IMG_9806
Drop bars enter the modern age

The Wide Gravel Future

Words Mike Ferrentino
Photos Mike Ferrentino
Date Jun 8, 2022
Reading time

In case it wasn't already obvious, this is about drop bars and gravel bikes. We understand the contentious nature of this, and that some readers may find this content offensive. If you are one of those readers, we suggest carefully tapping the back arrow on your browser. We totally understand.

PNW Components' Coast Gravel Handlebar

We (meaning us mountain bike riding people; you, me, and everyone not riding a 30-year-old bike) generally tend to follow equipment evolution without too much complaint. Innovations come along, we accept them, our riding style changes, and we implement the next wave of change as it happens, then we repeat this pattern time after time. Sometimes the changes are subtle and don’t have a profound immediate effect for most of us. Take, for example, bottom bracket axle diameters. Other times, the changes are huge and the ripple effect is immediate. Dropper posts, disc brakes.

Handlebars, however, are a bit of a conundrum. If you were to compare the 550mm wide, five-degree bend flat bars that were standard equipment on every bike in 1992 to the 800mm wide, 30mm rise, 10-12 degree sweep bars that are the current defacto standard on today’s mountain bikes, you might consider this kind of change to be more on the dropper post end of the spectrum than that of bottom bracket axle diameter. Except it took most of those 30 years for handlebars to evolve to this current state, and the change happened in 10mm increments, year by year almost, alongside other, more tumultuous shifts in technological tectonics.

But at least the change did occur, and it could be argued that modern handlebar widths are almost as important a part of the modern bike riding dynamic as head angle and reach. For the doubters, I recommend slapping an old pair of cut down Hyperlites onto your bike and dropping into your favorite technical line.

Over on the drop bar side of the cycling scene, however, for most of the past several decades handlebars may as well have been frozen in time, like prehistoric insects trapped in amber. Sure, ergo bend bars came along not long after aero brake levers hit the scene, but basically everyone in the world, regardless of size or riding preference, rode 42cm bars. 420mm. Oof. There was some deviation of fit that spanned a whopping 40mm in either direction, but that was about it. There were some compelling reasons for this stasis; wider bars are aerodynamically not friendly when speeds get up above 20 miles an hour, riding in a pack of 100 or so others it’s a lot easier to squeeze in shoulder to shoulder when everyone is about the same width, many road purists are gram-obsessive and wider bars weigh more, and the paved terrain is generally predictable enough that the added control of wide bars was not really seen as a need.

Then along came bikepacking and gravel. Sketchier terrain, lower overall speeds, no peloton. A whole different set of needs.

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357 grams of curvy aluminum nerd appeal...


It could be argued that modern handlebar widths are almost as important a part of the modern bike riding dynamic as head angle and reach. For the doubters, I recommend slapping an old pair of cut down Hyperlites onto your bike and dropping into your favorite technical line.

Enter PNW’s Coast handlebar. Feast your eyes on this freakish beauty. 520mm wide across the tops, six hundred and four millimeters wide at the tips, super short 65mm reach to the hoods, super shallow 105mm drop with a 20 degree flare. PNW are one of a few brands that are currently redefining what “drop handlebar” means. Within the past two or three years, the old 42cm barrier has been kicked down and a surge of heretical new bendy handlebars has hit the market, a relatively sudden and huge evolutionary shift with broad reaching implications.

Stepping back a bit, it’s not fair to say that drop bars have existed in a total vacuum. There have been variations in bend and flare that can be traced back through WTB’s Dirt Drops from the late 80s, Nitto’s eternal Randonneurs, and the fact that once upon a time back when rims were wooden there were all kinds of widths and shapes of bendy bars. But the status quo, the meat of the bell curve, has been pretty damn consistent around the old 42cm edict for quite a while. So a growth spurt of 100mm (184 if you count the flare, bro) is a sudden and major paradigm shift.

Does it work? Does this added width make gravel bikes suddenly off-road competent?

Yes and no.

To wrap my head (and hands) around the pros and cons, I ordered up a set of 520mm Coast bars (they are also available in 480mm for those with more modest tastes in experimentation) and some of PNW’s bar wrap, slapped them onto my Pivot Vault, and started pedaling. I was replacing a set of Easton EA70AX 44cm bars, that flared to 50cm at the tips, a slightly more gravel-esque than average road drop bar. My findings can be summed up into three easy buckets.

