After first seeing it in the Bridgestone catalog in 1992, I admired the Moustache handlebar from afar for many years while only occasionally having a chance to try it on borrowed bikes. It wasn’t until purchasing my Rivendell Sam Hillborne in September of 2009 that I had an opportunity to give it a try over a sustained period. I’ve been riding it at least a few days a week since then, and over that time it’s become one of my favorite handlebars for city riding and day trips.
I 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 position; the bar ends provide a hand position not unlike a North Road or Albatross bar; and the forward position in the bends provides a powerful, secure feeling similar to riding in the drops.
Setting up a Moustache bar is a little tricky. On many bikes, simply bolting one onto an existing stem will place the bar too far forward and too low. The key to making the Moustache comfortable is a stem with less reach and more rise that brings the bar closer to the rider. On bikes with threaded headsets, the Nitto Dirt Drop is a perfect match for the Moustache (see photo above).
The Moustache bar is not without its limitations. While it does provide multiple hand positions, it’s missing the drop bar’s all-important top/ramp/hood positions that are so useful for long distance riding. It’s because of this limitation that I classify the Moustache along with the North Road and its variants as a city or short-distance touring bar. Certainly, up to a day trip is no issue with the Moustache, but personally I’d opt for a drop bar if I was setting up a bike for an extended tour.
The Nitto Moustache was designed by Grant Petersen when he was with Bridgestone. That bar is still available today through Rivendell. Originally there were 2 versions; one for road levers and tape, the other for MTB levers and grips. Today Riv only sells the road lever version, but just recently Soma introduced an MTB/grip version. They look similar in photos, but I don’t know for sure if the bends are the same on these two bars. I may pick up the Soma bar and try it out on my LHT just to see how it differs from the Riv/Nitto version. I’ll let you know how it goes.