Category Archives: Detroit Handlebar

Kill the Hill Kodo

My son is graduating from high school and he’s finally faster than I am on hills. Likely, his years of longboarding is what has given him the strength to “kill the hill.” I’m very much in awe right now as I keep the memory fresh of him speeding past me and cresting our hill up across the tracks from Lake Harriet. This is a natural progression. I get slower, he gets faster with age and experience. That is “spirit in motion” or Kodo.

So, this leads me to my blog post subject today, which is to be aware of your progression  or Kodo as a bicycle rider. Far too many “bike riders” or schlubs are out early this spring “tuned out” to Kodo, when they are the one’s who would benefit by tuning in. But, before I go on about schlubs it is best to mention again that bicycling is not why we ride, but how we roll. Bringing gracefulness to your ride is a good place to begin. So, what can schlubs do about it and where is the Kodo?

Hey, Schlubs.  Where do I begin? Going back to a time 30 years ago when I lived in Indy it was acceptable in the “Ghetto” to clamp a vise grip onto your seat tube to keep your seat post in place. That’s cool or so people thought. But, this week when I saw a guy wrenching on his seat post down by the lake I was surprised to see he was using a set of needlenose vise grips. Basic hand tool and bicycle maintenance is not rocket science although it takes awareness for one to seek knowledge and common sense can’t be taught. One becomes either a seeker or sucker. What are you?

Suffering or being a martyr on a bike is not Kodo. Why are schlubs even bothering? Let’s figure this out together. Everyday outdoors there is wind. Fact. Peddling a bike into the wind is made easier when you sit down and spin at least one revolution per second. Technique. Schlubs can progress knowing the facts and knowing technique. Know Kodo.

Kodo is more than having fun on a bike or riding a bike as a self serving act. The few of us in America who have ridden bicycles for transportation that have over 35 years experience know that we continue to learn something new  every time we are bike riding. The core trait for any bike rider is to have awareness for a handful of factors that make up each and every ride.  We have to be aware of the weather, which includes wind speed and direction, temperatures and time of day riding, aware of bike maintenance, street conditions, traffic levels, traffic speeds and known congestion. Seems like a lot to be aware of when  you think that driving a car pretty much eliminates most of these factors. That is the difference between a bike rider that is naive to think bike riding is just fun and a self serving act and a bike rider that knows Kodo. A proficient bike rider is an aware bike rider that knows Kodo.

For anyone wanting to become proficient as a bike rider my advice is to start bicycle commuting to work five days a week. Do this all year-long. Read as much as you can about technique and watch YouTube videos for technique. Learn bicycle maintenance, get a book, tools, take a class, hook up with people who know how to repair bikes. And a word about bicycles. This blog author encourages you to get serious about the cockpit on all your bike choices. Any bike will do when hopping down to the store a mile away. For commutes I highly recommend my Detroit Handlebar since it has multiple hand positions, allows for aerodynamic posture, upright posture and many component options. Is 35 years experience enough for you to take this advice seriously? You can either be a seeker or a sucker, what are you?

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Filed under Detroit Handlebar, Kodo, Rev 2 Handlebar

Low Energy for Bike Blogs

This must be the low energy week for bike blogging in that I just trashed a draft that I had been working on for the past two days and now I’m really not into much of a subject that  matters  and in looking around the internet at some of the blogs I frequent even these authors are at a loss for material that is stimulating which, brings me back to this run on sentence and a topic which, will tie in a  post from Lovely Bicycle, a big in your face photo spread of the latest acquisition, envy ANT bike, that followers of the blog must be creaming  in their jeans over, and the reappearance of Mikael at Copenhagenize, his first posting since March was in single digits and upon his return from Brazil with a dainty note today lauding Bicycle Schools in Sao Paulo, a world away from North American road rage, where we don’t think we could have a socialist program as smug as this one and on that note the disappearance this week of Bike Snob NY who has taken leave for his first stop on a book tour to Washington DC where also a Bike Summit has bike industry types enthralled for who knows what shenanigans they might be up to, much as the Blog at Bicycle Retailer is a guest platform  for industry insider and outsider Rick Vosper who is living on the edge writing about Mountain Biking and the hippie heroes that had the brass balls to forge that industry in the seventies and eighties, no light weights there but, anyone who lived through those years like me and our own Minnesota Bike Commuter Doug who is up der in “Duh Lute” doing his own thing even when it seems like there is no one else doing it too, yeah that is how I have felt Doug, so no matter the blogosphere is just another way to let off steam for bicycle riders and some like myself that just want to feel again the thing I feel when the wind is at my back.

