Back in June, I wrote about my first impressions of the Titec H Bar and J Bar. These handlebars are made with the single speeder in mind, and their swept back design is quite a departure from the typical riser bar found on most mountain bikes. I had the whole summer to try these bars out on a variety of terrain, riding everything from the mountain singletrack above Lake Tahoe to the long desert roads east of Carson City. I took the Titecs out for fast paced lunch rides, long all-day mountain epics, and many commutes to and from work. Here’s the final review of these handlebars.
More Comfortable and Ergonomic
I’m on my bicycle five or six days per week. I use my bike to get to work, for recreational mountain biking at lunch, and for getting out of town on weekend adventures. With their many hand positions, the Titec H-Bar and J-Bar allow me a comfortable riding position for any situation I encounter. Whether I’m cruising through the city, negotiating technical singletrack, or tucking into a headwind, it’s all made easier thanks to the design of these handlebars. Multi-hour epic rides are more pleasant with multiple hand and body positions. The 45 degree sweep on the outside of the bars, the area where my hands spend most of their time, feels more natural and relaxed. The natural hand position relieves the pressure on the outside of my palms, so I don’t get pain in my hands early into a big ride.
I’m currently running my bars with a 75mm stem, and it seems to put the bars right in the middle for me. My body is upright and comfortable when climbing with my hands on the backs of the bars, but I can still lean over quite a bit when my hands are placed in the forward position (palms on the cross bar with fingers on the horns).
Better Handling and Power Output
Riding a single speed mountain bike requires you to get up out of the saddle frequently during climbing. The 45 degree sweep of the H-Bar and J-Bar puts your hands and arms in an optimal position for more leverage and power, making it easier to muscle a taller gear up a steep grade or up and over an obstacle when in a standing position. Additionally, the increased sweep allows you to easier swing the bike back and forth while standing for increased pedaling power.
I really like carving fast turns with these bars. The wrist position makes it easy to throw the bike over in a turn to get the tires to bite into the ground. I’ve also found that slow tight turns like switchbacks are easier with these handlebars, because my wrists aren’t stretched to extreme angles when the bars are turned far to the left or right.
When descending steep terrain, the rearward position of the H-Bar and J-Bar really helps you keep your weight back for better center of gravity and maximum rear breaking traction. I’ve been able to descend some really steep, whooped out jeep roads with no fear of endos.
J Bar vs H Bar
Due to the short steering tube on my 26″ wheeled single speed, the zero rise J-Bar just didn’t feel right; however, I have plenty of room for adjustment on my 29″ bike. I put quite a few miles on both the J-Bar and the H-Bar on my 29er, and discovered that both bars have their own personalities.
The J-Bar has a 31.8mm clamp area vs. the 25.4 mm clamp area of the H-Bar. The J-Bar is noticeably stiffer and more responsive, especially when standing on the pedals during a sprint or a hard climb. At the same time though, the added stiffness of the J-Bar transmits more trail feedback to your arms. This may not be an issue for someone running a suspension fork, but I found the extra flex of the H-Bar to be a bit more comfortable when used with my rigid forks. When riding rigid, the slight flex of the tire casing, forks, bars, and grips all add up to be your “suspension”.
I have my bars setup with the Titec foam grips, and wrapped with matching bar tape. Having ridden rubber grips for so long, I wasn’t sure how I’d like the foam grips. I’ve come to really like the foam grips though, finding them to be very comfortable and also providing a seamless transition onto the bar tape.
Although the grips seem to be very durable (as long as you don’t dump your bike in the sharp rocks…), the grips have really started loosening up on the bars after a few months. To keep the grips from rotating and sliding back on the bars, I plan to get some adhesive such as Shoe Goo as suggested by Dan Turner at one of our local bike shops.
One problem I have with my On One Mary Bars is that I have problems mounting my light. There isn’t enough room for the clamp near the stem, and it’s hard to get a tight fit at the front bend. I got the H-Bars out on a recent night ride, and was pleased at how well they worked. There is plenty of room for light mounting near the stem, and even though the H-Bar has a slight forward sweep leaving the stem, the beam was focused right in front of the bike. There is also plenty of room on the straight J-Bar for lights, but I haven’t tried them on a night ride yet. My old light mounting system doesn’t work well with the 31.8mm clamp area of the J-Bar, but most modern lights will work fine.
The H-Bar and J-Bar handlebars have become an essential part of my single speed mountain bike. While I could easily swap out many parts on my bike without a noticeable difference, the design of these handlebars is something I wouldn’t want to be without. Many times, switching to something new doesn’t immediately make huge changes in the way you do things. But after getting used to something new, figuring it out and learning how to use it, you often surpass where you started, even wondering how you ever lived without it. This is how I feel about the design of the H-Bar and J-Bar. It even becomes more apparent when I go back to a bike with a standard riser bar. I feel at a disadvantage now when riding my geared hardtail with its conventional handlebars, both in power output and comfort. For those looking to build a single speed or increase the handling and comfort of their existing ride, I highly recommend both the Titec H-Bar and J-Bar.
Although the Titecs can be used with shifters (see my First Impressions post), they really are made for single speeding; however, I notice on the Jeff Jones website that there is now an aluminum Loop H-Bar available. This bar is compatible with all types of shifters, as there is room for the controls behind the cross bar. It seems reasonably priced at $120, but who knows? Maybe Titec will put a version out that is more affordable to the masses.
For further specifications, photos, and opinion of these handlebars, please see my previous posting, First Impressions.
Visit the Titec website HERE.
More info from the original designer at the Jeff Jones website HERE.
Disclaimer as required by the FTC: This product was given to BikeCarson.com at no charge for test and review. We were not paid or bribed to do this review, and will provide our honest and personal views throughout the entire process.