a. homer hilsen, B115, Bar Wrap, dirt drop, drop bars, harlequin, nitto, noodles, Olympiade, randonneur, rivendell, Simichrome
I’m starting to do randonneuring this year, and had some hand numbness with the Porteur bars on my last Populaire 100k. While I could probably tweak the angle a bit and suck it up, I sense that I may be in the minority with these bars on the longer rides, and there may be logic behind everyone else using drops. That said, I’ve had my problems with drops in the past, having tried 46cm Nitto Noodles, and 45cm Nitto Randonneurs with little love.
As I have a bit of bike ADD, I had an old Nitto bar that came off my mom’s 80’s Soma (old Japanese brand, not new San Fran brand) road bike. I cleaned them up with a bit of the Simichrome, and they looked so nice, I just had to try them. They are significantly thinner than the other drops, at 39cm.
I did a bit of comparing the feel of these bars with the Randonneurs I still had on hand, and I liked the way they felt. Hard to describe, but smaller, better fit with my smallish hands, and shorter reach. The drop is similar, but without the flare out. I figured I had to try it out on a longer ride. I am partial to traditional stems, but I knew that one of the issues I have had with drops is the lack of a “sit up” position. This made a short stem critical. As these bars are 25.4mm centers, my Nitto Periscopa stem gave me both a short reach, and sufficient rise to get a 2cm positive height above my saddle without looking like I have 8 feet of stem. It definitely still looks a bit odd, but less so than my past experiment with Noodles on a 10cm Dirt Drop stem.
I also wanted a more subtle wrap that would still match my saddle, have the harlequin diamond pattern I love, but not stand out. The copper and silver on this bike already makes it look a bit on the showy side, so a nice green was what I was aiming for. I used blue and green Newbaums cloth tape with two coats of amber shellac. This matches the seat well, and should come out a bit over time as the shellac wears off.
A few long rides scheduled over the next few weeks will tell me if this is the setup for the year. My 17 mile round trip commute test passed the bars with flying colors. I love the narrower feel that makes me seem a bit more aerodynamic. I also like the upright fit of the bar height, but the deep drop lets me get into the power zone when I need to push. I had to lock up the brakes as I was following someone who had to do a quick stop on a downhill when a car pulled out in front of her. Did this easily from the hoods. It gave me tons of trust in the Suntour Superbe and Silver Sidepull with salmon pads I’ve been using. Who says old stuff doesn’t perform? Idjits…