We often speak of a rider becoming one with his bike, of the alchemy man and machine can create – efficiency, power, speed. While good geometry and position, good materials and craftsmanship, get most of the credit for this it all truly begins at your touch points, where you contact your bike – where you sit, where you deliver power and where you control the bike. Whats ironic about touch points is they arent something a rider thinks about unless they become a problem. While your saddle, bars and shoes may be perfectly adequate there is much more to be gained than just adequate. Dont trade in that ill-fitting and harsh-riding bike just yet. Your position, the bikes ride quality, and your ability to transfer power can all be greatly improved by relatively inexpensive improvement to touch points.
Bontrager Race X Lite IsoZone
When Bontrager saw the name Fabian Cancellara on their roster they began to look at the classics in a whole new light. One of the results of this new focus, and maybe our favorite, is the IsoZone handle bar. Bontrager engineers saw riders double wrapping their bars and even using garden hose under the tape to try and tame the sting in their hands from rough roads. Their solution? Closed cell pads tuned to reduce the specific frequency of vibration that stings your hands and saps your energy. The pads for the tops and drops are lighter than double wrapping your bars to. If you suffer from any tingling or numbness in your palms after an hour or two, you owe it to yourself to try this bar. The bar itself is OCLV carbon featuring their VR-CF bend with a slight out-sweep to the drops and cable grooves, front and back. The VR-CF is the only drop available, a fairly shallow 125mms with an 85cm reach. A deep drop would be a very nice addition to the line up.
The aero gurus in Indy make stuff that goes fast and one thing they understand better than anybody is when it comes to aero, first impressions count. And its not just your wheel hitting clean air first, your bars also present a leading edge. Using shapes gleaned from their VukaBull TT base bar Zipp created the VukaSprint drop bar with airfoil tops and internal cable routing. The tops, incidentally, are more than aero, they are the prefect perch for a long climb. The lay up expertise they display in their wheels is present here as well, despite the narrow vertical section the VukaSprint is stiff and responsive for the biggest of riders. They offer a short and shallow reach with an ergonomic 128mm drop and 84.5mm reach as well as a traditional bend with a slightly deeper drop and longer reach. No mater your fit, Zipp has a VukaSprint to let you take advantage of their aero credentials every day.
Price: $350 Weight: 235 grams (44cm Short and Shallow) Sizes: 40, 42, 44, 46mm More: zipp.com
Ritchey WCS Curve
Sometimes a name says it all and this is true of the Ritchey WCS Curve. We imagine the exact dimension of the subtle double radius drop must have come to Tom Ritchey on a long ride far from home. The WCS Curve manages to tread the fine line between traditional bend and ergo bend, finding a sweet spot we didnt know existed but your entire body will thank you for. Ritchey spent years looking for a supplier that could consistently deliver the exotic, triple butted, 7050 alloy he wanted to spec with bulletproof consistency and he found one. The WCS Curve is the result. While only a shallow 128mm drop and 73mm reach are available you can get a classic version with a polished silver finish and look for more colors for 2013. To drop some grams you can get the Curve in carbon and you can get deep drops in some of Ritcheys other offerings, but we like the price and simplicity of the WCS Curve in 7050 alloy.
Price: $100 Weight: 258 grams Sizes: 40,42, 44cm More: ritcheylogic.com
3T Ergoterra Team
Full disclosure, this is officially a cyclo-cross bar, but its shape is so sublime we run it on the road to. 3T has combined a shallow drop of 127mm with a long reach of 89mm. They have then flared the drops dramatically. This allows big riders that would normally have wrist clearance issues with a shallow drop to run the Ergoterra with no worries. The flare occurs after the lever mounting position so the ergonomics of your hoods and levers arent compromised. With UD carbon fiber and a reinforced clamping section the bars are super stiff, whether you need a stable platform for dismounts or city limit sprints. Incredibly, they tuck in just under the 200 gram mark as well. A note on sizing, 3T measures center-to-center at the bar ends and due to the flare a 45cm Ergoterra is really only 42cm at the hoods. If you ride a 44cm normally youll need to buy the 47cm Ergoterra.
Price: $300 Weight: 192 grams Sizes: 45 and 47cm More: 3tcycling.com
ENVE Standard Road Bar
No name has risen as fast as ENVE in composite circles. In a just few short years their wheel line up has evolved to go head to head with any of the big names. Their bars are no different. Offering both a compact bar and a standard bar shape ENVE uses their deep well of composite experience to deliver a stiff, light and reliable bar. What they also bring to the table is their own way of thinking. Its seen in the bars shape, a rather traditional looking bend that is so much more while in the drops. A subtle shift in the stem of a degree or two is all it takes to dial in an ideal hand position for any rider. They also offer one small feature that is light years ahead of the competition. Bar end plugs were poorly designed when the debuted 100 years ago and they didnt get any better until ENVE stepped up. Using soft rubber caps with a plug to expand into the bar they feel great in your hand and just dont fall out, ever.
Price: $368 Weight: 205 grams (42cm) Sizes: 40, 42, 44cm More: enve.com
Peloton Bar Buying Tip: While head tubes continue to get taller consider riding a deep drop bar. It keeps your bar tops nice and tall for a comfortable position while climbing or in the hoods, but allows you to get low, aggressive and aerodynamic when the pressure is on and you reach for your drops.