Founded in 2013 by a group of mechanical engineers with a bad cycling habit (or, maybe the other way around?), Redshift Sports specializes in designing and manufacturing component systems to increase speed and comfort on the bike. In this review round-up, Hailey Moore assesses a handful of Redshift’s products—the Quick-Release Aerobars, Shocktop Pro Suspension Seatpost, Cruise Control Drop Bar Grips, and the Kitchen Sink Handlebar—and how they might benefit road and gravel-oriented riders as part of Redshift’s intended systems, or as standalone additions to any all-road setup.
Generally speaking, I’ve always thought that comfort and speed work as opposing forces when it comes to bike design. Picture, say, a time trial bike as compared to a high-stack cruiser outfitted with some plush backswept riser bars. One epitomizes performance by seeking to minimize drag while the other is geared toward experience and fully embraces the whole wind-in-your-face romantic fancy.
In my own life, the type of ride I’m on usually influences the degree of (dis)comfort I’m willing to entertain. For a shorter ride, and/or a single-day race, I’ll accept a slightly more aggressive position on the bike, grit my teeth as they get rattled loose by a carbon (vs. metal) frame, or eat weird engineered sports food that I’d never reach for on a daily basis. Or, another example, if I leave the house a little underdressed for a quick one-hour spin in winter, I’m loath to make the extra effort required to stop and put on a jacket. Alternately, the longer I’m out—on a long day ride, or multi-day tour—the more fanatical I get about equipment choices and bike fit for the intended terrain. But as long as you’re not really chasing the most marginal of gains, Redshift Sports’ ethos seems to say: why can’t it be both? Here’s a look at a few of their products with both speed and comfort in mind.
Quick-Release Aerobars $199.99
Redshift is one of the few brands I’ve seen that bundles specific components together as holistic systems for functional rather than purely aesthetic reasons. Their Switch Aero System couples the Quick-Release Aerobars and the Dual-Position Seatpost to provide road riders with a penchant for time trials or triathlon the ability to transition a standard road bike into a more aero machine. While this system may not benefit those at the pointiest end, for most who have—say—doing just one IRONMAN as a lifetime bucket list item but don’t want to break the bank on a true TT bike, the Switch Aero System makes a lot more financial sense.
Never say never, but I don’t necessarily see an IRONMAN tri in my future, but I do still see the possible utility of at least half of the Switch Aero System. As a readily removable set of aerobars, the Quick-Release Aerobars are a nifty addition to a road/all-road* cockpit on their own. The initial setup includes installing two fixed mounts on either side of the stem. Once in place, the aero extensions slide into the mounts and lock into position by tightening the quick-release skewer. (A secondary spring-release mechanism acts as a fails-afe to the QR.) The bars are available in an L-bend or S-bend (shown here) profile and can be adjusted by width (depending on your clamp area), fore and aft, and/or by height with Redshift’s 30mm Riser Kit. While the mounts are constructed to fit 31.8mm bars, Redshift offers an impressive collection of adapters for all of their products and a 26mm shim adapter kit for these aerobars is among them.
While the aluminum construction makes these aerobars pretty middle of the road in terms of weight (630g per pair for the S-Bend), I found them to be completely serviceable*; the S-shape offers a gentle ergonomic bend and, without the Riser Kit, I was satisfied with the elbow pad height for single-day training ride purposes. Importantly, I didn’t notice any rattle when the bars were unweighted, though there was maybe a millimeter of play when resting on the bars. My general take-away was: I’d be comfy hanging out here for a while. (*Redshift also notes that the extension clamps are 22.2mm, so you could theoretically run any extensions you want.)
I see the QR Aerobars as being best suited for the the rider that wants to go “sans horns” during the week for shorter rides, but uses the same bike for long training days on the weekends. If I were taking on any distance at Unbound, SBT GRVL, or any of those (super painful) single-push, unloaded races like the upcoming Gravel Worlds’ Long Voyage, I could definitely see keeping the mounts on my bike for a chunk of time so that I could pop in the aero extensions for longer days out.
- Easy to remove aerobar system
- Comfortable elbow rests
- (Way) less expensive than a dedicated TT bike, for the TT-curious
- Keeping the mounts in place adds extra weight for daily rides
- *Redshift gives the QR Aerobars a ASTM F2043 Class 1 rating, meaning they are only ISO safety-tested for road riding. Admittedly, I didn’t realize this until part way through this review and did take them on some smooth gravel with no issues. However, there is no ISO standard for off-road testing aerobars. Still, that’s a very much “at your own risk” judgement call.
