The handle bar market is crammed with choices for your drop bar bike. However; when it comes to drop bars that are designed for off road riding, the playing field gets real narrow. Fortunately, Salsa Cycles has a few bikes that are designed for riding drop bars in the dirt and they decided to do something about handle bars for such bicycles. They designed the old Bell Lap bar, then the Woodchipper, and now they have introduced the Cowchipper.
What It Is: A drop bar for off road riding is designed to be primarily used in the drop position. To make room for your wrists and forearms to move around, the typical off road drop bar will feature three things: Flare, sweep, and shorter reach. Here’s why……
Flare: This is descriptive of how the drop portion of the bar “kicks outward” as you look at the bars from the saddle. A flared drop has a ramp sector that is a bit further inboard of the extensions. This allows you to be more active when gripping the drop extensions, being able to lean inward and outward without your wrists and forearms banging into the top/ramp section.
Sweep: The extensions are angled outward as you look down on the bar from the saddle. This is in tune with the ergonomics of how your wrists and forearms are aligned, and this also promotes an “elbows out” aggressive position for off road riding over rough terrain. That is important for absorbing bumps and for greater control.
Short Reach: The reach of off road drop bars is kept to a minimum to make grabbing the brake levers from the drops easier and to allow the extensions to “reach back” further than the cross bar, which allows for more arm clearance when in the drops. All in tune with being in the drops most of the time.
All these things make an off road drop bar and allow for a more “opened” up chest/arm relationship, better control over rough surfaces, and allow for a rider to have more room to move the arms laterally for control while in the drops. Does the Cowchipper measure up in these areas?
At The Finish: First of all, you can go back and see all the technical information on this bar in my first post on it HERE. Now with that out of the way, I will start out by saying that the Cowchipper is a fine handle bar, and it seems so close to a Cowbell Bar that unless you park the two side by side, it is hard to say what the differences are. The Cowchipper, with its flare and sweep being slightly more than that of the Cowbell, is definitely the winner in rougher terrain. I found it to lend greater control on loose, rough roads. The Cowbell is fine in “normal” gravel and dirt roads, or for pavement, for that matter, but the rougher it gets, the more limited the Cowbell seems when compared to the Cowchipper.
The Cowchipper is not like the Woodchipper at all. I cannot stress that enough. Everything from the way the bar feels to how the levers mount is very different with the Woodchipper, and to my mind, worse than a Cowchipper. The Cowchipper strikes a great middle ground between the extremes of many off road drop bars and traditional road bike bars. It is easy to set up, and all the positions seem natural and comfortable to use. The bottom line here is that the Cowchipper is a great addition to the choices for off road drop bars and runs at the top of its class for ease of use, simple set up, and comfortable ride feel.
NOTE: The Cowchipper Bar was purchased by Guitar Ted and is being reviewed here for your information and consideration. Salsa Cycles did not pay, nor bribe us for this review and we always strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.