Ride Report: Bar-o-Phelia Operationalized

Maiden voyage of the Rotundas

As described in Bar-o-Phelia, my bar obsession festered and grew over a period of a few years, and then was spurred into action by a combination of me straight-lining it right past the zone psychologists refer to as “self-control”, and not having any adult supervisors present who would normally have sounded the “voice of reason”. (My Velomihottie was Do-Gooding in Africa for her Do-Good job which serves to, among other things, morally equalize my profession.)  In a untempered flurry, my expensive carbon anatomic bars were swapped for alloy, traditional bend bars.

Recent weather patterns have kept Bike Number One off the roads, but this day saw the heavens open up to reveal the Glorious Orb of Cancer-Inducing Radiation (the Sun). While the rest of Seattle was bewildered by this unexpected phenomenon and discussed in small groups as to what that “blinding light” was and whether it was “safe”, I took the opportunity by the Big Ring and jumped on the bike to give my new bars a go.

First impressions being what they are, I have to say my immediate reaction is that alloy bars give a surprisingly steel-like feel to the ride.  Not only are they stiffer and generally more comfortable, they also have great road feel and breathe some life into the ride.  Also, the round tops are magnificent; endless options for where to position your hands, and at what angle. Not only that, but I feel I can grip and pull on the bars much more effectively with the round bars than I can with the flat sections of the K-Wings.  The round tops also do a number for the phantom aero bar position, which is one of my favorites – both because it looks cool when the Pros do it and because it seems to be fast as fuck.  The round tops make this much easier; control is improved to the point where you can even ride this way over uneven road surfaces without riding in an unpredictable pattern that doesn’t work out well either for you nor any nearby traffic. (Side observation: this position gets unstable going over bumps – there’s a reason the Pros don’t use this position on the Pavé.  Keep that little jem in mind.)

The bend of the drops set the hoods angled back just a bit and the curve of the bar meets them in just the right way so I can comfortably ride anywhere from the very center of the bar (at the stem) all the way down to the far end of the hoods. Climbing and power-riding Belgian Style is simply awesome.  Tons of leverage, and great rouling positions.  This is a huge improvement over the K-Wings, in my esteemed opinion.

The story gets less peaches and creme in the drops.  You have much better access to the breaks from the drops, although I have to tweak my thumb up a bit more to pop the Go-Button on my Ergo levers.  In that most forward position in the drops, the classic bend is definitely less comfortable than an anatomic bend.  That said, the position just back from there, the in tail end of the drop just (25% on the drop, 75% on the straights) is simply awesome. That means long descents might prove a bit more uncomfortable (what long descent isn’t already uncomfortable) than an anatomic bend, but power riding in the drops is way mo’ bettah and you can’t put a price on looking like a Pro as you glide along in the drops, all Euro-style on your classic bends.

Assuming a 40km ride on moderate terrain provides conclusive results as to the performance of a bar, I’m convinced I’ll never switch back to an anatomic bend, at least not until the next bout of bar-o-phelia sets in. The question remains as to whether I might upgrade this bar to a carbon bar, but for the moment I’m really liking the lively feel of the alloy bar.  I’ll wait and see how that shakes out on the first long ride next season.


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54 Replies to “Ride Report: Bar-o-Phelia Operationalized”

  1. I’m happy to hear you got out! It was gorgeous in Vancouver too. I’m suffering from a crash with the DH bike on the North Shore today. That’ll learn me again how I get injured on the big bike and can’t even ride the number 1 or the #2 CX. Ride on. My Ora bars are calling.

  2. this position gets unstable going over bumps – there’s a reason the Pros don’t use this position on the Pavé.

    Unless, of course, your name is Spartacus.

  3. Man, those V-Kit bibs sure do look nice, especially with the black leg-warmers.

  4. @Cyclops

    Unless, of course, your name is Spartacus.

    I don’t even think he does it. He just puts it in a gear less and goes steady up with more speed.


    I’m suffering from a crash with the DH bike on the North Shore today. That’ll learn me again how I get injured on the big bike and can’t even ride the number 1 or the #2 CX.

    Or, you can just learn to leave the DH at home and spend more time riding up the hills before you descend them. Please tell me you didn’t get ferried up by a car or chairlift. Please, please, please. Rule #55.

  5. Ahem, silence. Frank, I will pay pentance by riding #1, the road bike, up Seymour with plenty of Rule #9 now that the weather has turned again. Actually, maybe #2 married to Rule #9. Heavier wheels for true pentance.

  6. @frank

    I’ve been trying to find it but I’m coming up short so far but there is a picture of Faboo out there on the cobbles “motoring” along with his wrist over the bars all casual “Nothing but a thang” style.

    Also, why does the leg of your bibs look blue?

  7. @Cyclops

    Also, why does the leg of your bibs look blue?

    Just the shitty iPhone camera and the illusion of light. They’re dark, dark gray; the same color as the jersey.

