Handlebar Side Thoughts : Continued

Several weeks ago we went down the road of handlebar selection during the group build of the Surly Long Haul Trucker. I’m still venturing down this road slowly and have ordered in several various handlebars, with many more on the way. The biggest issue I’ve had is trying out handlebars that use road brake levers, or not and also bar-end shifters or not. To continue on my test I have also ordered in Paul Thumbies and Shimano long pull brake levers. *


Bars to be tested

Soma Sparrow (In upright position)

Soma Clarence (In white of course)

Soma Noah’s Arc

Velo Orange Tourist Bar

Nitto Promenade

Nitto North Road

Civia Loring

Titec H-Bar

Testing Process

Currently the process for handlebar testing is to install, document and measure.  Test ride on normal road riding, semi off-road and crushed gravel type situations.  Adjust, measure and document as needed.  Wash, and repeat with next bar..  What are your thoughts on the process? Anything to add or remove?

Because of the list above, and on-going handlebars that will probably be added this process may take a month or so but I will update you as I go through bars.

*Long term if I end up with a mountain style brake lever and Paul Thumbies I will be switching to the Paul Brake Levers and Motolite V-brakes.

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0 thoughts on “Handlebar Side Thoughts : Continued”

  1. Kevin Love says:

    The overwhelming majority of commuters use some version of the north road style handlebars. For a statistical sampling of several thousand, just go to the cycle parking at Amsterdam’s Centraal Station.

    Although I don’t have any source to cite, I would be willing to wager that well over 90% of commuters use this style of handlebars. For the good reason that it is the most practical way to go for commuters.

  2. BluesCat says:

    Thumbies and MTB levers work GREAT on Trekking (butterfly) handlebars:


    The above just happens to be a LHT.

  3. Mark says:

    You may wish to test each bar with a backpack/messenger bag, with panniers, and maybe even with both at once. I know we haven’t gotten to the “Carrying your Belongings” step yet, but it’s something to keep in mind.

  4. Mark

    Great points, and will be added to the test!

  5. Tinker says:

    I’m just guessing that most differences will be of the niggling variety, rather than any substantial difference. (I bought a bike fully expecting to switch to a different bar, but I’m still happy with Torker’s version of a “North Road” bar in black. The seat may be different though. I want a double sprung seat. Orange Velo?) I also switch my computer keyboard to an original IBM keyboard and my mouse to a laser mouse from Micro$oft.) IBM did it right and made a great keyboard, and MS is about as good as any mouse made without a mouse ball.

    Its all about the user interface, and most people find the same sort of things to be “good”.

    ON the other hand, I genuinely prefer an upright ride (BOLT upright), not just for vision, and visibilty, but for the relief of my arthritic back and shoulders, not to mention my hips.

    I may switch to the VO Tourist, (test it thoroughly!), just because it is cheap and light.

  6. Greg says:

    I really like the Origin 8 Space OR Off-Road bar. Even though it says Off-Road it makes a great commuter bar too. An added benefit on a bike like our Smitty, a pretty much a go anywhere bike, is that it is CEN tested for off road use and is tough as nails.


    * 6061 Alloy
    * 37.5mm rise and 610mm width
    * 50mm forward sweep with a 40′ bend back
    * 25.4 bar clamp
    * 350g

  7. Ringer says:

    I have a somewhat related question. I was just talking to my LBS owner about buying a Long Haul Trucker, for many of the reasons discussed in these bike build entries. I didn’t realize until today, though, that, based on my frame size needs (I fit a 54 cm most comfortably), the LHT only comes with 26 inch wheels. I was assuming I’d be able to get 700c’s, which I’d prefer.

    I’m wondering, though, what people think. Is there a definite benefit to having 700c’s over 26’s? Or does it not really matter? I’m hoping to use the bike for touring.

