When I sold the Beast in August to upgrade to a titanium Mukluk, I also decided to switch from traditional straight handlebars to the funny-looking but apparently quite comfortable "Loop" H-Bar made by Jones Bikes.
I had had problems with my hands going numb on many rides on the Muk with straight bars, but many riders on the Internet swore up and down that the unusual backwards sweep of the H-Bar helped relieve pressure on their hands and thus numbness. Mindful of the self-selection there, I figured that I could always sell the H-Bar if I found that my hands still fell asleep on them.
Having now done about 500 miles on the new (to me) ti Mukluk with the H-Bar, I can report that these funny-looking bars are in fact much more comfortable than my flat bars (even cushy flat carbon bars!).*
I spend most of any ride with my hands on the grips at the ends of the bars, where I’ve found the sweep to be very congenial to the way I ride. Bike control is excellent because of or despite my hands being fairly far out and quite far back, even in tight cornering situations like singletrack. The 710mm width seems to allow for more steering by leaning my hips and shoulders and less by actually turning the bars.
When I’m cruising, I can reach forward to the joints where the front loop meets the back bar or even all the way out to the front loop, creating a much more "aero" position that’s perfect for straight flat sections, on gentle uphills, and especially on steady downhills. I have much less control over the bike in these forward positions, but just enough that I can avoid bumps and potholes. And it’s very easy to pop back to the grips to resume full control over the machine.
In my use of the bars, I’ve only had one brief episode with numb hands, which I chalked up to wearing thicker-than-usual gloves and white-knuckling the grips on some long downhills. Lessons learned: relax and switch hand positions frequently.
In addition to excellent handling and comfort of the H-Bar, I have discovered that the bar is great for attaching all the junk needed for the kind of riding I’m doing right now: bar bags on the aft bar for food and stuff, sleeping pad/sleeping bag/drybag under the loop, cyclocomputer on the stem, light on the front of the loop… And the loop itself is a pretty handy spot for either stuffing clothing (at different points I’ve securely wedged my windshell and my vest between the bar and the drybag underneath it) or for carrying stuff:
All in all, the Jones H-Bar has been a great addition to my bike. I’m looking forward to racing on it this winter. That front spot should be a great place for number plates!
- One note: I did switch from a 90mm stem to a 100mm stem after my knees started getting achy on long rides. My LBS guy guessed that the backsweep of the bars was keeping me a little too upright. By getting me forward more, the 100mm stem seems to have fixed the knee problems.