Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Cyclocross and Gravelbiking (Recreational)
Reload this Page >

Flared bars - have you tried them?

Notices
Cyclocross and Gravelbiking (Recreational) This has to be the most physically intense sport ever invented. It's high speed bicycle racing on a short off road course or riding the off pavement rides on gravel like : "Unbround Gravel". We also have a dedicated Racing forum for the Cyclocross Hard Core Racers.

Flared bars - have you tried them?

Old 02-22-21, 11:29 AM
  #1  
msu2001la
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
msu2001la's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Midwest
Posts: 1,153
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 460 Post(s)
Liked 300 Times in 198 Posts
Flared bars - have you tried them?

I have been a bit skeptical of flared drop bars on gravel bikes. I guess I'm a traditionalist and think they look a bit goofy, and it seemed like a gimmick by manufacturers to try to make gravel-specific versions of things that could otherwise just be standard road parts. Also, I ride (and race) a CX bike, prefer the race-oriented geometry and like quick handling lightweight machines that are aggressive and aero. My bikes have always had narrow road bars. I'm not doing DK or super long gravel days, I don't have a huge beard, and frankly assumed beyond extreme conditions that flared bars were mostly about looking the part, and didn't really provide any functional advantage.

Fast forward to last week... I had a fit session on my bike and the fitter noted that my shoulders were fairly wide compared to my bar width, and asked if I had ever tried flared bars. They started explaining how the shape and width might help alleviate pressure on my wrists and prevent my shoulders from being "scrunched up", and provide more control/comfort in the drops allowing me to ride in that position more, even on the road but definitely more off-road. They offered to put a flared bar on for me to try on the trainer, which was the (very expensive) Enve G series bar.

This is a 42cm bar measured across the hoods, and 54cm at the ends. The flare is not a straight line, but more of a compound curve so the result is that the levers are still relatively straight, and the bar widens out just below them. The tops are oval shaped, which provides more of a flat area around the corners as well, which is very comfortable to grip.

I was surprised at how instantly comfortable this setup felt. Just adding that few cm of additional width made the drops feel a lot more comfortable. I suppose the same result might be achieved by just going with a wider regular bar as well, but I also liked how in the drops my wrists are turned just a bit more inward which seems to be more comfortable as well. The carbon bar also promises more compliance, so a smoother ride over rough terrain (I have yet to test this). The downsides are obviously a bit less aero, and a wider bar may be problematic when navigating those first few turns on a tight and crowded CX course.

Anyways, maybe it was just an awesome sales job (they did have a much cheaper alloy bar with a similar shape) or the fact that it was Friday and I felt like splurging, but I came home with the new Enve bar, a slightly more aggressive new fit, and I am excited to try out this new setup once the snow melts a bit. I am still a bit skeptical of using it for CX racing, both in terms of width and durability, so I may swap my old bar back on for the fall race season, but I'm looking forward to getting some outdoor miles on it soon. I'm either going to love it and wish I had made this change years ago, or be tying to sell the dang thing on Ebay in a few months and be wondering what I was thinking...
msu2001la is offline  
Likes For msu2001la:
Old 02-22-21, 12:00 PM
  #2  
dsaul
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: South Jersey
Posts: 1,858
Mentioned: 14 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 566 Post(s)
Liked 371 Times in 268 Posts
You're going to love them. I have FSA Adventure bars on all of my drop bar bikes now, because I prefer the wrist position. I tried some of the wider flared bars, like the Gary Sweep and didn't like them at all. The 12 degree flare of the FSA Adventure bars feels just right to me.
dsaul is offline  
Old 02-22-21, 12:07 PM
  #3  
Russ Roth
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2019
Location: South Shore of Long Island
Posts: 1,469

Bikes: 2010 Carrera Volans, 2015 C-Dale Trail 2sl, 2017 Raleigh Rush Hour, 2017 Blue Proseccio, 1992 Giant Perigee, 80s Gitane Rallye Tandem

Mentioned: 9 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 537 Post(s)
Liked 393 Times in 301 Posts
Sounds like what you got might not be an extreme flair. The 3T terranova gravel/cross bars I bought have the slightest flair to them, the result is that the bottom of the drops is only about an inch wider then at the brake levers, I prefer a 44cm bar and I find the difference quite comfortable.
My wife's most recent bike came with a really noticeable flare to them, I suspect about 18 degrees and they sucked to use. The twist they put in the brake levers made riding them uncomfortable since it was no longer a flat surface. Looking at a cervelo with 12 degree flare it was obvious that GRX levers were designed for this but not wanting to replace brake levers I wasn't bothering with this. 24 degree would probably suck for regularly riding on the tops of the levers.
Russ Roth is offline  
Old 02-22-21, 01:37 PM
  #4  
mstateglfr 
Sunshine
 
mstateglfr's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: Des Moines, IA
Posts: 12,268

Bikes: '18 class built steel roadbike, '19 Fairlight Secan, '88 Schwinn Premis , Black Mountain Cycles Monstercross V4, '89 Novara Trionfo

Mentioned: 97 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5008 Post(s)
Liked 2,316 Times in 1,361 Posts
I use Salsa Cowchipper bars. Its the middle bend of their 3 dop bars with 24deg of flare.
I love the bar and while riding it doesn't seem like an extreme angle at all. The hoods are comfortable at that angle and the shallow drops make for easy steering with a wide slow base when the surface is sketchy at higher speed.


