Saturday, January 5, 2013

Butterfly Handlebars

When you are 6'5" and you stumble upon a bike that fits you, you buy it.  Months ago I was at Phoenix bikes and they had a 25" Trek 7.3 FX.  As a 100% commuter, I was looking for a back up bike so that when my primary is down, I dont have to ride the damn subway.  I was also looking for something that could pull a Houndabout dog trailer.  So I was completely thrilled to find this bike at Phoenix.

There are a lot of things that could be said about the Trek 7.3 FX.  But for now all I will say is: "wow! Geometry matters."  All things added up, this bike is probably a little taller than my primary Canondale BadBoy (and that is good).  But on this old 7.3 FX, the top tube is shorter, bringing the handlebars closer to me - and the top tube is higher.  Where the Cannondale rides aggressively, the Trek is almost awkward and clumsy.  On the trails, with the Cannondale, I can stretch forward and fly; with the Trek I am upright, with the feel of a beach rental.

But I'm here to talk handlebars.  The old Trek came with riser handlebars, with a slight tilt back towards the rider.  With the brakes and the grip shifter, there is room on the handlebar for only one hand position.  And that hand position isnt terribly comfortable.  As the rider goes forward with his palms on the handlebar, the slightly tilting back handlebar digs into the palm.  This concentration of pressure on one point on your palm is uncomfortable.

The bike forum recommended trekking handlebars (aka butterflies).  This is a European style touring handlebar that has the advantage of offering the rider multiple hand positions.  If you are trekking across Europe, with miles in the saddle, trekking handlebars offer multiple hand and back positions, permitting greater comfort for the rider.

I bought a Nashbar Trekking handlebar and installed it this weekend.  The new handlebar fit easily on the stem. The shifters and brakes migrated easy. 

I test rode the bike last night and today.  OMG what a difference!  The butterfly handlebars are fabulous.  I am tempted to put these on my primary.  It maintains the equivalent of a flat handlebar with brakes and shifters immediately in my hands (good for urban riding).  As I get to open trail, adjusting hand positions is a flick of a wrist.  Going uphill, I have a good grasp of the handlebar and can torque and power those pedals.  With the riser handlebar, I never had a good hand position, and thus I really never had power. 

I am thrilled with the butterfly handlebars.  Lots of hand positions.  Comfortable.  More power.  Great for cyclists putting hours in the saddle.

1 comment:

  1. What did you use to cover the handlebar? Looks comfortable