JONES LOOP H-BAR 7101000 MILE REVIEW
I loved touring with my butterfly trekking handlebars. They were so comfortable and a joy to use on a long distance touring adventure. I had them installed on my Koga World Traveller since 2011, and had no intention of using anything else. However, my old creaking body had other ideas. For the last year I had been suffering from shoulder and neck pain. So much so, for months I was on and off the bicycle trying to figure out a solution. It was literally a pain in my
arse. neck. I tried everything from altering the saddle height, to raising and lowering the stem, nothing seemed to work. It wasn’t until I started riding drops on my road bike with no discomfort, I realized my beloved trekking handlebars were causing all these issues. I came to the conclusion that the trekking bars were to narrow for my body which was causing my shoulders to hunch up and aggravate an old injury.
After much inter-web research I decided I needed much wider mountain bike bars, with multiple hand positions. I settled on the unconventional looking Jones Aluminum Loop H-Bar 710, with its massive 45° backwards sweep. Would they be the holy grail of handlebars I was looking for?
To give these bars a really good work out, I would take my fully loaded touring bike for a two week trip around the Catskill and Adirondack mountains. It would take me on a 1000 mile loop of the state of New York. A perfect place to test these bars as I’d be riding on all manner of surfaces. I installed the bars with ESI Extra Chunky Grips and bolted it on to a 90mm Thomson X4 stem. How fancy!
The first thing I noticed was how stable these bars are under-load. The 45° sweep works incredibly well, I was dubious at first, thinking it might feel a bit wobbly on a heavily loaded bicycle, because the backward sweep would give too much leverage, leading to overcompensating when steering. How wrong I was. The Koga had never felt so responsive. Even when climbing out of the saddle, these bars worked like magic, I could get stuck in to grinding up a mountain pass and maintain a straight line with ease. I imagine on a mountain bike these bars would be even more responsive.
Another feature that won me over are the amount of hand positions this bar offers. When riding on the very end of the bar, it gives me a wide comfortable upright position, just like on a beach cruiser. It feels very natural when cruising along flat distances.
The second position is leaning into the apex of the loop, where the brakes attach. I find myself utilizing this position during city riding, downhill, and single track. Again, it feels very comfortable and gives your hands a natural riding angle. For me, this is my favorite hand position.
The third position which is for climbing. This is using the lower part of the loop, I found using this position a little unstable on a fully loaded bike. I think this was because I didn’t have enough room for my hands as my bell kept getting in the way. I found the first position the best for climbing.
There is a fourth position for these bars. By using the top part of the loop you can get into an aero position. It’s not really needed in a touring situation and I had too many gadgets on that part of the loop to give it a try.
Talking about gadgets. There is so much room upfront, you could install a desktop computer and a whole office cubical, and still would have enough room for bell, gps, lights, and a small puppy, if need be.
The ESI Extra Chunky grips worked well, they feel almost like a memory foam mattress for your hands. They did a good job of smoothing out the vibrations from the endless gravel roads of the Catskills.
They are also built really tough, after putting on over a thousand miles they have shown very little wear and tear. If you have smaller hands I think the standard version of the ESI Chunky grips would fair better.
After a thousand miles on tarmac, gravel, and single tracks, I can safely say I had no discomfort what-so-ever, my neck and shoulder pain have now completely vanished. At slow speeds these bars help with controlling the bike with minimal effort or wobble. And the same goes for zooming down the mountain passes, I felt fully in control of the bike.
I would highly recommend these bars for touring adventures. Especially on tours which take you off-road. Unconventional they might look, pricey they might be, but for me, having no more pain makes these the best touring bars I have ever tried. A big thumbs-up.
Amazon links to featured components in this post:
- Rear Hub: Rohloff Speedhub 500/14 – http://amzn.to/2m3v4kI
- Tires: Continental Travel Contact 1.75 – http://amzn.to/2lmtyLR
- Front Stem: Thomson X4 90mm – http://amzn.to/2lmlKK1
- Saddles: Brooks B17 – http://amzn.to/2m3pUFt
- Pedals: Blackspire Sub4 Flat Pedals – http://amzn.to/2m3qBOU
- Captain Seatpost: Thomas Elite – http://amzn.to/2mTWVkR
- Bicycle Computer: VDO M4 WL – http://amzn.to/2m3KwNM
- Bell: Crane Suzu – http://amzn.to/2mmueR1
- Pump: Topeak Turbo Morph – http://amzn.to/2mjnzH3
- Bottles: Klean Kanteen 27oz – http://amzn.to/2mOHYmS