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Remember how mountain bike handlebars went from 700mm to 800mm overnight? No? Me either. It took a decade or so. This drop-bar sea change is sorta like when mountain bikes went from cantilever brakes to reliable hydraulic discs, but skipped the V-brake, mechanical disc, bleed it every ride hydraulic phase... Yeah, I know, it's just a handlebar...

The Good

So Much Room! I’ve always hated 42cm road bars, and would go out of my way to find 46cm bars that were measured center-to-center (as opposed to outside-to-outside) at the tips to give me more room to breathe, and to offer more real estate on the tops of the bars. This desire for as much room on the tops as possible was why I never really got along with WTB Dirt Drops, which sacrifice the tops in order to accommodate the flare and the width of the tips. Having a solid wide flat bar top is mana from heaven. More room for hands, more space between the hoods, easier breathing because my rib cage doesn’t feel like I am pinching myself inwards across my chest, easier to pull the front up over rocks and logs, and more control everywhere. A whole lot more control.

Riding drops offroad is an acquired taste, and not everyone likes it. I do not in any way prefer it to riding flats or rise bars, but I find a kinky pleasure in trying to rail singletrack on drop bars and skinny tires. In this setting, the Coast bars are total game changers. It feels like I am cheating. I can ride on the tops a lot longer before reaching for the hoods or drops to grab some brake. Then, thanks to the super short reach, that transition is a LOT smoother than bars that have more reach. Riding in the drops is also less of a posture shift due to the shallow drop. The flare is generous enough that my wrists don’t get hammered by the tops of the bars when braking in the drops on ledgy descents, but it’s not so massive as to feel alien. I can pull the front wheel up easily whether in the drops, on the hoods or on the tops, and it feels so much more controllable than yanking up on a comparatively cramped traditional road bar.

Everything that we like about relatively wider mountain bars in terms of control applies to relatively wider drop bars on skinny tires. More response to less physical input, calmer handling, increased overall stability, and less jarring feedback from the bars themselves.

Additionally, for bikepacking, there is a ton more room to run a handlebar stuff sack. On the rare occasions when I am overnighting, I like to run my sleeping bag in a handlebar stuff sack. It’s not heavy so it doesn’t really impact handling, but it is kind of bulky. On “regular” width drop bars, it gets real cramped trying to wedge a stuff sack between the hoods and still operate the shifters/brakes. Not anymore. Halellujah.

The Bad

It’s true what they say about aero. Descending on fast pavement in the drops or with hands perched on the hoods, it feels as if I’ve set a drag anchor, or deployed a small parachute. This can be mitigated by any number of speed-tucks, but even then, there’s a lot of handlebar sticking out in the wind, and in the event of needing to reposition to panic grab the brakes it’s a long reactive reach from the center of the bars to the brake levers. But these are all trade-offs that I am very willing to accept.

They are wide, though, boy howdy. You won’t make any friends racing crits with these puppies. And, along with wide, all that extra aluminum weighs a bit. In the case of the 520mm Coast, we’re talking about a 357-gram handlebar. Again, for my own purposes, this is not really even a concern worth considering.

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No speed tuck for you! From a purist's perspective, handlebars this wide take a bit of getting used to when viewed from certain angles. Like this angle right here.

The Ugly

This is a personal one. From where I sit on the bike, the Coast is beautiful. It so massively increases the functionality of my bike in every possible way that I cannot help but be enamored of it. From the side, it looks just like any other road bar. No big deal. Viewed from the front, though… It takes some getting used to. I am still getting used to that visual. Fortunately for me, I rarely look at my own bike from the front unless I am endo-ing in a super-lucid manner. But I don’t usually endo in a lucid manner, preferring to close my eyes and pray, so it doesn’t really matter. But still, this definitely is not the aero speedster look.

Bottom Line

Was it worth it? Hell yes! Would I buy it again? Absolutely. Does it work? Yes. Did it make my gravel/dirtroadie/bikepacking life a better one? You bet. Did it turn my gravel/'cross bike into a suddenly competent singletrack slaying weapon? No. It's still basically a road bike with slightly fatter tires. Trying to go really fast off-road still gets painful quickly. But it is a whole lot better than it used to be, provided you understand all the usual caveats about trying to ride steep, twitchy, rigid, relatively fragile bicycles in the dirt.

