Every season we are seemingly treated to a different UCI rule that riders get exercised about. Previously it’s been sock height, of course with a related contraption. There’s been the ban on ‘puppy paws’ position, handlebar width, and now this season it’s the clamping down of the extreme inward-tilt of the shifter hoods that we saw so many riders adopt in 2023.
While Victor Campanaerts thinks the rule is “bullshit,” it’s been pretty well explained by Adam Hansen of the CPA riders union that it is based on legitimate safety concerns. Regardless, levers that deviate more than 10 degrees inwards from the plane of the drops will be subject to… well, we suspect they’ll be subject to ‘being asked to move them out a bit’, but no doubt fines will be threatened.
As ever with new rules, products crop up to circumvent them. On an end-of-the-day curiosity search, I stumbled across two pairs of handlebars that have been newly released, specifically designed and marketed to adhere to the new UCI lever rules. They are both pretty radical, with a large flare, and extremely narrow upper portion to allow riders to create the smallest frontal area possible.
Toot Racing Ashaa RR bar
The numbers alone for this bar are pretty astounding. The outermost reaches of the drops are 350mm apart, hitting the UCI minimum width for drop bars bang on the nose, but then they flare inwards sharply, creating a hood position that’s only 21cm apart at the widest point, and 147mm at its narrowest extent.
The tops, what little there is given the width of the bars, are an aerofoil shape, but from images of them in use this deeper profile is more to be used as a forearm rest than it is to cheat the wind in and of itself.
The other figure that’s hair-raising, beyond the price, is the reach of the bars. From the rear of the clamping area to the tip of the hoods is a full 24cm.
The bars are UCI compliant, and already registered for use at the Paris Olympics, which isn’t a great shock from a brand that also produced perhaps the most radical track bike we’ve seen in recent years.
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The bars address the letter of the law, but also the spirit of it too, claiming to be designed in terms of…