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Trainer Road

januari 18, 2024

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No Bent-in Brake Levers Here: Ultra-Narrow Flared Handlebars Arrive in Response to UCI Regulation

The UCI slapped restrictions on bent in-brake levers, so handlebar manufacturers struck back.

Radical new bars by Toot Engineering and Lambda Tuning circumvent new regulations imposed by the governing body by building a wild flare into the vertical profile of the bar.

Toot’s Ashaa road bar and Lambda’s Cross-Wing offering fall within the UCI’s geometric guidelines for bars and brake levers, but offer all the aero gains provided by the bent-in hoods that riders hunched over in 2023 and before.

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Riders were increasingly pushing the limits of their bike setups in response to restrictions on positions like the “puppy paws” and “super tuck”, and over-angled cockpits were becoming more common.

The UCI introduced its brake lever restriction at the close of last season over concern that “extreme inclination limits the braking capacity of the riders and constitutes a modification of the product beyond its intended use.”

The new regulations have already been enforced at the Santos Tour Down Under.

Officials have been spotted with a jig that checks for the maximum 10 degree flare allowed in the revised rulebook heading in to 2024.

The Ashaa road bar and Lambda Cross-Wing get around that by flaring the dropped section of the bars and allowing the brake levers to be mounted on the same plane of inflection. Resultantly, the brake hoods end up only centimeters apart, all while remaining in line with the profile of the bar.

It’s all very UCI compliant.

Toot Ashaa road handlebars
The Ashaa bars keep the brake levers in profile with the bars and fall within UCI regs. (Photo: Toot Engineering)

The two new bars will keep the governing body off riders’ backs but may have bike-design purists howling.

The extra-eye-catching Toot Ashaa bar features a 350mm width at the drops but a tiny 147mm width at the narrowest point of the hoods. The  bar also stands out with an over-long reach of 240mm that provides a make-shift arm rest and allows the most low-slung and aerodynamically efficient position possible.

And as if those specs weren’t whacky enough, the Ashaa road bars are 3D printed in steel – ‘coz who needs carbon anyways.

Ashaa isn’t shy in claiming in its marketing spiel that the new bars are UCI compliant, and states they’re already registered for the Paris Olympics this summer.

“[They are] safe because unlike ‘rotated levers’ and uncertain positions on components not designed for this purpose, Ashaa is designed for this purpose,” reads the brand’s launch material.

Lambda Tuning Cross Wing handlebars
Lambda Tuning Cross Wing handlebars – less extreme than the Ashaa, but still very aero. (Photo: Lambda Tuning)

The Lambda Cross-Wing is similar in design to the Ashaa, though a lot less extreme.

The narrowest version is 400mm at the drops and 240mm at the closest point of the hoods, all while maintaining a more traditional length reach.

The bar is marketed at gravel, track, and road riders, and is specifically called out as UCI legal.

“With the inwardly angled brake grips, the cross-wing handlebar offers a ‘new’ aero position that resembles a time trial bike. This is an advantage for a road as well as gravel road bikes, and saves approximately 23 watts at 40kph,” reads Lambda’s product description.

Meanwhile, the Ashaa bar claims to improve aero efficiency by 3 percent at 386W and 45kph.

Lambda Tuning Cross Wing handlebars
Wide at the drops, narrow at the hoods – the Cross-Wing does it all. (Photo: Lambda Tuning)

These new products sound great right?

Until you get to the price point, that is.

The 3D printed steel Ashaa bars come in at an eye-watering €1,390 (~$1,500USD), while the Lambda Cross-Bar is a much more affordable but still pretty steep €219 (~$245USD).

Will the UCI react in response to these new handlebars?

Velo’s Alvin Holbrook already forecasted that we’ll see more narrow flared drop bars on road bikes in 2024. It now seems a dead cert that rivals to Toot and Lambda will prove our tech guru right by launching competitor products to the Cross-Wing and Ashaa Road bar.

Over to you, UCI.

The UCI enforced new regulations to prevent positions like this – but handlebar manufacturers responded. (Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

 

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