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  1. #1
    Senior Member jbrams's Avatar
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    North Road v. Albatross v. Mungo v. All-Rounder v. Wald 8095 v. Priest v. Dove ...

    What's the difference between all these swept back handlebars with a little rise? Originally seen commonly on 3 speeds, they have a good "ergo" angle and upright riding position. Many cyclists group these different bars in the a single category that could best be called "North Road" or "3 speed" handlebars. But what are the differences really? Variations include the following factors (common to most handlebars really, but important for this context):

    (1) Width - some are as narrow as 50cm (Dove), others are as wide as 58cm (Wald #8095).
    (2) Material/Weight: most are steel/cromoly, but some are aluminium. Wider bars weigh more.
    (3) Rise - most seem to rise up from the stem an additional 4cm to 6cm, though this is not a strict limit.
    (4) Sweep - The angle of the grips relative to a line perpendicular to the top tube of the frame (i.e., perfectly "flat bars" have a 0 degree sweep, the albatross, which is parallel with the frame at the grips has a 90 degree sweep).

    I'll try to provide (or add) a link to each of the bars on this list:

    (A) The North Road

    The North Road bar was very common on 3 speed bikes decades ago, some even call it a 3 speed bar. They range from 20" to 23" wide. From 50cm on harriscyclery in a Nitto variety to 58+ on the wald #8095 below, and more.
    The material is commonly cromoly, though Nitto makes both cromoly and aluminium versions (in either 54cm or 56cm).
    The sweep is approximately 70 degrees.

    North Road refers to this specific model of handle bar, though different companies make bars by this name (like the Nitto North Road or the Soma North Road) or it can refer to this whole category of bars (basically any 3-speed lookin' bar).

    From the responses: "NR's are probably the closest bars for matching the natural wrist pronation of the typical human. Mounting them upside down does not alter this. All of these can be set up to relieve pressure on your arms/hands. Choose a good weight bearing saddle that will support your ischials."

    (B) The Albatross

    Nitto made bar with flavors including 54cm or 56cm wide (you hands should be about alligned with your shoulders, these 54cm bars felt too narrow for me but I have wide shoulders).
    Material is either cromoly (bit cheaper) or aluminum (not so cheap).
    Someone else seems to have created a tiny Albatross fan club/discussion here. The grips on some pictures of the Albatross are angled away from the front (about 70 degrees like North Roads). However, the Rivendell site picture has the grips parallel to the top tube. The Albatross seems to be very similar to the North Road outside of the different grip sweep angles.

    From the replies: "The major difference between albatross bars and north road bars are that north road bars do not sweep back as much as albatross bars do. North road bars sweep back at an angle that is very similar to that of the human hand in a resting position (which is why so many people find them comfortable)."

    (C) The Wald #8095 (such a sexy name!) seems to be more generic/common cromolly version of the North Road (actually most that you see are probably Wald) though a bit wider than the Nitto or Soma versions ... sites say 22" or 23" (which is just over 58cm). See also,the Wald Cruiser, #867
    From the comments:
    "Touring Bars are the classic form of North Road bars. These are steel, 22" (not 23" - they may vary a bit), not heavy at all - besides, what's a few oz's?"
    I have a set of these from a friend:


    (D) The All-Rounder -

    what makes the all-rounder different from the Albatross? According to Sheldon Brown: "A semi-straight style of handlebar popular on sportier English 3-speeds. It resembles a mountain-bike bar with a slight rise, but is usually quite a bit narrower than a mountain-bike bar." Humm ... narrower
    Like Mary's - "for all intents, these are All-Rounders found on some original mixte and 3-speed type bikes, little or no straight area adjacent to the clamp, less sweep angle. By a wide margin, 3-speeds came with 20" NR's, not All-Rounders."

    (E) Priest - similar to Dove and Albatross ... no longer made by Nitto and considered replaced by the Dove and Albatross.

    (F) Dove - (replaced the Priest Bar according to this post.)

    "The priest bars/dove bars are pretty much the same thing and as far as I know the dove bars replaced the priest bars. Dove bars are pretty similar to albatross bars as they both sweep back almost parallel with the top tube. The albatross bars are wider though at 54 and 56 cm while the dove bars are 51ish cm wide. I've tried both the albatross bars (56cm steel version) and the dove bars. The albatross bars definantly had a cruiser feel to them while the narrower dove bars feel a bit sportier. If I were to do it again I'd stick with the albatross bars."
    "Very much like the Falcon bar but made by Nitto of Japan like nobody else can do! Clamp is 25.4 mm and it takes mountain-bikey brake levers and shifters."
    "It measures about 51.5 cm at the ends, rises 6 cm, sweeps back about 16 cm, and weighs 390g"

    (H) Promonade -

    Okay, not quite like the others, but worth mentioning. Flatter in the front with no bends forward of the stem, longer grip area (like the Dove kinda).

