Highlands Ranch Area Cycling Road Cycling Colorado Streech Greg Streech Gregory

Friday, January 07, 2005

Burning Question From PRO Screening

Redlight, Dirt and I were discussing the higher position of brake hoods on pro cyclists' rigs last night while watching PRO. Here is an excerpt from one of Lennard Zinn's Tech Talk columns on VeloNews.com.

On another subject I get a lot of mail about:

Dear Lennard,

I've noticed that over the last two years the position of the brake levers on the riders bars has crept higher and higher...to the point where, as one example, Lance almost has the break grips in a vertical position. Obviously this is a personal preference but what if any sacrifices in aerodynamics are being made and why don't bar manufacturers start modifying the shape of the bar to accommodate this new trend so as to make positioning easier and reaching for the brake levers from the drops less of a reach?


Answer from Easton's John Harrington:

A sharp-eyed reader noticed that brake lever positions have evolved over the last couple of years. Riders are now positioning the brake levers higher on the bars than ever before. The reasons for this dictated a change in handle bar geometry.

Easton's newest composite road bar the Equipe was developed expressly to meet this requirement. The Pro's that Easton support and work with told us what they wanted and helped us hone the design.

What has changed and why is a bar of a different geometry necessary?

The new bar geometry is a result of the latest style of frames we call Compact or Semi-Compact. What's difference? Compact frames differ from standard geometry frames in a number of ways. Compact frames are available in limited number of sizes. The idea is to get the tallest rider on the smallest frame possible. The benefits include a lighter and stiffer frame.

However the limitations include more of a challenge in fitting the rider to the bike. The shorter head tubes found on a Compact frame make managing the relationship between the height of the saddle and the height and the bars difficult. Therefore the necessity of a new bar geometry was born.

Riders using Compact frames need less reach, less drop and a straighter geometry in the transition between the drop of the bar and the upper section of the bar in order to get the brake levers high enough on the bars.

Old style traditional bars have too much drop and too much reach and when you try and bring the brake lever towards the rider the brake lever runs into the bend radius and twists side ways on the bar.

Easton believes that given the relationship between the height of the saddle relative to the height of the bars it is necessary for the riders comfort and position. As to why more manufactures have not designed a bar that addresses this need, I cannot comment. All I can say is Easton listened to the riders and developed a new bar. As a matter of fact it is the Equipe bar that is being ridden by the Phonak team in the 2004 Tour De France.



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