Cyrano handlebar shapes: Bull, Chameleon, and Snake (l-r)
Premium Italian saddle maker Fizik (pronounced “physique”) introduces a line of Cyrano drop handlebars and stems for 2014. The Cyrano bars (in several price levels of alloy and carbon) follow the company’s “Spine Concept” first applied to their saddles. The concept is based of the theory that the flexibility of your spine determines your optimum saddle shape. If your back is rather flexible, you would ride the Arione saddle; Fizik nicknames you a “snake”. If you’re not flexible, you’re a “bull”, and you take the Aliante saddle. In between the two would be a “chameleon” on the Antares saddle. Fizik extends this idea to their new handlebars.
I’ll be honest; I’m not sure I buy into this Spine Concept. I’m even less sure that the concept is valid when applied to a rider’s combined preferences for handlebar and saddle. What if I prefer a “snake” saddle and a “bull” handlebar? Am I not allowed to do that? An Arione saddle was designed long before Fizik started bandying about this fancy concept. Riders like Gilberto Simoni on Cannondale-Saeco and other Italian stage racers were consulted, and what Fizik ended up with was a saddle as long as the UCI would allow, with a extended tail that riders sit back on to get fuller extension of the legs while climbing long grades. The Arione’s long, flat profile allows riders to use the whole length of the saddle. I wouldn’t consider myself to be all that flexible, yet I love the Arione. It’s like my taint found its soulmate. But should my taint to choose my handlebar?
Still, handlebars have existed without taint theories, so maybe we should just consider the handlebars based on their shapes. Like the saddles, there three bar types: Bull, Chameleon, and Snake. All three of the bars use the modern 31.8mm clamp standard.
The Bull has a reach of 80mm and a 130mm drop. By those numbers and general form, the Bull could be described as a compact bend. The shape of the Bull is almost exactly in between the 3T Ergosum and FSA’s “Wing Pro Compact”. It has the tight radius transition from the ramp to the hook like the 3T, but a more curved hook with 3deg flare at the drop like the FSA (4deg). The Bull’s reach is within 5mm of the average compact bend, while the 3T’s 89mm is one of the longest of the lot. A less common trait that all Fizik bars share with Pro’s Vibe series of handlebar is that the bar maintains the 31.8mm diameter almost all the way across the tops of the bar, but the Fizik bars have the typical square shoulder of most modern bars rather the almost track bar shape of the Pro Vibe series. By keeping the diameter big up top, handlebar stiffness is improved. The angle of the ramps is about the same as the typical compact bend and much less than bars like the venerable Cinelli Giro d’Italia.
Bars like the Bull work best with the current generation of integrated brake/shift levers which are designed to be clamped high on the hook and create a continuous, flat transition from the ramp to the lever body. The Bull’s tight bend from the ramp to the hook means that the angle of the body changes rapidly depending on how far up or down you position the lever. In my experience, bars like this work better with SRAM or Shimano than Campagnolo levers because the first two have built-in reach adjustment. Thus you can independently align the lever body with the ramp and then use the lever’s reach adjustment to pull the lever blade in to make it accessible from the hook. Over the years many handlebar brands have marketed bars for smaller riders with “ergo” and “compact” bar shapes that have a short drop and tight bend at the top of the hook. The irony is that bars like this, including Fizik’s Bull, are easier to grab onto the hook, but without the reach adjustment in the lever, braking from the drops is almost impossible if you have small hands (as smaller riders oft have). Of course, riders typically use the lever hood as the primary hand position (with levers evolving in parallel), but it seems ridiculous to buy a bar that is easier to ride in the drops and then not ride in the drops because you can’t use the controls from there. The old Ritchey Biologic bars were horrible in this respect. Fizik says that “Bull” riders are often larger athletes with big hands, so the the curve was designed without tight bends that would cramp larger hands. However as a bike fitter, I know that this “Bull” bar is going to be chosen by many riders who are neither large nor endowed with big hands.
