I can ride my bike with no handlebars…
OK, truth be told, I actually can’t ride my bike without handlebars. I knew that handlebar song was crazy… Unlike the Flobots, I do rely on a good set of handlebars to steer, balance, and generally complete my bike. However, handlebars are often not the first thing I think about when customizing the perfect commuter bike. Although arguably, they should be pretty high up on the list of considerations for a comfortable ride.
Fyxation is a company of urban riding enthusiasts, and their style certainly gives out a hip, city vibe. Most importantly, however, they are focused on providing durable products that also happen to look good.
Now, I’m not exactly the best example of a hip, urban cyclist. I’ve been riding a beat-up, rusty old Ross Eurotour that weighs a mere 40 odd pounds around Tucson for the last four years. Beneath the rust, grease, and grime is a great bicycle, and I have kept it ugly to deter bike thieves. However, I recently upgraded my primary commuting bike to a hip little Trek Belleville. Unfortunately, due to the Belleville’s proprietary handlebar/stem design, I can’t change out the handlebars. So the next best choice for testing out the Alterra Cafe Bars was the family truck a.k.a. the Xtracycle.
The Cafe Bars are designed to provide an upright riding position, which I think is perfect for the Xtracycle, whether its being used to haul a lot of stuff or just for cruising downtown. My husband and I are only a few inches different in height, so we both use the Xtracycle, and it was important to find a pair of handlebars that suits a range of shoulder widths. The Cafe Bars definitely fit the bill with a nice ergonomic swooping bend that allows for a number of different hand positions. The design provides a nice wide, comfortable shoulder position without being too beach-cruisery. The bars also feature a slight rise, which helps with the upright feel.
However, we prefer to use bar-end shifters on our Xtracycle, as they are easy to reach and very comfortable for using a wider handlebar. Unfortunately, due to the small inner diameter of the Cafe Bars, they can’t accommodate bar-end shifters. This was definitely a disappointment, but easily fixed with a pair of bar-mounted shifters. But in an ideal world, I’d like to put bar-end shifters in the Cafe Bars.
The Cafe Bars also came with a choice of bar tape or grips. This was definitely a pleasant surprise upon opening as the box, as bar tape works great when you are using bar-end shifters. But therein lies the rub, of course. And the bar plugs that came with the bar tape didn’t fit inside the small inner diameter of the bars either! Nonetheless, we decided to use the bar tape, since it makes it easier for different riders to find the perfect hand position, and we found a smaller pair of bar plugs. The bar tape that came with the bars is a nice cork with a classy, subtle Fxyation logo stamped into the tape. And the black tape looks great in contrast with the brushed silver finish (they also come in black) of the bars.
We have one hip Xtracycle now.
We occasionally haul very heavy loads with the Xtracycle, and it’s important to have a sturdy pair of handlebars to rely on. The Cafe Bars are made from 6061 T6 aluminum, which makes for a light and strong handlebar. We will be more confident hauling weight in the Xtracycle with the Cafe Bars than we were with the old steel bars we used before. While I’m not sure that load-hauling Xtracycle riders were the demographic being targeted with the hip and stylish Alterra Cafe Bars, I hope Fyxation is happy to hear that we are pleased with their product.