Would I change anything? Not sure. PNW recommends going with a slightly shorter stem when installing a Coast bar, in order to compensate for the increase in wingspan pulling a rider’s torso forward. In my case, I had been debating whether the stem on the Vault was a little too short with the older narrow bars, so I left it as is. So far, I’m happy with this setup and do not feel the need to drop stem length.

And by happy with this setup, I mean I’m over the moon. This one simple addition to my bike has made the bike more pleasant to ride, comfortable, more capable, more betterer, in about 90% of the places I ride. Yay evolution!


PNW Coast Handlebar, available in 480 & 520mm - 89 USD

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Comments

bushtrucker
bushtrucker
3 weeks ago
+4 Mike Ferrentino Pete Roggeman Cooper Quinn AlanB

Stoked to see an article like this on NSMB. Too many people are told that a wider drop bar will all of a sudden make their gravel bike some kinda trail monster. Yes wider, flared drop bars are better for rough surfaces than a traditional drop bars but the reality is you're still not much closer to a true mountain/trail bar.

This is coming from someone who started out riding trail on a touring bike with 42cm drop bars who now tours with 820mm wide flat bars with 80mm of rise and 15 degrees of sweep. I've also got 52cm flared drops on my gravel bike but I'm considering moving to a flat swept bar on that too. Honestly, I've go no desire to ride drops on anything but the smoothest of roads.

Reply

craw
Cr4w
3 weeks ago
+4 Mike Ferrentino Cooper Quinn Andy Eunson mrbrett

I like how we're finally embracing not taking half-steps on stuff like this. 

The final nails on our roadie legacy: making every ride basically the same stuff regardless of size or application. Want to ride off-road? Put on a skinsuit and run over obstacles. Want to be tall or short? No problem, but everyone rides the same wheelbase so we'll just mess with the seat tube angle to get you in there ergonomics be damned. This is road riding it's supposed to be suffering. 

Same goes for bar width. My 46cm drops are tiny. Can't wait to get on some 50s.

Reply

bingobus
bingobus
3 weeks ago
+4 Chad K andrewc Andrew Major Lowcard hailecycles Joseph Crabtree

It seems to me like gravel is viewed in two lights, it's either an alternative to mtb or riding road bikes off road. I'm firmly in the road bikes off road camp from where these bars make little sense. It's not super technical and you lose speed getting un-aero, I'm not riding for comfort or relaxing. For the mtb alternative crowd why bother with these? Just go flat bar and stop trying to make something unsuitable work for you.

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
Pete Roggeman
3 weeks ago
+3 Chad K Moritz Haager Cooper Quinn

But you do acknowledge that everyone's got a different set of parameters, right? Lots of riders like the variety of hand positions drop bars provide, and have a ride experience that spans gravel, road, and some percentage of actual mild singletrack.

I did plenty of road bike riding on gravel roads and it was 'fine' but can imagine a lot of rides (back in Switzerland where I did most of my road riding as well as here on the Sunshine Coast) where a drop bar bike with 2.1s and disc brakes would be the right tool to do some amazing exploring.

Reply

bingobus
bingobus
2 weeks, 6 days ago
+2 Moritz Haager Cr4w Andy Eunson Joseph Crabtree

It appears you are misunderstanding me or I am crap at explaining. I think that gravel is an off road-road discipline, it is not mountain biking lite. Its a way to ride road without traffic, better scenery and a little bit of bumpy windy spice if you fancy that sort of thing, not that it's something that should be done on a standard road bike.

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
Pete Roggeman
2 weeks, 6 days ago
+2 Cooper Quinn slimchances57

You explicitly said you think gravel is only one of two things. Several people have pointed out it's way more nuanced than that. You continue to try to define what it is through your own lens, and that's fine, but the parameters or limitations you place on gravel as a category doesn't make it correct from other people's perspective.