The Bull’s opposite is the Snake. More than the other Fiziks, the Snake looks a lot like a traditional road bar. With 85mm of reach and 140mm of drop, the Snake is perhaps best compared to the Deda “Deep” shape, still available on the Newton handlebar, except that the Snake has 3deg of lateral flare and a sharper transition ramp-to-hook for modern levers. Sometimes called a “Belgian bend”, the shape of the Snake requires the rider to reach pretty far down and out to grab hold of the hooks. Actually, the Spine Concept makes a lot of sense when you’re talking about the Snake handlebar, because a rider without a fair bit of flexibility isn’t going to be able to use this bar effectively. If the Bull was designed for large power full riders, supposedly the Chameleon was designed for limber riders. If you are thinking about switching from one of the more typical compact bend bars on the market to the Cyrano Snake, I’d recommend fitting a 10mm shorter stem.
The Chameleon (reach 85mm, drop 135mm, flare 3deg) is supposed to be right in between the other two Fizik bars. All of these bars are designed so that the grip portion down behind the hook will level or slightly up (ie, the ends of the bar pointing slightly down towards the rear axle), and when so positioned the angle of the hook is somewhat similar to the “ergo” or anatomic” bends that came out during the 1990s. However, the Chameleon lacks the abrupt bends of those bars, instead blending smoothly much as the typical compact bend. In my mind I see the Chameleon and Bull as two different flavours of the modern compact bend and the Snake as something of a throwback. I’m not saying that the Snake is a bad design, but I think it will be harder to market.
The average road bike consumer understands the compact bend; it allows him to run his bars really low “like all the pros”, but he does in fact realize he can’t ride in the drops as easily. But there are a few pros and all importantly a few consumers who have been waiting for a bar like this. With these three handlebar shapes, Fizik has taken an intelligent approach to giving riders clearly defined choices. An example of how not to market handlebars would be Zipp. As SRAM’s in-house brand for road stems, bars, and seatposts, Zipp clearly has design and marketing resources, but their model designations just confuse consumers rather than delineate the how the product lines interrelate. What’s worse is that they keep changing the shape and names of their bars so that there’s no continuity from year to year. Whether or not you believe in Fizik’s Spine Concept, you can easily remember what each of the bars is like. Looking at both the dimensions and the subtleties of shape, I like the Cyrano range of handlebars, regardless of my distrust of marketing concepts. The physical form of all three versions of the Cyrano are refined and devoid of quirky gimmicks.
I have not had a chance to ride any of these bars yet, but I have experience riding similar. I personally seem to gravitate towards either a Bull shape or the Snake depending on the bike. On my cyclocross bike I use more of a Belgian shape (though with less reach than Fizik’s Snake) because the bars are higher than my road bikes; thus I reach further down and forward relative to the top of the bar. On my road bikes I run the bars rather low, so I like the drops shallower and slightly more horizontal for my wrists when I move out of the saddle while sprinting. If you are still searching for the handlebar that works for you, I’d recommend taking a look at Fizik’s offerings.
The new Radial backpacks from Osprey are designed to compliment the bike commuter, but the Radial packs have versatility that extends beyond cycling. I’ve had the Radial 34 ($160-170) for several months now, and I keep on finding new occasions to use it.
Living in the Pacific NW, whenever I come across a new “technical” pack I generally first consider whether or not it is “waterproof”. It turns out that nominal waterproof-ness isn’t the end-all-be-all for bags. Sure, my faithful Reload messenger pack has a waterproof liner, but a commuter bag like the Radial can keep sufficiently dry with just a lightweight rain cover. A commuter generally isn’t repeatedly reaching into the bag like a messenger would, so he doesn’t need waterproof and ease of access both at the same time. Those heavy-duty liners in messenger bags really add weight, while the Radial 34’s rain cover is a negligible mass. Relying on the cover to keep water out allows the Radial to have ton of zippers giving access to various interior compartments. There are three large compartments; the one closest to your back has a laptop sleeve. A smaller one at the top of the bag is perfect for wallet and smartphone plus has a key leash. There is an additional pair of hip pockets, but I don’t use those so much because I can’t reach them while I’m wearing the bag and because the small top compartment lies right next to the main zippers. At the bottom of the bag is a hidden storage pouch for the rain cover.