  8. My first road bike came with some Deda deep drop anatomic bars. For the first five years of my road cycling career I had no idea I could reach the levers from the drops. Last year I put together a bike with Deda Newton shallow traditional bend bars and the new Campagnolo shifters. Wow. Talk about a life change. I can now reach the levers!

    I love alloy traditional bend bars. Have the Deda Newtons on two bikes, the Deda Zero 100 on another, and some Cinelli round bars from 1990 on my Tommasini. I’ll never ride anatomic bars again.

    I think for those of us on the smaller side, the shallow drop bars and new levers fit our hands much better.

    And a question about the rules: is using the provided bar tape finishing tape acceptable? I thought that was frowned upon?

    Does anyone make cushy perforated tape? I like the look of the Fizik stuff, but it is too thin and slippery for my liking. I prefer Deca or Cinelli cork, but would like some perforated tape to match a perforated saddle.

  9. @Ron

    And a question about the rules: is using the provided bar tape finishing tape acceptable? I thought that was frowned upon?

    This hair has been split here in the past, a while back. It’s cool you bring it up again as my thoughts on the subject have evolved, as has Fizik’s finishing tape.

    The first time I wrapped my bars with fizik tape and every other time before I wrapped bars with something else, it seemed to me the finishing tape was stiff, too narrow, and even brittle. I threw the shit out and used 3M electrician’s tape. That’s when the debate started. Frank’s position was that finishing tape must always be used (as were other Velominati) mine was the stuff was shit.

    Enter round, classic drop bars and what I believe to be a revamped finishing tape from Fizik. Upon finishing Il Gruppo Progetto the finishing tape was looking me in the eye saying; “Use me Marko, I promise, I’m different” in addition, the Campione del Mundos with all their roundness offered a less technical platform to give it a try. I couldn’t be happier. The “new” tape is more supple and actually feels a lot like 3M tape as it slightly stretches and conforms to the bar tape. I’m converted.

    Now that said, I’ll admit there is one, ONE, wrap of black 3M tape underneath for insurance. And, I would only use the branded finished tape with unbranded (not labeled) microtex as all the little fiziks going from a spiral to parallel wrap are way too busy.

    This probably doesn’t even come close to answering your question.

  10. @Ron
    Doooooood, get theeee to yon local Specialized shop. Specialized classic white(or other colors) tape is cushy, dot-o-rific and stays nice and clean. Please see my rant in tape-o-philia post.

  11. Marko:

    And a question about the rules: is using the provided bar tape finishing tape acceptable? I thought that was frowned upon?

    That’s why they call it “finishing tape”. I always do an underlayer with electrical tape, so I can take my time and get the logos lined up, loose ends underneath, no wrinkles with the Fizik finish tape. Finishing tape is for bling, electrical tape is for function.

  12. Gianni:
    Doooooood, get theeee to yon local Specialized shop. Specialized classic white(or other colors) tape is cushy, dot-o-rific and stays nice and clean. Please see my rant in tape-o-philia post.

    Also, Fizik sells packs of bar tape that include gel pads you can place under the tape when wrapping, but I think you automatically forfeit any future “hardman” status with that.

  13. @Gianni
    You should avoid the white Roubaix tape though. Mine was dirty within seconds of my first ride. It feels nice, but mine is certainly gray now.

  14. @Collin
    Weird…the S-Wrap Classic of mine is still white and nice and I really don’t wash it. It just does not get dirty. Granted I don’t live in the Northwest and I don’t have to ride in crap weather much either. But this tape is most excellent, it wears well and has some cushion.

  15. @Gianni
    I’ll have to try that out when this tape wears out. The Roubaix tape has a suede-like texture, which just absorbs anything that touches it.

  16. @Ron, @Marko, @sgt
    No Rule on this, but absolutely, a Velominatus takes the utmost care in wrapping their bars. This should be done carefully, and to the soundtrack of La Tete en Course.

    I use a contrasting color of 3M electrical tape to hold the tape in place, carefully and cleanly wrapped around and over the outside edge of the tape, so as to eliminate the visibility of the “cut” edge of the tape. The tape is to be cut at a diagnal such that the last wrap of the bars is parallel to the stem. A skilled Velominatus can even do this on an anatomic bar such as the K-Wing.

    The contrasting strip of tape, of course should match some other bit of the bike, and then the finishing tape must be wrapped over that, leaving a bit exposed and being wrapped cleanly and without any visible overlap. Demonstrated below:

  17. I turned wrenches in one of my LBSs for a couple years. I was the bar wrapper on the high end bikes, no one had the attention to detail I had (they call it OCD now). I refused to do it on lower end bikes because it took me too long and gave me fits and cost the shop in labor money.

    There is a saying I use when it comes to things like wrapping bars. “Sometimes a job is due, it may not be done but it is due”.

  18. meh, those are the best bars on the market. Also you can get a round drops version if you wish

  19. Yeah, that is a terrible tease to just show us the bars on that Colnago. We demand more photos!

    Glad to read some more opinions on the finishing tape. Ha, some of you use 3M tape plus the finishing tape. If you weren’t offering red flags yet, that is surely a sign you suffer from bar-o-philia.

