Continuing a theme of some recent posts on bicycle design evolution — Innovation and Imagination and Improbable Outliers — today’s post concerns a patent pending handlebar design that came to my attention recently.
As an extension of the general theme of those posts along with today’s, readers might also find this review of a recent book on the evolution of technology interesting. A key concept put forward by the author is that of the “technium”, a sort of intellectual ecosystem. An adventurous idea that adds spice to the “bigger picture” fun of engaging with and thinking about design possibilities.
Today’s post is in this general vein, whilst also moving beyond it. In a concrete realization of possibilities, Dom Furfaro, the developer of the “street” handlebar, describes his redesign of this signature bicycle component, the humble handlebar.
Dom Furfaro on the Rev 2 Handelbar Set
There is a safe and comfortable solution for bicycling in the urban fray. The Rev 2 “street” handlebar set has variable hand positioning for improved power transfer and an upright posture for increased line of sight for urban riding. Theory is great, but on the street in stop and go situations what we do is what we know. You wouldn’t trust your street survival then to a design meant for racing would you? Drop out your racing handlebar and turn on to the street bar. Repurposing has multiple options for component placement and better power transfer than drops or mountain bars for quick and effortless street response.
There are two hand positions that make this handlebar unique. The first is the top position, which follows the natural line of the palm of the hand. The palm cups the bar in a resting posture that encourages frequent micro changes in hand position. These micro changes in the hand, wrist and shoulder dramatically increase the likely-hood for sustained comfort. No need to tolerate the pain from static hand postures.
The second hand position, which is called the “power grip” is where the hand grasp the handlebar on the downward slope adjacent to the bar end. The “power grip” is often called a bucket grip to differentiate the grip when the arm, shoulder, wrist and hand are in a neutral biped posture. Simply a sitting or standing posture with arms to our side, just like when we carry a bucket of water or chicken feed. The “power grip” is superior to the static grip for power transfer. In the hands of new and older riders the “power grip” increases power transfer without having to resort to drop handlebars and the contortions involved.
How comfortable are you on your bike of choice? In a perfect world being properly fitted to your bicycle should be a given. But that’s rarely the case. Proficient riders are always tweaking, adding that which makes riding comfortable and exciting. The proficient bicyclist has developed habits that lead to good fit and comfort. For the rest of us the fact is body mechanics function is the core of our comfort. The foundation for you, the rider, then is a little knowledge of ergonomic function and simple body concepts. This is the important stuff about your comfort and it consists solely of these two functions.
If you are uncomfortable with your bicycle and experiencing nagging or painful symptoms, what do you do? Does it make sense to gut it out? Are you so uncomfortable the joy is gone? The relationship you have with your bicycle is the sum total of its bits and pieces. Should bicycle types going by the name “hybrid”, “comfort”, “cross”, etc. explain this relationship? This is very unlikely from a marketing standpoint. It’s what you don’t know that always bites back.
As a way to simplify two standard handlebar types we can categorize each type as either variable hand positioning or static hand positioning. Variable hand positioning handlebar types are “racing drop bars” “moustache bars” and “street bars”. Static hand positioning handlebar types are “mountain bars”, “riser bars” “national road bars”, “cruiser bars” also “BMX” and “Ape Hangers”.
Variable hand positioning handlebars offer relief to riders that are either racing or touring long distances. Variety is good ergonomics for changing road and weather conditions that affect the power output of the rider. Power output is relative to good body mechanics. For instance going into a headwind and bending down on the drops increases your aerodynamic posture. Body mechanics then are reduced to how limber you are. Riding up a hill pulling on hooded levers a rider uses back and leg muscles for effective body mechanics and power transfer. To endure long periods of riding a variety of hand positions help to frequently change body positioning. We can conclude then that variable hand positioning is good then for racing and touring. So if it’s good for long distances and professionals then it must be great for short trips and amateurs. This is where the logic comes apart for street riding when utilizing racing drop bars.
In stop and go situations on urban streets drop bars put most riders at a disadvantage. The frequency of rider response to safety in urban areas often is gauged as accident and injury avoidance verses the relative safety of long distance riding. Racing drop bars are personally uncomfortable for many riders mainly for two reasons, excessive bending and brake reach. Symptomatic is the prevalence of pass through brakes on the horizontal cross member or cheater brakes on old school bikes. Still excessive bending reduces line of sight and impinges the personal comfort of most urban riders regardless of sex or age.
The static hand position has been a part of bicycling from its origin. The study and affects of a static position have only begun to emerge as awareness of ergonomics uncovers the truth behind this component posturing. The static hand position is to be blamed for many chronic trauma disorders. CTD is generally aches and pains caused by muscle and nerve trauma from maintaining one position without variety. What this means is when our tolerance level for one position has been breached we experience pain. But first we might go through a series of actions to stave off the inevitable. We take one or both hands off the handlebars as we ride. Then we might start shaking numb hands. We could try to grip differently or less tightly. But in the end the static position is something we have learned to live with. Why is that? And how many cyclists have lost the pleasure of riding or their effective power output because of static hand positions? And how many have quit riding altogether?
Rev 2 is the prototype for a handlebar end modification to “repurpose” flop and chop drop bars for trial use in Minneapolis and St Paul Minnesota. Patent Pending handlebar design.
Contact Dom Furfaro, Daily Organic Motion LLC firstname.lastname@example.org