File this under "things I like." Been quite a while since I applied that tag. Not that there haven't been things I like, but I've been neglect in blog duties.
I needed new bars. Not because the old ones were damaged or in need of replacement due to structural issues. I needed new bars because I couldn't come to terms with the shape. It's not like I didn't give them a proper chance. My current bike is probably the third or forth bike they've been on over the past 8 years or so. I simply never felt comfortable in the drops and I spend a lot of time riding in the drops trying to stay as aero as possible riding into headwinds or descending (why do so many riders descend on the hoods?).
Finding new bars, however, turned out to be a bit of a challenge. I only had a few key parameters that needed to be met:
1. The bars needed to be 46cm, center-to-center.
2. The bars needed to be aluminum.
3. The bars needed to have a compatible shape with integrated brake/shift levers.
4. And, not that I'm a weight weenie, but they need to be light-ish.
There are several bars that tick some, but not all the boxes. There was one that did get a check mark in all of them. So, I ordered a Salsa Pro Road bar in the optional Large drop. It's also available in a small and medium drop. It's only available in a 31.8 clamp size, so I did also need to order a new stem. I'm partial to Ritchey components so a new WCS 120mm stem was ordered at the same time.
New bar, stem, cables, and bar tape (a new favorite and more on that later) were installed and I was ready to take it out. After a bunch of rides, both on and off road, I dig these bars: the right shape, the right amount of drop, and a surprise twist, the drop section angles out 4 degrees while the sides are vertical instead of flared like the Cowbell bar. The 4 degree angle puts your hands in a comfortable, neutral position when in the drops. So much more comfortable for motoring across the San Geronimo Valley or descending Bo-Fax Road. I like the larger drop since it makes more room for my hands. With widths between 34cm and 46cm (in 2cm increments) and three drops, there is surely a bar for everyone.
The old bar shape.
(What's playing: KWMR Musical Variete)