17 February, 2017

Trekking Bars - The Original Alt Bar

By Scott

It's hard to believe that it has been 3 years since we launched Casey's Crazy Bar. In a world of drop bars and flat bars, the Crazy Bar was polarizing. But, we'd be remiss if we didn't dig back further into the realm of alternative bars to an original one - the Daija Trekking Bar.

I remember seeing these bars on bikes ridden by an older Austrian couple in New Zealand back in 2001. The bars fitted well with the front and rear panniers, rack top bags and trailer they were each pulling around the south island of New Zealand.

Compared to flat bars, trekking bars offer more hand positions. You can use the sides to rock up a hill, you can stretch out forwards in a headwind, or keep your hands close to the brakes and shifters.


In terms of set up, there seem to be two camps. You either have the open end of the bars face towards you or away from you. A search of photos on the net shows more people run them with the opening towards the rider, thus keeping the brake levers and shifters close to you. Go ahead, do the Google search, we can wait.

OK, so now that you have seen the myriad of cockpits out there, you can see how this bar is the ultimate in individualizing a handle bar. I've never seen flat bars or drop bars get built up with such a personalized feeling about them. In the photo above, we put tape along the sides, but you could easily use another set of grips there as well for more cushioning.

For those of you who are now intrigued by these, some basic spec's - the clamp area is a 25.4 mm, standard for flat bars. The straight section where your main grips, shifters and brake levers would fit is a 22.2 mm clamp area and is 15 cm long. They work best with a 25.4 mm threadless stem, as trying to get a quill stem around all those curves could prove to be a nightmare. If you had a quill stem with a removeable faceplate, that would work as well (wink, wink, nudge, nudge).
( Photo taken by Endlessvelolove )

So how many folks out there are fans of alt bars and how many just want a flat bar with a bit of curve/bend to it?

12 comments:

Hobbes vs Boyle said...

Also known as Brezellenker (pretzel bars) in the German-speaking world.

peddalhead said...

Before I had a dedicated touring bike I used a set of these bars on an inexpensive mountain bike set up for loads and they worked out very well. Sold the bike but kept the bars since I had gone to the trouble to stitch on leather wrap, may someday put them on the new ride as they give a lot of options.

Havi said...

Unfortunately Brezellenker are seldomly set up by somebody who knows what he/she is doing. Here in Germany you mostly see them attached to Walmart-class bikes in any arkward position you can imagine (e.g. impossible to reach the brake levers....)

Jofus Braylor said...

I had a set on my 'round town load carrier for a while; I had MTB brakes on the flats (toward me) and old-style road levers on the front, set up as interrupts. Then I put clip-on aero bars on it. It was ridiculous.

I found that the flats and the curves were too flat to get a comfortable hand position (coming from drop bars or bull-horns), and the sides were too wide. The flats were also extremely flexible, which was a little unnerving. All told, I wasn't into them, but they helped me pin down what kind of handlebars work well for me, and which don't. Kind of like one of those fit-kit bikes with all the adjustments.

One of these days I'll build up a bike with Casey's Crazy bars, they seem pretty ideal, provided you're not overly concerned with aesthetics!

-Colin said...

I have a very similar shape bar that I got from Nashbar years ago. My bike had drop bars with integrated brake/shifters. I have the open side toward the rear but the brake handles mounted toward the front. I tried with the brake handles close by, but it brought my arms so close to my waist that I couldn't brace myself adequately in a sudden stop.

Anonymous said...

that campeur in the photo has a kick stand plate....so the use of the top clamp on that greenfield kickstand is unnecessary!!! And clamping too tight could damage the seat stays....

Anonymous said...

Scott made a similar bar, with the "flats" joined together by a plastic piece. I still have a pair on my tandem.

Anonymous said...

@kickstand police. Relax. It's not VO' s bike. And they're chainstays, not seatstays.

Mark Holm said...

On the Nitto "Noodle" drop bars on my Rivendell Sam Hillborne, I have V-Brakes with the Tektro drop bar V-Brake levers and the, now discontinued, Tektro interrupter V-Brake levers. It's great. I have brake levers wherever I put my hands. I can't fathom why the bike world, or Shimano at least, has decided to kill V-Brakes. They work great, are powerful, easy to maintain and inexpensive. Well, that inexpensive part is certainly why they want to kill them. Yes, I know racers would hate my setup, because it is not tuned for the fine manuvers needed in a peloton. I am never in a peloton. In my riding, I don't even use the brakes a lot, but when I want them, I want to be able to stop. This V-Brake setup (with Kool Stop salmon pads) gives me the stopping power I want.

Well, my point in relation to the trekking bars is that, if I were to contemplate them, I would want brake levers where I could get to them. I am not comfortable with a bar where a much used hand position has no easy access to the brakes.

Unknown said...

With the current bikepacking trend, I was wondering if the pretzel bars would get some serious internet love by what I consider the 'right' crowd. And here it is :)

In my experience, these bars are only used by very inexperienced riders on very cheap bikes, or by die-hard grumpy males who sandpaper the threads of every screw on their bike to make it go more smoothly. I consider myself part of none of these groups, and just for me, the form vs. function approach of these butterfly bars is just not doing it for me. I tried them once when I has a very cheap town bike, but no matter how I angled them, I was still only using two of the 743 hand positions offered by them, as they were a little too flat for the aero tuck. Also, but this is more theoretically speaking, their shape seems to provide for a lot of flex at the open end - perhaps too much?

A lot of good posts in this discussion. It would be very interesting to see if anyone here is using them to good success on a good touring bike for offroad touring.

Unknown said...

Please site references for your statement or is it the statement your opinion?

VeloOrange said...

Thanks for your input into the discussion. Alt'ernative' bars in general have polarizing opinions, that's for sure. In my touring experience, they are a perfectly suitable handlebar. Some riders like flex in their bars when tackling rough gravel or crushed stones. And while some may only find a few positions worthwhile, others may need every single one due to previous injuries or simply wanting the ability to put their hands wherever they want and not being limited to 2 or 3 positions.

Most importantly, I think we can all agree that we should support whatever it takes for someone to get enjoyment out of riding their bikes, even if they have some weird bars.

-Igor