The Greatest Handlebars for Bikepacking and Touring? Our Editors’ All-time Favorites

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In our ongoing Decade in Assessment sequence, we take a deep dive into the positioning’s 10-year archive and look again on the gear we’ve tried alongside the way in which, selecting our all-time prime picks in quite a lot of classes. This time round, we share a our favourite real-world, trip-tested handlebars for bikepacking and bike touring. Discover the total record right here…

We’re celebrating’s 10-year anniversary this 12 months. In doing so, we’ve concocted the Decade in Assessment sequence by which we ask our editors and a rotating forged of pals to replicate and share their all-time favourite gear from the lots of of choices they’ve examined over numerous kilometers on grime roads and rugged singletrack. Following up on our roundups of favourite pedals and saddles (discover these linked on the backside of this put up), we’re diving into one other extremely private touchpoint: the most effective handlebars for bikepacking.

Like saddles, handlebars are type of a private choice, typically based mostly on physiology, driving fashion, and what makes every of us snug. They’re additionally one thing many people have struggled with over time, even leading to needing surgical procedure when consideration to bike match was ignored. Clearly, it’s ultimate for those who can experiment with what works for you, however we thought it may be priceless to listen to from a gaggle of oldsters who’ve tried lots of choices to see why and the place they ended up.

Discover our time-tested record of what we contemplate the most effective bikepacking handlebars for bikepacking beneath, together with particulars on the place every set is made, pricing, ideas on what makes them stand out, hyperlinks to seek out extra particulars, and some images of every. Be aware that many of those handlebars can be found at your native bike store, and we encourage you to purchase them there for those who can. In the event you don’t have entry to a neighborhood store, we’ve included hyperlinks the place they’re out there on-line.

Stooge Moto Bars, and…

Logan Watts hyperlink

Made in Taiwan / 361 grams / £66 at Stooge

Choosing a favourite pair of handlebars is a tricky ask for me. I used to be simply telling somebody about my assortment of bars that I’ve crammed into an outsized submitting cupboard drawer. It’s good to have choices, and I typically decide and select based mostly on bike match. The lengthy and in need of it’s that I actually like huge bars—between 800-820mm—with a reasonable 16-30° backsweep. I really feel that vary presents an amazing stability of consolation and management. There are three that I’d contemplate my favorites for mountain bikes and bikepacking at this level: the Tumbleweed Persuader, Doom Bikepacker’s Delight, and Stooge Moto Bar.

Stooge Moto Bars Review

  • Tumbleweed Persuader Alloy Review
  • Doom Bars Bikepackers Delight Review

There’s one trick to it although; mountain bikes that appear to suit me properly have a extremely lengthy attain and a comparatively low stack—my Nordest and Cotic hardtails are each good examples. That signifies that the bars I need to like don’t at all times work. The high-rise Whisky Millhouse is an effective instance. Its 16° backsweep and 825mm width are nice, however the 70mm rise and eight° upsweep make them somewhat too excessive for me with most bikes. I efficiently included them on one construct however have but to have one other bike with a low sufficient stack peak to make them work.

To keep up that match with out having to make use of a laughably lengthy stem, bars have to have a comparatively low rise and a shallow backsweep. I like the Tumbleweed Persuader, however the 30° backsweep pushes my hand place again somewhat too far; I’m ready for the suitable bike for that one. Within the meantime, I’ve been utilizing the O.G. Stooge Moto Bar (above) fairly a bit and discover that it ticks lots of packing containers. I’ve ridden it on a path bike, bikepacking, and every little thing in between. Its reasonable 17° backsweep an 38mm rise hold the bike slot in test whereas providing a pleasant snug hand place. And, the huge clamp space shouldn’t be solely excellent for bag straps and equipment, it retains the backsweep from having an excessive amount of of an impact on the overall attain. Be aware that I additionally not too long ago bought a New Mexico-made metal Doom Bikepacker’s Delight that I actually like. Keep tuned for that assessment.

SQlab 30×16° Carbon

Virginia Krabill hyperlink

Made in Taiwan / 235 grams / $214 at AMZN SqLabs

After carpal tunnel surgical procedure and ongoing wrist and hand points, I knew I wanted to make some modifications. I labored with a bodily therapist and mountain bike abilities teacher who offered a few suggestions particular to suit and elements. Two of those suggestions have been to make use of a handlebar with a reasonable backsweep and foam grips. The SQlab 30×16 bars got here extremely really helpful.

