This page is in the process of being updated. The first section is my experience with the Detroit Handlebar. The second section has DIY instructions for parts and assembly and also pictures of the prototype bikes in use.
The Detroit Bar Explained
The Detroit Bar is designed for multiple hand positions which influences a variety of torso postures that are beneficial for transportation use. When I first started writing about my experience with the design set up I had a basic understanding of biomechanics. I knew for a fact both my performance and comfort surpassed traditional static handlebars. Now with four bikes set up and thousands of miles of urban transportation bike riding behind me I thought my experience should be shared and to state the handlebar functions that pertain to the mechanism and the biomechanics of the rider.There are features that are incorporated on the Detroit Bar design that can also be attributed to a chop and flop upside down drop bar. Why install the REV2? This mod facilitates a hand grip position for reverse brake levers, finger brake levers and bar end shifters. The Detroit Handlebar is a patent pending design in that a one piece handlebar is the intent with the 45 degree bar end bend being the patentable feature. The first area of the handlebar is the curved top and downward swoop to the bar end. This area of the handlebar serves as the main grip area for micro hand positions with the inner wrist positioned towards the bike riders core. From a biomechanical point this is as natural as it gets. The downward swoop position is a powerful grip. On a drop bar this grip is situated at the furthest reach, on the Detroit Bar it is situated at the closest reach. This is important for urban riding where you need power and an upright position for constant variables throughout the ride.
When the bike rider moves their hands along this bar the torso is moving with the bike riders reach. So as the hands move down towards the bar end the torso moves rearward. When the hands move towards the resting curve at the top the torso moves forward. When the hand reposition even just a fraction, the torso posture and shoulders and neck adjust with the hand position. The short reach and upright posture of the Detroit Bar makes this possible without stress.
Hand position that influences your entire upper torso can be a great advantage to discovering how your arm, back, shoulder and chest muscles interact with the power output of your legs. For example pushing on the handlebar rather than pulling works a set of muscles in the chest and upper arms. Or creating a fulcrum with elbows bent while in a dropped racing position, hands on crossmember using abdomen muscles. And seated while climbing hills, hands gripping the bar end using forearm muscles and neck muscles. The variable muscle groups seem to naturally deploy dependent on what style of riding is required for the weather conditions.
The Spring of 2012 is a big leap forward in field testing the Detroit Handlebar with two primary cock[pits. The Bridgestone with reverse brake levers and stem mounted shifters was my daily commuter this winter seeing 2500 miles of urban riding will continue. And the Masi with a new set of Cane Creek brake levers and vintage Campy shifters will be my summer commuter and distance bike. The Masi has approximately 1500 miles and is expected to rack up thousands more. My first iteration of the Detroit Handlebar, the Raleigh is now a back up bike and is used by my son.
Now that the component placement on the Detroit Bar has been in prototype stage for about 18 months. The REV2 modification has become simplified since January of 2012 so to update I have some loose guidelines for the DIYer.
In my opinion the best "cock pit" set up for brake levers is the reverse brake lever mounted on the REV2 modification. The modification is slightly turned up to 30 degrees outward for knee clearance. The clean cabling is routed and hidden under padded bar tape for a no-nonsense professional look. You can't say this for the pass through brakes or hooded brake levers. But, those iterations are handy too, just not my favorite.
The types of shifter I have used for prototypes have been useful in that any do it yourself parts are fully capable when properly installed. With that said, my favorite shifter is the thumb shifter which can be placed out-of-the-way at the horizontal crosspiece. So in combination the thumb shifter and reverse brake lever will give the best mechanical performance when repurposing with the REV2 modification with new parts. Pictures will be posted the first weekend of February 2012.
DIY part and assembly
The bar end REV 2 modification is the component that converts a chop and flop racing handlebar into the Detroit Handlebar prototype. All of the parts can be bought at the local hardware store. Here is a list of parts to make one pair.
2 PVC elbow 1 inch 45 degree
2 heater hose 1/2 inch ID, 1 3/4 inch long
2 skinny inner tube 1/2 inch long
2 hollow steel or aluminum 1/2 inch OD tube, 1 1/2 inches long
Cost of parts are approximate: per set
45 degree elbow 1..00
heater hose .40
skinny inner tube free
hollow 1/2 inch tube 2.00-or less
total approximate parts cost $3 per pair
Lube heater hose with liquid soap and twist heater hose into bar end until it is half way in. Put inner tube over hose. Insert hollow tube into heater hose and pound with a hammer until it is flush with the hose. Lastly, insert/twist the elbow over hose/tube assembly.
Finally, tape elbow assembly to handlebar end. Use electrical or duct tape. The REV 2 Mod will be flexible but is adequate for gripping and using for inserting components such as bar end brakes or bar cons shifters.
Note: You may use Gorilla Glue to secure the heater hose and elbow, but I have found that a little wiggle room can prevent damage to bar end components if you are involved in a crash. Hopefully, the modification gives way before your brake lever or shifter does. Also, wiggle room helps dampen road vibration where your hands meet the modification.
Note on chopping racing handlebar.
Best method is using a tube cutter, next best is a hack saw.
Where you want to cut is right where the curve ends and the lowest drop position begins. Chop the drop, about 4 inches from the end of the bar dissecting the lowest hand grip position. See examples of a component placement.
Prototype Bikes with the REV2 Modification -The Detroit Handlebar
Note on component set up.
There are many types of shifter/brake components and I have modified four samples based on OEM parts or new parts. The basic concept is to try out your existing gear and see if one of these samples works for you. Handlebar shifters/brake levers must be installed before modification. Bar end components install after modification is in place. Finally, wrap the handlebar with good cork tape. Have fun with this and let me know how this works for you.
Update to those of you interested in the bike industry who are looking.
The cockpit design of the Detroit Handlebar was inspired by sympathetic symptoms from riding traditional cockpits set up with one hand position. First, the static hand position of the “fast” commuter comes to mind. The Masi was originally fitted with a flat bar and combination finger brakes/shifter levers. It was a good lightweight bike for only about a 15 mile ride and bam, my body just gave into the cumulative pounding associated with poor ergonomics. My shoulders,hands,neck and wrist had had enough cumulative trauma to make me want to sell this bike. I instead changed the cockpit….Next, the Bianchi Rollo was outfitted with a crescent bar and it was ok since the bike was really meant for flat ground and short rides up to 5 or 6 miles. But, there was a nagging feeling that I should be getting more enjoyment from this bike. The Rollo is now a capable hill climber and is more comfortable and faster with the multiple hand positions for longer rides. The Raleigh is where this project started in June of 2010. The Raleigh frame is about one size too big and I could not stretch far enough to reach my brake levers as the Raleigh was equipped with drop handlebars. So I chopped and flopped the bars but instead of bull horns turned them towards me for the proper reach zone. By the end of the summer of 2010 I had the idea for a bar end that would let me install a variety of aftermarket brake levers and shifters. For 2012 the Bridgestone XO-4 is the bike platform that will see a many iterations of the Detroit Bar. What I wish you to take away from this design is the fact that cumulative trauma symptoms can be addressed with this multi- functional design. This is an urban style of bar. Upright safety. Multiple hand positions. Multiple component placement.
Finally, the Detroit handlebar becomes the best tool for hand and eye coordination that is at the center of human movement for bicycle utility. I challenge other handlebar designs to do it better!