    General handlebar advice from Rivendell:
    Handlebars 101:
    There are two handlebar diameter standards:
    1) Mountain bike (7/8") These take traditional mountain bike components like grip shifters, thumb shifters, rapid fire shifters, v-brake levers, etc. The Falcon, Dove, and Albatross bars fall into this category.
    2) Road bike (15/16") These take traditional road bike components like caliper brake levers, STI or Ergo shifters, bar end shifters, etc. The Moustache, Dream, and Noodle bars fall into this category.
    --Possibly confusing the issue is that there are two stem clamp diameter standards that usually (but not always) correspond to the bar diameter. Most mountain bike bars have 25.4 mm (1") clamp diameters and most road bars have 26.0 mm clamp diameters (except some old Cinelli's were 26.4 so you had to use both their stem and bars). Some old road bars also came in 25.4 mm clamp diameters. Also some bars come with a 25.8 diameter clamp area but they work with the 26.0 stems.

    Of course "best" is subjective, but here are some criteria I know I'm concerned with:
    (1) I'm heavy even for a clydesdale (300+ though dropping at 3.71lbs/week for 4+ weeks ... this means I have a good amount of forward weight even with proper adjustments {link**),
    (2) I have wide/broad shoulders (so I'd like a wider-ish handlebar),
    (3) I like/need a relatively upright riding position, I don't care about component weight much at all,
    (4) I ride a few miles each way to school and back a few times a week, 20-30 (and gaining) rides on the weekends.
    (5) The bars should be transferable (shim would be okay) from the bike I have (1996 Klein pulse comp, mountain bike) to the bike I want (newish Jamis Coda, hybrid/touring/commuter bike with flat bars ... {link**thus the need for a replacement set of bars). (Just which diameters this involves I'm a bit shaky on, but nothing I can't figure out with a little time on Sheldonbrown.net, though your advice is appreciated).

    As people post better descriptions and links or pictures I'll add them to this top post. Hopefully by the end I'll have figured out which bars may fit me best and others who have the same questions will have a resource to easily help them answer their questions about these comfortable and handsome handlebars!

    Thanks to everyone who posts!
    Last edited by jbrams; 02-10-07 at 03:14 PM.

  2. #2
    Perineal Pressurized dobber's Avatar
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    New kid on the block, Titec H-Bar



    Just got a set, threw em on the Cross-Check but really haven't ridden enough to "these are really super duper neato keano".
    Last edited by dobber; 02-05-07 at 05:43 PM.
    This is Africa, 1943. War spits out its violence overhead and the sandy graveyard swallows it up. Her name is King Nine, B-25, medium bomber, Twelfth Air Force. On a hot, still morning she took off from Tunisia to bomb the southern tip of Italy. An errant piece of flak tore a hole in a wing tank and, like a wounded bird, this is where she landed, not to return on this day, or any other day.

  3. #3
    Senior Member jbrams's Avatar
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    Those seem good for getting a little more aero and stretched out, but I'm looking at something a little more, well, mellow and upright.

    Anyone else regarding the North Road type handlebars? Please provide links or pictures if you can =)

  4. #4
    Senior Member c_m_shooter's Avatar
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    I just got a bar for my single speed mountain bike called the Boomerang bar from NYC Cycles on Ebay. It is flat but has 30 degrees of sweep which pulls the grips back about 4 or 5 inches. I think it's about 26 inches wide. They sell for about $10 plus shipping. Here's a picture of it on my bike. I am using about 140mm stem on it otherwise the grips would be behind the steering tube.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by c_m_shooter; 02-06-07 at 03:29 AM.

  5. #5
    Senior Member jbrams's Avatar
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    Last edited by jbrams; 02-07-07 at 02:27 PM.

  6. #6
    Striving for Fredness deputyjones's Avatar
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    I don't have much advise for you, but I will fan the fire of greater selection. I recently purchased these from my LBS. They called them "wrap around bars" and had them laying somewhere in the back of the shop. They pulled them out when I went in there looking for Trekking bars, and sold them to me for $10. These were made by Haro, but I have no idea what the technical name of them is.



