A Bar Fight

As I mentioned in a prior post, Civia recently sent me a box of handlebars to play around with and evaluate. They sent 5 total in various shapes and sizes.

Upon opening the box, the 50 degree Aldrich immediately caught my eye. You can’t see it very well in the above photo, but it has a backward sweep and zero rise that reminds me somewhat of the handlebars you see on old French city bikes (but with a little less sweep).

Getting set up for this bit of experimentation required ditching my cork grips and replacing them with clamp-on ODIs for easy installation and removal. None of the Civia bars take bar-end shifters, so I also had to order up a set of Paul Thumbies which are currently making the long trip from Chico in a brown truck (hence 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 An-Atomica Titanico.

I plan on trying each of the bars for at least a few weeks. It’ll be interesting to see if any of them displace my old favorite North Roads (I’ll let you know how it turns out).

29 Responses to “A Bar Fight”

  • Janice in GA says:

    I’m kinda looking for a bar to replace the straight bar I have on my hybrid. I’ll be interested to see what you like and what you don’t.

    Also interested in your opinion of the Paul Thumbies. I have old Suntour thumb shifters (indexed) on my old Trek hybrid. I adore them, but they certainly don’t work with all that many handlebar configurations.

  • Lovely Bicycle! says:

    Oh, I like these very very much. It is too bad they don’t take bar-end shifters. I am not a fan of thumb-shifters, but I’d like to see how the whole set-up looks before making a judgment.

  • Jesse says:

    This is great timing for me too…I’m thinking about the Albatross bars or something similar to get my bars up to the same level as my seat. I’m looking forward to your updates and reviews more than ever now!

  • Salvador says:

    I use these (http://www.velo-orange.com/beha.html) on the mixte I built for my girlfriend. They take thumb shifters, but I used inverse brake levers. They’re beautiful and also have zero rise.

  • Alan says:

    @Salvador

    The V/O Belleville looks to be nearly the identical handlebar except that they take bar-ends. I like the simplicity of the design.

    Regards,
    Alan

  • Grateful says:

    Alan,

    I’d be most interested in knowing your take on the Selle An-Atomica Titanico saddle.

    I have put one on my Bridgestone XO-1; and after 5 years of riding mostly Recumbents, it’s still not comfortable to me. Is there a break-in period on Selle An-Atomica or do I just need to endure a break-in period on my bumm?

    Thanx,
    Grateful

  • JonP says:

    Velo Orange has some really nice — and generally affordable — options. I put a VO Tourist bar on my commuting hybrid and LOVE it.

  • John says:

    This is a little off topic but what kind of stem is shown in this photo?

  • Alan says:

    @Grateful

    I wrote about the S-A saddle here:

    http://www.ecovelo.info/2009/07/22/selle-an-atomica/

    I doubt any saddle is going to be quite as comfortable as a heavily padded recumbent seat. Also, I don’t know how your bars are set up, but the height relationship between the bars and saddle can have a significant effect on saddle comfort. Low bars in relation to the saddle place pressure further forward on soft tissues, higher bars put the rider in a more upright position which places pressure back on the sit bones.

    Alan

  • Alan says:

    @John

    That’s the stock Surly stem…

  • Sharper says:

    @Grateful

    In addition to Alan’s post, I can tell you that my brand new Selle An-Atomica Titanico felt like a well-worn glove the second I first sat on it, and still feels that way after about 8 months and 3,000 miles.

    I can’t help with the transition from recumbents, but I’d recommend giving your bike fit double-checked. And keep in mind that saddles like the Titanico get most of their comfort over the distance. I enjoy it most riding from SF to LA, not from my apartment to the grocery store a mile away.

  • Don says:

    If I’m not mistaken, Civia’s Colfax bar is akin to the old Mary bar that comes and goes. Hard to find in wider sizes and in good ol’ silver. That’s the one I have my eye on.

  • voyage says:

    @Alan@John

    Since the Civia bars (and other brands) have 25.4 mm clamp diameter, are you using a shim (current Surly LHT specs indicate a 26.0 mm stem clamp)?

  • Scott says:

    I’ve been using the 50-degree Colfax bar for a couple of weeks now on a new Soma ES build, and so far I really like them. They’re a bit wider than most similar bars (620mm), which I thought might make for overly-sensitive sterring, but the handling is really nice on this frame, and the bend is quite comfortable with Ergon grips (the BioKork model is great, BTW). They also have plenty of room for brake/shifter levers as well as handlebar bags, etc. near the stem.

