As a mountain biker for the past 33 years, my fit and fashion has changed a lot over time - and the former has become way more important to me as I get older and my back/neck acts up more frequently.
I still prefer a hardtail, but plus tires have a been a great advancement in my comfort (and hardtail-riding longevity) over the past couple of years. One thing I have always struggled with was stack height. I just can no longer ride with the bars level or below the saddle, and as a short-ish guy at 5'8" my saddle has never been super high.
After having a set of titanium "klunker" bars (Defiance Frameworks Arise! bars) made for a SS project I did a couple years ago, on a whim I put them on my last plus bike (Fuse Carbon) and my comfort improved IMMEDIATELY. So, it made perfect sense to move them over to my new ride, Why Cycles S7, even with it's slightly higher stack and taller head tube. The combo of rise, sweep and material flex make them magical for my *personal* comfort.
I have spent a lot of time and money this year trying to get the same "feel" of these bars with more of the "look" as a more traditional mountain bike, for many of the reasons you listed in the review. More spacers, highest rise (50mm in most cases), because I got hung up on my bike looking more like a classic klunker than a regular bike, and the questions and comments that come along with it. But, after many frustrating rides with equipment that was more about fashion than comfort, I said f*ck it and now I'm embracing my oddball and eccentric setup because it works FOR ME.
Sorry that's a long-winded comment but thank you Andrew for the great review and the positive comments around "non-traditional" handlebar height & setup.
I wish I could figure out how to post a simple picture...