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  7. #7
    pluralis majestatis redfooj's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dobber
    New kid on the block, Titec H-Bar



    Just got a set, threw em on the Cross-Check but really haven't ridden enough to "these are really super duper neato keano".
    unless Jones sold the rights, thats an infringement on their H-bar



  8. #8
    Senior Member jbrams's Avatar
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    Ooh, almost forgot the Jones Bar ... lost of hand positions (not my thing though, I don't need the more aero placement, really just the more upright.

    This above is apparently just a different version of the Jones Bar ... see this website

    Please keep the handlebars coming, and any additional information you have about the differences between the bars from the first post is highly appreciated (especially about differences between the North Road and the Albatross).

  9. #9
    Senior Member here and there's Avatar
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    The priest bars/dove bars are pretty much the same thing and as far as I know the dove bars replaced the priest bars. Dove bars are pretty similar to albatross bars as they both sweep back almost parallel with the top tube. The albatross bars are wider though at 54 and 56 cm while the dove bars are 51ish cm wide. I've tried both the albatross bars (56cm steel version) and the dove bars. The albatross bars definantly had a cruiser feel to them while the narrower dove bars feel a bit sportier. If I were to do it again I'd stick with the albatross bars.

    The major difference between albatross bars and north road bars are that north road bars do not sweep back as much as albatross bars do. North road bars sweep back at an angle that is very similar to that of the human hand in a resting position (which is why so many people find them comfortable).

    The Wald handlebars are a cheap knock off of north road bars. I've seen them in a bike shop around here and in my opinion the Nittos do look a lot nicer.

  10. #10
    Senior Member jbrams's Avatar
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    Fantastic, thanks "here and there" ... Here's a good pic based on your name (this is a sculpture in Oakland near my house):


    "Many Oaklanders are frustrated by the misuse of the most famous quote said about their city, "there's no there there," uttered by Gertrude Stein upon learning as an adult that her childhood Oakland home had been torn down. Contrary to popular belief, the comment was not meant to disparage the city, but rather to express a sentiment similar to "you can't go home again". Modern-day Oakland has turned the quote on its head, with a statue downtown simply titled, "There." Additionally, in 2005 a sculpture called HERETHERE was installed by the City of Berkeley on the Berkeley-Oakland border at Martin Luther King Jr. Way. The sculpture consists of eight foot high letters spelling out the words "HERE" and "THERE" in front of a ramp that carries the BART rapid transit tracks from its elevated section in Oakland to the underground section in Berkeley."
    See here

    Keep the ideas coming in, I'll do an edit of the top post tonight to get all the additional infomation in.
    Thanks everyone

  11. #11
    Senior Member Grand Bois's Avatar
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    I like the bars that Jitensha Studio in Berkeley has made for them by Nitto.
    http://jitensha.com/eng/flatbar05.html
    The angle of the grips feels just right.
    Here they are on my wife's Raleigh:

  12. #12
    Senior Member jbrams's Avatar
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    Wow, the Jitensha bars look far out, that looks like an evolved flatbar to say the least.
    Jitensha's pic:

    There are two others that are pretty groovy too:
    http://jitensha.com/eng/bars_e.html
    Last edited by jbrams; 02-07-07 at 01:18 PM.

  13. #13
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dirtdrop
    I like the bars that Jitensha Studio in Berkeley has made for them by Nitto.
    http://jitensha.com/eng/flatbar05.html
    The angle of the grips feels just right.
    Here they are on my wife's Raleigh:

    Good find. Looks similar to the On-One Mary bar but cheaper and silver. Looks like there could be another Nitto product in my inventory.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  14. #14
    Senior Member jbrams's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BluesDawg
    Good find. Looks similar to the On-One Mary bar but cheaper and silver. Looks like there could be another Nitto product in my inventory.
    The On-One Mary:

    Good call, they are remarkably similar! I wonder if there's a substantial difference in width?

  15. #15
    Senior Member Grand Bois's Avatar
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    I never noticed, but you're right. They are very similar to the shape of the On-One Mary.

    I just don't like the Scott atb bullhorns I have on my Trek. I have to reach too far forward to find a comfortable grip. How do you think those bars would look on it?


