Bar-O-Phelia

Bar-O-Phelia

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It starts with a casual observation. You hardly even noticed when it happened, but something shifted in your mind. A bit later the same observation is made again, this time in a slightly different context. It happens again and again and the observations layer atop one another like sheets of tracing paper that, when flattened together, form a complete picture.

And so, having gone almost completely unnoticed, an obsession is born.

My obsession over classic-bend bars has been developing slowly over the last two years or so, fueled by three principle factors (mimicking the pros, form, and function), and buffered by another (investment).  The fuel for the fire included the observation that many of my favorite pros ride classic-bend bars, the FSA K-Wing bars I was riding didn’t allow for a very smooth routing of the cables from my Ergo shifters, and I was not satisfied with the quality if my shifting. On the other hand, I liked the scalloped area that the K-Wings offer, and I was reluctant to move away from a bar that I spent quite a bit of money on, especially for a bar that would also represent an investment and which I wasn’t sure I would like any better. However, those same scallops caused sharp bends in the cables which adversely effected shifting performance. Not to mention, I haven’t seen a pro riding K-Wings since, well, ever.

The classic-bend bars have been weighing heavier and heavier on my mind recently; my shifting has never been as good as I think it should be, and I have become increasingly convinced that the problem was the cable routing and that classic-band bars would likely resolve the issue. Also, both Brett’s and Marko’s latest build projects involved classic-band bars, and I love the look they offer. Add to that to the fact that I’ve recently grown especially tired of the angular look of the K-Wings, particularly in marriage with my 17-degree stem, and you’re asking for trouble.

Yesterday, a flurry of text message exchanges with Marko over bars sent my obsession over the precipice. That, combined with a particularly frustrating day at the office turned obsession into action; the Hand of Merckx guided me into a chance meeting wherein I ended up with a like-new 3T Rotundo Pro bar for less than half the retail value.  No shipping, no waiting, just good-old-fashioned instant gratification. Impulse buy satisfied and bar experimentation available at a palatable cost, I disappeared into the basement to labor on my machine for a few hours to install the new bars.  And, although rainy weather today will keep me from riding Bike Number One, shifting performance on the work stand showed a considerable improvement in the crispness and speed of the shifts, and sitting on the bike in the workshop seems to validate that the classic bend is indeed very comfortable. Both of those test seem pretty conclusive, obviously.  And, most importantly, it looks Pro.

// Accessories and Gear // The Bikes

  1. I’m glad Mouse brought this thread back up to the top, as I just noticed something the other day and was waiting for an appropriate thread to post it in.

    Observe, figure 1 – Kraftwerk’s Tour de France album cover art:

    I never noticed this until the other week, but the bikes have what appear to be track bars, yet you can see a real derailleur/jockey wheels on each bike. The have brake levers as well.

    The album art was based on this Hungarian stamp:

    As you can see, the stamp features bikes without a rear derailleur.

    At any rate, I thought it was interesting that they chose to add a little detail like gearing to the TdF album art, yet left the handle bars the same, despite it being what I would consider an unconventional setup, unless at one point in tour history riders were using bikes with track bars?

  2. If you look at the bikes on the stamp they have brakes too. And it wasn’t until the late 30s that the more square handlebars we are used to came into vogue, after they were popularised by Belgian Tour winner in 1935 and ’39, Sylvère Maes.

  3. @Oli
    The Oli time machine strikes again, you’ve probably forgotten more about cycling than I’ve ever known.

  4. I learned that from Richard’s Bicycle Book in about 1977…I still can’t remember my wedding anniversary though.

  5. I sometimes lie to SWMBO that I am actually looking at porn on the web rather than looking up how to get a freehub off with cutlery because I don’t have the right blinking tool

  6. @minion
    Just laughed too loud at that. SWMBO enquired as to the cause of the mirth. I read it out. Apparently it’s not actually that funny after all. Just thought you should know.

