The Perfect Commuter Bike : Handlebar Side Thoughts

Christmas Long Haul Trucker

As we are about halfway through our perfect commuter bike build, I wanted to stop and think out the rest of the bike build before we continue. The Long Haul Trucker with 26″ tires is completely build, and sitting next to my Christmas tree. I’ve swapped out the painful WTB SST seat that comes with it (my girly parts aren’t too happy on it) and installed cheap platform pedals to take it for a test ride or two.

While test riding I made a decision, which I have hinted at during our previous discussions on shifter types. I’m not sure I want drop handlebars on this bike. This is going to be a light touring, and basic commuter bike. I don’t plan on going mach 5 downhill or riding in the drops on this bike. This leads me to my next question.

Which handlebars would you recommend?

About a month ago EcoVelo posted article about different types of handlebars. It made me think more and more about the daily setup of my bikes. I can’t say in all my years of riding I’ve found that “perfect handlebar.. Even on the mountain bike I fight with myself between the standard straight bar, or the alternative style with a wide sweep back.

Here are some of my criteria : Upright, use of bar end shifters, a couple different hand positions (not just one grip style.)

I believe the moustache bar maybe the answer, but then I look at the Sparrow Bar from Soma and like that as well. Now its your turn, what are your thoughts?

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0 thoughts on “The Perfect Commuter Bike : Handlebar Side Thoughts”

  1. Tom says:

    Titec H or J bars? OnOne Midge or Mungo, they can both be turned upside down for a totally different geometry. And if bar ends were not required bowtie or treking bars are really nice.

  2. Sean says:

    I’m currently in the same dilemna – having setup my commuter with drop bars. I end up spending my whole time on the hoods or the flat section, never in the drops as they are too deep. Not sure I’ll like drop bars on icey roads.

    Alternate bars I have tried include:

    On One Mary
    MisFit FuBar
    Jones H-Bar

    Looking at the SOMA Oxford bar next, or something similar like the Nitto North Road. The Salsa Wood Chipper also looks interesting:

  3. Matt says:

    I’m trying to get my hands on a Ragley Carnegie’s Bar for my singlespeed build… you might consider something in that vein – OnOne Mary’s might be another option?

  4. Mark says:

    I’ve been using Ergon GP1 grips for about 7 months now and I love them, don’t even have to use padded gloves. If you’re looking for something with bar ends, I’d suggest the GC3s. But either way, go with the small grips, no matter how large you think your hands are.

  5. Paul in Minneapolis says:

    On my touring bikes I love drop bars with top brake levers. For long rides I like changing positions often, not just for hands but also back and neck..
    For shorter trips, under 30 miles I prefer upright bars. But when riding into wind I drop and put my arms on the girps.

    Next summer I will use my light tourer for commuting with it drop bars lower than the sadle… Somthing I could not do a few years ago.

  6. I guess I should of said “Bar End Shifters” not just bar ends

  7. Summer says:

    Nitto Albatross Bars.

    Or, just give the drop bars a try for a couple of weeks. They might grow on you.

  8. chiggins says:

    I knew it! Woo!

    I don’t have mustaches… yet. Figured buying those kinds of things for myself in December before the Xmas shopping was done for the kids would be a sure path to Hell.

    But, that’s my plan for my Trucker, which will make the transition easy since it’ll take the bar-cons and road brake levers.

    I can say that I’ve got Nitto Albatross bars on both Xtracycles, and they are super dreamy awesome for upright riding. I’m also contemplating Nitto North Roads for another sporty city bike that’s my winter project, they’re supposed to be a little sportier.

    I also think these flat bars are really, really purdy, they look pretty comfy too:

  9. dukiebiddle says:

    Mustache bars are every bit as aggressive as drop bars. Like drop bars they give you many hand position options. Unlike drop bars, ALL of the hand positions are poor and will hurt your wrists. Mustache bars sure are pretty, but unless you are trying to circumnavigate the Japanese school ban on drop bars, they serve absolutely no practical purpose.

  10. BluesCat says:

    From now on (which means “as long as I ride and as long as they make them”), I will use Trekking handlebars on my DF bikes.

    You can use Thumbies with your bar end shifters. Here’s a picture of an LHT set up just that way:

  11. Alan Barnard says:

    Moustache bars can be wonderfully comfortable if set-up properly, but looking at the amount if air space under your saddle leads me to believe they wouldn’t work well on your bike. They really need to be set-up so that the “drops” are at, or slightly above, seat height on a short reach stem like a Nitto Dirt Drop (see here: ). You’d probably do better with the Albatross or North Road in this case.

    Alan @EcoVelo

  12. Rob E. says:

    I do like my Albatross bars. I picked up a set of mustache bars, thinking that I might like the forward position better on those, but I never actually put them on. Looking at them side by side with the A-bars, I decided there was no place on the mustache bars quite flat enough to comfortably grab for a 2nd position. I tried bar end grips on my albatross bars to expand my hand position options (,but that hasn’t really worked out, and has just prevented me from being able to comfortably grab the more forward position. My 2nd attempt at bar-ends (not the ones pictured) will come off soon. But none of that has discouraged me from using the albatross bars. They remain the best bars I’ve tried. They are now flipped, and I can’t tell if that really makes a difference or not, other than lowering them a little, but they do seem more comfortable that way.

  13. Alan –

    I agree with the handlebar/seat difference. That’s the issue with being a woman. I have long legs and short upper body. In theory a 56 would of fit me better, but I would of had to run a 60mm stem!