The Detroit Bar on the Raleigh Gran Prix

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FLickable Cock[pit

The best urban bike has a FLickable Cock[pit. To do combat on the street scene in American cities your life and safety are at stake. So often we have to act quickly to poor road conditions. Whatever is thrown up be it bumps, glass, holes, clueless pedestrians and obnoxious drivers a handlebar and it’s components either work for you or against you. The “Duluth Cock[pit” was introduced recently and now with the addition of Cane Creek hooded brake levers on the Masi a new cock[pit is ready for the streets. The name is “Urban Junkie Cock[pit.” With the vintage Campy dual left hand shifter this design is the quickest responding Detroit Handlebar set up of all the geared field bikes. Let’s take a look at the before and after set up. Oh, and with naming rights going to all of the field bikes as a bonus today and belatedly the name for the original Masi/Detroit handlebar is the “Moose Lake Cock[pit” named after the Wisconsin Lake where I have been a guest and have many memories of biking and running in the surrounding hills.

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Your urban bike ride is only as good as your handlbar choice. Arm yourself with the knowledge that you can change out from what you have to what is best for you even if it means starting over.  That’s exactly what I did when I developed the patent pending design for the Detroit Handlebar. People have asked what makes my handlebar different than a chop and flop? A chop and flop bar end becomes perpendicular to the road and will not accept bar end brake levers or shifters when choping just the drop end. The REV2 modification that is a prototype 45 degree bar end becomes horizontal to accept bar end components, The REV2 modification also adds a grip surface for these components.

125 years of racing handlebar design can be looked at as a good start for the next 125 years of urban handlebar design. The Detroit Handlebar might be the first to be patented for an upright posture but hopefully it won’t be the last. An urban handlebar has features that can’t be found on a racing drop, a riser bar or a one hand grip bar. I started saying in the beginning of this post that urban bike riders need a Flickable Cock[pit. The upright posture and hand grips for an infinity of hand positions  is what makes a Detroit Handlebar FLickable.

As field tested this bar is responsive on a 22lb bike or a 35lb bike. Every movement of the bike in response to variable road conditions naturally enforces hand repositioning and the form of the bike rider posture. This is the X factor that makes a Detroit Handlebar so far ahead of any one hand grip bar,  those bars leave riders aching.

While I don’t personally have anything against racing handlebars I know they are not for everyone. The fact is racing bars were popular 40 years ago during a “bike boom” that went bust after three years. My educated guess for this bust is the demographic was high school boys and the product offerings were cheap heavy imports that required upgrades just to make the bike functional. Two common complaints then were uncomfortable seats and uncomfortable handlebars. It’s not funny that those are still the most common complaints. Racing handlebars are not FLickable nor do they allow urban riders infinite hand positions in an upright posture. Racing bars give the rider an aerodynamic posture that is great for the open road, but marginally useful on the street where transportation cycling is the norm. So there we have it. The Detroit Handlebar in many disguises is what makes urban bike riding fun.

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What does your Cock[pit say to you?

The question was asked of me why go to the bother to install a REV2 mod? What purpose does the REV2 mod serve when a reversed flop and chop gets me higher and closer to the action? What’s the point if I have to explain it, and anyhow, I would botch it up with my broken english. So, I want to give it over to my Cock[pit who knows better than I what works and what doesn’t. This is what my Cock[pit is saying to me, albet I needed to employ a translator of a sort, since I don’t speak Portuguese.

I started out mind you, with the intention of going through my twilight years unencumbered, snoozing in a dark parts box on a cool shelf after having spent many secure years as a racing cock[pit for the Nishiki  brand name. Well, as a matter of course racing drop bars are a pretty thing among the crowd I run in, well, the crowd I once was a part of, young and vibrant, like the day would never stop shining, those days gone,  late in the  70’s.

Then came the lost decades when my driver stopped riding me. Mom and Dad would take care of me he said. Twenty five years went by in that garage, while Mr. College graduate moved to the coast and mom and dad got grey. Then one day a whole bunch of people showed up for a garage sale. Man, I thought they were selling the roof right out from under my head. No, wait, everything was selling, everything including me. Not me I screamed, take the garage. Sorry the garage says, I stay and you all must go. And off I went in the back of some beat pick-up truck to a place called the bone yard. And there I rested tangled in a heap of hundreds of bicycles bidding time until the dismantler showed up for work. Nice friendly, dismantler, he liked his job and was gentle with me. And in a box I went up on to a shelf, getting  looked at every once in a while, the prospect of a new home becoming but a faint glimmer.

