16 November, 2007

Handlebar Heaven

Handlebar heaven is, as you would expect, way up high. It is the top shelf of a tall storage rack at a certain wholesale company. Over the years that's where they've tossed all the sample handlebars and stems sent by various European and Japanese manufacturers. There are old bars from Nitto, TTT, ITM, Atax, Belleri, Phillipe, etc.

You'll be glad to know that you can buy your way into heaven, at least into handlebar heaven. I bought the whole lot with the idea of having reproductions of some of these old bars made.

The first photo shows some of the city bars in my new collection. I'll sell the ones we don't choose to reproduce and have solid works drawings made of the best examples.

The second photo is of a bar I particularly like and am sending plans of it off for quotes.

The third photo is of a lugged chrome French Pivo stem, but this one is unusual because it's 22.2mm x 25.4 mm, not the usual French size.

The last photo is of a modern Origin brand bar I think we'll stock. Anyone like/hate it?

So what sort of bars would you like to see Velo Orange sell?

ALSO, We just got more VO Croissant and Baguette bags. And the Follis tandems arrived a few minutes ago. Photos soon.


Anonymous said...

Very nice . . . That second bar is similar to the On-One Mary bars that I've been using for mountain biking lately - very comfortable.

Anonymous said...

the 2nd photo city bars look perfect with that stem. . . esp for a VO city bike. The handlebars in the last photo remind me of DirtDrops, which some folks loved, but I have a hard time thinking of a use. Great for making a slower bike (mtn or city) faster, but otherwise I'm not so sure. . .


Anonymous said...

ummm...that 2nd photo looks very like the jitensha/nitto bar. the origin 8 is a great bar for country riding or fixed gears: the flare gives good leverage and control. everything's a compromise so you sacrifice some on the hoods since they're at an angle, but for these applications i find it's worth it. i think the silver is nicer than the arguably-better-shaped midge bar from on one which is drab/black. happy to see your thoughts turning to more bar shapes! wide, wider...

Anonymous said...

Chris, one of the things I learned from visiting your site is that you are into the right handlebars for the right bike. And that is very important and from what I see out there most people seem to ignore. Up until now, I have been stuck to Nitto bars simply because they make a very good assortment and are of course very well made. For general purposes the Nitto heat treated Albatross bar is pretty close to perfect especially if you flip it and use those Soma reverse brake levers on a single speed.

Many of those photos show some excellent bar shapes. I especially like the photo of the Origin. It looks a little like the WTB which only comes in black.

It's great to see that you are into offering a wide selection of really good handlebars. A good set of bars can make a the difference between a very comfortable riding experience and one that is not. I look forward to seeing what you do in the future here. You are truly becoming the innovator in supplying needed high quality comfortable and practical bicyling equipment. And it's great to see that you keep moving in such a positive direction.

Anonymous said...

wow, handlebar heaven. you envy portland, I envy your job, so we're even.

people seem to like dirt drops and the on-one equivalent so the Origin bars would seem to be a good fit for you.

i am enjoying the Nitto promenades I purchased from you, and am thinking about converting my drop-bar utility bike to a porteur style with the Belleris. I do like a variety of handlebars and appreciate your willingness to seek out some of the harder-to-find options.

Anonymous said...

I don't think I'd bother reproducing the second bar - as stated, On-one Mary's are almost identical and Origin8 knocked that bar off and sells it for MSRP of $25.
Yes to the Origin8 - and I would like to see their other bars and threadless stems in silver as well - very nice stuff for the money.
As for reproduction bars, I LOVE Nitto Promenade bars both with and without rise - but I would change the inner diameter on all of them to accept bar-ends. Lastly, an Albatross type bar (similar width, rise, strength, and ability to run bar ends) but with a different bend - closer to a Promenade shape and less like a moustache would be very welcome.

Anonymous said...

I bought a custom built rodriguez off of the original owner a few years ago. Long story short.. beautiful bike but it was built for a woman so I've always had problems getting comfortable on the bike. I've tried the nitto randouneer, albatross, moustache, noodle, etc.. I love the rando bars on all my other bikes, so I figured that if I set them up identically they would be great. Not so.. I recently order a pair of the belleri porteur bars from you and boy what a difference that has mad. They bike has really come alive as a city bike and begs to be ridden now. That shape is near perfect in my opinion... you can get very upright at well as stretch out with good hand placement when you need to.

I've always liked the idea of the moustache bar... but I just don't think the ends are long enough... I"d love to see that bar with a bit longer reach and a little less drop.

Just my 2 cents

Anonymous said...

hi chris, did you see my comments on handlebars a few weeks ago/months ago (i can't find it anymore myself)? i wrote that the german firm Humpert makes quite a few bars that i think many people who read your blog and ride your bikes would enjoy using. i really think it's worth looking at their bars before you spend money and/or effort on R&D. handlebars have been around a long time, and some of them are still around! i won't rest until you write: been there, done that! go ahead; have a look. i think you'll be pleasantly surprised.


z-man said...

