|Salsa Cowbell 2 On The BMC "Orange Crush"|
The new Salsa Cycles Cowbell 2
has been getting some rave comments from folks I trust and respect lately. Now I know why.
I've got my 46cm Salsa Cycles Cowbell 2 bars mounted and ridden and here are my impressions of the bar so far.
Mounting And Taping:
Unlike some other off-road drop bars, the Cowbell drops are pretty typical road-like fare to deal with, in as far as how you will want to have them set up. I like "traditional" placement of the levers and drop extensions- Meaning, level drop section, parallel to the ground, and lever tips hanging just below the drop section. Call me "old skool
", but I think it looks far better and not only that, it rides better in all hand positions.
I'll get to that later, but just know that these bars will be familiar to set up and tape for anyone that has done road bike bars before. No funky "point-the-drop-extensions-at-the-rear-axle
", no weird sweep, and no weird lever angles.
Salsa put some sweet graduated lines on each hook on the outer side of the curve to help with lever placement. Ever obsessed about which lever was higher? Yeah......me too!
With these simple graphics on the bar, the guess work is gone. Thanks Salsa for that thoughtful touch! Saved a bunch of fretting and time for me, I know that much.
|Looks pretty normal from here|
Okay, I've a confession to make: I don't like traditional road bars at all.
They feel all wrong to me, and not comfortable at all in the drops. (No wonder people never use their drops on road bikes. It feels all constricted down there, at least to me.)
The minimal sweep and flare of the Cowbell bars is so subtle, you almost can not see it when the bars are mounted and taped up. (Salsa claims 12 degrees of flare) That said, it was "just enough" to make me not hate on these bars.
My first ride was not all hearts and roses. I felt the Cowbell was too roadie-ish
for my tastes. (This may be all you need to read to be a fan of these!) However; I knew I was coming off some pretty radical drops in the Ragely Luxy Bar, and anything with less sweep than those was going to be a huge departure for me. So, I gave it some time.
The Cowbell does have an excellent transition from the ramp section to the hoods. Very comfy place to grip there. The variable radius bend of the drops was great too. This is something I would like to see more of in the swept, flared off road drop bars. Variable radius bars just fit into the hand better, with a great perch for the butt of the palms to sit into. Super comfy and secure grip there. The drops reach to the levers is perfect. I could easily brake and shift from the drops at will.
The tops have a wide enough section that makes it feel good to climb there and cruise there without making you feel that your grip is too narrow. Going from up top to the drops is easy since the drop is shallow. Overall, every traditional hand position is very useable with this handle bar.
|Traditional set up: There is a reason this works...|
On rough stuff, like grass, and pot holed, cracked pavement, the bar felt reasonably smooth. Salsa says the Cowbell 2 is double butted. If I push hard into the drops, the bars flex a bit. Nothing radical. I can't discern it while climbing and honking on the levers. That said, it feels smoother than the Luxy Bar that came off the "Orange Crush", so I'm going to say it is the double butted stock and design of these that gives them a bit of a sweet ride feel.
What about that "roadie-ish feel
"? Well, I did have some of that sensation disappear. On the last ride before I wrote this, I found myself shooting up a steep embankment in the drops. Rocking the bike slightly from side to side, out of the saddle. Then it dawned on me. "Hey- these are not all that bad for being so "straight" in the drops!"
The minimal sweep and flare seems to be "just enough" to make them work for off road, and yet they don't look "nontraditional" in the sense that they have a very normal drop bar look and feel for most riding.
I won't be rocking these on my mountain bike, but I do like these for gravel, and if I were a cyclo cross kind of guy, I would seriously look at these. They afford much more control in the drops than a traditional road bar can when descending, and you can power up climbs and short chutes while in the drops and not break your wrists. The variable radius bend is great for your grip as well.
These bars can accept bar end shifters too. "Brifters" should set up really well for folks on the Cowbell bars, and if you need to mount gadgets, there is plenty of room on the tops for that non-sense.
I think Salsa has designed another great product in the Cowbell 2 bars, and I'll be sticking with these for the "Orange Crush" for a long time. I just wish they came in silver! (There! A criticism!) I'm not much on these for real rough off roading, but they weren't really aimed at that activity either. Road bikers, tourists, and anyone not satisfied with wonky drop bar designs prevalent today should look hard at these.
Happy Trails all! Have a great weekend!
I've gotten some questions about what the difference is between the Cowbell 2 and Cowbell 3 bars is. I e-mailed Salsa Cycles for an explanation Here is what they shared with me.....
Here is the skinny on our naming. This is new for the future and these are the first products coming under our new format.
1 = BEST (equate to product like Pro Moto Carbon bars and Pro Moto Ti stem)
2 = BETTER (equate to product such as aluminum Pro Moto bars)
3 = GOOD (equate to product formerly known as Moto Ace)
Each of these levels will be differentiated by features, materials and finish quality. All of our core components will come this way eventually. We will have 3 level of components in bars, stems and seat posts.
So, there ya have it folks! Thanks for the comments and for checking out Guitar Ted Productions!