In the world of longer distance gravel road riding, there is a small niche of the marketplace that caters to the needs of riders that seek more comfortable drop bar options. This need also overlaps with those of “Monstercross” riders, who ride off road with drop bars. Granted, it isn’t a big deal to many riders, but if you are curious, and think that maybe there might be something with more rider friendly options in drop bars, this new handle bar from Origin 8 may pique your interest.
What It Is: Off road drop bars are typically radically different than those meant for typical road bike or even cyclo cross purposes. A quick overview of their differences is in order than to understand the “why” of off road drop bars:
- The Drops: Off road control and handling with any drop bar is best done while riding in the drops/hooks. This is because impacts from the trail/rough road are pushing the bar into your hands and not bouncing them off the hoods. This allows for a better grip for control as well.
- The Sweep/Flare: Good off road drop bars will feature swept extensions and flared out hooks to accommodate your wrists and arms, (preventing them from banging off the tops while gripping the drop/hook section), and also for a better leverage over trail impacts and for climbing.
- Shallow Drops: Typically off road drops feature shallow drop dimensions so that brake levers can be positioned in a way that they are operable from the drops, which is imperative for an off road drop bar user.
- Width: A good off road drop bar will not be offered in a narrow width, which would be contrary to off road performance. Widths vary, but you can expect these bars to be quite wide.
- The Hoods Position: First let’s get this out of the way- The hoods position is totally useable with any off road drop bar design. Many designs cant the levers inward, but this does not preclude a rider from using that hand position, and in many cases, it makes the hoods more comfortable and the levers easier to operate than when they are mounted on traditional drop bars.
Okay, so off road these bars would maybe work better than your traditional drop bars, but why would you use these on gravel roads? These types of bars are comfortable in the drops, offer all sorts of useable positions, and most importantly, are not primarily designed for riding on the hoods as most road bike drop bars are these days. The rider looking for a long distance capable, multi-position bar which offers better control when things get rough will be better served with such a bar as the Gary Sweep OS. However; like I stated right off the bat here, these are not for everyone. That said, many that have tried these types of bars cannot bear to use typical drop bars after experiencing the comfort and control offered by an off road style drop bar.
Okay, nuff said on the “why” of off road drops. Now let’s dig into this particular offering, shall we?
Here are some measurements I gathered from our example of this Gary Sweep OS bar:
- Tip-to-Tip across the ends of the swept portion of the bar, the Gary Sweep measures 636mm/25″.
- Tops measure 433mm/17″ between the drops.
- Flare: The hooks are flared out at 58° to the outside.
- Sweep: The extensions are swept outwards at 15° from a typical road bar position.
- Reach: Approximately 85mm
- Drop: Approximately 105mm
- Weight: 320 grams.
- Price: $60.00 range (Varies depending upon retail source)
About The First Rides: While I have been ill most of January, I did manage to get these bars ridden a few times over some test loops consisting of pea gravel, dirt, and broken pavement along with a couple of commutes which feature grass tracks and a minor amount of mud and dirt. The Gary Sweep OS is a good bar from the standpoint of compliance. Not too flexy, but it has some give which translates into a less jarring, sharp ride feel at your hands. Over rough surfaces, the Gary Sweep OS should be a good choice for comfort from that standpoint.
Given the shortness of these initial rides though, I will have to hold back on making any final verdict until I can manage a several hour long ride on them. What I can comment on now is that I think that the Gary Sweep OS will accommodate a wide range of riders needs and can be set up to work as a multi-position bar easily. The ramps are maybe a tad bit longish and sloped more than I would like, but otherwise I can see a lot of possibilities here. One more nit before I go- The bars transition from the 31.8mm clamp area to the smaller diameter for mounting controls in such a way that mounting accessory items like lights, aerobars, and computers is going to be awkward. My favorite off road bar up to now is the old, discontinued Ragely Luxy Bar, (Which- by the way, is making a comeback. Stay tuned…), and featured a top section which was 31.8mm all the way to the ramps. This made mounting anything to the tops a snap and is a feature I’d like to see on more drop bars- including road drops.
So Far…. I’m impressed with this offering from Origin 8. It ticks a lot of the ergonomic boxes for a comfortable, versatile alternative drop bar, and I am finding the ride quality, so far, to be quite nice. Mounting levers in a useable way from the drops still yields a useable position on the hoods which adds to the versatility factor. The extensions sweep is not too radical, and by the way, bar end shifters will fit the ends of the extensions here, which is good. The extensions are long, which I like, but if you wanted shorter lengths you can always cut them down to taste. I am still on the fence about the ramps and I haven’t made up my mind about these as far as a really long ride is concerned. My Checkpoint post, upcoming, should address these points. Until then…….
NOTE: The Gary Sweep OS bar for this review was purchased by Guitar Ted and this review is not being subsidized, paid for, nor is a bribe from Origin 8. I will strive to give my honest thoughts and opinions throughout.
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