Thursday, October 15, 2020

Alt Bars Are Back!

The Winston Bar by Whisky Parts Co.
Remember the mid-00's? those oddball handle bars which a lot of folks were putting on their oddball 29"ers were all the rage. Handle bars like Midge Bars, Fleegle Bars, Misfit made some which I've forgotton the name of, the H-Bar from Titec, and Salsa Cycles radically swept 17° straight handle bars. Those were crazy days. Then 29"ers went mainstream and the big companies said 'no more weird bars on 29"ers!', so folks just went back to being 'sheeple' and accepted the boring flat bar as it has been for two decades now. 

Well, someone or another at Whisky Parts Co. felt like they needed to wave their freak flag high and they have put forth a couple of weird bars in carbon fiber of all things. I wasn't supposed to talk about these until next week, but the QBP Mothership decided to open the floodgates of knowledge yesterday, and my reins were let go. So I posted this over at But here I wanted to go a little deeper into why I think these bars are so rad. 

First, the Winston Bar, a mustache bar, is sooooo good! I was tipped off to this being in development last Summer, so I was already very excited about it. I like the idea of mustache bars,and  but for a couple of critical things, they were a perfect set of handle bar for me. Instead most traditional mustache bars are merely 'near misses'. They are almost always too narrow. Plus, they have extensions which pointed straight back. Lame! Make those sweep some! Make them in modern stem clamp diameters. Make it so I could use MTB controls and road controls. Well, Whisky Parts Co. figured this all out and made them compliant in carbon fiber, not to mention light in weight. 

And the Winston Bar is about as perfect a mustache bar as I could hope for. Wide but not too wide, and the extensions have sweep but are not crazy in that regard. They feel more ergonomic than mustache bars which point straight back. That long extension lends these bars a lot of compliance too, so the Winston feels great on gravel. I've had them long enough now to know. They are just about the best bar for anyone that doesn't like drop bars but wants more hand positions than flat bars have. 

The Winston Bar may be the best single speed gravel bike bar ever.

 I know some folks will be weirded out by the slammed over sideways look of the levers, but don't think about 'losing the hoods position' because you'll never miss it if you can open up your mind to the possibilities of the mustache design. Those levers sitting sideways are like flat bar controls that you still can grip on in about three different ways, plus they make a great platform for laying your hands down open for cruising and to give your hands a break. 

The slightly swept out and down nature of the extensions make the ergonomics for gripping the extensions far more comfortable. Plus, this extension positioning allows for a real advantage in levering a bike set up as a single speed rig. Kind of like a wheelbarrow handle grip, this aligns with your shoulders and hips to provide a better power transmission at low cadences, such as you might see on a steep, long climb. If you ever try these, this will become quite clear very soon after your first ride or two. 

The 70mm rise of the Milhouse Bar makes your seated position radically different.

The Milhouse Bar is one that doesn't seem quite so obviously awesome at first. A riser bar with a moto inspired cross bar, it seems more.....unnecessary to be made in carbon, but that thought leaves your mind when you see it for real. The light weight and width are good things for fat bikes, cruiser bikes, commuters, and yes, BMX bikes. Adventurers more interested in 'looky-looing' than covering ground as fast as possible will like these. 

I almost stuck these on one of my fat bikes. I still might. Adventure is what fat bikes are all about, right? But I already have two carbon Jones Loop Bars, one on each fat bike I normally use, so taking apart those to fit this bar is kind of a step backward. But I do still have the original fat bike I owned, the Snow Dog, so that is an option there. We will see... 

Meanwhile these Milhouse Bars are pretty nice riding bars as well. The rise and sweep is great, and you can cut them back, but 810mm of width is nicer to have than you might think. I don't know that I'd ever shorten these. Plus there is that cross bar. isn't very big in diameter. It seems a waste not to figure out how to utilize that bit for accessories somehow. 

Anyway, there are some oddball, high end handlebars for ya! I'll be reporting back again soon on these. Now for the disclaimer: Note: Whisky Parts Co. Sent over the Winston and Milhouse Bars at no charge to Riding Gravel for test and review. We were not paid, nor bribed, for this review and we always strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.


S Sprague said...

GT, thanks for explaining the hand positioning of the Winston bar! I could never get my head around the hand placement and thought my hands would hurt (just looking at it) when braking. Now, I know how it would "feel"! I now may look into one of these for my one speed gravel bike (which is a repurposed 29er mtb).


Steve said...

Have you had a chance to take a close look at the kitchen sink bars from Redshift? I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts, especially with the little comfort spots they offer for those of us at a certain age!

Guitar Ted said...

@Steve - I have seen images of these bars going back nearly two years now. I don't see that these bars are out yet. Supposedly, Riding Gravel is getting some once they are close to production for test/review.