  16. #16
    jcm
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    Wow. Ok, here we go:

    Wald #8095 Touring Bars are the classic form of North Road bars. These are steel, 22" (not 23" - they may vary a bit), not heavy at all - besides, what's a few oz's?
    http://i5.tinypic.com/33df2fr.jpg
    http://i11.tinypic.com/47a1xjt.jpg

    or, if you prefer, upside down:
    http://i8.tinypic.com/2hz0o3m.jpg

    North Roads differ from:

    Mary: for all intents, these are All-Rounders found on some original mixte and 3-speed type bikes, little or no straight area adjacent to the clamp, less sweep angle. By a wide margin, 3-speeds came with 20" NR's, not All-Rounders.

    Albatross, Promenade: very similar to each other in that they have nearly a 90degree sweep. Classy, but perhaps somewhat impractical for long rides.

    Cruisers: typically very wide with a pronounced arc forming the sweep, almost semi-circular. Hang out the laundry.

    Out of these, NR's are probably the closest bars for matching the natural wrist pronation of the typical human. Mounting them upside down does not alter this. All of these can be set up to relieve pressure on your arms/hands. Choose a good weight bearing saddle that will support your ischials.

    You will find that a 3-speed will set you up straighter than a modern bike because the top tubes were shorter on those. If you go with NR's you won't be bolt-upright at all, even less so with the Mary's. The posture you will get will likely be quite good for long trips.
    Last edited by jcm; 02-08-07 at 12:00 PM.

  17. #17
    Senior Member jbrams's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcm
    Does anyone know what those grips are called? Want to try something similar out but they're kinda expensive. These look similar but hopefully cheaper?

    I got some North Roads from a friend ... they're narrower than I imagined (20" as you mention here)

    Quote Originally Posted by jcm
    North Roads differ from:
    Mary: for all intents, these are All-Rounders found on some original mixte and 3-speed type bikes, little or no straight area adjacent to the clamp, less sweep angle. By a wide margin, 3-speeds came with 20" NR's, not All-Rounders.
    Mary's and all-rounders at the same? I though the all-rounders had a little more rise to them, is that not the case?
    And, sorry for my ignorance, but what is "sweep angle" referring to? Wider sweep means less parallel with frame, closer to perpendicular? Or is it just the opposite?
    Are all-rounders wider than Mary's or North Roads?

    Quote Originally Posted by jcm
    Albatross, Promenade: very similar to each other in that they have nearly a 90degree sweep. Classy, but perhaps somewhat impractical for long rides.
    So when I see bars that do not have the 90 degree sweep (meaning they're basically parallel with the frame?)

    Quote Originally Posted by jcm
    Cruisers: typically very wide with a pronounced arc forming the sweep, almost semi-circular. Hang out the laundry.
    Yeah, too wide ... really I'm just looking for a slightly wider version of the North Road bars is seems.

    Quote Originally Posted by jcm
    Out of these, NR's are probably the closest bars for matching the natural wrist pronation of the typical human. Mounting them upside down does not alter this. All of these can be set up to relieve pressure on your arms/hands. Choose a good weight bearing saddle that will support your ischials.
    Well, got a good saddle, B-67 from Wallbike. Off to sheldonbrown's glossary to look up ischials =)
    Probably won't be mounting upside down though I agree with others who say it looks "hip".

    Thanks, most in depth and informative post so far. Later today I'll add parts of your comparative descriptions to the top post.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Grand Bois's Avatar
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    The On-one Mary has a 37.5mm rise and Jitensha Studio flat bar has no rise at all. The Jitensha bar is a copy of an old 3ttt bar. Mr. Hiroshi's wife's bike has the original 3ttt bar. I compared them and the shape is almost identical, but the 3ttt's are narrower. I think the extra length in the grip area is to make room for modern brakes and shifters. I shortened mine because I'm not using modern brakes and shifters.

    I've read that statement about North Roads and "natural wrist pronation" before. I must be built wierd, because I've got some old steel Walds and they're not the most comfortable bar for me. The grips sweep back a bit too much.

  19. #19
    . bbattle's Avatar
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    Your ischial tuberosities are your sitbones. These are the parts of your butt that need supporting. Specialized makes a sizing device many call the "ass-o-meter" that measures the width of your sitbones to determine the proper saddle width. You want a saddle to support your sitbones firmly. If they are allowed to sink into a big fat gel pad, pressure is then transferred to other parts of the body that aren't designed to handle it.


    The North Roads are good bars for getting around town. Most folks prefer their handlebars to be the same width as their shoulders. Too narrow and you feel cramped, can't breathe. Too wide and you get shoulder soreness. But everyone's different, YMMV, etc.