Flared bars are so varied in geometry that each one looks and feels slightly different(though its easy to adapt to many, i think).
some flare more than others, some have more sweep, some have the hooks bend sharply, some have the flare at the bottom of the hooks only, some have significant back extension, etc etc.

If one flared bar doesn't work, try another and same as road bars, really. Too much variety to just dismiss an entire style of bar after 1 try.
There are lots of great flared bars that are close to road style with less flare.
mstateglfr is offline  
Likes For mstateglfr:
Old 02-22-21, 01:48 PM
  #5  
mack_turtle
n00b
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Austin, TX
Posts: 1,397

Bikes: Surly Karate Monkey, Twin Six Standard Rando

Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 424 Post(s)
Liked 455 Times in 271 Posts
Cowbells here. handle just like a normal drop bar with with a little flare. If I needed to replace this one, I'd go for something a bit wider and with more flare for stability.
mack_turtle is offline  
Old 02-22-21, 03:22 PM
  #6  
AUPedla
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2020
Posts: 76
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 31 Post(s)
Liked 33 Times in 22 Posts
Curve Walmer 50 bars here, love them. I usually ride 42 on road and 760 mtb.

AUPedla is offline  
Old 02-22-21, 04:59 PM
  #7  
msu2001la
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
msu2001la's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Midwest
Posts: 1,153
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 460 Post(s)
Liked 300 Times in 198 Posts
The bar is the Enve G, size 42cm (which is their narrowest size). It's not as extreme as some other bars I've seen, but still is way more than I've ever had. It looks much wider from behind than from the front. My bike is a Cannondale SuperX. Photos below:




msu2001la is offline  
Likes For msu2001la:
Old 02-22-21, 06:57 PM
  #8  
justin1138
Senior Member
 
justin1138's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 438

Bikes: yes...

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 43 Post(s)
Liked 7 Times in 2 Posts
Originally Posted by msu2001la View Post
I was surprised at how instantly comfortable this setup felt. Just adding that few cm of additional width made the drops feel a lot more comfortable. I suppose the same result might be achieved by just going with a wider regular bar as well, but I also liked how in the drops my wrists are turned just a bit more inward which seems to be more comfortable as well. The carbon bar also promises more compliance, so a smoother ride over rough terrain (I have yet to test this). The downsides are obviously a bit less aero, and a wider bar may be problematic when navigating those first few turns on a tight and crowded CX course.
You hit on all the good points right here! I especially love the more neutral wrist position offered by flared bars.

And from experience, using wide, flared bars don't present any additional challenges during a CX race (44cm cowbells here). That extra width is actually quite handy in a slippery descent or off camber.

Now get going on that beard.
justin1138 is offline  
Likes For justin1138:
Old 02-22-21, 07:19 PM
  #9  
mstateglfr 
Sunshine
 
mstateglfr's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: Des Moines, IA
Posts: 12,268

Bikes: '18 class built steel roadbike, '19 Fairlight Secan, '88 Schwinn Premis , Black Mountain Cycles Monstercross V4, '89 Novara Trionfo

Mentioned: 97 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5008 Post(s)
Liked 2,316 Times in 1,361 Posts
Originally Posted by msu2001la View Post
The bar is the Enve G, size 42cm (which is their narrowest size). It's not as extreme as some other bars I've seen, but still is way more than I've ever had. It looks much wider from behind than from the front. My bike is a Cannondale SuperX.
Enve G? Well you definitely went all in on your first flared bar!
And yes, the three different flared bars I have used all look more extreme from behind than from the front. I think its the sweep of the drops that are more easily visible from behind.
mstateglfr is offline  
Old 02-23-21, 09:29 AM
  #10  
msu2001la
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
msu2001la's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Midwest
Posts: 1,153
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 460 Post(s)
Liked 300 Times in 198 Posts
Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
Enve G? Well you definitely went all in on your first flared bar!
And yes, the three different flared bars I have used all look more extreme from behind than from the front. I think its the sweep of the drops that are more easily visible from behind.
Ha. Yes. I knew I was in trouble as soon as they pulled it out of the box and showed it to me. It's definitely a splurge, and this particular shop provides my race team with a nice discount on parts which helped make the cost a bit more palatable.

The Enve bar tape they put on is pretty nice too, has a good grippy texture.
msu2001la is offline  
Old 02-23-21, 09:45 AM
  #11  
zen_
Senior Member
 
zen_'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2018
Location: 'merica
Posts: 160
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 64 Post(s)
Liked 57 Times in 37 Posts
This has been my experience with gravel bars so far:

Ritchey Venturemax - Used on my first gravel bike because it looked the part, and I didn't know any better. The flare was way over the top, and I didn't find the ergo bends to be ergo at all.