    Although the position is very relaxed, the zero rise stills makes them look more “sporty” than “cruiser” … but in that classic sort of way … if that makes any sense.

    The other bar I’ve been waiting to try is the Surly “Open Bar”, which is apparently just now available (per today’s Surly blog). It’s steel, rather than aluminum, and available with zero or 40mm rise … sounds nice! No word on whether it accepts bar-ends, though.

  • voyage says:

    @Scott

    If the Surly “Open Bar” has a tube diameter of 22.2 mm, bar end shifters won’t work–they don’t fit (that’s why Alan had to order Paul Thumbies for his sampling of Cyvia bars: the Cyvias have a tube diameter of 22.2). If the Surly “Open Bar” is “road-bikey” and therefore 23.8 mm tube diameter, bar end shifters should fit and work. So, the question to ask Surly is the tube diameter of the “Open Bar.” I have no idea why these companies don’t openly and completely spec their products.

  • Alan says:

    @voyage

    “If the Surly “Open Bar” has a tube diameter of 22.2 mm, bar end shifters won’t work–they don’t fit…”

    There are exceptions, though. My Nitto North Road bars, for example, have a 22.2mm outer diameter and take mountain bike grips and levers, yet they also accept bar-end shifters. Rivendell offers an Albatross bar with this combination of specs as well.

    http://www.rivbike.com/products/show/nitto-albatross-aluminum-bar/16-127

    Alan

  • JimBall says:

    Seems like you could have a pair of mountain bike trigger shifters on hand for just such a test of the handlebars. For some folks this is an important consideration, as some bars do not have enough room for brakes and trigger shifters without trimming the grips. You could use full length housing and use wire ties just for the test. I know this may be rather ugly, but just for a quick handlebar test–How long will be the test? I am interested in the VO Porteur bars. This would need road bike hardware. Like a mustache bar, only less reach.

  • Larry Guevara says:

    Two bars walk into a bar. The bartender asks, “Why the surly face?”

  • voyage says:

    @Alan

    Hence the title “A Bar Fight”

  • Alan says:

    @voyage

    “Since the Civia bars (and other brands) have 25.4 mm clamp diameter, are you using a shim (current Surly LHT specs indicate a 26.0 mm stem clamp)?”

    I don’t know when they made the switch, but the older Kalloy stem supplied on the LHT (the one I have) has a 25.4mm clamp diameter.

    Alan

  • EcoVelo » Blog Archive » Paul Thumbies says:

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  • Lee says:

    Alan,

    Info on these types of comparisons, especially with specific details in mind, are so difficult to come by – so thanks very much for putting the time in to these posts.

    I have a Hyland myself, which makes this comparo of particular interest for me because I’ve found the 25 degree bar to be a bit uncomfortable and slightly too forward for me.

    I’ve been considering switching to the 50 degree Aldrich, or the Dupont bar, which has a rise unlike the Aldrich – and I’m really curious since you’ve ridden a Hyland for a while which you would lean towards. Thanks!

  • Alan says:

    @Lee

    “I’ve been considering switching to the 50 degree Aldrich, or the Dupont bar, which has a rise unlike the Aldrich – and I’m really curious since you’ve ridden a Hyland for a while which you would lean towards.”

    Personally, I think going to a 50 degree bend would be a big improvement in comfort over the stock 25 degree bar. As for Aldrich versus Dupont on the Hyland, I’d probably go for the Aldrich, if for no other reason than it would be a simple bolt-on affair. My guess is that you’d need to replace the hydraulic brake lines and shift cables if you went with the Dupont. The cables are no big deal, but replacing the hydraulic lines is not a simple task for the home mechanic.

    Alan

  • Lee says:

    Excellent – thanks Alan!

  • Dennis says:

    Can we see some other shots of the bar? Like POV for instance? Also, this looks like the 50 degree bend Colfax..how is it?

  • Alan says:

    @Dennis

    I’m still in the process of testing the bar. I’ll have a detailed report within the next week or two.

    Alan

    PS – The bar is a 50 degree Aldrich…

    http://civiacycles.com/components/aldrich_handlebar/

  • Lee says:

    Update – I ended up replacing the stock bars on my Hyland with the 50 degree Aldrich and a 110mm Midtown stem (17 degree rise, just barely longer than the stock stem of 100). This setup allows for your hands to be only about 2 inches, or so, closer in to the cockpit and the improved grip angle creates a much nicer weight distribution up front. For me, it immeasurably improves the riding experience on a Hyland. I absolutely recommend it!

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