Osprey uses a lightweight but rigid internal frame plus a suspension strap system and mesh to put a little bit of breathing room between the pack and the skin of your back. The supple and well-padded shoulder straps have a comfortable, ergonomic shape. I find that I almost never use waist straps when I wear a backpack, but the Radial 34 has a convenient one if you prefer. What’s nice is that the waist strap isn’t too annoying if you don’t use it. I am really happy with the chest strap however, as it can easily be adjusted for height on the shoulder straps. The “LidLock” helmet clip is remarkably convenient for quickly securing your helmet to the bag. Sure you could just use its chin strap to attach your helmet to any ol’ bag, but then the helmet would be awkwardly swinging around and banging into things. I don’t know about you, but I like nice helmets and I like to keep them that way. Osprey’s LidLock is quick to engage or detach, and your helmet stays put.
The Radial 34 comes in S/M (32 litre) or a M/L (34 litre) sizes; I have the larger version. In the end, this bag did not replace my heavy-duty messenger pack. That messenger pack has an enormous capacity, full waterproof liner, and a side lock holster. For the way I am on-and-off my bike, in and out of buildings, my use patterns still closely resemble those of a messenger. But I have really come to appreciate my Osprey Radial. It is a very convenient size, and compare to my messenger pack it just feels like there’s nothing on my back. Day trips with friends or shopping by automobile, this is my bag of choice. I have taken the bag to music festivals. Standing on tip-toes to see the music stage for three days straight would have been murder on my back with any other bag, but the Radial 34 suspension system is comfortable even after hours of wearing. Currently, I’m using this Osprey pack as my race-day bag. The various compartments keep everything organized and me stress free for cyclocross races. I have a compartment for my shoes, one for my race clothes, one for my post-race clothes, little pockets for race numbers and safety pins, wallet/smartphone, etc. Along with the rain cover in its hidden bottom pocket, I keep a heavy shopping bag in case I end up with mud and muck encrusted kit post-race.
I have used smaller messenger bags (single-strap type), my main messenger backpack, and duffle bags for race day logistics, but they all have their inconveniences. A real messenger bag, with it’s cavernous main hold, just throws everything together and is frustrating because you are always searching for the one thing you really wanted at that moment. A duffle bag isn’t ride-ready if post-race I don’t hitch a lift home in a car. And don’t forget the handy LidLock for the helmet. It’s just about the perfect size for a day of racing; it is my trusted companion as I get ready to jump into the fray of cyclocross’ mud and mid-corner pileups.
I do use it occasionally while actually riding a bike, depending on what I’ll be doing when I get to my destination. The Radial 34 is comfortable on my back and secure while riding. In fact I have several times done my CX course pre-ride while wearing the pack, so I am sure you could use this bag for real mountain biking too. One limitation about the internal frame of the pack is that this M/L Radial 34 often hits me in the back of the neck while on my road bikes. I think this is a combination of my shorter stature, larger pack, and the low height of my handlebar which means I have to angle my neck up a fair bit, putting it into the top of the pack’s frame. Perhaps on a mtb bike I wouldn’t be hunkered down as much, but on a road bike I wouldn’t want to ride for hours like that. Also, the various compartments of the pack make it suited more for many small items rather than large, bulky single objects. However, for a load of equal weight the Radial beats the stability of any over-the-shoulder messenger bag.
Osprey Radial 34: my companion for three days of Bumbershoot!