    I wonder if this breaks any rules – I have my Velominhottie wrap my bars. Yep, my gal is more patient with it and does a great job. I’ll get annoyed, go to fast, make a mistake, and then have to live with it for however long the tape lasts. She now wraps all the bars on all my road bicycles and does a great job. I’m happy with the situation!

  20. I’m starting to feel a bit different about FSA after seeing this one photo.

  21. sorry about the Dura Ace guys… but it kinda works :p , also I have the 24mm and 50mm tubulars and the CL clinchers as well, if I switched to Campagnolo I’d have to swap also all the wheelsets

    and well the wheelsets are also interchangeable with my other bike

  22. @Ron

    I wonder if this breaks any rules – I have my Velominhottie wrap my bars.

    That does not break any Rules. In fact, it sounds really hot.

  23. @Salsa_Lover
    Nothing wrong with Dura-Ace on a Colnago. Museeuw did it, so you can too. The only thing is that then you have to pronounce it “Dure-Achah“.

    Those are stunning bikes, by the way. Well done. I find it ironic that your bikes have no Salsa components.

  24. Marko:
    Sort of like Campag on a Trek

    I put Campy on my Trek-era Lemond…it’s incongruous, no doubt. And now that Shimano fixed their cable routing, I might even consider it for a future build (if I wasn’t such an MDP, that is)

  25. There is no modern bike company I love more than Cervelo, and no modern bike company I hate more than Canyon.

    Lovely development, this.

  26. @Oli Brooke-White
    I can’t speak for frank, but I’d say this:

    I think the frame decals are fugly (who puts dot com on the main frame decal?) and the junction of the down and top tubes at the head tube is really fugly. But, I ride a BMC, so beauty is in the eye of the Devolder.

  27. @Marko, @Oli Brooke-White
    Exactly. The logo is in really, really poor taste. Not only should no one ever use “.com” as part of their branding, but the logo is at a backwards slant which is also a massive violation of good taste. And I’m not even touching the fact that the logo is too low on the down tube and the nasty headtube cluster Marko mentioned.

    Nasty, nasty, nasty.

    Fuck. I makes me a little angry just thinking about it.

  28. @frank

    @Oli Brooke-White
    And that’s not to mention the egregious Rule #8 violations.

    Well, frank, the lawsuit isn’t over yet and it seems all it’s over is the flattened BB or something. To the trained eye, Cervelos and Canyons really do look dissimilar. Don’t sweat it man.

  29. As long as we’re on this topic, again. As frank mentioned in the original Bar-o-phelia post, he and I exchanged a good day’s worth of text messages as he went through his bar swapping process. As he so aptly pointed out, this is a genesis which takes time. As with his metamorphosis, mine began with a slight distaste for my K-wings. I liked them but somehow knew there was something better. When I put the Campione Del Mundos on Il Gruppo Progetto, I knew after the first couple of rides I needed classic bend bars on #1. I narrowed down the options to one, the Rotundo, as did frank. Here’s the new look. Bummer is, they’ve been on for three weeks and I haven’t been able to ride them. It’s full-on winter here which means cross bike and skate skis. But I’ve got something to look forward to on my first ride in the spring. And oh, the shifting is noticeably crisper.

  30. @Marko
    I see you’re spinning your wheels. The bike dropped you? What you couldn’t keep up? haha

  31. @nvvelominati
    Added for affect. I think when bikes are photoged on the stand the wheel should be spun for affect. But you make a point, I’m not worthy of my bike.

  32. There’s no such thing as being worthy of your bike or 99% of us would have to ride around on department store machines – luckily for us non-Cancellara types results have zero bearing on bike ownership. Ride what you got and be proud.

  33. After buying a bike with geometry that fits me, I’m riding most of my time in the drops. I also have 25mm of spacers that I could eliminate.

    Is it better to lose all those spacers immediately and spend time on the hoods until I’m flexible enough to go into the drops again, or gradually lose spacers over the next year?

    I’m on ergo bars but plan to put classic bend bars on bike #1 in the Spring.

  34. @Geoffrey Grosenbach
    I feel like the only way bars are too low for me is if I physically can’t reach the drops and pedal. Otherwise, even if I can only stay in the drops for a few moments at a time, I can build my flexibility up enough to handle some pretty low bars. Do what makes you happy.

  35. @ZachOlson, @Geoffrey Grosenbach
    Or, just become a Belgian Style Specialist. 25mm is too much – but you don’t have to lose them all at once; just gradually keep putting one spacer at a time above your stem – keep going down until you’re happy, and then you can even give it a while before you lop them. Be sure you don’t want to go back up first.

    But my guess is that once you go lower, you’ll be loathe to go back up.

  36. @Geoffrey Grosenbach
    I’m moving spacers gradually, as suggested by Frank above, though I have a lot more to lose (hmmm, reality show idea). It’s been a comfortable adjustment, though my thighs are starting to bang on my abdomen a little when I am breathing deeply. This is another fit issue; though not svelte, my gut doesn’t really stick out.

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