Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Off Road Drop Bar Comparison: Part II

In my last look at off road drop bars, I did not have a Woodchipper handy to use as a comparison sample, and I also noted it was a heck of a lot different than most bars, other than the new Ragley Bikes Luxy Bar. Well, if you missed that post, you can read it here. This go round, I have a Pro Moto 31.8mm bar clamp diameter 46cm wide Woodchipper and a Luxy Bar to compare head to head with each other. Let's take a quick look.....

Here we have the Luxy Bar out front (330gm) and the Woodchipper in the background (330gm). Although both feature pretty dramatically swept drop sections, the big differences are readily apparent here.

The "flare" outwards of the drops on the Luxy is classic off road drop bar fare. The Woodchipper almost looks like it is bent inwards, (but it isn't, it is a trick of the perspective here), and you can also see the top of the Luxy is 31.8mm all the way across to each drop section. Finally, the Luxy is about 1 1/2" wider over-all from tip to tip, than the Woodchipper. The Luxy is the widest off road drop I know of at 27.5" wide!

Before we leave the front view, I want to point out that the Woodchipper will allow your levers to be the closest to a traditional road bike drop bar set up position that any off road drop bar can offer. The nearly vertical drop section keeps the levers almost straight up and down, albeit canted inwards, so if you value the hood position due to road bike experience, the Woodchipper is closest of anything you'll find next to the Gary II Bar from the first post. (I haven't tried the Gary II yet, but I will get that on a bike soon and give a report when I do.)

As I say, it is really hard to take a photo of a Woodchipper and not make it look bent inwards. Here is my best attempt. The bar makes a slight "S" shape as it drops from the top to the extension, and this area is in-line with the swept extension, as you can sort of make out here. The Luxy Bar has a much more dramatic "S" shape as the bar goes from the top to the extension.

The Luxy Bar lays your levers sideways a bit, and with STI shifting, the levers almost seem like an STI Mountain lever. It is easy to use, but the hoods are canted due to this and may offend those who crave a traditional hoods position. That said, the Luxy sets the hoods up high enough to make the hoods very usable and yet you can grab the brake lever easily from the drops. This is due to the minimal drop the Luxy has.

And here is the shape of the drops, or "hooks". You can see that the Luxy has a generous "reach" or "ramp" area on top. Yet it also has a generous drop extension as well. One very important thing to note here though is how the drop extension and "ramp" are in relation to each other.

On the Woodchipper, the drop extension is not even close to being parallel to the ramp section. This "opened" hook shape means that most Woodchipper set ups will end up having the drop section pointing downwards and back towards the rear axle, or below. This is because in order to get a ramp that you can have any sort of comfortable hand position on, you necessarily have to rotate the bar from where I have it setting on the table counter-clockwise so that the ramp flows nicely into your hoods. If  you are having trouble wrapping your mind around that, look at the Luxy Bar's ramp section. See how it is closer to being level? Now what would you have to do to get the Woodchipper that way up top? (See what I mean?)

Here is the Luxy Bar on my Badger 29"er. Note how the hoods transition into the bar. (The "ramp" section) Now look at the brake lever tip. Still a great reach from the drops. Even though the Luxy technically has more "drop" than a Woodchipper, the Woodchipper in this case would have the back of the extensions pointing severely downward, and therefore would have more effective drop than this Luxy Bar does.

The Luxy still gives you a slight downward tilt to the drop extensions, but no where near as dramatic as a Woodchipper's. The sweep on both of these bars is effectively the same, and in that sense they feel identical to grip from the saddle.

Conclusions: The differences between these two bars is enough that they are each unique to use. I like the Woodchippers lever set up for single speed use, extension length, sweep, and I really like the width the Woodchipper has between the levers on the tops for grinding out long, seated climbs. The Luxy Bar has a better grip in the hooks, at least to my tastes, and the less severe slope to the drop extensions keeps things more comfortable when I ride on the back end of the extensions. I don't like the narrower tops on the Luxy, and that is a shame, since having a constant 31.8mm grip across that top is sweet. I just wish for more room, but that is a minor nit. Oddly enough, the Luxy Bar seems more compliant than the Pro Moto Woodchipper does. I like that. Shifting a STI lever is actually more pleasant on the Luxy Bar due to the way the levers are canted by the drops. The Woodchipper does come in a bit narrower, and even in a smaller width, (42cm), and in a 25.4mm clamp diameter. More versatility there.

In the end, I would say that the Luxy Bar is a worthy foil to a Woodchipper, which I considered to be the best off road drop before the Luxy Bar hit the scene. Now? It is a toss up. I really like them both, but for different reasons. More ride time on the Luxy Bar may refine my ideas, but for now, I would highly recommend either of these bars for off road pursuits.


The Breathing Room said...

Great review, thanks. I've just completed setting up my Troll as a mountain tourer using the 42cm Woodchippers. I've been second guessing my choice of bar ever since I saw the Luxy. Your review shows that the Woodchipper was the right bar for this application, I really don't want any extra width. I'll have think about using the Luxy on my monstercross bike.

Joe Dirt said...

I set my woodchippers up similar to the way Gnat outlined in a Salsa blog and my brake levers are slanted, not at all vertical. I have no problem with this but it goes to show how many different ways you can set these bars up. I wish I could see a Luxy bar in person, pic are hard to compare. Maybe some shots of the bars from different angles on bikes would help. I feel my Woodchippers are much more flared out than how they appear in your photos.

larry said...

Any idea of when or who is going to bring the Luxy into the States?

Guitar Ted said...

@Larry: I am not sure Brant Richards is pursuing this quite yet. I know of a few things happening in the future that may change that, but not immediately, and I can not comment on that any further.

For now your best bet is chain reaction cycles.

Olorin said...

Hey there,

I'm planning to try a drop bar on my MTB. Luckily I already chose a suitable brake last year when I built it: the BB7 mountain. I'd like to know what kind of break levers you use on yours (I assume from the pictures that you are using the BB7 mountain). At the moment im using a flat bar with Avid Speed Dial 7 levers. I really love the versatility of these levers (adjustment of pressure point and handsize <- I really got small hands ...) and don't want to miss that in the future.

Nice reviews you write here! Keep that up!

Guitar Ted said...

@Olorin: I have generally stuck with the Tektro drop bar levers for linear pull/ mechanical disc brakes. They work quite nicely for me.

Lloyd Cook said...

Hi Ted saw your post and has inspired me to put the Luxy on to my Giant XTC 29er, I have the shimano components and was wondering if I should simply drop the Shimano Tiagra 4503 Triple STI 9 Speed Shifters in or if you recommend something altogether different?


Guitar Ted said...

@Lloyd Cook: That should work okay as long as your brakes Are compatible