14 November, 2017

A Blurb on Bar Ends

by Igor

Bar End shifters lend themselves well to ease of access for folks riding in the city or self-sufficient applications such as randonneuring and touring where simplicity and durability is paramount.

For city riders, bending to reach your downtube shifters can be a distraction from traffic ahead or is simply inconvenient. One of the first things to go in a road bike turned townie conversion is the drop bars in favor for a more upright position. This allows you to get a better view of traffic ahead, to have a quicker reaction time as the conditions change.

For tourers and randonneurs, bar ends are incredibly popular for their ease of maintenance and cross compatibility. When stripped of frills and indexing, bar ends simply pull and hold cable tension to move front and rear derailleurs around. Although less common in newer offerings, many indexed bar ends feature a friction mode if indexing goes out of whack. Additionally, you can cross pollinate component groups to really dial in what you want out of your bike's gearing and performance.

Most handlebars compatible with bar end shifters have an outside diameter of 23.8mm, and an inner diameter between 19 and 21mm. There are a few handlebars such as the Klunker which have a 22.2mm grip area and take bar ends, but these are more uncommon.

While the lion's share of drop handlebars accept bar end shifters, the proliferation of carbon construction means you should consult the handlebar's manufacturer before installation - lest you crack a handlebar.

Installation of a bar end shifter is easy. Similar to a quill stem, the bar end body expands within the handlebar's end. Just remember that turning the bolt counter-clockwise expands! If you try to install it by turning clockwise, all of the expanding pieces will fall into the handlebar and you'll have to fish them out.

Our more popular handlebar styles for city bike conversions are the Left Bank and Porteur Bars. The former gives a super upright posture with a very classic city bike appearance, while the latter gives a bit more of a racy stance with the bars flipped down and a moderate rise with them flipped up.

All of our drop handlebar offerings are bar end compatible including the Dajia Far Bars, which have become a hit with the mixed terrain crowd.

Cotton Handlebar Tape is the easiest option for wrapping your bars. For upright bars, it is typical to wrap as much as you'd like to suit your padding preference, then finish off with tape or twine. I prefer using Rustines Constructeur Grips and modifying them a bit (scroll down on the post) to work with bar ends as they have more cushion than cotton tape.

Happy riding!


RoadieRyan said...

Only Dura-ace component I have ever owned. currently running them on my 1x9 work horse

Rod Bruckdorfer said...

Bar-end shifters were develop in France about 1948. I have used both downtube and bar-end shifters and find I shift more often with bar-end shifters. Quite simply, they are more convenient when riding and safer because I keep my eyes on the road. I run my shifting cables under the handlebar tape. They exit the tape close to the stem. Both our randonneur bikes and my 28 year old touring bike, a Miyata 1000 LT, are fitted with bar-end shifters. Lenora uses index and i use friction shifters.

Jean-Francois Caron said...

I've got Salsa Woodchipper 2 bars on my off-road touring bike, and the rather-extreme flare made me eschew bar-end shifters in favour of STI. The bars already feel like they are super wide and easy to catch on trees or bridge railings, so adding 1.5" that sticks out at weird angles depending on my gearing was not a fun idea.

That said, the bars are unreasonable, but the lesson is if you want bar-end shifters, don't go with a super-flared bar.

Richard Freeman said...

There are lots of variations in lever handle shapes. Friction Suntours are great, indexed Suntours are even better. Indexed Shimanos feel too small for comfort to me but I use them anyway.

I've always wanted to try out those ball-end ones in your lead photo. There were also wooden ball-end ones like this http://www.ebay.com/itm/like/272473423315?vectorid=229466&lgeo=1&item=272473423315&rmvSB=true I love the 1950's Scandinavian-toy look of them.

How about VO makes replacement rubber covers for Shimano bar ends that actually feel good? Seems like a simple thing for Rustines to do.

Velocodger said...

I sure like my Dura Ace Bar ends. Reasonably priced, super durable, what’s not to like?
When I install bar end shifters, I cut about 1CM off the bars. The shifters add it back. I get less knee strikes that way.

Mike and Sherry said...

Why are your handlebars so incompatible with a set of good brakes and bar-end shifters? A handlebar with an OD of 22.2 and an ID that will accommodate bar-end shifters it the bar that is needed. The best and most available brakes for a townie build are 22.2.

It seems that the only people making this bar are the people at Nitto, specifically the "Albatross" bar but they make others. Rivendell bikes sells a number of them.

Why is this so hard for VO to do? I would rather buy from you than from someone else.

JP Frey said...

Just the idea of bar-ends put me off, until I rode two drop bar bikes with them. I'm sold. Hope my existing bar-ends fit in the V.O. Randonneur bar when I'm ready to put one on the Campeur I'm craving.

thedrink said...

Some complain that bar ends hit their knees, but what I’ve done for years is to cut 1.5 to 2” off the ends.

Anonymous said...

^^^ I had this issue initially, but bar ends are the bee's knees (wherever you ride), you become accustomed to where they are, and adjust accordingly when mounting your bike.