Thursday, June 09, 2011

The Cowbell II: It's What I Would Have Done...

Image by Jonathan Smith
It's pretty well documented as to my affections for drop bars for gravel riding and off roading. I get tons of hits on this blog about that subject. Well, here's a story, and believe it or not, it is true.

About two years ago, I was on yakking about drop bars and I mentioned a few things I thought would make a right proper drop bar for what I use them for. It wasn't long before I had been contacted by e-mail by Brant Richards. He asked me to sketch out what I would like. So, I did, in pencil. I scanned it, and sent it off to him.

Now, he's a great designer of handlebars. He penned the Midge Bar, the Mary Bar, and has done a lot of cool, well thought out bits and bicycles. However; when I saw the initial photos for what would become the Luxy Bar, I must admit I was a bit deflated. My ideas were mostly gone. No matter, I figured Brant knew best, and I hadn't even tried the Luxy Bar, so who knew? Maybe they would be great.

Image by Jonathan Smith

And the Luxy is great. I do really like it, but my ideas were still in my mind as being something I thought would work great. Some folks knew about it, and could vouch for me, but in the end, it really doesn't matter. I don't care who would, or does make such a bar, as long is it got made and available. I just really believed it would be something that would work. It's just that I am not a product designer, nor can I manufacture such a beast. I figured it was a dead horse.

But, much to my surprise, I got a call about a week ago from my good friend Ben Witt. He said Salsa Cycles had a new drop bar out that hadn't been mentioned, nor was even on their website, but was available from QBP. He described it, or shall I say, tried to, but stopped short and said, "Just order it. I know you're gonna love it."

Image by Jonathan Smith
Well, Ben is one of the very few people I would allow to put me a bicycle together sight unseen by myself, and have it be exactly what I wanted. He just has a knack for knowing what I'd like better than I do, seemingly. So, sight unseen, I ordered up a 46cm Salsa Cycles Cowbell II bar for myself.

It came in yesterday, while I was away on vacation, but Jonathan Smith, who took these images, was kind enough to forward me some pics. I was floored by the similarities to my earlier drop bar idea.

You know what? This bar and I are going to get along really, really well together. I just know it, and I haven't even held it in my hands yet. Thanks Salsa Cycles for another killer component that should bring me miles of smiles on my rigs soon!

UPDATE: Go to my post on the Cowbell II vs the Bell Lap found here for more. 


Doug said...

So- when does a 29er with drop bars become a Monster Cross? I'm putting mine together this Fall.

saddle up said...

Nice, it looks like it has the short and shallow reach of an FSA bar combined with the flare of a WTB RoadMountain Drop bar. Most excellent, I may have to order one sight unseen also.

Guitar Ted said...

@Doug: "Monstercross" is a nefarious term. You'll get 10 different descriptions of what it is from a 100 different riders. So, with that in mind, here's my take....

"Monstercross" is a bicycle that looks like a cross bike visually,(So, drop bars are a must), but has larger than 35mm tires and smaller than 50mm tires on it.


Bigger tires than 50mm make it a 29"er. Smaller tires make it a cross bike.


Head Honcho said...

oh, that is SO money! Ben, you shoulda told me too. I'll be ordering up a couple I think. Cross bike and the SS Pacer just found new bars.

Erik said...

I am liking that bar! Sure wish it would be made available in 26.0. And in silver. Unfortunately, these features seem to be going the way of the dodo..

shiggy said...

@Doug, when you say it is.

I do not like the term "monstercross" at all, so I will never have one, though most of my bikes have dropbars.

Wally said...

Heh, great minds and all that. I ordered a Cowbell about 2 weeks ago and it's in at the store, I just haven't had time to pick it up. Mr. Boucher told me all about it when he was more or less in town and close by and it was ordered sight unseen. I trust him the same as I would Ben.
I hope to have this new bar mounted, wrapped and in use by the weekend.

cyclotourist said...

Great timing on this post! I've just been going through the process of trying to find the perfect off-road drop bar, and am so far unsuccessful. Mides are too narrow across the top. Woodchippers don't have a flat enough ramp/angle too far down if tilted. These are 31.8 clamp (need 26). New Soma Dirt Drops are a bit too deep, and again a 31.8. Just can't win.

I have old Nitto Dirt Drops that work well 90%, so am staying with those I guess. The problem is on singletrack, where the top curves whack my forearms if I'm in the drops. This could be fixed if the entire bend was canted at a nominal angle (3^???) to splay out like Midge bars do, just not as far. I need to find a wide bar across the top, with flat ramps (I use ramps and brake levers a lot), curves splayed out (as opposed to just the ends) and in a 26mm clamp.

The current conversation:

And yeah, your def of Monstercross is spot on (drop bars, 35-49mm tires).

Thanks for posting GT!

MG said...

I like the looks of that bar...

MG said...

... ordering one for my own dang self.

DT3030 said...

GT - Any word on how you like or dislike the Cowbells?