Monday, November 07, 2016

Jones Carbon Loop H-Bar

Upgraded Blackborow DS
Okay, so several years ago I was using a Titec knock-off of a Jones H-bar. I had it on my Blackbuck single speed rig. I really liked that handle bar and I used and abused it for several years. I finally retired it after a few crashes and thoughts of it breaking at some point were influencing me to do that. I missed that bar though, and I knew at some point that I should get the "real" thing.

With so many bikes, it was hard for me to think about which one I wanted to get a Jones H-Bar for. At first I thought it should be a titanium H-bar, but they are expensive, so picking one up and putting it on a bike was going to be a big commitment. I just couldn't justify that on the Blackbuck.

Then Jones Bikes announced that they were going to do a carbon fiber version of the Loop H-Bar. It promised to be a lot lighter and a lot more expensive. That said, something had happened over the years that convinced me of the need for a carbon fiber handle bar on a certain type of bike and the Carbon H-Bar was ideal for this certain bike I had.

Several years ago, I put a carbon bar and Ergon BioKork grips on my Ti Mukluk. I immediately noted that during very cold rides, if I rested my hands too much on the metal locking rings of the grips, that my hands would get cold. If I stayed away from those collars, my hands stayed warm. Then, after I got the Blackborow DS, I noted that with the aluminum bars, my hands would have more trouble staying warm. So, then I see a few folks I respect refer to this issue and that carbon handle bars help with keeping hands warmer.

It was all coming together. I needed a Carbon Loop H-Bar. So, the other day I pulled the trigger, ordering from Jones Bikes direct. Amazingly, the bar shipped within an hour of my order being placed and I got it a day earlier than promised. Wow! That never happens.

So, the bar is very sano and, of course, very light for what it is. At $300 plus bucks, it should be! I weighed it and on my digital scale it came out to be an amazing 283 grams. The Salsa Salt Flat Bar I replaced weighed 297 grams!

I initially set up the bar and tried it for sizing. I will admit that I was fully convinced that I was going to be needing a longer stem. However; after fitting it, I changed my mind, and here is why. The bar does something other bars cannot do for you and that is the H-Bar design allows you to weight the front wheel differently simply by adjusting your hand position. All the way out and back on the bars puts my hands behind the steering axis. I can grasp the bars at the point where the brake lever perch is touching my hands and mimic about the same reach as what I had with the flat bar. Of course, reaching further forward on the Loop H-Bar puts my hands further out above the front wheel than I could have done with my flat bar.

A longer stem would defeat this versatility and my options would be limited. So, I did not see the need for a stem swap. In fact, a test ride or two confirmed that the bike handles just fine, and there was no need to even worry about the stem length in my case.

Wrapping the bars was done with a full length of black synthetic cork and then an over-wrap to the brake lever perches with Brooks leather tape that was gotten second hand. The result was that the diameter of the grip is perfect, with a good amount of give, but not at all squishy. I have found that a certain amount of firmness in the grips is desirable to help stave off hand fatigue and hand cramps. The best part is that there is no metal to act as a heat sink on my hands.

The Carbon Loop H-Bar is a bar that has passed testing for mountain bike standards and that was something I liked to see. That said, don't think that this bar is a stiff as a board, unforgiving design. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is definitely a bar that has a small amount of give and is worlds more comfortable than my old Titec H-Bar which was aluminum in construction. Having a carbon bar with give will be an interesting thing on a rigid fat bike.

Obviously, it is a strange looking bar, but looks aside, once I started riding it, I felt the same way I did years ago with the Titec version of the H-Bar. That sensation of relaxation, and being able to stretch out the back in a way that I cannot do on a flat bar set up. In many ways, I would say that the H-Bar design is essentially a "flat version" of a Ragley Luxy off road drop bar. That sweep of 45° is very close to that of the drop section of a Luxy Bar. It is one of the big reasons I like the Luxy Bar. So, the H-Bar is also a bar which I gravitate toward, looks be damned.

That said, the H-Bar with the full loop front end gives me areas to mount accessories and is a pseudo aero bar grip as well. All at essentially no weight penalty compared to my stock set up. I like that benefit. There is also an accessory Jones H-Bar Bag that is available should I want to stick a bag on the bar inside the loop area. That sounds handy to me, and I may end up getting one of those.

I am pretty excited to try out this set up this Winter. I know that my hands will be warmer, but woods riding and what not in the snow should be a good test to see what, if any, performance enhancements there are with this bar. I think it will be a positive based upon my past experiences with the Titec H-Bar. Yes, it was a very expensive bar, and I paid full retail for it, by the way. I think that is a gamble in terms of value, but then again, show me where else you can get anything similar. 

 Stay tuned.......


james said...

It seems with that bar, to keep alignment with your wrist to forarm, your elbows would tuck in closer to the body. Is that the Case?
I struggle with shoulder issues and the 'elbows out' riding get style that is common with flat bars exasperates the problem.

Guitar Ted said...

@james- You have the right idea. Jones Bars and flared drops all are trying to make it so that tension in your muscles of the upper shoulder, torso, and arms are more relaxed. This also presents a more ergonomic positioning of the hands, wrists, and arms, in terms of alignment, so overall, you get a more comfortable riding position.

The interesting thing is that you do not lose control or maneuverability. It feels different, for sure, but I have found that keeping the bike going where you want it to go is still easy to do with the Jones design. It isn't everyone's cup of tea, but it does work for me.

Todd Tillinger said...

I ride the Jones Loop bar on my Gen 1 Fargo, and the versatility for mixed all-terrain and forest road riding, and touring, is amazing. Most comfortable set of bars I have ever had. As for bags on the interior of the loop, the Jones bag is a nice one, but I opted for a Barfly "Banana Hammock" bag, padded and reinforced. It fits perfectly. It appears to now be done by Broad Fork Bags,

Smithhammer said...

I ran a Jones on my Blackborrow until I crashed and bent it. It took some getting used to, for sure, but it really grew on me. One of the biggest mistakes I see when people try out a Jones bar (or a number of other 'alt' bars) is that they don't spend enough time with it before deciding it doesn't work for them. If one is used to a flat bar, it's going to take a while for the body to become accustomed to the differences of a Jones bar, and to get over the unfortunate but prevalent pre-conception that a Jones bar is "fine for mellow riding, but doesn't work for technical mtn. biking."

I currently have a Jones on my ECR and love it, and the Answer 20/20 bar on my Blackborrow and Hayduke. The Answer is slightly wider and has 20ยบ sweep. I have also noticed the same things with cold conductivity with an alloy bar vs. a carbon bar for winter riding. And since my Blacborrow is now largely just a winter bike for me, I doubt I'd ever put an alloy bar on it again. One of these days I will splurge on a carbon or ti Jones bar...

I'd also second the rec about the Banana Hammock bag - I have been using one for the last year as well, and it's a great bag.

Tim Dufka said...

Hi Ted, Could you share the length and rise of the stem are you using? Could you also share your frame size and your height/inseam?

Would you make any changes to this now that you have ridden; e.g. go shorter on the stem?

Guitar Ted said...

@Tim Dufka: The stem is the stock Salsa stem which was spec'ed on the size Large Blackborow DS. So that's a 90mm stem and is a 15° rise. (According to Salsa's spec) The frame is a Large. I am 6'1" and my cycling inseam is 34".

I wouldn't change the stem at this point and I don't see a reason that I would ever want to yet. I may end up getting a pair of cork grips at some point for a bit better ergonomic fit to the hand than what I have. Probably cheap Dimension ones. Other than this, I do not foresee any changes.