The North Road bars have been hanging around in the shed for too long, so finally a few weeks ago I decided to give them a run on the country bike. And boy was I in for a treat.
Before I did the swap I had to do a few mods. With no shifters available in the spares bin that'd fit on the MTB diameter bars, I had to revert to singlespeed. While I love the look and simplicity of singlespeed, I'm missing the gearing options. So I've ordered a set of Sunrace friction thumb shifters from a US based ebay seller. They should arrive soon.
Also sourced from ebay were a set of Tektro V brake levers to work with a set of Promax V brakes that I had taken off the Dahon. I had a front loading quill stem taken from a Fuji track bike that works really well with the generous 80mm of rise on the Raleigh North Road bars. A set of Bontrager foam grips and I was sorted.
So what's the verdict? Well I have to say that this is by far the most versatile and comfortable handlebar I've ever used. Better than flats, risers, moustaches, butterflies or drops. What I've done since these pics were taken is to completely wrap the handlebar with Specialized Roubaix tape. It's the best bar tape I've ever used. Cloth-like look but great padding, and reusable - it doesn't have adhesive on the back - rather it uses semi-sticky gel to keep it in place. Just wrap it tight and secure the end with electrical tape and voila!
On this bike I've ridden steep rough downhills and tricky trails with more confidence that on any other bar setup, including that of my Mountain Bike. The bars are a full 610mm wide and have a 45-50 degree backsweep. Some North Road bars have more backsweep - usually around 70 degrees or more, making it hard to brace the hands on bumpy off road descents. With this bar though, no problems. With the bars 'wrapped' instead of 'gripped' you can use the full length of the backswept section, both fore and aft of the brake lever, including the forward bend section, where you can hook your thumb under, like on a moustache or drop bar. This gives you a great stretched position for more athletic riding.
All in all, the best setup yet. Will post again when the thumbshifters arrive. I intend to put them well inboard, on the small flat section next to the stem, so they don't use up valuable hand-real-estate. A bit like Myles from Rat Trap Press' Surly LHT