Empowering The Bicycle Traveler

4 Handlebars

Wherein the  bike hermit compares and contrasts 4 different drop style handlebars for the touring bike. Finding the perfect handlebar for his touring bike has him in a bit of a bother.

Last season I installed the Nitto Dirt Drop bars on Chief. I like the way the drops flair out.

Nitto Dirt Drop

The bars actually have a very slight rise from the clamp area to the ramps. These are the medium width version. There is a version that is narrower and one that is wider. These feel a little too narrow for me when I’m riding on the hoods. Dang, should have got the wider ones.  But I like the angled-in aspect of the brakes on the flair of these bars. It feels natural.

On the hoods.

The other nice thing about the drops being wider than the tops ….my wrists don’t hit the tops of the bars when “in the drops”.

Nitto Dirt Drop touring handlebars,"in the drops"

On Norm, my everyday bike, I have the On One Midge handlebar. Perhaps my favorite bar of all time.

On One brand Midge handlebar

This handlebar might look a little crazy…. in fact I have been labeled “crazy bar guy” on group rides…but the ergonomics are fantastic. These have a super wide, flat top section so there are multiple positions available on the top of the bars alone. As the top of  the bar bends to begin the drop portion it also flairs out at a dramatic angle.

On One Midge.....Wide tops, crazy bends

The other thing that happens when the bend from the tops is so gradual is that the brake levers get mounted at an even more extreme angle. But if I raise my arms out in front of my body, in a relaxed way, my fingers do not naturally line up perpendicular to the ground. They are more like 30 to 40 degrees from vertical. An angle very similar to the angle of the the brake levers on the Midge bar:

Natural angle to the brake hoods

I like to install these handlebars with the ramps level. This provides a great platform and plenty of support for the hands.

Notice the ramps, the portion of the bar behind the levers, are basically level.

Another position I use a lot with the Midge bars.

Nice platform for the hands

Sky King has the Nitto Grand Randonneur on her Rivendell Bleriot.

Sky King's Nitto Grand Randonneur bars

The most notable thing in this view is the distance the ends of the bars extend toward the rider. This should allow for riding comfortably in the drops without reaching. The picture below shows the rise from the center up to the ramp portion.

The Grand Randonneur rises from the center to the ramp

A view of the upward rise from the center, the slight flair of the drops, and the angle of the brake levers.

The handlebar I am itching to try on my touring bike is the Nitto Noodle.

I guess I know why they are called "Noodle"

These bars intrigue me because of the slight rearward bend of the top portion. Again, if I examine the shape of my palm, curled into a gripping shape, I find that it is at a slight angle, from inside to outside. Corresponding to the shape of the Noodle bar.
They don’t have any flair to the drops though. The ramps are basically parallel to the drops. These would be really cool if they had the backward bend plus a flair like the Midge bars! Then they would be the Pretzel bar.

No flair to the drops and subsequently.... to the brake levers

So, there you have four options for drop style handlebars for touring. If you are thinking about changing handlebars keep in mind that there are three standard diameters for handlebars where they clamp to the stem: 25.4 mm, 26mm, and 31.8mm. Stems are made for all those diameters too. A stem with a clamp for 25.4 will not work with a 26 or 31.8 handlebar, but a smaller diameter handlebar can be made to work with a larger clamp diameter stem by means of handy dandy shims made for that purpose!
After looking at these pictures I think I need to write a post about handlebar tape and how to change it.

2 comments… add one
  • David Cox June 12, 2013, 6:11 am

    glad someone out there is passing on the fruit of their research. Very useful in my quest for bars of a slightly retro nature.


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