SQ Labs 30x16 review

  • SQ Labs 30x16 review
  • SQ Labs 30x16 review

SQlab presents quite a few ergonomically designed handlebars in each aluminum and carbon, sporting a broad spectrum of sweeps and rises. The 30×16° medium rise bars are actually snug and prone to swimsuit those that favor the management that comes with a extra typical path handlebar versus alt bars with excessive sweep. These bars characteristic a 16° backsweep, 4° upsweep, and 30mm of rise. The backsweep permits for a extra pure, aligned transition from the decrease arm to the wrist, thereby assuaging among the nerve compression that straight bars can create. Whereas I’ve discovered the 16° backsweep to be fairly snug, I might be curious to attempt the 12° bars, as they’re marketed towards riders with extra upright positioning. Riders can additional dial of their match by selecting a unique rise. The 30mm work properly for me, however the bars additionally are available in 15mm or 45mm choices. The carbon model weighs in at solely 235g and offers the additional benefit of extra vibration dampening. Total, I’ve been actually impressed with these bars, though I’ll say that after quite a few jarring crashes, having carbon bars makes me a bit nervous.

Jones H-Bars

Cass Gilbert hyperlink

Made in Taiwan / 525 grams (Loop 710) / $85+ at Jones

Like many bicycle experamentalists, I’ve a wide array of handlebars that I’ve loved over time: Tumbleweed’s Persuador, Oddity’s Razorbar, and SQlab’s 30×16 (with interior bar ends), to call a couple of. But when I needed to decide my very favorite of the last decade, it must be the Jones H-Bar in a 710mm width. Partially, it’s because I’ve largely ridden Jones bikes for the previous few years, and H-Bars kind a part of the model’s holistic imaginative and prescient of the ‘excellent’ absolutely inflexible mountain bike. However there’s no purpose why they don’t work properly on different bikes too.

I like each the H-Bar Bend and the H-Bar Loop. I discover the previous simpler for operating prime entry luggage, like a BXB Goldback. It’s extra inexpensive ($85), it’s mild (325g), and I even have the sense that if presents extra ‘give’. The latter, with its iconic loop, presents bonus hand positions, has actual property for digital devices galore, and in addition acts as a minimal brace for a light-weight tent, in tandem with simply a few extra straps (Austere Manufacturing’s Cam Utility straps are nice for this). On condition that the empty ‘loop’ is crying out to be stuffed, there are some helpful bag equipment too, like Jones’ personal H-Bar Pack, Rockgeist’s Dr. Jones Bag, and Randi Jo’s Jeff ‘n Joan’s Bag. Both means, I run additional lengthy grips (ESIs are my favourites) so I can nudge my fingers forwards and backwards, relying on terrain and the physique place that I’m after. I tape up the handlebars all the way in which spherical, so I’ve additional spots to relaxation my fingers, and to guard them from scuffs.

The H-Bars’ 45° sweep initially feels very excessive if you first attempt them, however given time, I believe many long-distance riders will recognize how successfully they serve to reduce strain on the wrists. The bars can be utilized on any bike, however they work particularly properly on Jones bikes, due partly to their quick reaches, encouraging you to make full use of the handlebar’s lengthy grips. Actually after I first tried a Jones bike, I used to be stunned at how a lot management these bars provide over rocky path driving, and never simply as a snug setup for cruising and touring, as is commonly assumed.

One draw back to H-Bar is the angle at which the cables exit the brake lever – particularly with mechanical setups. In the event you’re operating a comparatively huge bag it may be laborious to keep away from cable kink. Except for the selecting between Bends and Loops, there’s additionally quite a lot of supplies to fit your price range – straight gauge aluminium, butted aluminium, titanium, and carbon (which is simply 235g). And there’s a model with a 2.5″ rise too, in case your fork steerer is lower quick and you favor a extra upright rising place.