Bridgestone XO-4 with reverse brake levers and Falcon thumb shifters Detroit Handlebar 2012

So, this fellow comes into the bone yard one day and buys up all the racing drop bars for like $5 dollars apiece. I’ve heard of the recycler before, the one who takes you to the smelter, but he didn’t look anything like I would imagine a recycler to look like. No, we got packed up and toted to another sweet garage and then hung out like a display. On a Saturday afternoon, that’s when I lost it, I mean that’s when he came with a tube cutter and disected my  two bar ends. Chop. Chop. A good 4″ of me gone. May as well take the rest of me to the recycler, I’d been amputated! Like a mad scientist he worked a new curvy bar end onto the old me and it really was sort of nice seeing it on me when he was finished. Oh, and then the not so mad scientist did something topsy turvy to me that I’ll never get over. Instead of me looking out towards the road ahead now I could see my rider and the road behind. This new window on the world wasn’t so bad afterall. It was engaging to know the rider was taking this old thing, me, and giving me new life, new reverse brake levers and new bar tape, I’d gone soooo long without tape ooh  aaahhh.  Then it hit me. The rider mounted the new bike and took hold of me, his cock[pit, and there in the garage as we spun out into the daylight were other cock[pits that looked like me. Not knowing what to expect I just let him hang on with this fierce grip that was also gentle. I was beside myself. His hands moved over my tubing every so lightly at times and at other times when braking this new curvy bar end would be like a phantom before I once would get used to it’s life of it’s own. The crazy thing about this story, as a former racing handlebar I have the ability to speak, but this new creation that the mad scientist stuck in me cannot speak as we know it, more like telepathy. So, the curvy thing that is called the REV2 just wants everyone to know it is loving every minute of the ride. The REV2 knows it would only be a pile of parts and in fact that’s close to what I was, a part in a pile, if the mad scientist had not imagined a better handlebar for the world to use.

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Filed under Detroit Handlebar, Rev 2 Handlebar

Cockpit Kodo

feb612 002 by domotion2011
feb612 002, a photo by domotion2011 on Flickr.

The Detroit handlebar is the best cockpit for hand and eye coordination and bicycle utility.The Detroit handlebar is a cockpit that naturally accounts for variable rider motion central to the core experience of constant change. The challenge that bike riders are faced with other cockpits is always a compromise between comfort and performance. The Detroit handlebar easily smashes this compromise and all static handlebar designs over short and long distances. The Detroit handlebar performance will trounce moustache bars, bull horns and tall stem racing drops in any urban situation. The Detroit handlebar is only available as DIY Rev 2 modifications for repurposing racing drop handlebars. Invest in your own comfort and superior performance. Be your own expert! Urban transportation can grow only if you are truly comfortable and feel assured that you are getting the most from your equipment.

And one last note: The bicycle industry would like to keep selling bikes that do not conform to the your natural movement. It’s like they perpetuate the sedentary lifestyle of the office worker and it’s chronic conditions associated with static postures. 

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Filed under Detroit Handlebar, Kodo, Rev 2 Handlebar

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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The Detroit Handlebar on Bridgestone XO-4 two iterations

The Bridgestone XO-4 is my platform bike for the Detroit Handlebar and will be seen in two iterations on this post.  Since the components are off the shelf and the REV2 modification page helps with easily assembly by the DIY, these cockpits are both under $50.00.

The first iteration uses MTB levers from my Rollo, new handlebar tape, a five dollar shifter from One on One in Minneapolis, one new derailleur cable, a five dollar drop bar from the defunct Cars Are Coffins, a gooseneck from my parts shelf and a pair of REV2 mods. All of the original Bridgestone cockpit equipment is awaiting sale on e-bay. Make note, the original combination brake lever/dual action thumbshifters and crescent handlebar serve a popular fashion function for “static hand” positioning. What the bike industry does not tell bike riders is that the static hand position also guarantees that your torso and limbs are also static. Doh! A static hand compounds bike riders complaints about shoulders hurting, hands going numb, bottoms that burn, legs and knees that hurt. So the Detroit Handlebar you choose is far superior to “All Static Handlebars”

The second iteration was completed last night. It is a bit different in that it is using my first set of thumb shifters. These are a set of Falcon friction shifters that you can buy for about fifteen bucks. The other change is a pair of Cain Creek pass through brake levers I got off Craigslist for ten bucks. I also eliminated my REV2 mod because I didn’t need it for this install. I used cabling from my parts bin. What I like is the clean look of the hidden cables on this iteration. If I was to use barcon shifters I would install the REV2 to complete the ergonomics that are necessary for those components.

Here is a look.

Bridgestone XO-4 The Detroit Bar

Here is another look

Bridgestone XO-4 with Falcon Shifters- clean hidden cablesBridgestone XO-4 with Falcon Shifter clean hidden cables

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