Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Maybe You Need A Mustache (Bar)

The Soma Fab 3-Speed Mustache Bar
Got an old 29"er sitting around? Maybe you are thinking about getting one of those "gravel bikes" you've been hearing so much about. Well, you already have a gravel bike! It just needs a little love, maybe a few parts swaps, and BOOM! Gravel travel will be easy-pasy.

Now you may be thinking,"Sure, Guitar Ted! Easy for you to say, but what about swapping out the bars, and then I'll need different controls, and what about a riser stem, and......" HOLD ON THERE!

Maybe all you need is a mustache bar! Let me explain.......

Years ago this guy came in where I was working and said he had a special handle bar I might want to try. It was, at that time, a rare handle bar. It was a mustache bar that accepted mountain bike controls. He lent me the bar and it was a revelation. I LOVED it! But, he wouldn't sell it to me then and I forgot all about that until recently.

You see, most mustache bars are for road bike controls. The mountain bike controls on a 29"er are of a smaller clamp diameter, 25.4mm to be exact. So, when this idea of doing up my old Fisher HiFi as a gravel bike project came up recently, I was trying to configure in my mind this project with drop bars and road controls. Maybe a Gevenalle set up..... I'd need a stem, and maybe some other bits to make it work. This was not going to be an easy project.

Then I saw an image of a bikepacker with a pretty cool set up. The image was head-on, and it was clear he was using a mustache bar. As the character "Gru" from "Despicable Me" would say, "LIGHT BULB!!" Of course! If only I could find a mustache bar that fits mountain bike controls. A simple Google search later turned up a few good prospects. The Soma Fab 3-Speed Mustache Bar looks to be the best solution here.

Getting an mtb control compatible mustache bar means life gets waaaaay simpler. I can use the controls the bike came with- hydraulic levers, grips, and shifters. I do not need to get a different, weird riser stem, although I may need to play with the length. In return, I get all the hand positions, including a forward, aero position to cut through the wind. Downsides? Well, you won't find a super-wide bar, but the Soma 3-Speed Mustache Bar is claimed to be 540mm wide, which should be pretty good. You also won't get any straight-on accessory mount points for lights and such except right next to the stem.

But spending around $60.00 or less, (depending on your on-line source), you can pretty much count on an almost straight over swap of your components. You might have to lengthen the brake lines depending on how you like the levers. Pointing the levers pretty much straight down will require less length and probably will be close to optimal. Flared out is good in some cases, but will require more housing length.  Your stem length will also come into play. Shorter will require less cable housing length, longer and taller the opposite. You could probably get away with the stem you currently are using. If anything, you can go a bit shorter.

Another cool thing about mustache bars is that you can flip them for rise, or use them traditionally for a bit of drop. But the big thing is the varied hand positions. I'll let you discover this, but trust me, it's rad. So, stay tuned. I'm going to get these in and start the project after the New Year.


Exhausted_Auk said...

I had a mustache bar on my single speed gravel bike, and unfortunately it did not work for me. I went away from it, and back to a more standard drop bar (Cowbell) because I found the mustache bar gave no opportunity to rest my back. With a regular drop bar, I can sit up now and again and use the tops. In contrast the mustache bar, despite a variety of hand positions, has no position that allows you to sit significantly more upright when you need to, so the back is always in about the same position.

Tman said...

I love my moustache bars! Have had them set up on several bikes. Converting one of my Slingshot frames to an all rounder with these bars.

Guitar Ted said...

@Exhausted_Auk: Yeah, I can see where that might be an issue. However; for a bike that is not designed for drops, a mustache bar, or a Jones Bar, is a good alternative, I think.