Wednesday, April 03, 2024

Review: Redshift Sports Top Shelf Bar - Intro

The Redshift Sports Top Shelf Handlebar.
 Note: Redshift Sports sent over their Top Shelf drop bar for test and review at no charge to Guitar Ted Productions. I am not being paid, nor bribed, for this review and I will always strive to give you my honest thoughts and opinions throughout. 

Drop handle bars for gravel riders keep evolving and one of the latest evolutions in drop bar design for gravel and recreational uses is the Redshift Sports Top Shelf Bar. The Top Shelf is at once familiar to to many of you that already have seen or have used a Redshift Sports Kitchen Sink Bar because the Top Shelf is basically that same handle bar at its core. The difference is that the Top Shelf has a riser portion at its center. 

A riser center section maybe is nothing new in a flared drop bar, but the Top Shelf has a continuation of the riser portion that goes all the way across the bar with the riser section being dropped below that and this is where the stem attaches. This gives the Top Shelf Bar a few advantages over other riser drop bars for gravel. 

For one thing, the Top Shelf looks more normal. It almost appears as a standard drop bar until you really look at it. This is probably more descriptive of the 50mm rise (tested) Top Shelf than it is the 70mm rise option. Yes, there are two rise options and two widths available now - a 44cm and a 47cm, (tested).

You also have more options to mount accessories without being hampered by the riser section. Redshift Sports also claims that your handle bar bag won't be flopping around since the bag will have another support in the section that the stem attaches to. By the way, Redshift will be making a handle bar bag for the Top Shelf coming this Summer. 

As stated previously, this new handle bar is identical in back sweep, drop, flare and reach to the Kitchen Sink Handlebar, which I already have tested and still use. With a 50mm rise, I thought this might be a good time to address something I've had an issue with for a while now. That being the low stack height on my 2014 Raleigh Tamland Two. 

The low front end on that bike required that I run my stem in a slight rise, I want to say it is a 7° rise, but I could be wrong there. At any rate, I am loathe to run a stack of spacers and high rise stems on a gravel road bike because (a) a bunch of spacers puts a lot more leverage on a steer tube and headset and (b) I simply just don't like the looks of that. That's me, I guess, but I do have to like the looks of my bicycles, so there ya go. 

The 50mm rise of the Top Shelf Bar gave me some options. I could keep the stem in the "rise" position and add the handle bar. OR - I could flip the stem to the negative rise and add the bar for a higher position than I had, but not too high. I took the latter option and it raised the bar position not quite 50mm, at about 46mm, from where it had been before. So now the drops were easier to get to and stay in. The tops of the handle bar were, obviously, more upright than the previous handle bar's position, which is nice for cruising. 

At a glance the 50mm rise isn't very noticeable.

But not so from the frontal view. Note the cross bar blends into the handle bar tops.

My impressions of the looks are also favorable. The side view looks almost normal, and the cross bar, which is really the handle bar top section all the way across, gives the bike an almost BMX-drop bar feel. Mount a handle bar bag or bikepacking gear on the Top Shelf and anyone that saw the bike may not ever notice that it is a riser bar. 

I received the 47cm version for testing ahead of the official release date. So, I have several rides on it already. On a recent gravel ride I noted that the set up with the Top Shelf did make it more welcoming to stay in the drops. It is a good thing Redshift stuck with the design of the Kitchen Sink as the Top Shelf has similarly good extensions. Add the Cruise Control lower grips and this could be where you ride the Top Shelf bar all the time. 

I used Redshift's "Extra Long Bar Tape" (Sent along with the Top Shelf Bar) to cover the Top Shelf Bar and its grippy, yet somewhat forgiving feel is a nice compliment to the slight bit of compliance that the Top Shelf Bar has going on. Again, a nice addition here would be a Redshift Sports ShockStop stem, but I went full-rigid for this test to focus on the Top Shelf Bar. 

The Top Shelf Bar has a nice, all-day feel to the drop section.

Conclusions: Since this Top Shelf Bar is basically a Kitchen Sink Bar with rise, I have to defer to my take on the Kitchen Sink here which is a very favorable one. Redshift Sports used all the same flares, sweeps and other dimensions for the Top Shelf as they did for the Kitchen Sink Bar. If you like a Kitchen Sink Bar you will like the Top Shelf Bar. 

If you haven't tried the Kitchen Sink Bar, well it is one of the bars that hits the hands well and has a very nice feel in all positions. Like the Kitchen Sink, the Top Shelf is not a lightweight handlebar. I weighed my example in at 510 grams. But you don't buy a Top Shelf Bar for light weight. You get it to relieve stress on the back, or to address a bike with low stack height, or maybe you like the "moto" looks of this particular drop bar. 

Amazingly the Top Shelf Bar has some "give" to it and is not overly stiff, which is nice to find. So, it may be a little on the heavy side for a flared drop bar, but at least it doesn't zing your hands because the material is too stiff. 

I can see this bar being one to solve issues for riders suffering from injuries that keep their flexibility limited, or for those bikepackers that want a drop bar that will accommodate a more "heads-up" riding style and yet function as a drop bar. The extra mounting options have to be seen as a good thing here as well. At least that rise section isn't compromising options to mount stuff, as with some other riser drop bars. 

Stay tuned later this year for a long-term review of the Top Shelf Bar. So far, I like it really well. We'll see how I feel after a few months using it if that holds up in the long term.

 The Top Shelf Bar is available now at Redshift Sports HERE for $139.99 USD.


Mark said...

Great review Sir. Thank you - M

Guitar Ted said...

@Mark - Thank you and thanks for reading the blog!

Don Griggs said...

Thanks for the review GT. This bar has been on my radar. ThinkI’ll pull the trigger on it. Been using the kitchen sink currently myself.

Guitar Ted said...

@Don Griggs - Thanks for reading the blog!

Unknown said...

Momentum on the head tube is the same as using a bunch of spacers and/ or a riser stem.