....and this will make .04. I love the Nitto Rando bars also, just wishh they went out a little wider than 45cm sometimes. Love the Noodle also except the sweptback portion feels funny to me, but the ramp, the drop....perfect. Combining the best of those 2... heaven.

Anonymous said...

Funny that you should bring up the Origin bars... I was just considering putting some On One Midge bars on an old Araya ten speed on which I'm working. But I don't like that they only come in black. I'd much rather have 'em in silver. So I (for one) would appreciate if you offered the Origin bars. Actually, I really like all the bar shapes you're considering to offer.

Fred Blasdel said...

You should stock the Origin silver threadless stems too — they're the only stems other than the Nitto one that aren't super ugly. They also cost 1/4 of what the Nittos do.

John said...

that second bar definitely looks like the jitensha/nitto bar that i just put on one of my bikes. i have been riding them for a few months now and really like them.

Anonymous said...

Bars look great..... except for the origin 8 handlebar,the origin 8 bar is a very low quality bar manufactured in china. WTB manufactures a similar bar that is much nicer. Stem looks very nice!

Anonymous said...

Nice bars chris... The finish looks a little weird on the origin 8, checked out the bars on the humbert site from germany.
They look like a high quality handlebar, great selection. It would be great if you could import these bars from germany.

Anonymous said...

Hi Chris,

The bars in the second picture look like the inspiration for the modern copy of Nitto-Jitensha bars.

I have three of them on my bikes and they're very useful for short distance riding. But once the bar becomes cluttered with levers, shifters perhaps, a bell, light and cyclo, there is effectively only one hand position - on the grips, which can be tiring.

If you could reproduce these, how much would it cost? The Nittos currently run about $35.00 each, and are very high-quality.

And I think they should stay silver.


Anonymous said...

The Origin Gary dirt drop bar is just awful.

Awful quality, awful shape, awful finish.

The shape so poorly executed to render it pointless. I'd much rather pay for the Midge bars, oven cleaner, scotchbrites, and mother's polish than waste $20 on Gary bars.

Anonymous said...

One more thing - I don't know if anyone shares my not-so-good feeling about matt silver finishes, like the one on the Origin bar.

I really prefer the look of polished steel or aluminium. Parts which have a sprayed-on rough finish just don't appeal to me. It's not much better than the black matt finish.

Follow Nitto and you won't go wrong there.

As a side note, I just couldn't live with the matt silver Yokozuna brake pad holders...so I got out some sandpaper and ground off the paint, then mirror-finished it.


Velo Orange said...

That city bar might well be the bar that the Jitensha/Nitto bar is based on; I'm not sure. What I like about it is that it can make road bikes with short top tubes serve as city bikes.

The German Humbert site shows bars that seem to be stock bars from various Taiwanese companies. I can get most of those directly from Taiwan.

I also don't like the shot peened finish (it's not paint)that seems to be so popular in Asia right now. Some companies won't use any other finish--it's frustrating.

I know the Origin bars are inexpensive, but the quality is okay and it's good to have a few less expensive options.

We just received some very nice and inexpensive Taiwanese bars that look a little like those in the second photo, but have about an inch of rise.

Finally, we are waiting for the very last shipment of NOS Belleri Porteur bars, we may have to have those reproduced too.

KCJeff said...

I've only seen the Origin8 bars in black. Silver would be welcome.

Anonymous said...

I'd definitely love to see VO stock the semi-moustache city bar in photo 2, and a wider randonneur bar would be good. All in polished silver, if you can find someone to do it.

Also, I can't wait to see the tandem pictures. What are the sizes?


Anonymous said...

After reading the comments I found some points I strongly agree with respect to handlebars. Here is what I would like to see in a quality handlebar(and based upon what I read from others):

1. Polished silver finish in either heat treated aluminum of light-weight steel

2. The bar ends must accommodate bar-end shifters or the inverse brake levers we all love.

3. The bars should have only a moderate rise and thus could be flipped to that proper look and feel.

4. Some of high quality bars should be the be able to accommodate road brake levers. Actually the Nitto 26.0 mustache bars are a good start in this direction but it would be nice to see them return further back to the rider. Thus they could then allow the rider to lean way forward or sit back (upright) at times. And if they were a little wider that could be really nice. If these mustache bars could be improved they could be the ideal bar an all-rounder multi-speed bike. Also what I like about the the mustache bar is that for example it feels thicker than say the albatross.

Like I said before having the right fit of the handlebars is one of the most important aspects of comfortable riding ... since long time comfortable riding incorporates many desirable body and hand positions for those long all day rides we all dream about.