  7. @minion @G’phant

    I can verify G’phant’s experience and conclusions…

  8. @Oli

    Huh, very interesting. You’ve earned your V-Jersey for the day!

  9. About to recable my #1 and quite the conundrum – I have perforated Deda Traforata tape & fi'zi:k Microtex glossy in my hands. Do I go patent leather shininess and deal with the likely slipperiness all 100*F summer long? Or, do I stick to the cork, which still is sharp as with the perforations?

  10. @Ron
    I’ve gone through two rolls of fi'zi:k split tape (half of it being the patent leather stuff) as it came with two of my saddles. I ultimately had to take it off. Not because of the slippery factor, I just think it’s ugly. The regular microtex is the shiznet though. I’d go with the Deda if I were you, purely for asstitics.

  11. Hey Marko, thanks for the feedback. I’m actually thinking of the perforated Deda on one bike, the glossy fi'zi:k on another. I’ve used the microtex and love the look and feel, but it’s a bit thin for my liking.

    I was hoping the looks of the glossy would make it acceptable in my mind. Your asstitics opinion is noted. Undecided at this point, but good to know.

  12. Ha. I just picked up some new fi'zi:k glossy black tape to match my saddle. Maybe I’ll have to rethink that one.

  13. @RedRanger

    Ha. I just picked up some new fi'zi:k glossy black tape to match my saddle. Maybe I’ll have to rethink that one.

    I’m with @Marko on this one; the only option for black fi'zi:k tape is the microtex as the others all show the white trim of the padding when the bars are wrapped. Very unsightly.

    For white bars, I use not the gloss, but not the microtex, but the in-between one that I can’t name but I can recognize. It never gets dirty, is perfectly grippy, and has a great clean look.

  14. so a black saddle and white tape is acceptable? I cant just buy a new saddle but I can exchange the black tape for white tape.

  15. @RedRanger

    Your tires are black, yes? I think it should be fine.

    That is how I’m rolling right now (black tires, black saddle, white bars) and while I’m a known rule-breaker, I think it looks good – but my frame is painted black and white as well.

    I do sort of wish that my saddle had some white in it, but it’s usually under my ass and it feels way better than my old saddle, and I don’t care too much at this current time.

  16. ok, sounds good to me. pictures coming soon.

  17. @RedRanger

    so a black saddle and white tape is acceptable? I cant just buy a new saddle but I can exchange the black tape for white tape.

    Leaders ride white tape. So long as there is white on your frame somewhere, you should be all set.

  18. @mcsqueak

    I’m a known rule-breaker

    Time for confessional with Father Flavin, it appears.

  19. @frank

    @mcsqueak

    I’m a known rule-breaker

    Time for confessional with Father Flavin, it appears.

    I’m just trying to keep it honest, like any good fallen catholic.

    Do hill repeats count as the equivalent of reciting the rosary and a few hail mary’s?

  20. @mcsqueak

    @frank

    @mcsqueak

    I’m a known rule-breaker

    Time for confessional with Father Flavin, it appears.

    I’m just trying to keep it honest, like any good fallen catholic.
    Do hill repeats count as the equivalent of reciting the rosary and a few hail mary’s?

    Or is that Hill Mary’s? a new lexicon entry?

  21. @Chris

    Hah, yes! Doing repeats and praying to Mary that your legs don’t give out and/or you don’t puke.

  22. @mcsqueak

    Should be the standard penance for rule infractions such as posting photos of bikes with reflectors, dust caps etc. Repentant sinners could the post their penance on Strava.

  23. @mcsqueak

    @Chris
    Hah, yes! Doing repeats and praying to Mary that your legs don’t give out and/or you don’t puke.

    While it’s obvious that not puking is pro, is the scale: 1. not puking 2. puking off to the side (at the back of course) while still hammering 3. stopping and puking (then calling the VMH to come scrape your sorry ass up off the road)?

  24. @Chris

    Or is that Hill Mary’s? a new lexicon entry?

    FTW!

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