The flat handlebar is one of the great victims of mountain biking’s fashion trends. All the swoopy riser bars with big sweep have pushed this venerable component so far to the margins that it’s hard to get one without placing a special order.
I was in Speedway a few months ago and mentioned to Greg that I needed a new bar and had three requirements: carbon fiber, 26 inches wide, and no more than 5 degrees of sweep. The poor guy had to dig deep just to find one in the parts catalog, but he came up with a sweet Salsa Pro Moto that was exactly what I wanted.
Then Chainlove.com had a cheap, aluminum flat bar on sale Monday and labeled it as being offered for “retro grouches and flat bar-tenders.” WTF?
I get grouchy when perfectly good gear gets relegated to “retro” without being replaced by something that’s truly better. But that’s OK. I yell at kids to stay off my lawn, and I remember when flat bars replaced riser bars along about 1989-90. My first mountain-biking partner—Cris—rode a Schwinn High Sierra with a bent bar and I thought it looked silly because my newer bike had a flat bar. I’ve used flats ever since, and have never seen any advantage to risers when I tried them on borrowed bikes.
Flat bars are light, functional, have clean lines, and make it easier to set up a lower riding position instead of sitting up and “air braking” all day. Want a slightly higher position for your hands? Put a couple of carbon spacer rings under your stem. That’ll get you to the same place, without all the bends that make it hard to mount lights, computers, etc.
The flat bar rocks. Long live the flat bar.