Reply

bingobus
bingobus
2 weeks, 6 days ago
-2 Joseph Crabtree Spencer Nelson

Oh I'm sorry, I didn't realise you were here for the argument. What threw me was when you chose to demonstrate the finer nuances of gravel by describing in detail how on a perfectly normal sounding gravel ride you would in fact choose to use a perfectly normal sounding gravel bike. Was it the 2.1s?

I've no idea why my comment upsets you so much but I do sincerely hope your day gets better.

Reply

cooperquinn
Cooper Quinn
2 weeks, 6 days ago
+2 Chad K bingobus

Have you been here before? 

https://youtu.be/ohDB5gbtaEQ

pete@nsmb.com
Pete Roggeman
2 weeks, 6 days ago
+2 bingobus Cooper Quinn

*Sigh. You got me and you're right - I am very, very upset right now. All gravel roads are the same. All opinions should be the same. No one needs a drop bar on a gravel bike. Ever. Anywhere. You were right. I was wrong.

andrewc
andrewc
3 weeks ago
+2 bingobus Cooper Quinn

Because then you wouldn't be riding an enthusiast's "gravel bike" but rather, a "hybrid" and the number 1 rule of bike is that no self-respecting cyclist shall never be caught-dead (or alive?) on a "hybrid" bicycle. 

For the record, my daily commuter/gravel grinder/touring whip is a Giant Escape... a very nice hybrid bicycle with flat bars and hydro disc brakes. It's basically a gravel bike but half the price because it has normal handlebars.

*edit: Just to add... I love my hybrid. I ride it on paved and gravel roads, light trails, with/without bags. It has a kickstand... it's awesome. The perfect do-it-all bike.

Reply

fartymarty
fartymarty
3 weeks ago
+1 Andy Eunson

I'm in the gravel-confused camp.  

Why not just get a rigid XC bike and be done with it.  Maybe with some slightly faster rolling tyres.  Then you can ride all the trails and still get by on the road.

Reply

neologisticzand
Chad K
3 weeks ago
+5 Merwinn Mike Ferrentino Pete Roggeman shenzhe Cooper Quinn

@Fartymarty, I do think your suggestion makes sense if you're doing a ride that is more trail intensive. 

However, on a ride where you're grinding out miles, I'd definitely not enjoy a XC bike as much. There are also circumstances where an XC bike would just not be an option. For example, a few years ago I was doing a night ride gravel series with a group of riders where we would do 40-60 mile rides (75%+ gravel/dirt road) in a 2 person wide paceline. In a situation like that, XC flat bars wouldn't work well. Some of those rides got very fast, so it was helpful to have chainring clearance for greater than a 36-38t chainring, which is the limit that is common on an a rigid xc bike

Reply

cooperquinn
Cooper Quinn
3 weeks ago
+4 Chad K Mike Ferrentino Pete Roggeman AlanB

ding ding ding... horses for courses. 

Everything is a tradeoff, so the only way to know if you want a 'rigid XC bike with faster tires' or something like Mike's Vault With Silly Wide Handlebars is to do your own analysis of what you need. 

For me, sure, I could do a lot of the same things on an XC bike that I do on my gravel bike, but its going to be demonstrably harder and slower for most of the time. Yes, that means its not as good when the going gets rough, but that's the tradeoff.

Reply

fartymarty
fartymarty
2 weeks, 6 days ago
+1 Chad K

Chad, Cooper - That makes sense.  I do see a few of them locally but it would bug me not to be able to ride all the trails at mtb (rigid or suspended) speeds.  I guess I tend to do either "road" rides (generally commutes) or mtb rides and don't mix the two.

Reply

Lowcard
Lowcard
2 weeks, 6 days ago
+1 Andy Eunson

This is where I'm coming from too. To me, gavel riding is taking a more versatile road bike on dirt roads, and not much else. I ride probably 50/50 gravel/road, so massive bars and huge tires don't make sense. May as well have a hardtail mtb no? That said, my curly bars are 48's.... and I may try a 50. But I also used to run 46's when 42's were high fashion. Wide shoulders and all.

Reply

Briain
Briain
2 weeks, 5 days ago
+2 Chad K Mike Ferrentino

The wide bars are a fitment issue. I really like superwide gravel bars but I went back to slightly narrower bars because it was a pain to get them through my apartment. More than width the shallower drops and the flare is actually really nice

Reply

cooperquinn
Cooper Quinn
2 weeks, 6 days ago
0

Sure, but where you live, you actually have gravel roads. 