    The various trekking bars people posted offer a lot of handpositions while still keeping you pretty upright. If you are doing some long rides, these would be good choices.

    Do a search in the SS/FG forum and the Roadie forum for more handlebars. While the Roadie forum will have all drop bars, the SS/FG crowd will have all sorts of fashionable, practical and questionable but cool-looking bars.

    Here's some Oury mountain grips. $10 a pair from speedgoat.

  20. #20
    jcm
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    What Dirtdrop says about the Mary/Jitensha comparison is true. The All-Rounder is a term that was used in England to describe a type of bar that resembles the Mary, but can have even less rise, being nearly as flat as the Jitesha. I had two of them on old Viking touring bikes. They were about 19" wide. Wald #815 is a version. I think I can say that Dirtdrop is not a-typical. NR's are just another approximation of design among many that happen to fit alot of people.

    Grips:
    Sorry, can't remember. I got them at a MTB store in town a long time ago. They seem pretty good. That little flair feature doesn't really do anything. The others mentioned here are probably just as good.

    North Roads come in 22" (ok, sometimes they actually measure 23") and 20", which is the original width. Having broad shoulders, I prefer the wider. Nitto makes them in 20" and they're pricey, alloy, and very nice.

    Sweep generally refers to the back-angle as measured from the clamp. Example: a straight MTB bar has little to no sweep, being in line with the clamp. Conversely, a 90degree sweep is perpendicular to the clamp and parallel (in-line) with the top tube.

  21. #21
    Senior Member jbrams's Avatar
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    Geezo, several really helpful replies in such a short time. I'll do my best to update my first post tonight, but it's Friday so who knows what my BAC will be 7 hours from now.

    So the albatross comes in 560mm which is about 22", maybe a little less. The NR comes in 20" or 22" and sometimes measures 23" ... I tried out a 540mm albatross (at velosport in Berkeley) but it felt quite narrow (hard to tell not on the bike). My friend gave me an old rusted but sturdy NR that is 22" center to center of the holes at the ends of the bars. Measured my chest width, about 43cm (I believe 39 or 40 is average). I'm going to put it on tonight or tomorrow and ride around in the rain (fun). But even that bar looks a bit narrow ...

    Anyone know where I might find a 23" North Road Bar?

    And thanks for the oury grips heads up, current grips seem okay, really the problem is posture/weight distribution ... really, if I was riding harder there'd be more weight on my legs and less on my hands and seat, but being a little upright in the meantime seems to work okay. Ergon grips seem nice and available for under $25, I'll consider them but after figuring out the positioning situation ...

    My current grips: WTB DUAL COMPOUND BICYCLE GRIP

    More info here for what it's worth. They're okay, pretty sticky, $5 at LBS.

    Thanks, thanks, thanks.
    Last edited by jbrams; 02-09-07 at 12:47 PM.

  22. #22
    jcm
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    OK, I actually went out and measured my NR's at 23" from center to center. So, with Wald #8095, that's what you get. The clamp diameter is 1" (25.4mm). I think I paid about $15. The Nitto's are 19.5" (50cm) which is similar to original British bars.

    I can't remember if this got covered: Ordinary MTB brake levers and thumb shifters will work with the Wald. Bar-end shifters will also work with no problems.

  23. #23
    Senior Member Grand Bois's Avatar
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    I just measured my steel Wald North Roads. They're 21" c to c. It should also be mentioned that steel bars get rusty and they tend to slip in the stem clamp.

  24. #24
    Perineal Pressurized dobber's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by redfooj
    unless Jones sold the rights, thats an infringement on their H-bar

    Since he licensed the design to them, I guess it wouldn't be.
    This is Africa, 1943. War spits out its violence overhead and the sandy graveyard swallows it up. Her name is King Nine, B-25, medium bomber, Twelfth Air Force. On a hot, still morning she took off from Tunisia to bomb the southern tip of Italy. An errant piece of flak tore a hole in a wing tank and, like a wounded bird, this is where she landed, not to return on this day, or any other day.

  25. #25
    jcm
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dirtdrop
    I just measured my steel Wald North Roads. They're 21" c to c. It should also be mentioned that steel bars get rusty and they tend to slip in the stem clamp.
    Hmm... maybe they just pick a spot under the chop-saw and let 'er drop. After reading your post I went and measured my other set and it's a solid 22"! Go figure. Haven't had the rust or slipping problem yet, but there's still time...

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