So, I decided after writing my post last week about flared drop bar usage in early gravel times that I should do a review of what I've got here. One- Because it might be of interest to those who once knew, have forgotten, or never knew and want to learn more. I know my "Archived Drop Bar Articles" page gets consistent hits, and so I understand that a certain amount of people get their kicks out of checking out what is out there.
So here is how this review will work. I have a lot of flared drop bars! So, I will link to reviews I have done in many cases to keep the words short here. Secondly, this will be split into three categories: Early And Out Of Production Flared Drop Bars, Current Production Flared Drop Bars, and Innovative Flared Drop Bars. Obviously, as time goes on even handle bars I have listed as 'current' may fall out of production, so if you are coming here many months or years after this posts, don't take this as gospel for what you might be able to get your hands on.
Finally, many of these handle bars were review items sent to me at no charge. These will have asterisks by their names and this means that they fall under my Standard Disclaimer. I will, in any case, offer a short, pithy comment or three on whichever bar I show and my opinions are my own. You may not agree, and that is fine, but I've got riding time on all of these and I don't think I am changing my mind about any of them. So, there ya go.....
Now, on with the show!
|Nitto standard road drop bars|
Wait! Those are NOT flared drop bars!! Yes.....that is correct. I just thought it prudent to remind ourselves what classic road drop bars look like, and yes- I used these for a time on a road bike. Note that the extensions are directly underneath the ramps and the 'reach' of the drop is pretty far forward. These features were seen as 'problems' for the drop bar user who wanted to go off-road riding with drops. Thus shallow drop, short reach, flare, and sweep were introduced to solve the problems. I won't get into all the 'why' of these features, but I do have a page to help you see these terms in a visual sense here.
EARLY AND OUT OF PRODUCTION FLARED DROP BARS
|The venerable Midge Bar. The one that got this all started for me.|
The Midge Bar was once pretty much my favorite and only flared drop that I would use. I have my longest rides ever on Midge Bars, and I still have a gold anodized Midge bar in use. The two seen here have been around since the 00's! See a good comparison I did early on between this and the next handle bar on this list HERE. Amazingly, you can still buy the Midge Bar. It probably is the flared drop bar that has been in production the longest of any of them!
|Probably the second flared drop you could get that was widely available, the original Gary Bar.|
There are many versions of the Gary Bar* out there, but this was the 'OG' of them all. It was similar to the Midge Bar, (see link above), but it had a wildly sloping 'flare' to it which the Midge did not have. This laid the brake levers out really weirdly. This is almost a mustache bar in that regard. A short intro for this out-of-production bar is HERE. I have this one and one I purchased which is still in use on my Raleigh Fixed Gear Rat-Rod.
|The Salsa Cycles Bell Lap Bar|
The Salsa Cycles Bell Lap Bar* wasn't one that I wanted to review or even purchase. It was just what came on the Salsa Cycles Fargo Gen I when I received it. I never did a proper look at this bar, but I did compare it to its replacement, the Cowbell, in 2011 here. The Bell Lap had some degree of 'flare', but it had too deep a drop and wasn't really what many of us were looking for. However; a handle bar I have coming up is actually pretty similar to the Bell Lap. Stay tuned.....
|The Origin 8 Gary 2 Bar was made to address the concerns with the original Gary Bar.|
The Origin 8 Gary II Bars were out by 2011 and addressed the perceived shortcomings with the original Gary Bar. I wrote up a review for it here. I wasn't all that impressed as it appeared that Origin 8 went after the Woodchipper Bar which was kind of a mistake in and of itself. No longer in production.
|My old Singular Cycles Gryphon set up with Salsa Cycles Woodchipper Bars|
The first big splash made in flared drop bars beyond the Midge Bar was the Salsa Cycles Woodchipper Bar. I definitely do not like Woodchippers. This was a fail in design, in my opinion, due to the radius the designers chose to use and the weird transition from the tops to the swept extensions. While I no longer have any Woodchipper Bars around, you can still get them today.
|Yet another variation of the Gary Bar, the Gary Sweep OS Bar.|
The Gary Sweep OS Bar was another variation Origin 8 had made on the flared drop bar concept. I reviewed this one here, and I found it to be 'okay', but it was now a time when bars like the Cowchipper and others were popping up that just were better designs. Had this bar come out five years earlier, it may have well been a classic. It's close, but no cigar. I think this is still available..
|The Ragley Luxy Bar, (lower) and a Woodchipper for comparison.|
The Ragley Luxy Bar* was a collaboration between myself, Sam at Singular Cycles, and Brant Richards of Ragley Bikes, (at that time). Not much of anything I gave input on was retained, but anyway- they asked me! Had they done what I was requesting we would have ended up with a Cowchipper-like bar before the Cowchipper, but as it was, it came out really well. I was sent two Luxy Bars to check out and they are fantastic. Since then I've tracked down another couple and one I gave away. This bar reached cult-like status after Ragley discontinued it after only one run of them was made. You can read all about it here.
