Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Review Of Parts Past: Ragley Luxy Bar

Today we are going to take a look at something you cannot get anymore. Parts and pieces that graced our rides in days past that were noted for some special characteristic, either good or bad, will be featured in this recurring theme from time to time here. I call it "Review Of Parts Past", but that will get shortened to "ROPP", so there! Today's featured part is the Ragley Luxy Bar.

My 2007 Badger Cycles Drop Bar Custom with a Ragley Luxy Bar
This "ROPP" is all about a drop bar that was in production for maybe less than a year. In fact, the rumor is that only one production run was ever made of this bar. I've written reams about the mysterious Ragley Luxy Bar, but maybe I haven't explained exactly why it is that I, and many others, really like this bar. 

The Luxy Bars as seen on my Gen I Fargo. That is a Bar Yak set up attached to it as well.
 First of all, the Luxy Bar did two things that previously available drop bars for off road did not do: They had swept extensions and really shallow drop. Here in my image to the left you get a feel for how much sweep the extensions have. This puts your hands, forearms, and upper arms in a very natural position that I find extremely comfortable.

Secondly, the extremely shallow drop is unrivaled by any other bar, with the possible exception of the original, (and also unavailable),  Gary Bar. Check out the shallowness of the Luxy's drop in the top image. This was important in that the shallower drop requires a less tall stem on many bikes to make it work. Note also in my image of the Badger that the drops end up just a few inches lower than my saddle. Perfectly where I would have straight bars on any "normal" hard tail. Yet, the drop bar has other positions the traditional mountain bike bar cannot begin to offer a rider. Finally, the extensions and the top/ramps of the bar are parallel to each other and the extensions don't point downward at a weird angle, like Woodchippers extensions do. This makes set up far easier and the extensions stay usable. This is the fatal flaw with Woodchippers and it is why I do not like them at all.

The Luxy Bar did two other things which I haven't found in any other off road drop bar. One was that despite the extreme sweep and the super shallow drop, the brake/shifter controls don't end up in a super odd position which compromises their functionality or comfort. The levers get laid over a tad, for sure, but there are other bars that had far worse positioning for the controls. The aforementioned Gary Bar being one of the worst in that regard.

The width of the Luxy Bar makes for a great drop bar for a single speed.
The other thing which no other off road drop bar does, or any road drop bar, to my knowledge, is the 31.8mm diameter of the entire bar top. The Luxy is a fat bar all the way to the ramps, and when you use the tops for an extended climb, or just for cruising, that 31.8mm diameter feels right in the hand. Plus, it doesn't waste space with a taper that robs you of precious real estate for mounting accessories, should you desire to do that. Honestly, it is such a brilliant idea that I am amazed that more companies don't employ the design.

The Luxy was not perfect, by any stretch. It was only ever offered in one width, to my knowledge, and that extreme sweep was an acquired taste, for sure. However; it did so many things so "right", I cannot imagine any off road bar that comes close to the Luxy's practicality and comfort. The best bar available today, in my opinion, is Salsa Cycles Cowchipper. It has a really good design, but it has more drop and a tapered top from 31.8mm to the traditional 23.8mm for the control clamp size. The sweep is no where near the same either, so for those looking for a great bar to use on a single speed set up, the Cowchipper is a tough sell. However; the Cowchipper's  less extreme sweep is a selling point for many that use geared set ups.

The Luxy Bar is, by a country mile, the most innovative off road drop bar since Charlie Cunningham bent Cinelli bars to his taste for his self-branded aluminum mountain bikes in the early 80's. Nothing ever was made like it before or has been since. Apparently, Chain Reaction Cycles UK, the parent company of Ragley Bikes, holds the original tooling and license for the design hostage to this day. Having new Luxy Bars would be a great thing, but don't hold yer breath. I doubt they will ever be produced again.

But I've been wrong before.


Unknown said...

Thomson KFC comes close to 31.8 all around. A feature that I agree is a good idea!

baric said...

Another love lost. Luxy bars appeared to be in the love/hate category. Then quickly
moved to the unobtainium category. Thanks to your series on dirt drop bars and how to set them up, I have various ones on three different bikes. A Midge on an older Trek 1200 road bike which originally I was trying to convert to a gravel bike, which didn't work out because of tire clearance problems, and Origin 8 Gary OS Sweep bars on both a Gen 2 Fargo (didn't like the Woodchipper to much) and a mutt which I built a couple of winters ago (turned out sweet). I was always looking for wide tops and shallow drops to go with my old/used up bad back. The Sweep bar suits me pretty well. Still would have liked to have tried a Luxy though (tried to find one). That 31.8 across the entire top would be nice.