Salsa Rustler Riser

Jess Daddio instagram

Made in Taiwan / 374 grams / $40 at Campfire

Handlebars are a kind of bike elements that I by no means take into consideration till I stumble into liking one and marvel how I ever rode with out it. The Salsa Rustler Riser is that handlebar. To be fairly frank, there’s nothing horny about this handlebar. It’s a fairly commonplace light-weight aluminum riser flat bar with 11° again sweep, 6° upsweep, and a dreamy 20mm rise. However for the forms of all-terrain and chunk-heavy excursions I love to do, the Rustler Riser earns its hold. It could possibly take a beating. It retains me in a extremely snug place whether or not I’m climbing on gravel or descending a path that’s means above my pay grade. It’s suitable with my favourite handlebar bag setup, the RockGeist BarJam Bar + Harness. And even on shorter mountain bike rides, it appears like a splurge with out all the guilt that comes with the next price ticket.

Salsa Rustler Bars, Best Handlebars for Bikepacking

Flat bars are my go-to for 95% of my bikepacking journeys, however on the off-chance that I’m doing a gravel tour, my favourite drop bars are the Enve G Sequence Gravel Handlebar. At $400, they’re fairly gucci, however figuring out how a lot the delicate flare and a number of hand positions scale back the wear and tear and tear on my higher physique, it’s value each penny. My wrists are actually grateful.

Ritchey WCS VentureMax

Lucas Winzenburg hyperlink

Made in Taiwan / 270 grams / $109.95 at Jenson

Amid the various nice flat bars really helpful right here, I’ll be the odd one out and select a pair of drop bars as my all-time favorites. That honor goes to the Ritchey WCS VentureMax, the bars that bought me to like driving drops on chunkier terrain. After all, they’ve their limits, however for lengthy days of mixed-terrain driving that embrace a little bit of tough stuff, they stand out from the various others I’ve tried.

Curve Kevin of Steel

As a result of I favor a extra upright driving place, I recognize the marginally below-average attain (75mm) and shallow drop (102mm). The previous provides me some freedom to maneuver my fingers across the ramps and hoods with out ever feeling too stretched out, and the latter makes driving within the drops truly snug. And though it’s not stunning, the funky bio-bend within the drop someway convinces me to stay round down there for longer and helps alleviate wrist ache within the course of. The partially flattened tops are perfect for taking breaks to trip in an alternate place, too.

  • Curve Kevin of Steel
  • Curve Kevin of Steel

I’ve not absolutely caught on to the ultra-wide drop-bar pattern (or possibly I missed it totally?), and I’m fairly pleased with round a 46-48mm drop bar on my all-road touring bike. For people preferring one thing narrower or wider, the VentureMax (in numerous fashions at completely different worth factors, together with XL and Carbon) is obtainable in a spread widths from 38mm to up 52mm. Lastly, the 24° of flare feels nearly excellent to me, placing my wrists into a reasonably impartial place that I by no means have to consider. Briefly, I can trip all day on these bars, which is saying one thing, as my wrists nonetheless are inclined to act up after a foul break in a crash a number of years again.

Surly Cheater Bar / Zipp SL70 XLPR

Joe Cruz hyperlink

Made in Taiwan / 400 grams / $100 at Jenson

I don’t really feel like I’m choosy in terms of particular manufacturers of handlebars, however I do have preferences in terms of cockpit format. I like flat or low-rise bars with a modest bend, and I like drop bars with a shallow drop. In each circumstances, I take advantage of bars which are most likely narrower than is trendy today. On the 2 ATBs I trip most, one has a 680mm titanium flat bar with a 7° sweep, and on the opposite a Surly Cheater bar (780mm) with its 11° sweep. On my gravel bikes, I’ve the pretty roadie feeling Zipp SL70 XLPR and I’ve additionally preferred Ritchey’s Beacon bars.

Surly Cheater Bar

All of my multi-month journeys have been on flat or riser bars with out bar ends or aero bars. For ATB driving, radical alt-bar bends aren’t my factor. I discover them a lot snug, however my deftness and management in technical path sections simply endure an excessive amount of. Having my fingers within the swept-back place leaves me baffled. Alas, my potential to tug up over obstacles and to seek out an equilibrious rhythm at low speeds on churning, rocky terrain is compiled right into a nervous system tuned 35 years in the past. Shrug. (It’s amusing, although, to learn the persistent experiment to carry my arms in entrance of my physique to test to see the “pure” place of my fingers. The place of an empty hand has little or no bearing on the most effective place it needs to be in for greedy a specific object with particular pressure dynamics.)

