise so far has been the slow speed, technical, pick your way, getting knocked off line situations where the combination of hand/arm posistion and the overall width of the bar allowed me a level of control that I haven't been able to generate from any riser or flat bar before. More than anything else, I think it works for me because of the ergonomics, which allows me to relax yet have control without resorting to wrestling with the bar or muscling the front end around.

There are a few nits. The controls for a geared set up are on in a compromised way, and the options are limited for changing that. I think single speeding it is the ideal situation for these bars. I've got one more idea for the geared set up before I banish these bars to a single speed though.

The other nit has to do with the goofy cross bar section, which serves no other purpose than to make the bars ugly and the cross section useless, or nearly so, for comfortable hand posistioning. Titec supposedly did this cross section from a riser bar to help keep your current stem in usage, but that's not a good enough reason to keep the original flat, straight cross bar from being used in this version of the bar. It's better looking, a bit lighter, and would be more user friendly. Titec needs to change that cross bar!

Finally, this and all other round cross section bars are stupid without something like Ergon grips installed which make a device that looks like something used in the Dark Ages for torture a more useable, comfortable piece of equipment. If you haven't tried Ergon grips or an equivilent type of grip, (WTB is making something along these lines now), you are living in the Dark Ages in terms of hand comfort. Round cross section points of contact on a bike don't have any corresponding concave shaped points of contact with the human body last time I checked. Ever tried riding while sitting on your top tube, or pedaling on a bare pedal spindle before?

Anyway, more H-Bar testing feedback due in a week or so. Stay tuned!


Rex said...

Thanks for the review - I have not seen many and have just come across the H-bars this evening. I have a Gary Fischer Rig single speed and was so intrigued with the Jones design . . . I await your further comments on this bar -


Guitar Ted said...

@Rex: Hey, thanks for commenting.

I actually am still using these bars, but as I hinted here, they are really best on a single speed, and I have used them only for single speed use since this post went up almost three years ago now.

You can now get a "J-Bar" version of this, with a straight cross bar, which as I stated in the review was something Titec should do. well, they have.

Highly recommended for an SS set up.