ShockStop Pro Suspension Seatpost $299.99
Admittedly, I don’t have much experience with suspension seatposts though I do have plenty of experience riding bumpy roads. As part of Redshift’s ShockStop Suspension System, the Pro Suspension Seatpost can be paired with the stem by the same name to smooth out the harsh chatter of corrugated riding surfaces. However, as a general skeptic of this kind of component, I opted to take the seatpost and its promised 20mm of active suspension travel into consideration in isolation.
I’m not going to get into the existential weeds about why one may, or may not, want to ride a carbon bike but suffice it to say I test rode this seatpost on my carbon Rodeo Labs Trail Donkey 3.1 because, as the only carbon bike I own, it’s the stiffest bike in my stable. This bike clears 700 x 55 (easily) up front and maxes out, snugly, at 700 x 48 in the back. I predominantly rode the post paired with 700 x 48mm slicks and knobbies on the kind of gravel that still seems reasonable on a gravel bike.
And, to be frank, my impressions were pretty lukewarm. From a personal perspective, I’m not entirely sold on this being the best avenue for creating a more forgiving ride. That’s not to say I didn’t feel the slight give of the elastomer and coil spring design. On the contrary, I definitely felt it but the bob of the post felt more akin to riding an overly-soft rear tire, without the traction gains of wider rubber. While I know that John came around to the benefits of suspension components after spending time riding Cane Creek’s eesilk stem and post, I think we both probably share the conclusion that we’d rather pursue other alternatives—plusher tires, smoother rims, carbon or ti components, metal frames—for softening the ride, especially when a Thomson ti seatpost will set you back about the same amount.
Still, I can see a couple user groups who might benefit from the Pro Suspension Seatpost: owners of carbon bikes with more limited tire clearance—and, thus, few other options for smoothing out the bumps—and/or riders that have past or ongoing back injuries. It’s also worth noting that, in a race setting, some riders might prefer to add in a suspension component like the ShockStop Pro Seatpost in lieu of adding the extra rolling resistance of wider tires. At the end of the day, it’s all a game of millimeters, each rider just has to decide for themselves where they’re going to add or subtract those if comfort is a priority.
- Adds 20mm of “travel” to bikes with limited tire clearance
- Three elastomer options and two coil positions to dial in the seatpost’s give across riders
- Didn’t elevate ride feel enough to be worthwhile, imo
- Not the most visually stunning
Cruise Control Drop Bar Grips $54.99
The Cruise Control Drop Bar Grips make a lot of sense. For a complete drop bar comfort system, Redshift recommends pairing the Top Grips and Drop Grips, both of which provide a wider, flat surface in their respective locations to help mitigate tingling, numbness, and hotspots in the hands. While both are listed as being made from Kraton rubber, the Top grips are noticeably squishier and designed to attach to the bars before wrapping. As seen here, the Drop Grips slide onto the ends of drop bars and can be tightened by screw to secure the angle.
I’ve been running the Top Grips for over a year and, as I mentioned in my list of favorite 2022 products, I get asked all the time what handlebars I’m running as a result. Anyone who has ridden extensively on mixed surfaces can relate to the relief afforded by having myriad, comfortable hand positions. From my experience, in addition to providing a broader resting place for your hands to hang out, the rubber construction of the Top Grips noticeably dampens the micro-shocks of riding off pavement. IMO, Redshift’s Top Grips are the Occam’s Razor of solving hand ailments while riding: they’re highly effective and stupid simple, and I want them on all my drop-bar bikes. Plus, at $29.99 for just the Top Grips, they’re a heckuva lot less expensive than upgrading to a carbon bar (that will cause your heart to skip a beat when a stiff breeze or poor placement inevitably results in your bike tipping over).
Going into this review, I was a lot less familiar with the Drop Grips. While I appreciated the roomy palm platform, I didn’t notice the same dampening effect described above. Due to the bent over position that puts more weight in the hands when riding in the drops, I’d wager that it wasn’t possible to mirror the softer construction of the Top Grips without compromising their overall structure and stability. For me, the Drop Grips—and the 144 grams they add—weren’t a must-have addition.