Anything I wind up doing involves mixed surfaces.

Reply

Lowcard
Lowcard
2 weeks, 6 days ago
+2 Chad K slimchances57

Yeah I have more gravel roads here than I can possibly ride in a lifetime, so that explains my point of view (and why I love this style of riding). 

I rode home from work yesterday, taking the long way home. 43kms mostly on smooth dirt roads and a tailwind. If heaven exists, this was it.

Reply

mrbrett
mrbrett
3 weeks ago
+3 bushtrucker Mike Ferrentino Pete Roggeman

Mike, my experience with these bars relates pretty closely to yours. 

I bought a pair of the same 520mm PNW bars a while back to modernize an older Specialized Tricross and they totally did the trick. Much better than the stock super narrow bars and the flares/drops were so much more comfy I think I spent enough extra time in the drops to offset the aero issues with the width. 

Comfortable is fast, right?

Reply

cka3686
cka3686
3 weeks ago
+3 Cooper Quinn Velocipedestrian Niels van Kampenhout

But for rutty, cobblestoned, road construction littered,  pot hole dodging, train track crossing  rides to work on my gravel bike, this might  be the ticket.

Reply

cooperquinn
Cooper Quinn
2 weeks, 6 days ago
0

Sounds like a fun commute!

Reply

Jghansen
James Hansen
3 weeks ago
+2 Mike Ferrentino Pete Roggeman

I am offended, no beer holders.😂

Reply

mikeferrentino
Mike Ferrentino
3 weeks ago
+2 Pete Roggeman pedalhound

"yet"

Reply

andy-eunson
Andy Eunson
3 weeks ago
+2 Mike Ferrentino Cooper Quinn

In some ways there are parallels between telemark ski equipment and gravel bikes. In the early 80s telemark was what we toured on. Alpine touring equipment was heavy and not that reliable. Like Iser bindings. Telemark was light and simple although the three pin bindings weren’t great for many skiers. But the. Cable bindings came to be that were actually reliable. And plastic shelled double boots, oh the control. And even releasable bindings that weighed more that what had become the alpine standard of Dynafit bindings. It looked as though telemark was reinventing alpine skiing. Gravel bikes with suspension, wider bars, droppers. Next we’ll see wider bars yet that have bolt on "drops" that are just old school bar ends. 

There is a fun aspect to riding or skiing on equipment that isn’t optimal for conditions.

Reply

heckler
Sven Luebke
2 weeks, 6 days ago
+2 Mike Ferrentino Niels van Kampenhout

Having bike-packed 500km Auckland to Rotarua on a Reign Advanced, I have yet to figure out how this silly little curley bar of my Revolt is supposed to hold a tent?!

And...  when to electric gravel bikes show up for extra contentious content?

Reply

cooperquinn
Cooper Quinn
3 weeks ago
+1 Mike Ferrentino

And here I am... debating going back down to 42cm bars. More on that soon. 

But perhaps it comes from that I'm pretty much always a drops or hoods kinda guy. I don't really understand riding on tops.

Reply

neologisticzand
Chad K
3 weeks ago
+3 Mike Ferrentino bingobus slimchances57

I'm with you on that @Cooper Quinn. I've never enjoyed the feeling of wider drop bars. I imagine it is likely for the same reason, my main riding position is on the hoods, which feels odd on large bars. I always feel best with bars that put my wrist, elbows, and shoulders in a fairly neutrally lined-up position (ie. 42cm bars for my shoulder width). 

Additionally, I take my gravel bike on some sketchy narrow singletrack trails and expect that super wide drop bars would make for even more of a tight squeeze in some places.

While I'm on a role being curmudgeonly, I also don't like flared bars

Reply

mikeferrentino
Mike Ferrentino
3 weeks ago
+2 Tjaard Breeuwer Chad K

Noted to all your points above. For me, due to the gift/curse of being almost as wide as I am tall, 42 has always been too narrow for my shoulders. 46 felt about right for regular drops. Also agree that flare gets a little too crazy. I like about 12 degrees of flare, but only went there grudgingly. Flare does help wrist clearance when riding in the hooks offroad, but it serves no other purpose for me.

