Monday, August 15, 2011

Drop Bars: Catching Up With The Testing

I've been doing some drop bar research over the course of the year in between all the other stuff I do around here. I thought it was high time I get a round up together of where I am at so far with regards to checking out all the various choices I have been able to get around to. (What a problem to have, by the way! Four years ago, there was the Midge and Gary I bar, and that was it!)

So, here is a bit of a snap shot as to where I am at so far with an eye towards maybe getting some of this wrapped up soon so I can move on to some other bars....

Origin 8 Gary II Bar
The Gary Bar, Take Two: 

I've been using the Gary Bar, version II since early in the year. This one is about done as far as testing is concerned.

Essentially, this is a rendition of a deep drop road bar with minimal flare. It is so radically different from the original Gary Bar as to be something that really deserves its own name.

It is comfortable enough, sure, and I've put down some long miles with it. This bar reminds me of the older touring bars with deep drops we used to use 15-20 years ago. I don't particularly care for it off road though. The drops are just too deep, and the sweep and flare is too minimal for my liking.

The Ragley Luxy Bar
And Now For Something Completely Different: 

The Ragley Luxy Bar is so far to the other extreme from the Gary II that I can't imagine how a drop bar meant for off road could be anymore different. Shallow, really flared, and really swept, this bar is either a "like it or hate it" proposition.

I've tried it with gears, (STI shifters, to be exact), but my favorite way to use these is with a single speed set up. The Luxy is so wide and swept that it just lends itself to single speeding. I think it offers more leverage out of the saddle. However; the width can be an issue in tighter trees and in fast single track where clipping those swept ends is a definite possibility.

The Cowbell 2
Ding! Dong! Is This One A Winner?

The Salsa Cycles Cowbell 2 came along this summer and I have put hundreds of gravel road miles on it so far.

I wouldn't really like it for off roading though, because much like the Gary II Bar above, the Cowbell just doesn't flare or sweep quite enough for my tastes. If it did, it would probably be my "go to" off road bar, since it is tantalizingly close to what I would want in a single trackin' off road drop bar.

However; for gravel travel, or rough roads, or heck......just plain road ridin', the Cowbell is the best handle bar I can imagine for use with today's "brifters". (Soon we'll all be just pushin' buttons and none of this will matter. In fact, I bet someone will figure out pretty soon that Shimano's levers are unnecessary for Di2 to work, and will run whatever old, lighter aero levers they are used to.) Anyway, these are to die for if you need a slightly swept, variable radius drop bar. I just wish Salsa would come out with silver ones!

Salsa Cycles Woodchipper Bar
Old Reliable:

I continue to use a Salsa Cycles Woodchipper as well. It does seem to cut a good middle ground between bars like the Luxy and Gary I Bars and the bars like the Gary II Bars and the Cowbell.

It works great with STI levers and it works great with a single speed set up. It seems to be pretty decent off road too.

The only issue is like with the Luxy Bar- The sweep may cause you to clip a tree now and again, so this may not work best for tighter, woodsy trails.

I really like the Woodchipper though, and it has a great balance of comfort and ergonomics. I don't like the bend coming off the drops to the extensions though- or I should say, the radius of that bend, which I feel isn't tight enough, but it isn't terrible.

Other Bars: I've ridden Midge Bars a ton, and have two sitting around here still. I also still occasionally use the Gary I bars, and have two sets of those yet. (No wait! Three!)

I would still like to get a WTB drop bar, and that Nitto bar I mentioned a while back, but those will have to wait until fall.

Once I get rides on all of these, look for a detailed ride report on one page. Stay tuned!


Courtney Hilton said...

Thw WTB bar is Exactly the same as the gary I (compared and measured at the shop) but it takes bar ends. It also cost 3 time more money. I really like my gary I too bad they stopped making them.

Exhausted_Auk said...

Amen to bars (and stems, and seatposts, cranks, brakes, hubs, rims, and anything else I missed) in silver!

Mel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mel said...

After seeing a previous post of yours, I've ordered a set of Salsa Cowbell 3's. These will replace my Midge bars which I didn't like riding in the drops when off road. I'm looking forward to trying out the Cowbell bars on and off road. Thanks for the great reviews and info.