North Road Bars for Country Bike

The North Road bars have been hanging around in the shed for too long, so finally a few weeks ago I decided to give them a run on the country bike. And boy was I in for a treat.

Before I did the swap I had to do a few mods. With no shifters available in the spares bin that’d fit on the MTB diameter bars, I had to revert to singlespeed. While I love the look and simplicity of singlespeed, I’m missing the gearing options. So I’ve ordered a set of Sunrace friction thumb shifters from a US based ebay seller. They should arrive soon.

Also sourced from ebay were a set of Tektro V brake levers to work with a set of Promax V brakes that I had taken off the Dahon. I had a front loading quill stem taken from a Fuji track bike that works really well with the generous 80mm of rise on the Raleigh North Road bars. A set of Bontrager foam grips and I was sorted.
So what’s the verdict? Well I have to say that this is by far the most versatile and comfortable handlebar I’ve ever used. Better than flats, risers, moustaches, butterflies or drops. What I’ve done since these pics were taken is to completely wrap the handlebar with Specialized Roubaix tape. It’s the best bar tape I’ve ever used. Cloth-like look but great padding, and reusable – it doesn’t have adhesive on the back – rather it uses semi-sticky gel to keep it in place. Just wrap it tight and secure the end with electrical tape and voila!
On this bike I’ve ridden steep rough downhills and tricky trails with more confidence that on any other bar setup, including that of my Mountain Bike. The bars are a full 610mm wide and have a 45-50 degree backsweep. Some North Road bars have more backsweep – usually around 70 degrees or more, making it hard to brace the hands on bumpy off road descents. With this bar though, no problems. With the bars ‘wrapped’ instead of ‘gripped’ you can use the full length of the backswept section, both fore and aft of the brake lever, including the forward bend section, where you can hook your thumb under, like on a moustache or drop bar. This gives you a great stretched position for more athletic riding.
All in all, the best setup yet. Will post again when the thumbshifters arrive. I intend to put them well inboard, on the small flat section next to the stem, so they don’t use up valuable hand-real-estate. A bit like Myles from Rat Trap Press’ Surly LHT

5 thoughts on “North Road Bars for Country Bike

  1. Nice bike Eddie! I’m glad to hear that you’re happy with the North Roads. The best move I made was installing the Albatross bars on my bike.

    I’ll be adding a link to your blog.


  2. Thanks Myles – I can amend my blog entry now – feel so rude calling you ‘this guy’! Switched to a narrower 50cm North Road bar at the moment – very similar to the Nitto All Rounder. A little easier to get through traffic than the 61cm bars and a bit more purposeful on open roads. I’ll post some pics when I get a chance. The full wrapping and keeping the shifters out of the way is the killer move, as you will appreciate.

  3. Dave Hughes

    Those actually look more like ‘Mary’ bars than the usual ‘North Road’ bars. They’re not swept back quite as much as what I know as North Road bars.
    I use ‘Mary’ bars on my commuter, and love them, but would like to try the standard ol’ 3-speeder-style ‘North Road’ bars on it,

    1. theeverydaycyclist

      You’re right – the sweepback is around 45 degrees compared with around 60 degrees for a true North Road bar – this and the width puts it somewhere inbetween the North Road and the Mary.

    2. theeverydaycyclist

      You’re right, they’re not as swept back as a Nitto Albatross or a more traditional North Road bar. Still very comfortable and a little better on rough steep descents because your hands don’t tend to slide forward as much as on a full swept back bar.

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