REV 2 Mod and Detroit Handlebar Prototype

This page is in the process of being updated.  For those of you just getting here for the first time I ask that you go into the archives for a better story than the REV 2 modification. I rarely post now that I have moved from Minneapolis to Duluth MN. I continue to bicyle but no longer commute. I just enjoy the outdoors now and don’t feel compelled to talk about it. That is what a sense of place does to you. Get outdoors wherever you are and enjoy that space. Or leave it. And find the place you really want to be. Life is short.

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.

Urban Junkie Cock[pit

Hooded brake levers and Campy Vintage Friction shifters mounted on bar end. Fast Commuter Bike

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.

Detroit Handlebar- Reverse brake levers and thumb shifters February 2012

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. The thumb shifter which can be placed out-of-the-way at the horizontal crosspiece as shown above proved short lived. The Falcon shifter broke off in a fall on an icy bike path. On the other hand the reverse brake lever gave the best mechanical performance when repurposing with the REV2 modification. Updated September 2014- The Bridgestone set-up in the photo below has been in use in Duluth MN as a commuter bike without further modifications. It is rock solid and comfortable. Periodic tightening of the REV2 modification is required. Easy maintenance with removal of brake lever and bar tape that covers modification.

Duluth Cock[pit Rev2 Domotion2011

DIY part and assembly

REV 2 January 16, 2012 copyright

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 aluminum 1/2 inch tube 2.00-or less
total approximate parts cost $3 per pair

Hose assembly
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 aluminum 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.

Secure REV 2 mod to handlebar with electrical tape DIY Detroit Handlebar

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

Bianchi Rollo single speed – finger brake levers- city bike

Bridgestone X-O 4 multi-speed – cross thru brakes and friction shifters

Masi – 853 Reynolds frame- vintage brake levers and vintage Campy shifter -left hand bar end mount

Raleigh- vintage frame- downtube shifters- reverse brake levers bar end mount

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.

 Update – September 2014- Two Rev2 set-ups exist in present form from 2012. The Vintage Raleigh and Bridgestone with reverse brake levers. The Raleigh uses downtube shifters and the Bridgestone uses handlebar stem shifters. The Masi reverted to racing style drop bars using same REV 2 component to secure Campy shifters and maintained hooded brake levers. The Rollo reverted to a cresent handlebar that was original equipment coincidentally for both the Rollo and Bridgestone.  


3 responses to “REV 2 Mod and Detroit Handlebar Prototype

  1. I’m going to try this modification Dominic. Great seeing you for coffee today!


  2. Dave

    I understand the biomechanics of chop and flop or flip or rotate, but I am not understanding the need for and trouble of the REV 2 Mod. If the goal is to raise bar grip and/or bring in closer to saddle, why extend the bars with REV 2?

    • Dave,
      thanks for asking. The REV2 mod accomodates hand grips for placement of bar end components like reverse brake levers, finger brake levers or bar end shifters. Without the REV2 these components would not have a hand grip area. Personally, hooded levers or MTB levers on the cross member are not my favorite for urban riding. The Bridgestone X-O 4 has been extensively tested along with the Masi, Rollo and Raliegh. Take a look at the different iterations on the blog and see where your imagination will take you.

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