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 with the Detroit Bar 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 but can be also be attributed to a chop and flop upside down drop bar.  The first feature 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. There has not been a day when I felt any sort of pain while riding. My daily commute is 13 miles one way and I have done it in 100 degree weather and O degree with falling snow. The variable road surfaces and weather changes all take a toll on performance and comfort with traditional single hand position bars. There is a cumulative effect in most riders which leads to some trauma when using either drop bars or single hand grip bars.

Now, 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.

Detroit Handlebar- Reverse brake levers and thumb shifters February 2012

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.

The bicycle industry in America has not developed a standard handlebar to relieve physical stress on the individual bike rider. The familiar refrain from bike shop employees is that everyone has different needs. There is very little truth in that statement which does not address the problem. Bicycle handlebars are either designed for very short trips on flat ground or for very long trips over varied terrain. So as there are hundreds of millions of 3 speed upright bicycles with single hand positions those bike riders are seen in places like China, African villages and European cities, places that have dense populations and short distances between work and home. In America the situation is quite different. People live and work greater distances and even then a drop handlebar is inappropriate for urban areas when safety is compromised by the bent position. So the bike industry continues to patch things up by designing frames with extended steering tubes. Raising handlebar stems that effectively reduce performance and all sorts of gimmicky ergo hand grips. For anyone wanting an honest fix and move on from injury then have your mechanic set you up with a Detroit Bar.


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Filed under Detroit Handlebar, Rev 2 Handlebar

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