Satori X-Race Aero - OE bar that was actually very good with the perfect reach and drop, and I liked the flattened hooks a lot as well. The 16 degrees of flare was still too much though. They make an 8 degree version, but it's hard to find this bar for sale anywhere since Satori mostly just makes OE parts.

Ritchey Butano - Not bad, and the 8 degrees of of flare was just about right, but I really missed the flattened hooks that the Satori had.

Zipp 70 XPLR - This bar has only 5 degrees of flare, but the drops sweep out more than most bars. This keeps the brake levers from tilting out (good), but I'm not sure how useful the drop sweep actually is.

Personally, I don't like a lot of flare because of how it changes the brake lever position, and it also makes riding in the hooks / drops feel more like an open parachute. Doesn't really seem to add that much control over technical terrain either, but I agree it's a little easier on the shoulders for long hauls. The above comments are based on my experience mostly riding midwest gravel that is pretty tame outside of some MMRs that can get tricky.

For a dumb comment, I would actually really like to try VO Crazy Bars /w aero bars extensions on a more extreme terrain / YOLO fun extra gravel bike. For some reason I find that more appealing than trying to use some crazy drop bar for very technical riding.

Last edited by zen_; 02-23-21 at 09:48 AM.
zen_ is offline  
Old 02-23-21, 10:47 AM
  #12  
Wildwood
Veteran, Pacifist
 
Wildwood's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Seattle area
Posts: 10,791

Bikes: Bikes??? Thought this was social media?!?

Mentioned: 242 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2688 Post(s)
Liked 1,497 Times in 886 Posts
My off-road is generally packed surfaces with varying amounts and sizes of gravel. And i’m not racing.

Preferring narrow bars, I found Soma randonneur bars. 40cm ctc at the drops, 35cm at the hoods.


Not many miles. Not sure about the bends on the ‘tops’, but good on the hoods and in the drops.
Wildwood is offline  
Likes For Wildwood:
Old 02-24-21, 02:27 AM
  #13  
Mmassey338
Old guy on a bike
 
Join Date: Dec 2018
Location: Central FL/ DownEast ME
Posts: 80

Bikes: Fuji “mountain” bike, Lynskey GR260

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 28 Post(s)
Liked 13 Times in 8 Posts
I recently bought the Enve G and love it. I have the 46, which is 58 at the drops and is much mor comfortable than the 44cm I took off. Also, this is my first carbon fiber bar and noticeably less buzz than aluminum.
Mmassey338 is offline  
Old 02-24-21, 12:24 PM
  #14  
bOsscO
bOsscO
 
bOsscO's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Vancouver
Posts: 502

Bikes: 2015 Norco Search S1, 2012 Cervelo R5, 93 Mongoose IBOC COMP

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 199 Post(s)
Liked 216 Times in 132 Posts
Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
I use Salsa Cowchipper bars. Its the middle bend of their 3 dop bars with 24deg of flare.
I love the bar and while riding it doesn't seem like an extreme angle at all. The hoods are comfortable at that angle and the shallow drops make for easy steering with a wide slow base when the surface is sketchy at higher speed.
Flared bars are so varied in geometry that each one looks and feels slightly different(though its easy to adapt to many, i think).
some flare more than others, some have more sweep, some have the hooks bend sharply, some have the flare at the bottom of the hooks only, some have significant back extension, etc etc.
If one flared bar doesn't work, try another and same as road bars, really. Too much variety to just dismiss an entire style of bar after 1 try.
There are lots of great flared bars that are close to road style with less flare.
I'm picking up a set of these (44 wide) this week. Looking forward to mounting them and trying them out.
bOsscO is offline  
Old 02-25-21, 01:47 PM
  #15  
Rolla
Gyro Captain
 
Rolla's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2020
Posts: 408

Bikes: Sycip, Black Mountain Cycles, Kona, Fairdale, WeThePeople

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 148 Post(s)
Liked 352 Times in 176 Posts
Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
I use Salsa Cowchipper bars. Its the middle bend of their 3 dop bars with 24deg of flare.I love the bar and while riding it doesn't seem like an extreme angle at all.
I really like Cowchippers, too. Getting the levers aligned to my liking took a little adjusting; when rotated inward to align with the flare, they can make the "hoods" position feel a little narrow. I've found that small, incremental changes make a noticeable difference.
The flared lower portion is about perfect for me, and feels natural to the point of invisibility when my hands are at the ends of the drops. Highly recommended.
Rolla is offline  
Old 03-01-21, 03:39 PM
  #16  
Kapusta
Cyclochondriac
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 4,250
Mentioned: 26 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1828 Post(s)
Liked 1,115 Times in 662 Posts
After riding Cowbells for a while I am sold on the idea for literally any type of riding.
Kapusta is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information -

Copyright © 2021 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.