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Old 05-03-07, 10:13 PM   #1
SaddleUp
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Review of Trekking Handlebar

Today I demoed REI's Novara Safari touring bike, mainly to try out the trekking bar. I was disappointed.

This bar has three hand positions. Sheldon Brown claims there are four, but I don't believe it. Only one of them corresponds to the natural angle of the wrist. The other two are straight positions that require rotating the wrist as on a mountain bike.

The one really useful position on the trekking bar is about the same as you have on the top part of a road bar in front of the hoods.

A further problem with the trekking bar is that it is excessively wide---58 cm---for no apparent reason. It felt very unwieldy.

So I'm resigning myself to sticking with my road bar.

As for the Novara Safari, I really disliked that as well. Very bulky. Terrible riding position---very stretched out; when I raised the seat to the standard height I was towering over the bars but could barely reach them even after the technician adjusted them as much as he could.

REI also has a standard touring bike ($950) that looked like a good bike, but I was unable to demo it because they didn't have it in my size. I noted that like many touring bikes the largest cog was 32 and the smallest chainring was 26, which I consider to be inadequate for steep hills. It was heavy.

Finally, both bikes had lousy seats.

So I guess I'm content with my totally customized Trek 1000 with mountain gears, $650 including modifications. I'll figure out how to attach fenders to it somehow and turn it into a touring bike against the odds.

Anyone else want to comment on the trekking bars or these bikes?
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Old 05-03-07, 10:26 PM   #2
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Imay have seen you post a thread like this,it could have been another.no matter,the trekking bar was the point of interest. The thread to which I'm referring,included such a bar,others too.I posted a bit about a moustache,no responce,no other refferences made to it other than the initial mention by the OP.I stated thoughts on drop bars,nothing again. A few members went on and on becrying the virtues of a grotesque very heavy bar,of course Mr. Brown was quoted. Glad to see you write this review,like the proverbial mouse-trap,we can't invent a better one.The Wright brothers got it right a century ago,the definative bar I like your entire review actually,I'd like it and would have read it at 9:00 as well. Thanks Mr.
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Old 05-04-07, 02:19 AM   #3
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I bought a trekking bar and I quite like it.
You're right, it does seem pretty wide, and I've only really found 3 real positions, but I like being able to switch from one to the other.
The most comfortable position on my mountainbike bars (with bar ends) was the corner where the bar ends start and I could stay in that position for 30+ miles without thinking.

With the treking bars I find that I move my hands much more, maybe because no 1 position is very comfortable, maybe because I have more choice, I don't know.

It's not as great as I thought it was going to be, but I still like it and I'm going to stick with it for a few longer rides (100km this weekend) and see how I go.
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Old 05-04-07, 06:36 AM   #4
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Well, I've changed my bike from "regular" road drops to trekking bars. I've yet to give it a full trial, though initial indications seem to suggest it is promising. One opinion that I've quickly formed and you agree with is that the trekking bars seem to be too wide; however, I know I've got to give it some more time to make a good judgement. For convenience sake, I have left my old road bar complete with all the cables to one side, so if the trekking bars don't work out, I will be able to swap back relatively easily.

A couple of questions for you concerning your review though; (i) did you try other stems to see if the stem was appropriate for you? The reason I ask is that I tried 3 or 4 different ones before I got a stem I thought was just right (interestingly it was the longest stem I tried) and (ii) did you try rotating the bar to get the best position? After a bit of experimentation, I think I've found a more angled up is better (at least for me) -certainly when compared to the normal almost horizontal position of my bar ends on my mtb.
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Old 05-04-07, 06:53 AM   #5
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I guess they are not for everybody, but I sure like mine. I haven't gone that far with them yet (40 miles), but there's a guy on CrazyGuy on a Bike from the 50+ forum that has gone cross country with them. I guess they are just like saddles and bikes, too each there own.
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Old 05-04-07, 07:12 AM   #6
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I really like my trekking bars, and maybe as you claim there are only three major hand positions, there are multiple variations on each, giving me many more hand positions than my drop bars, although I use those as well on other bikes. As to the Novara Safari, never been on one but was did you try a shorter stem?
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Old 05-04-07, 07:24 AM   #7
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I have had a trekking bar on my MTB for about two weeks. I have experienced many of the same issues mentioned earlier (3 positions, only 1 keeping the wrist straight), however, I coupled the bar with a longer stem and find myself being stretched very comfortably when I move to the sides and front of the bar. My goal with the longer stem was to have the flat position be substantially similar (does that sound right?) to the position of the original flattish bar. I added two layers of padded bar tape and am pleased with the results.

