Rivendell’s Noodle bars absolutely ruined me for any other way of riding a road-type bike. I got my first set for the cross bike, and noticed two things about them immediately - they had a flat ramp (the area directly behind the brake hoods) and the tops (which have some noticeable sweep - they come back towards you a bit) made my wrists feel relaxed. (Here is a good general article on handlebar dimensions which appeared in the Rivendell Reader #38.) Positioned deep in the drops, the bend tended to contact my forearm when the trails headed down. But to me it felt reassuring, a secondary point of contact during sketchy handling positions.
The Quickbeam came with Noodle bars as the stock configuration, and I’ve now spent some serious time with them in roadish (and not-so-roadish) applications. Again, as baby bear once opined, “just right…”
Then one day, my open-wheeled racer whimpered and complained that it hadn’t been out much recently. “But, you don’t wear fenders,” sez I. “And I don’t really want to run you and your 25c smooth tires up on the trails.” It just looked at me with those big pouty eyes and I relented, putting on the bike-guy shoes and clomping around like a horse when I wasn’t locked into the all-aero-all-the-time pedals, pumping up the tires to something like 285 psi and trying to remember what to do with 18 different gear choices.
Don’t get me wrong - it’s a nice bike, and other than a little squerk-squeak out of the bb, runs flawlessly. Except for one little problem - the cool-when-I-bought-’em Cinelli bars. (I didn’t actually buy them, they came with the bike). Up until this time, I’d really never had a strong opinion on road bars. But, on that ride, it became clear that the best way to use them was either riding the tops or riding the drops. The on-the-ramp position, which had never been a concern before, felt ridiculous.
Before I used the Noodles, the heel of my palm would settle right into the valley created by the ramp and the brake lever. It used to seem comfortable, but on that ride, it felt like I was starting the big drop at the boardwalk roller coaster - literally sliding forward in my seat. When I really began to contemplate the setup and dimensions, the old bars clearly lacked, well, everything…
If you look at the angle of the brake lever itself, you’ll notice that it sits just like the fast kids have theirs, but because of the extremely steep ramp on the bar, it sits much lower. A secondary issue is that with my stubby little fingers, I can’t bring them up any higher and easily reach the brake lever. (And I know I could rotate the bars up a bit, but I like a fairly flat drop area). As a result of this little ride, I tacked a set of Soba bars to my next RBW order…
…and they sat in my closet all winter, patiently waiting the end of my sloth.
This is not my sloth. But, it is a fairly cute one.
Anyway, last night I went at it - it’s quite possible that the reason I haven’t ridden that bike more than once since then has a lot to do with how nasty those bars felt.
These bars look so nice that I’m actually thinking of not taping them. The Soba Bar has the same sweep, ramp and dimensions as the Noodle, but use a bulged center section rather than a separate sleeve. They look smooth and gorgeous. The only glitch is that I need to replace the cable housing for the back brake, as it was not-quite-tight with the last bars, but definitely gets stressed with the slightly longer run required for the Sobas. So, off to the bike shop on my lunch break… Can’t wait to ride them!