We Are One Da Bundle

Miles Arbour hyperlink

Made in Canada / 338 grams (with stem) / $399 CAD at We Are One

When speaking all-time-favourites, it’s unimaginable for me to not embrace the made-in-Canada carbon handlebar from We Are One. Their handlebar/stem mixture, often known as Da Bundle, discovered a spot on my unique Why S7 dream construct in 2019. Considering again over time, I don’t suppose I’ve ever uninstalled the bar, which suggests it’s logged extra mileage than any handlebar I’ve ever used. The bar and stem have been born from a collaboration with Germany’s 77Designz, with a purpose to create a package deal that sheds all pointless weight with out compromising energy or consolation. The handlebar portion, which is handmade in Kamloops, British Columbia, is a 800mm huge carbon bar with 5° upsweep, an 8° backsweep, and three rises: 35mm, 27.5mm, and 20mm.

We Are One Da Package Review

  • We Are One Da Package Review
  • We Are One Da Package Review

Da Stem, additionally machined at We Are One, is constructed from 7075 aluminum, comes with titanium {hardware}, and is obtainable in 35mm and 45mm lengths, weighing in at 320g and 338g respectively. As there is no such thing as a face plate, the bar slides horizontally into the stem, and the 2 change into one by way of an aluminum sleeve. The sleeve successfully eliminates any harsh interactions between bar and stem, a typical downside when operating carbon bars, spreading the clamping forces throughout all the sleeve quite than a smaller part of carbon.

In addition to being extremely light-weight, Da Bundle has confirmed to be sturdy sufficient for every little thing I’ve thrown at it. It additionally presents a reasonably conventional form that matches up properly with trendy mountain bikes. Since my Why S7 has transformed over from a 27.5+ shred sled to 29er cross-country rig, the decrease rise works, however I’m nearly prepared to choose up the 35mm rise choice for a barely extra upright place on different bikes. Contemplating the quantity of mileage and handlebar bag straps it has seen, it’s shocking how recent it nonetheless seems to be, and it isn’t exhibiting any indicators of damage or scuffing like most bars do after the primary journey. I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out how costly the handlebar is, even whether it is justified, as a result of sadly the We Are One model shall be out of attain for many us.

Salsa Information 35.0 Carbon

Neil Beltchenko hyperlink

Made in China / $165 at Jenson

I’ve used quite a lot of handlebars over time, some with huge quantities of sweep, others with restricted sweep. And whereas many people consider alt bars as the most effective fashion for bikepacking, I’ve discovered them to be extra of an annoyance than something. Bars like Jones Bars with huge quantities of sweep over the lengthy haul have simply given me extra wrist ache and numbness. I discover {that a} bar just like the Salsa Rustler with 11° of backsweep and even the Salsa 35.0 bar with 8° of again sweep give me a greater really feel of the bike. Paired with some softer grips and a 20° rise, I discover that these bars swimsuit my fashion of driving significantly better than a bar with extra sweep. I additionally discovered the candy spot for width at 800mm. It matches me properly, and in addition permits loads of area on the bar for bikepacking equipment.

Salsa Rustler Bar, Bies Handlebars for Bikepacking

On the dropbar aspect of issues, those I like the most effective are bars with a good quantity of width, 480mm+, and ones which have ample flare with a medium to quick drop depth, for ease of entry into the drops themselves. I discover myself usually driving singletrack or tough roads after I’m driving drop bars, so having this can give me a bit extra stability and many area to throw cargo on the bar. I’m not a fan of bars with an enormous quantity of drop, whereas it might set me up for tough terrain properly, it make me really feel too separated from the bike. Two of my favorites are the Ritchey Enterprise Max XL, which occurs to have somewhat backsweep, and the Salsa Cowchipper 50cm.

Clearly, bars are private choice, however it’s laborious to disregard a correct match in your bike. I at all times inform folks to concentrate to the attain of your bike and stem size. It’s laborious to know if a bar will give you the results you want except you suit your bike and cockpit correctly.

What are your favourite handlebars, or what do you suppose make the most effective handlebars for bikepacking and bike touring? Tell us within the dialog beneath.

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