North Road Bars

Quite a few people have asked me about the handlebars on my Surly Long Haul Trucker (LHT). Following are the answers to a few of the most frequently asked questions:

  1. They’re not stock.
  2. They’re made by Nitto and they’re named “North Road”.
  3. They can be ordered through any dealer that orders parts from Quality Bicycle Parts.
  4. There are two versions, one aluminum alloy, the other CroMo steel. The alloy version usually has a red “heat-treated” sticker at the center knurling, the steel does not.
  5. The steel version accepts Shimano bar-end shifters, the alloy does not.
  6. They fit the stock LHT stem, but depending upon how upright you want to sit, you may need to change the stem.
  7. You’ll need to replace the stock road levers with mountain bike-style levers.
  8. They accept mountain bike grips. If you want to use cork grips with bar-end shifters, be ready for some surgery (e-mail me for instructions).
  9. They’re supremely comfortable and turn the LHT into a capable city bike.
  10. I luv ‘em!

Waaay back in ’05, my pal Perry over at The Velvet Foghorn wrote a wonderful piece about the Rivendell Albatross bar, also made by Nitto. The Albatross is a close cousin to the North Road, but it has a little less rise and slightly softer bends. If you like the North Road, you’ll probably like the Albatross as well. Check out Perry’s article here.

10 Responses to “North Road Bars”

  • Karl OnSea says:

    . . . . and also available in the UK from Freemans:

  • David Hembrow says:

    It’s the traditional shape for English utility bikes. I also have North Road bars, but not these ones.

    Very comfortable – especially with a very short stem.

  • Erin says:

    Hi Alan,

    I’m buying an LHT soon and plan on fitting it with similar bars. In terms of frame size, would you suggest getting a frame with the same top tube length that you would normally use with drop bars or a different size? Since the bars do come back to the rider I was assuming that a longer bike would be appropriate. Do you suppose that David’s comment above about a short stem refers to height as opposed to distance forward of the head tube?


  • Alan says:

    Hi Erin,

    Go with the standard frame size for your physique. The point of bars like North Roads is to shorten the reach and place you in a more upright position; going with an oversize frame at least partially defeats the purpose. I’d suggest trying the stock stem – it will work fine for most people with these bars, assuming they’re on the proper frame size.


  • Shane says:

    I’m getting ready to switch from the drop bars on my LHT Xtracycle to an upright bar, and trying to decide between the North Road and the Albatross. From what I’ve read, people who use the Albatross say they get three hand positions. How many hand positions does the North Road give you? I use my bike mostly as a city and day-tripping bike, but I’d like to keep it ready for light touring.

  • david says:

    hey, alan,

    can you speak to your decision to go with the “north roads” as opposed to the 54cm “nitto albatross” that rivendell had nitto make per their design specs? i’m trying to gauge the difference between the two bars. thanks much.


  • Alan says:

    Hi David,

    They’re quite similar. The North Road bends are more abrupt. The Albatross look more elegant to my eye. Other than that they’re nearly identical functionally. I only ended up with the North Roads because those were the bars my LBS had access to at the time they were ordered. If I had to do it again, I’d probably order the Albatross directly from Riv.


  • Stewart says:

    Hi All,
    I am looking for some replacement bars for my Retrovelo Paul stock handlebars (see below). I would like a slightly more forward and less relaxed position. I think the Albatross, North Roads or VO Porteur’s should give me that. I have what might be a dumb question. Is there any difference between those bars (or between aluminum and cromo in general) in terms of finish? I very much like the bright chrome look my current bars have and don’t really want a “satin” finish as I have heard the albatross bar finish described.

    Thanks very much,


    VO Porteur’s:
    Retrovelo Paul:

  • Aaron says:

    I hoping to change the handlebars on an old Mnt. Bike from the current flatbar to the North Roads. Do you think the grip shifters will work on these handlebars?


  • EcoVelo » Blog Archive » The Moustache Handlebar says:

    […] see the Moustache as a cross between a flat bar, a North Road, and a drop. The brake position closely mimics the powerful, easy-to-reach, flat bar brake […]

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