10 April, 2013

Winnifred's Funky Cockpit

A guest post by Casey:

I have always had three primary obsessions with my bike's setup: saddle, cockpit, and pedals. These are all quite similar since they are the points of interface between the rider and the bike. In the pursuit of comfort and utility, Winnifred, my touring/city/all-rounder build, has had a very tumultuous life in terms of cockpit setup. I think I have finally found a cockpit that is nearly perfect in terms of comfort and utility.

Winnifred behind VO World Headquarters
I've spent a lot of time touring with different drop bar setups. In which case I ride almost exclusively on the hoods or the flats. For riding in the hoods, I prefer something like Chris's Rando Bar but then I'm not quite as comfortable on the flats. More recently I've been trying a bunch of funky bars. I've ridden with the On-One Mary Bar, the Surly Open Bar, and the VO Postino Bar. I found them to be great for riding out of the saddle or comfortably cruising around; however, their lack of hand positions doesn't suit long rides. Enter the Jeff Jones H-Bar. It has the wide swept back hand position like most other funky bars, but it also provides a narrow hand position similar to the flats on drops bars. I've ridden around with these bars for a while and I love how comfortable they are. For me there are really only two downsides. They are exceptionally wide,which has led to some close calls in tight city traffic. I also miss the position afforded by hoods on drop handlebars. There isn't much to be done about the width without sacrificing comfort. However, I can imagine a similar bar that would provide the wide swept back hand position of a funky bar and a position similar to riding on the hoods of a drop bar. Fortunately, I can do more than imagine, I should have a prototype of said bar within a few weeks.


The other thing that I'm really excited about with my current cockpit setup is the shifter placement. I can shift entirely with my thumb or pointer finger without having to move my hand from the grips.  I was able to do this using the VO thumb shifter mounts and the Dia-Compe ENE down tube shifters. The trick is to reverse the shifter mounts and shifters (e.g., left shifter/mount on the right side of the handlebar). As you can see the clearance is pretty tight between the shifter and the Tektro FL750 brake lever, but with a little bit of fiddling I was able to get it to work very smoothly. I can't rave enough about this setup, it feels a lot sturdier than any grip or trigger shifter setup but is just as accessible. Plus it's just so svelte. What's you're favorite cockpit setup?


14 comments:

dr2chase said...

I ended up with Montmartre+hoods, later enhanced with 2-into-1 brake cable adapters and levers for the handgrips.

I like my handlebars skinny; I don't seem to need any more leverage than that, and twice in the past I've torn wider bars in half, which suggests that too much leverage is both possible and undesirable.

I've tried mustache, I've tinkered with double-wrapping them for better padding. I have to be careful how much load (and at what angles) I put on my hands.

John Hanson said...

Casey, please keep us up-to-date with regard to the prototype bar you mention, plus its potential availability if it performs. I often dream of such nonexistent bars on my commute.

sliggins1483 said...

i have one of my bikes set up with scott at-4 bars with itm millenium grips fliped and bar taped over the grips and bar very nice set up but worry about these bars failing as they are known to near the bar clamp a stronger at-4 bar would be nice. so many comfortable hand positions i have another build that i was going to try the h bar with

Wes Ewell said...

For many years - and on four bikes - my favorite has been a 1950s vintage GB Tourist Bend. This bar has a short reach, shallow drops, and more flare than even a rando bar.

My newest bike, which is set up primarily for riding rail trails, uses a Soma Junebug bar, which is similar to the GB but considerably wider.

The broad flare on both bars allows a very comfortable position on the hoods, while still giving me six different hand positions for long rides.

Anonymous said...

I used the same shifter set-up on a customer's bike with porteur bars. The only problem I had was that the shift levers grabbed a little on the bar tape. I wish there was some offset to the levers sort of like the "silver" levers or a thicker pivot spacer to overcome this problem.
Emile

Kyle said...

We're living parallel lives. On my Rawland Drakkar I started with Noodles which have nice tops and hoods, but the drops are too deep. Then I went to Salsa Woodchippers, but the combination of drop plus wide grip was just too weird and I never used them. Now I'm on Jones H-bars (the Titec version with a slight rise and no full loop in front) and I love the wide position (especially with Ergons). But I do miss the hood position! So I'm able to achieve two out of three positions but never hoods, tops, and wide in one bar. If you can successfully make a bar with all three put me down for one!

ge said...

What I'm curious of is whether I could mount an LED light on the front of the bar and a wireless computer on the back of the bar and get enough separation to avoid electrical interference. Interesting bars. I bought a set of Milan bars a few years ago but finally bought a bike to install them on. I have to say I'm enjoying the raked angle and am wondering if I'd like the Porteur style even more. I really like the inverted thumb shifter installation. I want to convert to thumbies and thought it might make more sense to mount them that way.

Rick Risemberg said...

Well, about seven years ago I tried bullhorns--Nitto RB-018, flat with an uptick at the ends--and fell in love. Have used them on centuries, commuting, shopping rides, et al, and find them comfortable. I too used to use road bars, but only on the flat and the hoods. The bullhorns give me that and just have an all-around comfortable shape. I actually get four hand positions from them.

This is on a fixed gear with an interruptor brake lever.

Photo here.

Brendan said...

These are quite possibly the ugliest bars in existence, but look to meet just about all the criteria you're describing.
http://bike-vintage.com/handlebars/562-for-sell-vintage-3ttt-trekking-handlebar-new-old-stock.html

Chris from Denver said...

What about approximating a hood position with using those DiaCompe Knob Grips you guys sell?

dr2chase said...

re: DiaCompe Knob Grips.

That works too -- I've done that with Montmartre bars on another bike. I wish that the grips were just a hair bigger.

We could in theory commit all manner of hideosities with smaller-diameter bars and various MTB bar-ends.

Chris Allen said...

Just wondering if the extreme nose down saddle position is temporary? Might take a lot of weight off of the arms and shoulders if the saddle carried more weight.

Anonymous said...

On a recent rebuild of an old steel 12speed I tried various drops, flatbars, butterfly trekking bars, but the winner has finally been decided: Bullhorns (Soma's Urban Pursuit, to be specific) These have a longer horn than most other bullhorns and offer full hand placement at the end like some MTB bar-ends. So they actually have 3 distinct hand positions. However, at the corner on the outside of the flats I also installed the original dia-compe drop lever hoods with the lever removed. They are layed flat on their side and installed backwards with the hood curving back and outward with new rubber hoods installed overtop. They offer a nice wide and relaxed 4th hand position. Brak levers are matching Soma Urban Pursuit levers at the ends with interrupter levers on the flats. While keeping the downtube shifters the bars are clean and free of clutter and I saved just enough room for a light mount or other accessories between the stem clamp and interrupter levers.

Francisco said...

Good to see I'm not the only one having come to this conclusion...
Posted August 11th, 2011
@ the bottom of the page.
http://velo-orange.blogspot.com/2011/08/customers-bikes.html