Crust Bikes gives the people what they want and that ranges from frames, to complete bikes, accessories, parts, and yeah, handlebars. Their small-time operation allows them to pivot easily to follow trends and in a lot of ways, set the trends themselves. With road bikes permuting into even more capable off-road machines, a lot of the ideologies of mountain bike design and technology have found its way onto drop-bar bicycles. Sure, the obvious moves are those shorter-travel suspension forks but something that not many people have touched on is bar width.
That’s where Crust Bikes and Ultra Romance have really influenced and inspired the question: what is the appropriate width for a drop-bar bicycle? We already looked at my Sklar with the Towel Rack Bars but after much demand – and my own curiosity – I decided to try out the Made in Japan by Nitto Shaka Bar.
My Sklar with Crust’s Towel Rack in 615mm width
Now, the look of the Towel Rack Bars is polarizing. All those swoops and waves in a wider than any other bar package looks wild. A lot of people don’t like how they look and to be honest, I get it. I think on the right bike, they look at home but I couldn’t imagine what they’d look like on a Salsa Warroad, Specialized Roubaix, or Kona Rove. Yet, on an Evasion, or a Cutthroat, or even a vintage 90’s era Mtb, sure thing! Is it the curves that kill the appeal? The rise? The name? I honestly don’t know. I always felt like my Sklar looked like some kind of Aussie tarantula about to pounce with them on it.
We’ve already covered the Towel Rack Bar in detail, so let’s dive into the Shaka.
Width Without the Waves
It feels weird to talk about a bar called the Shaka and then say it doesn’t have waves! Surfer jokes aside, the Shaka bar is about as wide as you could go with a drop bar and still have a company like Nitto make it. Nitto’s heat-treated aluminum bars are hands down the best in the business. They still make them in Japan, the anodizing is always consistent and shiny; their bars aren’t covered with that weird textured finish. In short, I’ve got a special love for Nitto but they’re not going to make something much wider than these due to the structural integrity issues. ATMO, anyway.
So the Shaka takes the width – 530mm at the hoods, 560mm at the drops – and puts it onto a classic, shallow drop bar, with just the right amount of flare. This 31.8mm bar – bigger than the Towel Rack’s 26.0mm clamp – has 78mm of reach and 128mm of drop. That’s a pretty well-rounded handlebar for any sort of ride.
As a person with very broad shoulders, I never liked how 46cm and 48cm wide drop bars felt. I always wanted to go wider. Perhaps not as wide as my 810mm mountain bars but you know, wide enough so I didn’t feel so scrunched up. Now, not every rider is going to feel this way, so bear with me if you prefer a 44cm wide bar.
The one issue many riders will find with a wide drop bar is how it will effectively lengthen the reach. While the Shaka bars don’t spread you out as wide as the Towel Racks, you might want to go down a 5mm-10mm or so in stem length.
So, after looking at the bar and now seeing it on the bike, when compared to the Towel Rack, which of the two bars do you prefer?
Crust Bikes x Nitto Shaka Bar $125
-31.8 bar clamp.
-128mm of drop.
-78mm of reach.
-530mm width at the hoods.
-560mm with in the drops.
-These can fit a small Fabio’s Chest bag with side pockets not bulging, as well as other bikepacking bags when properly compressed and installed.
-Made in Japan.