Current Production Flared Drop Bars
|The SOMA June Bug is pretty much a knock-off of an On One Midge Bar, but a good one at that.|
The SOMA June Bug Bar* was pretty good and a bar I liked well enough. No big surprise as it is nearly an identical bar to the On One Midge Bar. I reviewed the bar here. Good design, good handle bar, but it certainly is not an original design in any way to SOMA.
|You can find this design sold under various names. This one is branded "Gary Ergo Sweep OS" from Origin 8|
The next bar up is branded and sold under various names, but probably most notably by Velo Orange and Origin 8. The one I tried out is called the Gary Ergo Sweep OS* and it was a chore to get on with. The drops are weird and they put my wrists at a strange angle which was uncomfortable. Your mileage may vary. I didn't like them and so I did not write up a review.
|The SOMA Gator Bar|
The SOMA Gator Bar* might just be the oddest bar ever made in this genre. I wrote a review here. Nuff said....
|The Salsa Cycles Cowbell|
This handle bar is probably largely responsible for the adoption of flared drop bars for gravel cycling. The Salsa Cycles Cowbell II is an amazingly comfortable bar which is about as close to a traditional road drop bar as you can get in a flared drop bar. I wrote a review here.
|The Salsa Cycles Cowchipper is a Cowbell with more flare and a bit more sweep. |
In my mind, the Cowchipper from Salsa Cycles pretty much set the bar for any other flared drop bars for gravel to meet or exceed, if that is possible. It is darn near the perfect gravel bar, in my estimation. I wrote a review here.
|The PRO Discover Big Flare handle bar|
Of course, the Cowchipper also influenced a lot of following designs, and one of them is the PRO Discover Big Flare Handlebar*. I wrote a review in tandem with MG on this bar here. Still one of my favorites although it isn't currently on one of my bikes.
|The Ritchey Venturemax Handlebar|
Remember that Salsa Bell Lap bar above? Well, here is the bar I was referring to in my description of the Bell Lap. It is the Ritchey Design Venturemax Bar*. This handle bar was a good one, and I have been thinking about putting it on a bike again for a long time, but these other handle bars keep coming out and I only have so many bicycles! Anyway, here is my review on this handlebar.
|Whiskey No. 9 24° handlebar on my BMC MCD|
Eventually there were carbon fiber flared drop bars and one of them is the excellent Whiskey No. 9 24°* flared drops. I got these as a gift for my BMC MCD build. They are pretty much carbon Cowchippers, (yes- I realize there actually are carbon Cowchippers) and they feel a lot like them, but better.
Innovative Flared Drop Bars
|Spank Industries Flare Vibrocore 25 Handlebars|
Another cool handle bar I got to check out is the Spank Flare Vibrocore 25* Handlebars. These are kind of different from the aspect of the vibration absorbing foam which is inside of these. Another interesting aspect of these is that they have a 31.8mm diameter from the stem to the ramps. I reviewed these here. Pretty cool handle bar that I am still using.
|Whiskey Spano Bar|
Of course, carbon fiber affords you all the shaping and layup possibilities which aluminum is limited on or cannot do similarly. This is exemplified in the excellent Whiskey Spano Bar*. I have been pretty enamored of this one since I have had it and I don't plan on it going away anytime soon. I wrote a review here.
|Redshift Sports unusual Kitchen Sink Bar|
Well, if you cannot form aluminum like carbon fiber, and you want some ergonomic benefits, the Kitchen Sink Handlebar by Redshift Sports* may be the option for you. Now I have to admit that I really did not think I would last very long after the review period with this bar, but I cannot seem to find any reasons to take it off. It is just that comfy with the extras in the grips that are accessories for the bar. I wrote a review here. It is heavy, and the aero section is sort of useless, but it is so good with those grips. Anyway, it's pretty nice from an ergonomic place.
And that is a wrap for now. If I get anymore bars to add to this, I will jump in and do that. this is in no way exhaustive, representative of now, or what have you. This isn't even all the drops I have ridden. (I can think of a couple others I have tried off the top of my head) But this represents a good overview from the worst, to the best, and from the weirdest to the commonplace designs. It's historical and interesting, I think, and I hope that you enjoyed this look at the flared drops I have tried.