Nitto North Road v. Nitto Albatross

I receive many inquiries regarding Nitto North Road and Albatross handlebars. For the first time I have a pair of bikes in-house sporting one of each. As you can see, the bars are quite similar.

Albatross on left, North Road on right

The North Road has slightly more abrupt bends. The Albatross sweeps back ever-so-slightly more parallel with the top tube.

North Road on left, Albatross on right

The Albatross has slightly more gentle bends and looks more elegant to my eye. The North Road looks a little more business-like and utilitarian. Functionally they’re nearly identical.

Albatross (top) measures 56cm center-to-center at the widest point; North Road (bottom) measures 54cm center-to-center at the widest point

These photos were taken with a wide angle lens and show some distortion, but they’re still useful for comparison. You have to stare at the bars for a while to really see the subtle differences. Both are supremely comfortable and work exceptionally well for city riding.

29 Responses to “Nitto North Road v. Nitto Albatross”

  • Mike says:

    I can’t tell you how helpful this is. You can read descriptions of the bars all day, and even look at photos of them on various bikes, but until you see them side-by-side, it remains confusing.

    I’ve got some form of NR bars on three of my five bikes and often wonder why it’s not five of five. Next time I convert, I think it’ll be albatross.

  • Perry says:

    The a-bar bend looks more comfy. Plus I like the finish better. The devil is in the details. Have you noticed a difference in ride?

  • martian1 says:

    Put handlebar tape from the brake levers to stem on my Albatross handlebar, this allowed a more comfortable grip when climbing or riding into a breeze.

  • Bob Baxter says:

    How do the Silver Shifters compare, in operation, with the Shimano bar ends?

  • Alan says:

    @Bob

    “How do the Silver Shifters compare, in operation, with the Shimano bar ends?”

    I find them equally functional in friction mode. Of course, you’ll want the Shimano if you prefer indexing. This is subjective, but I find the Silver shifters more attractive and they feel better in my hand. I guess you can’t really go wrong either way.

    Alan

  • Alan says:

    @Perry

    “Have you noticed a difference in ride?”

    It’s subtle, but the Albatross feels a little more “open” to me. I like the way they turn in more parallel with the top tube as well. They’re both very nice bars though…

    Alan

  • BikeBike says:

    Thanks so much for the comparison. Both of those bars look like they would be really comfortable.

    Question – what is the diameter of the bars? Will they accept MTB-style controls, or just road-style?

    Cheers!

  • Alan says:

    @BikeBike

    “Question – what is the diameter of the bars? Will they accept MTB-style controls, or just road-style?”

    They require MTB brake levers while also accepting standard bar-end shifters.

    Alan

  • John says:

    Alan, This comparison is very helpful. Question: is there any difference in the rise? From the top photo, it looks like the North Road may have slightly more of a rise to it, but perhaps this is just the angle.

  • bongobike says:

    I have the heat-treated aluminum Albatross bars on my bike (they also come in CrMo), and one thing I found a little disconcerting at first was the amount of flex in them. Since they had to make them from very thin tubing in order to fit both MTB brake levers and bar-end shifters, I guess this flex was inevitable, but I have gotten used to it and hardly notice it anymore.

  • Mohjho says:

    I have the Albatross bars on my Cross Check and Dove bars on my wifes bike.
    The Dove bars are narrower but similar shape and are just right for smalller folk or tight city riding.
    The big wide Albatross bars feel very comfy, I simply used padded bar tape insted of grips.

  • bycycle says:

    Terminology question: Is the “North Road” described here simply the $68 Rivendell aluminum Albatross? And is the “Albatross” specifically the cro-mo Albatross at $53? Both of those look to fit bar-ends and “mountain” controls. The Dove is another creature altogether.

  • Alan says:

    @bycycle

    No, they’re different bars with subtly different bends. The North Road is a generic Nitto product. The Albatross is produced by Nitto specifically for Rivendell. Both bars are available in chromo and Al versions.

    Alan

  • Alan says:

    @John

    The rise is nearly identical. If anything the NR may have just a touch more rise, though I’d have to take both off of the bikes to know for sure – it’s that close.

    Alan

  • Jorge Ullfig says:

    Hey, sorry, more questions, Is the Cro Mo Albatross finish Shiny Chrome or Nickel Plated. Is the grip diameter is 22.2mm

    Thanks, jorge

  • EcoVelo » Blog Archive » A Bar Fight says:

    […] the drooping shifters in the photo). And finally, since most of these bars have less rise than the North Roads I’ve been running the past two years, I swapped the Brooks B67 saddle for a narrower Selle […]

  • EcoVelo » Blog Archive » Civia Aldrich and Dupont says:

    […] Dupont handlebars. The Aldrich is the flat bar in silver with a 50 degree sweep, the Dupont is the North Road type bar in black with a 65 degree sweep and 60 degree rise. In the first and second photos, the […]

  • Kyle says:

    Hey, does anyone know if the albatross bar is available anywhere other than Riv? Their shipping is a little steep for non-us buyers.. thanks!

  • Jonathan says:

    Hey Alan – Everywhere I’ve seen the North Road bars for sale it says that they will not accept bar ends. I’m happy to see from your picture that they can, but can you let me know how you’re doing it? Is there a certain bar or barend I need to get? Thanks.

  • Alan says:

    Hi Jonathan,

    The chromoly North Road accepts bar ends, the alloy does not.

    Alan

  • Jonathan says:

    Thanks Alan! Slightly unrelated, but I’m also curious: are those the Dia-Compe/Rivendell bar-ends?

  • Jonathan says:

    Hey Alan – Yet one more followup. The CroMo North Roads that I’m seeing for sale have 80 degree bends and seem to actually be the Albatross bars labeled as North Roads. Do you know where I can get a pair of Cromo North Roads? Thanks!

  • Alan says:

    Hi Jonathan,

    These North Road/Albatross variants are confusing. I’m pretty sure you need part number B-352, not to be confused with the B-352AA (alloy), but you’ll want to confirm. Both Gold Country Cyclery and The Bicycle Business can get these for you (see their banners in the sidebar). They both sell a lot of Nitto products and should be familiar with the subtleties of these different bars – ask them about the part numbers. Talk to Rick at Gold Country or Bob at the Bicycle Business.

    Alan

  • EcoVelo » Blog Archive » Bar Wars: We Have a Winner says:

    […] option on the Dupont with its 65 degree sweep. This would make it a clear contender against the North Road and Albatross. As it is now, none of the Civia bars accept bar-end shifters. But, if you’re using Thumbies […]

  • James says:

    Hi, sorry to revive an older thread, but I am very curious about how either one of these would hold up for long distance touring. I ask because I have never been able to get used to drop bars (supposedly the best for touring) and I am looking to switch to a bar like the NR or Albatross.

    Does anyone have real life experience with using these bars (or similar) on longer tours?

    Thank you!

  • Joe Mo says:

    @ James

    Not sure myself, but I have been researching the same question and there are some reviews indicating people are happy with the Albatross for long distance touring here:

    http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/reviews/board/message/?o=RrzKj&thread_id=158891

    Alan — thank you for the detailed review and comparison here, super-helpful!

  • Josh says:

    Another bar worth checking out is the Soma Oxford, which are of the North Road style but have a less drastic backwards sweep. They also accept bar end shifters!

  • Joe Mo says:

    Report from a guy who rode around Lake Michigan with an Albatross:

    http://brucebike.blogspot.com/2008/01/more-handlebars.html

  • kanishka azimi (new england!) says:

    finally saw the north roads in person. the sweep was way more than i was looking for. i can’t see how that would be comfortable, almost force your handes to be parallel to your body

 
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