As for riding on the hoods, I am trying to consciously wean myself from using that as my default. I go to the hoods climbing but am otherwise trying to break the habit of sitting on them all the time. And for sure, reaaaal wide drop bars feel reaaaal weird on the hoods.

As for sketchy narrow singletrack, that begs the obvious question: are they too narrow for your 760mm or wider flat/rise bars?

Reply

Tjaardbreeuwer
Tjaard Breeuwer
2 weeks, 6 days ago
+2 Cooper Quinn Mike Ferrentino

Haha, I am the opposite, tall and skinny, I often end upon the narrowest size these days, preferring 40cm at the hoods.

I am also not a strong pedaleer, so I appreciate all the aero benefit. 

I am complaining that many of the new,  nice gravel bars don’t come in narrower widths, for my daughter.

Note that a bar much wider than shoulder width, can create pain between the shoulder blades.

Reply

neologisticzand
Chad K
3 weeks ago
+1 Mike Ferrentino

For that sketchy narrow singletrack mentioned, yes, some of those trails get to be too narrow in spots for 760mm wide bars, as the trails are walked-in singletrack, so wider bars were not accounted for.

Reply

cooperquinn
Cooper Quinn
3 weeks ago
+1 Chad K

Yeah I dunno, I just don't find the tops terribly comfortable? 

Also, perhaps because I'm a coward, I don't like being away from my brake levers.

Reply

Tjaardbreeuwer
Tjaard Breeuwer
2 weeks, 6 days ago
+1 Cooper Quinn

That’s me. Tops are comfortable for very relaxed cruising, or, for moderately steep climbing (with elbows dropped), but the rest of the time, they are not comfortable (to close in reach) and as you mention, to the lack of brakes and shiftersis a pretty big deal.

Now if I have a bike with Shimano Di2 and those inline hydraulic brake levers they said they had, maybe I’d feel different.

But at the moment, hoods for regular cruising, drops for descending or rough road surfaces.

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
Pete Roggeman
3 weeks ago
+2 Chad K Andy Eunson

Tops for me on looong climbs or long days. Otherwise agree that hoods are for at least 80% of the time.

Reply

HollyBoni
HollyBoni
3 weeks ago
+1 Mike Ferrentino

That's so like 2015! 

I ride (well rode) the drops on climbs where i'm not putting in a ton of effort. I just like the upright position. I also find that if i'm going on a flat, or slightly uphill dirt road that's rough with a lot of higher frequency chatter, for some reason when i'm holding the tops I can relax my hands more so I get beat up less. This only works if i'm not going that fast anyways and I don't have to maneuver around stuff tho.

Reply

Sethimus
Sethimus
3 weeks ago
+1 Mike Ferrentino

Reply

mikeferrentino
Mike Ferrentino
3 weeks ago
+1 Pete Roggeman

Curve, Crust, On-One, Salsa, Spank, Ritchey are just a few of the current wide bar purveyors. Curve and Crust are both definitely pushing into real wide dimensions. Personally, I vacillated between choosing the 480 and 520 PNW, and am glad I opted for the 520 but also am not sure I want to go wider. I also am not really a fan of mega-flare, and given my druthers would have preferred less flare than the 20-degrees of the PNWs. So, most of the new super wide, super flared bars feel a bit overkill to me. I've got a buddy who rides those absolutely massive Crust Towel Racks and swears by them, though, and he chews ridiculous mileage. So to each their own!

Reply

hankthespacecowboy
hankthespacecowboy
2 weeks, 3 days ago
+1 Mike Ferrentino

I jumped into the deep end of the alt-drop bar pool with the 660 Crust Towel Rack on my steel Hakkalugi. Paired with 45c Panaracer Fire Cross knobbies, and Gevenalle shifters, it has been a glorious not-quite road, not-quite mtb ride for exploring local options that would be too boring on a mtb, and too challenging for a road bike. I chew very modest mileage.

Reply

brad-sedola
Brad Sedola
3 weeks ago
+1 Alex Hoinville

I bought a gravel bike to recover from elbow/wrists injury a couple years ago. Flat bars were rather painful for the better part of a year. Riding on the hoods was much more neutral. At least I was out riding, right?