So far, with only about 50 miles of riding in three rides, I am pleased. Still some tweeking to be done with the tilt angle.
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Old 05-04-07, 07:34 AM   #8
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I replaced the original straight bars which came with my MTB, with Trekking bars from Nashbar about 18 months ago. It took a while to find the position of optimum comfort, but after much experimentation, and at least three different stem lengths, I finally succeeded. There are threads and pictures from that and other discussions at the time, which can be found using "search".

There are at least five different hand positions:

(1) tops
(2) top corners
(3) sides
(4) bottom corners
(5) bottoms

As to the width; 58 cm might seem wide if you're used to regular drops, but they're still 1 cm narrower than the straight bars which came with my MTB.

As an experiment, I changed back to the original straights for a couple of rides at the end of last year, but soon went back to the Trekking bars - I'm sold on them; they might take a bit of setting up to get exactly right, but IMHO they're much more comfortable than the original straight bars, however YMMV.

- Wil

PS: Tip: you might find more positions if you tilt the bars, i.e. don't have them "flat"; I think mine are at 45
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Old 05-04-07, 07:37 AM   #9
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It seems, everytime I see people with dropbars, they are holding them like flatbars anyhow. When I'm riding with the trekking bars my hands are in the hand shake mood. I know that can be done with dropbars and being on the hoods, but that is making you reach out, sometimes making it uncomfortable. I'm not trying to start something with this, but to ME, I'm more comfortable with the trekking bars.
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Old 05-04-07, 08:00 AM   #10
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I am into my second commuting season with trekking bars and also a Safari owner and both have worked out well for me. The trekking bars give as least as many positions as the top of drop bars. I would be more inclined to say it is closer to 5 positions than 3. I do not find the width to be a problem at all if anything find that to be more stable.

As for the Safari, I weighed mine when I got it and it was 29.5 lbs stock (16 in frame), including the rack. Before I bought it, I thought long and hard about the weight. As it turns out it is only a few more pounds than an LHT and I believe that older 520s were at least this heavy.

The short stem on the Safari is a common complaint and is well docuemented on this forum but is easily mitigated with a Delta stem riser. As for replacing the factory saddle, that is kind of a default thing to do when buying a new bike especially one that is used for commuting or touring.

That being said. The Safari is a better bike for someone that is used to riding a hybrid or ridgid MTB. REI's other touring bike is better if you are use to road bikes.
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Old 05-04-07, 08:26 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nigeyy
A couple of questions for you concerning your review though; (i) did you try other stems to see if the stem was appropriate for you? The reason I ask is that I tried 3 or 4 different ones before I got a stem I thought was just right (interestingly it was the longest stem I tried) and (ii) did you try rotating the bar to get the best position? After a bit of experimentation, I think I've found a more angled up is better (at least for me) -certainly when compared to the normal almost horizontal position of my bar ends on my mtb.
Hi Nigeyy. It took the tech a good half hour to get the stem in the highest and closest position. I didn't want to ask him to swap the stem because I wasn't really interested in the Navara Safari bike; it was the trekking bar I wanted to demo.

A bike that fits you perfectly is worth its weight in gold, don't you agree? This is the main reason I will stick with my Trek 1000. It took the shop two full weeks to customize the bike to my exact needs, with a longer adjustable stem, stem extender, mountain gears, wider handlebar, etc etc. They changed virtually everything AND DIDN'T CHARGE ME A PENNY EXTRA. I was amazed at how accommodating this shop was. Now when they see me coming up the street they put the CLOSED sign in the door. :-))))

REI wanted a lot of money to swap parts. It doesn't make sense to me to start with a bike that costs $950 without even a decent seat and then add big money to swap tires, seat, stem, gears (that implies derailleurs also and possibly crank). Not that rich myself.

Of course manufacturers must accept part of the blame. A touring bike needs a touring seat, period. And what's with not offering fenders on a $950 bike?
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Old 05-04-07, 09:01 AM   #12
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Re the width question, it is possible to buy these in different widths.
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Old 05-04-07, 11:58 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wil Davis
There are at least five different hand positions:

(1) tops
(2) top corners
(3) sides
(4) bottom corners
(5) bottoms
ADD one more:
(6) forearms resting on the top like an areo bar.

Note that I haven't really used them, but did try them on rollers for a bit this winter. They seemed promising for an MTB to touring conversion, but I will probably stick to drops on my touring bike. My daughter has the treking bar equiped bike at college at the moment and I think she said she likes them if I remember correctly.
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Old 05-04-07, 12:06 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wil Davis
There are at least five different hand positions:

(1) tops
(2) top corners
(3) sides
(4) bottom corners
(5) bottoms
From your photo, I see SEVEN potentially:

(6) upside down
(7) rightside up

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