    And thoughts would be welcome. And sorry to hijack the discussion. If folks would prefer: jeff dot ringer at unh dot edu

  8. John B. says:

    I would dispute the idea that most commuters use a North Road style handlebar. Maybe in Amsterdam. Certainly not anywhere in the U.S. The overwhelming majority of commuters I’ve seen have either a mountain bike flat/riser bar or a road drop bar. Probably because the overwhelming majority of commuters are on mountain bikes or road bikes.

    Bike Shop Girl – No Albatros Bar? I realize you can’t please everybody, but given the cult following of that particular bar, I’m surprised its not on your list. Mustache bar too, maybe.

    Ringer – go to the touring section of roadbikereview.com or any Surly LHT discussion board and you’ll find 26″ vs. 700c debated ad nosium. In a nutshell, 700c wheels on small frame sizes raises the BB too much and compromises the touring geometry. So, Surly uses 26″ wheels instead. BTW, the Rivendell Atlantis is the same way. Just like on mountain bikes, 26″ wheels spin up quicker and are usually lighter, but 700c wheels hold momentum better. Which one you prefer is purely personal preference. For touring, many people like 26″ because wheels and tires are more widely available, especially in remote rural areas, if you need to replace anything on tour.

  9. UNIBIKER says:

    I ride a Long Haul Trucker 25 miles daily on my commute back and forth to work even in the Wisconsin winter. The bike was built with a Bontrager road style handlebar. Hated it.. I switched them out to Nitto rm-016 moustache bars with bar end shifters and road brakes out front on the bar bends. I love it.. This allows me to turn my wrists in several positions and helps my them from getting numb on long rides. In the further most extended position, even with a fully loaded messenger bag, It is very comfortable. In a more upright position I have much more control than I did with those road bars witch helps in snow and ice.

  10. No moustache bars on this bike. The setup is wrong, even did a quick install of just the bars, and I would need a very steep rise stem to match what is needed.

    Albatross maybe, but it didn’t make my short list due to many of the others having the same fit.

  11. davidg says:

    Agreed the LHT requires a steep rise stem to mount the m-bar in the right position. I use a salsa 35deg x 105mm, works well but have occasional issues with knees and bar end shifters. Currently mulling over the pros/cons of the albatross bar.

  12. Ringer says:

    Thanks, John B. Much appreciated.

  13. jdc says:

    I went ahead and tried the Jones H bar in order to decide whether our shop should stock them. Two of our local riders have tried and dumped them as well. It’s a LOT of money for a bar that doesn’t “work”. We found that the best situation that these bars will work in is on a singlespeed bike or on a geared bike using thumbies. We wondered why Jeff Jones uses an expensive STI setup on his personal bikes. Where to locate the shifters is a big problem, as you will soon discover on your Titecs. You’ll need a monsterously long stem because the backfacing “barends” shorten the perceived toptube length by a considerable amount, leaving the cockpit very cramped and uncomfortable, and this is where your hands will be for most of your riding. We also found that the Jones bars produce incredible leverage and cause the stem to flex and twist while sprinting or climbing. We tried them on both an old road bike and a mountain bike, both with gears and singlespeeded. They’re either weird or cool looking, depending on your taste, but that’s about it.

  14. JonP says:

    I am definitely interested in the results of this, as I am trying to decide between a OV Tourist, a Soma Sparrow and possibly a Civia Loring.

    I’ll be especially interested in the measurements. I am looking for something with some nice sweep to it and room for twist shifters but as narrow as possible. The results of this test are going to help me immensely!

  15. Alan says:

    The butterfly/touring bars appeal to me but I’m unclear as to how it should be set up. assuming I have comfortable flat bar, should the back of the butterfly be in a similar position so I can stretch out a bit to the front bar? Is that the idea?

  16. Rob55 says:

    I converted a 30 year old trek 830 to a townie /commuter, It has a nitto 50×225 stem extended as far as the front brake cable allows and Mary bars. I ride heads up in traffic between 10 mph and 20 mph very comfortably. Try it, you might like it.

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