Since then all my riding buddies went electric, which I'm not all that interested in. I solo gravel ride more now than ever. Usually gravel roads connecting up some of the older singletrack, sometimes the same old trails I used to rail on the mountain bike. Just maybe not as fast as I used to. Which is sort of the point to maybe avoid future injury. The wider drop bar thing is certainly on my radar, and with an endorsement like that, may be my next purchase.

Reply

cooperquinn
Cooper Quinn
3 weeks ago
+1 Alex Hoinville

And, its kind of a blast out connecting up those gravel roads with random bits of trail and whatnot, isn't it?

Reply

heckler
Sven Luebke
2 weeks, 6 days ago
0

I've been doing it on my hardtail since 2012...

Reply

seldomseen
seldomseen
2 weeks, 6 days ago
+1 Mike Ferrentino

Ahhh, but let's talk bar tape. I just wrapped my 46cm bars and really didn't have enough tape to do a good job.

Reply

MTB_THETOWN
MTB_THETOWN
2 weeks, 2 days ago
+1 Mike Ferrentino

I had the opposite experience. I'm 5-10 normal build for reference. My gravel bike came with 440 flared bars, and I found them incredibly uncomfortable. It felt like I couldn't get control over the front end. The flare in the drops I found particularly uncomfortable. I swapped to a traditional 420mm unflared bar that my shop had as a take off, and it's been better for me on road, on techy singletrack, and everywhere in between. I really enjoy taking my gravel bike on fairly technical stuff too, not just smooth fire roads. I have a friend who put bars like those on his bike (wallmer I believe) and I could hardly even pedal around the parking lot. If I'm riding something rough enough these would be helpful,  I'd just take my hardtail. 

Also, mountain bike bar lengths seem to have peaked and be shrinking back down a bit. I'm riding 760 on all my bikes (enduro, hardtail, DJ) which measure 765ish with grips. 

I understand different strokes for different folks, so I'd just say people should try a bunch of things and see what works for them rather than just jump on the wide bar bandwagon.

Reply

andrewbikeguide
AndrewR
3 weeks ago
0

'Testing followed by drinking' always provides a better test data set than 'testing whilst drinking'. Best to remove temptation to keep the test protocol pure!!

Reply

araz
araz
2 weeks, 6 days ago
0

I got a gravel bike last year, mainly for commuting on mixed surfaces. I haven't had a drop bar bike since I was a kid in the 80s -- turns out to be a lot more fun than I was expecting! I did put on wide Ritchey bars (similar width to these PNWs) and it made the bike more comfortable for me. I think that this is mainly down to the fact that the vast majority of hours I've spent on a bike over the past decade has been on a mountain bike, so the wider bars just feel like a more natural position for me. There's definitely some drag pedaling into a head wind, but otherwise I'm a big fan of the big bars.

Reply

slimchances57
slimchances57
2 weeks, 6 days ago
0

It's a wise man that doesn't offer his opinion from a place of ignorance, and a humble man that knows he still has much to learn. Quit blaming the bars or the bike for the labels and boxes we put them in based on ONE component...especially the HANDLEBARS. Drop bars have strengths and weaknesses on and off road.

https://www.velonews.com/gear/gravel-gear/the-grind-geoff-kabush-races-kokopelli-white-rim-fkts-on-prototype-fox-rad-gravel-fork/

And

https://cyclingmagazine.ca/mtb/kabush-wins-iceman-cometh-on-his-open-gravel-bike/

Going further, these bikes combine many of the advantages of "Gravel" and "Mountain" in a way that is greater than the sum of either individual discipline.

https://bikepacking.com/bikes/knolly-cache-review-ti/

Speaking from 3+ years of experience, on this "style" of bike [undisciplined] the benefits are even more pronounced and the range of application significantly expanded with a 100mm travel suspension fork w/bar mount lock-out, and wheel/tire combinations using foam tire inserts and lower tire pressures....using Salsa Cowbell 46's

So quit blaming the bars

Reply

mikeferrentino
Mike Ferrentino
2 weeks, 6 days ago
+2 Cooper Quinn Chad K

Who's blaming bars for anything here?

Reply

cooperquinn
Cooper Quinn
2 weeks, 6 days ago
0

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