I copied this handlebar from Jon Thompson, who made some in this fashion for fixies (http://tomobikes.co.uk). As such he made them quite narrow, ideal for London traffic, but maybe not ideal for hillier northern roads. His idea was that the design of most handlebars is not really anatomical and setting the handgrips at a more natural angle may be more comfortable. It also struck me that apart from being a simple design to make I may be able to accommodate some integrated lights so I decided to make my own version for my upcoming fixed wheel frame. This is in fact a project I have had on the go for some time. Realising the angle of the bars may not be exactly the same for everyone, or indeed exactly the same on both sides, I decided to start with a variable handlebar to establish the best position for me.
The Test Handlebar
The rig will not stand up to much strain so a gentle ride only was used to establish the angle I felt most comfortable with, which disappointingly (from an aesthetic point of view) was 110 deg.
The Handlebar Fixture
I then moved on to designing a fixture out of aluminium to make the handlebar. This was quite satisfying and consists of a V Block either side with one in the centre, all of which can be adjusted along slots. I made a series of spacers to place under the central block so I could match up differing diameters of tube for the cross and hand sections. I assumed the aluminium plate I used for the base should be flat enough without any further attention as my milling machine is too small to face mill the whole piece.
In fact I suspect a fixture even this small could be use to align and braze frame tubes with reasonable accuracy in sections, it would just need a bottom bracket post adding somewhere.
For the handlebar itself I used 304 stainless plain gauge tube with a 1.2 mm wall thickness and 1 inch (25.4 mm) diameter. Why 1.2 mm? well 1 mm seemed a bit thin and 1.5 mm seemed a bit thick! I decided to use sif no.2 brass rod for the brazing along with the sif tool tip/ braze stainless flux; partly because it is a better colour match to the steel than silver solder, partly because I didn’t have much silver in and partly because I have never used it to fillet braze stainless before and wanted to have a go.
Having set the tubes up to the correct angle they were tacked and than I put them in the bike stand to fillet braze them all around. I had no major difficulty with the flux finding the hot dipping method the most satisfactory way to use it.
After cleaning up and filing the joints smooth I was able to fit the bar-end lights.
I obtained some own brand re-chargeable screw in lights relatively cheaply from Evans Cycles. They are similar to the more widely available Lezyne ones. I reckoned that two would have sufficient light output to be legal as stand alone front lights. I made the holders out of aluminium bar, cutting threads on the inside to screw in the lights.
The idea is the fitting can be adjusted. Final polishing of the bars is not brilliant as although the original tubes were mirror polished the still came with deep scratches from the suppliers so it’s impossible to get a first class finish in my opinion without sanding them excessively.
anyone who has looked at Jon Thompson’s bars will realise these are monsters by comparison so we will have to see how they look and feel on the bike, which is the next job.