Once again, in my quest for the “alt handlebar” I have been fortunate enough to receive the Rawland Cycles entries into this arena. All done up in what is at once “retro” and “alternative’ materials and finishes. These components are decidedly steel and chromed to a brilliant finish. Let’s take a closer look……
Getting into the “MTB Wayback Machine“, we can dial up 1982 and check out the handle bar/stem action that was going on at that time. Looking around at the mountain bikes current to that day and age, we would find a strange looking single piece bar/stem combo called the “Bull Moose”. With its triangulated stem and bar center section, these bars were designed for rigid, rough mountain biking. Generally fabricated in one piece, you either got along with the way it was, or you had to swap out to an entirely new bar/stem combination. Okay, let’s get back to today…………
Rawland Cycles Sean Virnig took that old idea and updated it with face plates to attach the bar to the stem section and made the system threadless steer tube compatible. This allows for three things: First, a rider can adjust the bar to sweep downwards slightly, be level, or sweep upwards slightly. Secondly, the rider of the Elgokse can replace the handle bar if needed without buying a completely new system. Finally, the threadless system means that Rawland only has to make one rise version of the stem (six degrees), since height can be fine tuned using the length of steer tube and spacers. At this time only a 100mm reach version is available.
Besides the overall idea being derived from the Bull Moose bars of yore, Rawland also made the bar and stem from steel and finished them off in a brilliant chrome finish. The Elgokse stem/bar is not a light weight system as a result; however, it is durable, fairly stiff, and looks similar to the bars of the past, if that trips your trigger. Weight conscious riders and folks not into the retro look need not apply. If you do get into this sort of look and feel, these are very well made components though and look to be something that will last a long time.
The Antler Bar is a mate to the stem part of the Elgokse. It is meant to be run only with this stem, as it has the “anti-spin” serrations embossed at the points where the Elgokse stem will attach to it. It is similar in width to the swept flat bar the Elgokse comes with at 700mm, which sounds ginormous, but really isn’t that wide. If the width of the Elgokse bar offends, Rawland put nice graduated markings on the bar for cutting them down a bit.
The Antler is similarly graduated, but cutting off the extensions doesn’t make these bars narrower, it just increases the reach to them, so be aware of what that does to the way you interface with them on a bike. The Antler is pretty much 70cm wide no matter what! A few other points to make about the Antler Bar specifically: It is derived from the mustache bar idea but compatible with mountain bike controls (22.2mm diameter bar), not road brake levers. This allows you to put your brake levers underneath and back on the extensions of the Antler instead of out on the bend as in a traditional mustache bar set up. However; be aware that you will need extra long brake cables and housings (or longer hydraulic brake lines) from what you are currently using. Your old cables and housings will be too short. Not an issue on a new build, but this will incur extra cost on a retrofit.
Currently the Elgokse stem/bar combo is available through Rawland Cycle’s web site for a MSRP of $150.00 The Antlers haven’t had a price set yet, but you can reach Rawland Cycles vis the web link and get more information there on availability and price.
I’ll have my impressions of both these set ups coming in a week or so. Stay tuned!