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Educate Me on Bullhorn Bars

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Educate Me on Bullhorn Bars

Old 06-14-21, 10:42 AM
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Educate Me on Bullhorn Bars

I'm assembling an old Nishiki road bike out of spare stuff that I have lying around. I originally wanted to take the bullhorns and bar end brakes from an existing bike (first photo below) and put them on the Nishiki (second and third photos). I later decided to splurge on some new bullhorns without any drop to them because one of my goals for the Nishiki is to experiment with a taller, more upright setup. Also, my old bullhorns were very comfortable on my hands if a bit low for my back.

When the new, Venzo bars showed up, I was surprised by their geometry in that, other than the cross bar, there is actually no straight section on the handlebar that is anywhere close to being long enough to accommodate the width of my hand. You'd pretty much have to be a small child for your hand to fit on any of the forward projecting parts of the handle bar. For me to hold the forward projecting parts of the handle bar, my hand would have to straddle the kink in the bars. That strikes me as being pretty uncomfortable for longer rides. This is quite different from my original bullhorns and has me wondering if I understand I how bullhorns are meant to be used. So, my questions:

1) Where is one's hand meant to reside on the horns? Should it fit on a straight section? Should it straddle the kink?

2) Are bullhorns not actually meant for prolonged rides without being combined with aero bars etc?

3) Are the Venzos a fundamentally different product from my tri-bar setup bullhorns? The venzos are a nice width and rated highly on Amazon.

4) In terms of the angles of the setup etc, have I got it wrong on my Nishiki?

My old bullhorns with a vertical drop and plenty of hand space.

New bullhorns with very little hand space.

Another shot of the new bullhorns.
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Old 06-14-21, 10:51 AM
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Bullhorn bars were originally made from standard "drop" handlebars, with the drops cut off and the bar flipped upside-down. They were intended for special-purpose events, i.e. time trials and record attempts where aerodynamics was considered more important than comfort or multiple hand positions.

My personal opinion is that unless you're in one of those special-purpose events, you're probably better served by a standard drop bar, or, if you prefer a more upright position, a riser, moustache, or "north road" type bar.
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Old 06-14-21, 11:02 AM
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Thanks. The TT business explains why I sometimes see the bullhorns angled downwards much more steeply than I had in mind. It was a tossup between these bars and some nice, Origin8 riser flat bars when I made the purchase, which I now regret a bit. The venzos were cheap enough that it won't make sense for me to pay the shipping to return them. They're also wide enough that I may just treat them as flatbars effectively.
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Old 06-14-21, 11:09 AM
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Like any bar, bullhorns come in various drop, width, and reach dimensions. You might find something like the Soma Urban Pursuit (25.4 version) to be more accommodating.
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Old 06-14-21, 01:10 PM
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Some things I've learned about standalone bullhorn bars (ie. bull horn bars without tri aero bars):
1. Most cyclist don't even use the drops of the drop bars, so you might as well be using bull horn bars.
2. Bullhorn bars don't work too well with aero brake levers (ie. under-bar-tape brake cable routing) mounted in the usual orientation, because the cable has to bend back 90 degree in a tight loop. You 'll want non-aero brake levers. If you are running dual pivot brakes, you need either BL6400 or BL1050 non-aero levers which work with SLR brakes. These are very rare.
3. If you want to use tri (reverse) brake levers, you will need to drill holes in your bars.
4. If you use tri (reverse) levers, you will lose the option to run barcon shifters
5. Most bullhorn bars have a sloping 'tops' section, making it hard for you to use the tops of the bars. The exception is the Nitto RB009 and whatever Nitto bar this is:

(Imagine it upside down)
6. Using bars shaped like I mentioned in #5, allows you to run aero brake levers mounted backwards.

This is the RB009 bar setup I have on my Nishiki Linear. Notice I have aero brake levers mounted backwards. The cable routing is very smooth with no sharp kinks. The 'tops' section is very useable as well. The braking is very good. In fact much better than braking from the hoods on a regular drop bar.
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Old 06-14-21, 02:07 PM
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icemilkcoffee Thanks for the input. In response to a few of your comments:

1) Indexed bar ends are my preferred shifter but this project will be staying friction shift, possibly relocated from DT to stem.

2) I've ordered a set of dual pivot, Tektro 539's for this project. Lever compatibility is indeed a concern. I plan to use the same Dia Compe reverse levers shown in the first photo of my initial post. They currently route the brake cables along the bar and out to dual pivot ultegras so I'm hoping that I'll be okay there.
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Old 06-14-21, 04:13 PM
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My fixed gear bike came with bullhorns. I find them very comfortable and they provide good control of the bike, they also provide very good leverage when climbing hills out of the saddle.
I've ridden a couple of 100 mile centuries with them and was comfortable all the way.
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Old 06-14-21, 04:30 PM
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I swapped the drops on my Langster Single Speed for bullhorns/Tekto TT brake levers. The bars are a bit wider than the drops which took a bit to getting used to.
I really like the setup because I can get more leverage climbing "hills" and I can apply more pressure on the levers to stop the bike with confidence.
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Old 06-14-21, 08:48 PM
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Those bars from whoever are probably an attempt at a flat bars with the bar ends integrated into the bar rather than a separate piece. Not like a aero base bar which is going to be a touch different. If you aren't doing TTs on the bike I would probably just use a drop bar or a flat bar and just leave it at that. If you really must have an aero base bar I would go for it but with quill stems it can be a bit tough to get something of quality these days so you could get a adapter but in the end an old low to mid range road bike isn't the best TT or Tri set up.
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Old 06-15-21, 02:20 PM
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I had bullhorns on my single speed for years, and never got used to them. I recently switched back to drops on that bike; even though the drops are too deep for me to ever use in any practical situation on that bike, gripping the hoods is a much more comfortable riding style for me than gripping a round bar. Paradoxically, with the bullhorns, I frequently found myself gripping the actual brake levers in order to get low enough.

Re the OP, if you're experiencing hand discomfort from the location of the bends in the bar it's likely that a) you would be better off with a different bar shape or b) you're putting too much weight onto your hands. I usually ride with about as much weight on my bars as I would on the steering wheel of my car.
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Old 06-15-21, 02:37 PM
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I've never used them, but I don't see what the difference is between bullhorns and flat bars with bar ends, other than the bar ends are integrated with the bullhorn bars. If you're riding a flat bar bike any distance, you'll definitely want bar ends of some sort in order to have more hand positions.
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