- Affordable way to increase hand comfort across multiple drop-bar bikes
- Top Grips noticeably absorbed and softened impact from micro-bumps
- Simple design, very durable
- Drop Grips add 144g per pair without as much of a comfort benefit
Kitchen Sink Handlebar (w/ Loop) $139.99
Reviewing a handlebar seems about as objective as reviewing a pair of cycling shoes—everyone has different fit preferences and biometrics. On top of that, in their own words Redshift’s website states that they “threw in a bit of everything” in creating their take on the “Ultimate Gravel Handlebar.” So, we have some ground to cover.
For a glimpse into my personal bar preferences, I routinely run 44 or 46cm drop bars (like the Salsa Cowbell, Zipp XPLR, or Ritchey Venturemax); I like a shorter reach and shallower drops, with modest flare. I received a 44cm Kitchen Sink Handlebar, with the utility Loop, for this review. The “Loop” part is Redshift’s language, the “utility” part is mine as I found the Loop best functioned as an extension to clamp-able bar space (more on this later). These bars, Loop or Loop-less, come available in 44cm, 47cm, 50cm, and 53cm hood-to-hood width options. Across sizes, the bars sport 20mm of rise, 7° of sweep, 25° degrees of flare, and 110mm drops. The 44cm Loop pair I reviewed tip the scales at 472g (with the full range of sizes weighing between 472-507g). The wrap process was intuitive enough, and if you’re worried about running short on tape Redshift makes rolls of Really Long Bar Tape for use with any extra wide bar, including the Kitchen Sink.
Any first ride on a new-to-you handlebar feels a little off-kilter and there’s some recalibration that needs to happen to override the muscle memory of whatever setup came before. So, when I felt myself making frequent micro hand adjustments during my first ride on the Kitchen Sink bar, I didn’t pay it much mind. After more extended riding with these bars though, I came away with a new-found discovery about my hand position preferences.
At first, I thought that the reach/ramps must be significantly longer than what I’m used to riding, but after comparing the numbers that just wasn’t the case. Still, I couldn’t quite figure out why my hand/wrist positioning on the hoods felt off. I then realized that, of course, a more flared bar will invariably result in the hood angle being more canted in, creating a sort of pidgeon-toed profile. For me, I generally feel that this position puts a tad more torque and strain on the wrists that I didn’t wholly prefer. Still, this is largely a preferential observation; I thought the flare in the drops—though more exaggerated than other bars I’ve ridden—provided a super stable position in which to navigate the rough stuff.
Redshift advertises the Kitchen Sink bars as a multi-purpose gravel bar, that simultaneously offers additional gear mounting real estate, hand positions, and—with the use of their bespoke Kitchen Sink Gravel Handlebar Bag—snack storage potential. I didn’t opt in to testing the companion handlebar bag (though it’s single-hand closure design looks indeed handy), but I did try using the Kitchen Sink’s Loop as inboard aero bars and as extra space to mount cockpit gadgets (phone, Garmin, light). On all but the smoothest roads, I much preferred the latter application for the Loop extension. For me, the Loop’s side arms being made with hardly any discernable rise made the angle feel a bit blunt, and the position a tad too unstable to really relax into; just a hint of upsweep here would have made a world of difference.
That space also got crowded fast if I tried to wrap my hands around the side arms when I had electronics also mounted in the central cockpit zone. However, getting strategic with how my phone mount would interface with the Garmin mount, and how both would tuck in around the stem, proved to be a satisfying form of Tetris that still left room for a light off the front of the Loop. After reconfiguring how devices and bags would co-exist in this space on other bars before many bikepacking trips, I could absolutely see the Kitchen Sink Bar as being a worthwhile option when running a front bar roll. Here, the roll would tuck neatly under the bars, and you could still run a front light without the dreaded blinding reflection off your front bag. (Notably, the Loop is 23.8mm in diameter and most mounts will require a shim.)
- Offers additional integrated hand positions and mounting real estate in a single bar
- Pricier than other drop bars of this quality
- Heavy (44cm: 472g)
Redshift Sports is in the business of bridging comfort and performance through well-considered products with novel functional benefits. The Quick-Release Aero Bars seem best-suited for cyclists interested in road/all-road performance riding, while the ShockStop Pro Suspension Seatpost and Cruise Control Grips may be appeal to anyone riding drop bars off road and seeking to enhance their on-bike comfort. Finally, the Kitchen Sink Handlebar fills a somewhat niche role in the bikepacking sphere by increasing useable cockpit mounting space.