Today SRAM Corp issued a recall on specific Hydro-R hydraulic road brakes, both rim and disc brake versions. These brake systems are from both the Red22 and S-700 (10sp) models. This is a proactive measure by SRAM, as there have been no reports of incidents from the field. The exact nature of the problem has not been described, only that it is a “performance and safety concern”. Since both disc and rim brake versions of Hydro-R are affected in only specific production batches, one could reasonably speculate that it is an issue with lever itself, most likely a process error rather than design. Here at Bike Hugger, we currently have 3 sets of Hydro-R in our stable, one each of the Red22 plus a S-700 disc brake. None of these have serial numbers affected by the recall.
According to the press release, SRAM actually produced a little more than 3,500 units in that production batch, but most were reclaimed internally, pulled from the OEM supplies to assemblers in Asia and aftermarket distributors . After that, perhaps as many as 500 units worldwide may have found their way to dealers or consumers. If you own a Hydro-R brake system, you can check the serial number which is laser-etched into the caliper; the number is on the bottom of the disc brake caliper. The serial number is also on the retail packaging. You can read the full text of the recall after the jump.
SRAM Hydraulic Road Brake Recall:
“SRAM has identified a technical issue with respect to a narrow production range of its RED 22
and S-700 Road Hydraulic road brakes. This is a performance and safety concern. There are no
reported failures in the field.
We began proactive quarantine efforts with factories, bike brands and distributors last week.
We have reported this issue to the US CPSC and will be cooperating with the agency to announce
a safety recall in the near future. We are also working with European consumer administrations.
The affected serial numbers range from 36T30993767 to 42T39407156. This represents 3,553
brakes produced. Based on our investigative and quarantine efforts with our customers, we expect
that there are fewer than 500 brakes worldwide in the affected range that are at Dealers or
have been purchased by consumers.
The serial number can be found on the brake caliper (rim or disc) and on the outside of the box
containing the product. SRAM will issue another notice when the CPSC approved recall launches.
As always, we appreciate your business, and apologize for the disruption.”
Warned up with a puffer for a couple laps and then didn’t race
For 20 plus years never had a bad season. Fitness came and went, into it at more times than others, but the past year has been like a series of mechanicals with my body. A nagging injury, illness, and then unusual fall asthma. I blame the wind storm on Saturday for throwing all kind of contaminates into the air, whatever it was, I was lit up like an allergy Christmas tree. On Sunday, after a few warmup laps, I wheezed and coughed. Then made the call to not start. To get back into race shape, building towards next season, I’m perfectly good with sucking at the back of the elite field, riding steady, solid, and finishing. Not good with wheezing out of a race or falling apart, unable to breathe. It sets me back for at least a week. I imagine if doctors ran a scope into my lungs, it’d look red, raw, and inflamed in there, after doing so much damage.
Exercise-induced, allergy-triggered asthma is so little talked about, I didn’t even know others that race with me had it until recently. Because asthma doesn’t manifest any outward symptoms excerpt during an acute attack, it isn’t generally recognized by the community and the promoter of the Sunday’s race mocked me for not starting. For years, before I knew what I was, I just thought I wasn’t fit. Asthma took such a toll on Rominger, he stopped racing, and Katie Compton was nearly medevaced out of a race in Cincinnati for it last week. Locally, the Northwest Allergy Center has doctors dedicated to studying the causes and it’s thought Co2 particulates embedded in our lungs from years of urban life are a factor.
Once I was diagnosed and knowing the symptoms, if they’re present, I don’t start. There’s always another race and the one I’m in isn’t worth the risk of turning ashen white and blowing a week of training or worse.
I doubt anyone wants to hear this much detail about what I’m dealing with in a season. To me though, it seems like our health and breathing is something we may want to talk about as much as wheels, power meters, and recovery drinks. The handful of us afflicted by asthma locally will continue to just deal with it and talk about it amongst ourselves.
As I wrote earlier about this season, starting the race is as important as finishing it. Anticipating I was symptomatic, I didn’t register on Sunday until after the warm up test. I know of only two reasons not to start an already registered-for race: medical reasons and then those other medical reasons, where dopers don’t start because they don’t want to pee in the cup, like at nationals.
