Back when I was riding a mountain bike to work regularly, I bought Albatross bars to get a more upright position. While I enjoyed the wide range of positions for my hands, the one issue I had was a lesser ability to get “aero” when it was windy. In my rambling experiments, these fell out of fashion after a time and I moved on to drops.
I recently revived the bars when I wanted to get my camp bike set up for an upcoming Seattle/Portland Riv Ramble that will be happening near the halfway point of Packwood, WA. I started the conversion away from the road-friendly Nitto Noodles to the more dirt oriented Midge bars. They seemed to be too much of a compromise in that they didn’t offer the feel of drops with the big vertical differences, and didn’t have an “upright” position.
The Albatross bars are all about upright, but also flare forward of the stem for a stretched position. There is also the near-stem narrow position that gets one in a nice aero setup, as well. I had an older mountain bike stem from a ’92 Stumpjumper Pro that had enough reach to push the Albatross bars out far enough to get that aero position I need for the windy days, as well as enabling me to extend the bar ends back even more with bar end shifters. Here’s what it looks like:
I got a chance this week to test the wind theory, with a couple commutes. May is a great month for me as the wind often shifts mid-day giving me headwinds both ways. Using the inner hand position, I was able to get a nice aero tuck on the bike. Holding the forward curves also kept me out of the wind, and if I bent my elbows, I could get nearly as aero as on drop bars. The leverage from 56cm bars is another great benefit of these bars.
Riding with Albas may even be safer on a commute. For example, I take a route that runs downhill on a busy arterial on the way into work, and often cars are backed up across intersections. There is constant danger of cars/bikes/people crossing in front of me between stopped traffic. I noticed right away that riding upright affords a much better view of traffic and potential collision fodder. Side benefit or primary if you’re a safety hound…
OK – I’m not fooling myself, part of why I like this setup is that it is the configuration of the Riv video that originally piqued my interest in the Hunqapillar, and it gives the bike a different, more specific setup than my other bikes. It really is a country rambler, camp/tour bike now with the capacity to be a great commuting “truck” when I need/want to carry a lot of cargo. As it is a stiffer bike than the Homer, it feels both heavier, and more solid when carrying loads. That’s great if I’m not tired out, but I’ll have to evaluate it after a couple days of touring around in the hills.