Anonymous said...

Chris, Humpert (not Humbert if anyone's looking) manufactures in their own facilities in Germany and Taiwan (much like Syntace, another well respected German parts mnfr). They are a very well respected firm and supply original equipment to almost every large German bicycle manufacturer at every price point. The retail price of a Humpert bar such as the Trainingsbuegel in polished aluminum is 10EUR in Germany. I don't know what your prices are, but I'd put money on those bars you can get 'directly from Taiwan' being copies of Humpert products, NOT the other way round. and i still stand by my words: the bar shapes are really very good and are well worth looking at. as originals. cheers, alex.

Anonymous said...

The quality of the Origin 8 bar is not "okay"

On the ones I've seen the bends are flattened so badly that brake levers try to jump up or down to the round section.

Really, truly, terrible bars. The real Midge bars will save you the regret.

Anonymous said...

The bars in the second photo remind me of the bars I removed from a 70's Raleigh Sprite. I really liked the look of the Sprite bars but they were too narrow for me. A fixed gear friend has them now and loves them.


I hope to see the new bars on VO soon.

Jimbo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Will the VO city bikes have longer top tubes?

seaneee said...


I share your bar obsession as well. So many amazing shapes that could be reproduced.

I've been obsessed with these bars since I first found these pics:



This was Masi's personal bike. My vote goes for something of like their shape.

Anonymous said...

seaneee, I love those bars. What are they?


seaneee said...

I wish I knew. Showed the pic around for a while and no one had any idea. I suppose a world renowned frame builder has the resources to get whatever bars he wants.

Anonymous said...

The origin 8 bars are junk, bend is uncomfortable, hard to get brake levers over bend,(badly ovalised). What alex said is true, the humpert handlebars are indeed made in germany, superb product!

Anonymous said...

I've feel like I've seen those masi handlebars on a japanese site or two. Perhaps some japanese bike geeks got a hold of some or perhaps they were reproduced by someone in japan.
I like them, they are to upright bars what a curvy rando bar is to drop bar. They really catch the eye and keep you fixated on their erotic curves. I want one.

Anonymous said...

I want one too. Chris, if you'll reproduce these in high-quality, I'll take at least one.

The good thing is, I haven't seen anyone else making bars like these, whereas the "Nitto-Jitensha" is already being done now.


Anonymous said...

dirt drops are not ideal for road use, and the bend takes time and effort to set up right. i believe properly set up dirt drops are super comfortable for off road riding, but it should be noted that the bend is basically only used to brake from, general riding is done on the flat bottom portion of the drop. this allows quick access to the levers, but keeps your hands away from the akward bend. as to the basic utility of the bars, i find them very functional for 24 hour races, or any time when you spend a lot of time in the saddle and where leverage and a multitude of hand positions is beneficial. i personally use the on one mungo with a nitto dirt drop stem on a 1993 mb-1. i modified the bars with a longer flat portion at the bottom of the drop. its a bit short to really honk on. maybe the origin bars fix that. regardless, anyone interested in seeing how i voided the warrenty can check them out here: http://tinyurl.com/ywfvh5

Anonymous said...

The top section on that Origin bar is quite narrow, which means riding with your hands on the tops is not very comfortable. I personally have mixed feelings about the bar (it's a close copy of the WTB Dirt Drops which were made for off-roading originally).

Anonymous said...

with a dirt drop stem, you can get the bars high enough to not nessesitate riding on the tops, which is what makes it so interesting. its like riding on really comfortable bar ends, or something. you ride the tops to get the waterbottle out of your back pocket.

rigtenzin said...

I have the Origin Gary bars and really like them. I had no trouble installing brake levers on them. Perhaps they've made some bad ones, but mine are fine. I like them more than any other bars I have. I agree the top section is too narrow, so I don't place my hands there and I still like them. I'd like to try the Mary bars too.

Unknown said...

Johnson, I could be wrong, but it looks like you're running On-One Midges (dirt drops) rather than Mungos (moustache.)

Anonymous said...

yeah sorry. mungo sounds funnier

CD said...

+1 for the bar in photo 2.
Looks similar to the Jitensha bar which would be perfect if it had enough room on the straights for cork grips + Dia Compe SS-7 levers + XT thumb shifters. Unfortunately it's a bit short. Hopefully your bar will correct that shortcoming.

seaneee said...

I picked up a similar bar in Tokyo a few months ago. Maybe be the same as the Jitensha bar, but it looks like it has plenty of room. Currently using it on a fixed bike, ended up having to cut off 1.5 inches on both ends because it was too wide. Still had plenty of room for grips and a single lever.

Unknown said...

i know someone who wants a bar like the last one featured. let me know if it becomes available pls.

Anonymous said...

how much does a set of old belleri drop bars cost?