  14. Logan says:

    I agree with Alan on the Albatross bars. I have had them on my LHT in the past and they convert the LHT into a really great city bike. 🙂 The great thing with the Albatross bars is you can flip them upside down to give a similar feel to mustache bars if you ever wanted to test Alan’s theory. 😉

    Cheers, and good luck!


  15. Shanyn says:

    56cm CrMo Nitto Albatross Bars from Rivendell. Upright, swept back, accepts bar end shifters, and leaves lots of room for lights, latte cup holder, etc.

  16. Tom says:

    If you plan to run bar end shifters, your options get narrowed down to something with a 23.8mm OD. that’s most drop style road handlebars. If you want more of an upright position. there are vintage or NOS city bike bars from Ebay France, but very expensive.
    Nitto Steel north roads, Mustache bars, and Velo Orange Porteur, Belleville, Left Bank, or Montmarte bars all accomodate bar con shifters though.

    There may be some more out there, and you cna always mod a mtn bike or trekking bar by milling out the ends to fit bar end shifters.

  17. Brad says:

    Nitto Albatross, definitely.

  18. Miguel Marcos says:

    Moustache, definitely. I have a wonderful Bridgestone X-O3 which I foolishly modified by removing the moustache and putting on a MTB bar. It’s still a great bike but it would be perfect if I had left the moustache on.

  19. Keith says:

    I have the Soma Sparrow bars – the narrow ones – and I love them. I remember the first time I rode with them it felt like I was IN the bike instead of ON the bike. I use them in the riser position. It took a little while to get them set to the best angle for me, but once I did it was great. Very comfortable – my wrists feel like they are in exactly the right place. Because they are narrow, I had to switch from grip shift with separate brake lever to an integrated brake/shift lever. There was not enough room for my hands otherwise.

  20. Ghost Rider says:

    I’m with Dukie on moustache bars — they seem like they’d be versatile, but there is really only one or at best two hand positions, no matter how you have ’em set up. Skip them.

    Drop bars really are the way to go — but not traditional road bars. You may look at Nitto Randonneur bars or the Noodle bars. Most serious tourers have drops…they MUST be onto something, eh?

    And, if you need a home for your SST, let me know. That’s one of my favorite saddles of all time, and I will happily take it off your hands.

  21. I had some adjustable bull bars that go on the ends of the handle bars. You could put them up or down so they match your riding position perfectly.

  22. JS says:

    I have drop bars on my Cross Check commuter. I put cross-top interrupter brake levers on it, and now it’s sort of best-of-both-worlds. I have a flat bar position, which I spend most of my (Manhattan to brooklyn) commute. But I can get out on the hoods when I need to get out of the saddle and sprint. Works pretty well.

    Here’s a picture of the setup:

  23. Gunther says:

    Thanks goodness we’re finally on to bar choice. This should’v been considered way up front as IMHO it’s the most critical consideration for a commuter. Commutter bars need to be good for head’s up, quick reaction riding with an eye to tight spaces.

    ALBATROSS bars are great I commutted 2 years with ’em on a single speed and xtracycle. However when my commute changed from almost strictly a bike trail to more city streets, they started to feel a little wide, so if you go with these don’t get the 56’s get the 48’s.

    I tried commuting on my SOMA Speedster with DROP bars for several months, but found that for city riding, you are just too far away from a grab at the brakes, becuase you’re up on the hoods so much (as another comment says).

    I just finished a new 3-speed commuter with VO PORTEUR bars. They are awesome! But they are not standard width, so the SPARROW bars mentioned above would be a great standard size alternative. These bars make you feel in control, keep your hands close to the brakes and shifters and are not too wide.

    For more upright and standard sizing the VO PROMENADE bars also rock. My wife runs them on her mixte around town and loves, them.

  24. Mark says:

    I would agree with Tom and Sean: H-bars might be worth a try. They offer at least three or four hand positions, most of which will be fairly upright, which I imagine you’ll prefer for commuting and touring. The only thing that might turn you off is that they’re pretty wide, so if you’re not a fan of that, then you’ll want to look elsewhere. I would still recommend trying out the drops for a while, though, just to see. Perhaps experimenting with stems of different lengths and angles might result in a comfortable combination.

  25. creativadiva says:

    Nitto Albatross! I have them on my LHT and have been riding with them for almost a year-luv ’em. I need to get rid of the WTB saddle, though, that thing is a pain-literally.

  26. Mark Muller says:

    I know this is late to the party, but I see no one has mentioned Wald handlebars. Yes, they are on the heavy side, as they are steel. But this also means that they are both 22.2mm outside diameter (the same size as mountain bike bars) and take bar end shifters with no modifications. All that for around $10. I am partial to the model 8095 (pretty much a north road style bar), and model 867 (I would label it a porteur style). Don’t take my word on them – A.N.T. (Alternative Need Transportation) Bikes use them quite a bit. And for those to whom it matters, I believe they are still made in the USA.

  27. Hell's Kitchen says:

    I’m begging you: Could HAVE, should HAVE, might HAVE, would HAVE. Not “of”. Begging, I tell you. Both knees.

  28. dima says:

    why only small ones? i have xxl hands…

  29. dima says:

    I’ve been using Ergon GP1 grips for about 7 months now and I love them, don’t even have to use padded gloves. If you’re looking for something with bar ends, I’d suggest the GC3s. But either way, go with the small grips, no matter how large you think your hands are.

    WHY only small??

  30. Bob Martin says:

    If you want to avoid safe tire issues go with tires that last long and properly maintain them. At JaxTires you can find the latest performance TIRES.

  31. david says:

    How about some of those bar end add on drops?
    Then you can ride the upright hybrid type bars most of the time, and have drops for when the wind is stiff or you want to push through a special stretch.

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