The crew at fyxation recently sent me a selection of their products to review, and now the silly season has receded I’ve had a chance to mount them on a trusty steed and give them a good run. The bike is a Ricardo, a marque as familiar to Australian cyclists as Schwinn is to Americans. I swapped out the drop bars for fyxation’s Alterra Cafe bars, wrapped them in their Loop cloth bar tape, and installed the Curve saddle.
The Curve hearkens back to Selle San Marco’s legendary Concor saddle, and is just as comfortable. I was expecting some chafing due to the width but we’ve been close for over 120km now and there’s no irritation whatsoever. The upholstery is vinyl which, to it’s credit, is completely waterproof, but I’d love to see a limited edition version in leather or suede. The chrome rails contrast starkly with my rusty old ten speed, but set atop a shiny new seat post, should look at home.
It’s now three years since I embarked on an unsupported six-day ride from Sydney to Melbourne, the ‘Cannonball Run‘. My traveling companions were a motley crew of current and ex-messengers, all riding either fixed or single speed bikes. I will say it was one of the greatest experiences of my life, and six days in the saddle, averaging 200km a day, taught me a lot about riding position. I rode my single speed On-One il Pompino, set up with risers and, by the third day, my wrists were in agony. All I could think about were these handlebars. The opportunity to vary one’s hand position is worth the investment alone.
I will swear by these bars. The very front of them can be grasped when battling uphill, moving one’s hands towards the ends will bring them closer towards you and raise your shoulders. When descending, there is no loss of control and the arms are forced further out, increasing airflow. The 590mm width are an added bonus when carrying extra weight such as fully loaded panniers uphill.
These bars were a straight swap from the drops, so the original brake levers are still installed. If I was to take these on a long trip, I would definitely replace the levers with regular MTB or BMX levers. The position is as comfortable as I could get them, so I’ll leave it at that until I can find some decent replacements. The 6061 T6 Aluminum construction offers a small amount of flex, which can actually be a small relief as it helps to buff against bumpy terrain.
I’ve never used cotton tape before, but admired it’s appearance on countless bikes on Cycle EXIF. It’s very easy to install evenly, and there was enough length supplied to wrap it in a close spiral. Which was lucky, because I find cotton tape to be a lot less forgiving than either foam or leather bar wrap. I would suggest the trick of sliding a section of inner tube over the bars before wrapping the cotton tape, just for a little extra comfort. As mentioned, I’ve ridden this combination for 120km now, and I’ve no intention of swapping the bars back. They give the impression of captaining a 40 foot wooden sloop, or driving a big old Gran Torino over meandering country roads.
Special thanks to fyxation for letting me review their products. You can buy these, and their others, on their website. The Alterra Cafe bars come in either black or polished aluminum, the Loop cloth tape in either black or white, while the Curve saddle comes in six colors.