If there’s no doping control, no promoter should ever call you out for not starting or try to embarrass you for a decision based on your health.
Working on the 6th issue of the Magazine and the theme is #rodeinit. Here’s the setup
Roaring through fog, blinky-lit red comet, breath-steaming locomotive, a racer stunned drivers this morning doing intervals before work. A disappearing act.
In Seattle, that’s rain, squalls, fog, and wind. Like yesterday when I pedaled at 9 mph in the direction of the storm front as it moved North. When traveling abroad, that maybe a ride to a village with trash-blown streets or a sky blackened with Beijing smog. We’ll share what we’ve ridden in, recommend, and how to persevere in all conditions, including a commute to work. Issue 06 drops next week and subscriptions cost $1.99 a month.
In the Cyclocross community, CX Nats was legend. Tales of the conditions, the suffering, and the failure of equipment are still being talked about. Chandler called me from the course and I insisted he write down what he was saying about disc brakes failing in the silty mud. He did and I posted it as A Fistful of Disc Brakes.
Next week a book about the race is being published with the proceeds benefiting the Wisconsin Bicycle Federation. The book includes interviews with Katie Compton, Tim Johnson, and this quote from Don Myrah, a reigning cyclocross Master’s world champion and 1996 Atlanta Olympic mountain bike racer…
Cyclocross has always been my favorite discipline of cycling. It’s racing in its truest form: rugged, elbow to elbow and the strongest guy usually wins. At the end of my pro career I had stopped riding for about ten years, busy with the job, kids and life. It was cyclocross that got me back riding again. I enjoy the unpredictable nature of the sport and the fact that you feel like you’re racing for the full hour.
I raced with Don at CX Worlds in Louisville in equally nasty conditions. I wrote about that race here and for Wired.
Normally I’m not the kind of guy to like inclement weather. Sure, I’ll ride in the rain or a good thunderstorm, but I like a good bright fall day the best.
But when the Showers Pass Amsterdam jacket arrived, it got me wishing for rain, sleet or snow. That’s because it’s my favorite mix of functionality for cycling and style for off-the-bike endeavors. Cut more like a fine jacket (albeit a jacket that fits best when bent forward in the drops) the Amsterdam has a soft shell interior and a herringbone exterior that’s thicker than the company’s Portland jacket.
After a few weeks of really spectacularly un-fall-like weather (highs in the 60’s, bright sun, clear skies) we finally got some cold, wet days. I put on the Amsterdam and hooked my bike to my son’s trailer and hit the roads.
The Amsterdam jacket feels great, it’s one of the nicest fitting pieces of clothing I’ve seen and it look great off the bike as well. In a coffee shop, at the grocery store, I look less like a Lance Armstrong and more like a Daan de Grot. That in fact might be the one weakness of the jacket—it’s not incredibly visible. For city-goers that’s not a big deal, the 3M reflective striping and the flip-down rear reflective panel are perfect, but I wouldn’t pick the Amsterdam on a long, solo ride on a dark country road.
Of course, that’s why they named the jacket after a major cycling city and not some forlorn route up the Ozarks.
Everything on the jacket is meticulous crafted, from the hidden zippered pockets (one with an audio port) to the pit zips that provide tremendous ventilation when the jacket proves to be too warm, which is pretty quickly on a warmish spring day.
The jacket runs $200, which puts it on point with a lot of winter gear and well below well-taylored pieces from companies like Castelli and Assos, none of which look as good off the bike.
What’s it’s like when the fast leaders lap you in a Cross Race? It’s all in slowmo, until you start chasing again. I raced the elite race at Marymoor and was doing OK after blowing the first barrier run up. Chasing and one lap down into the final lap of the fastest race of the season, the rear wheel fell off my bike and like 40 guys passed me. 2 laps down, but finished ahead of a few DNFs. I was a bit disappointed cause I finally had some race legs on the course, but that’s racing and mechanicals happen.