|Upgraded Blackborow DS|
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.
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.
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.