Saturday, August 27, 2011

Jeff Jones Titec J-Bar

I have always admired Jeff Jones bikes and the unorthodox geometry he designs into them. Plus he's a fellow Oregonian, so that makes me all the more interested in his products.

So when I saw a very lightly-used Titec J-Bar for sale, designed by the man himself, I grabbed it.

Designed by Jones, built by Titec
The J-Bar's dimensions are such that your hands sit in a natural position, angled much like they are if you have your arms resting at the side of your body. I presume this will be more comfortable overall, especially on long rides. This wrist position give you plenty of leverage to move the bike laterally. I'm sure on technical spots this will improve my handling.

It has 0 degrees of rise, not quite what I'm used to. Normally this lack of rise would put me a bit further forward on the bike, but with the rearward sweep of the bar, I'm in about the same position I was with my previous riser bar.

But now with my hands closer to my shoulders, I expect to be able to use my back and shoulders to pull up on the bar and push down on my pedals harder, as explained on the Jeff Jones site here (towards the bottom of the page).

I haven't tried the bar on the trail yet, just a short ride around the neighborhood, but the Jeff Jones also explains that in very tight corners, your outside wrist isn't kinked into an unnatural angle, allowing you to keep your control and flexibility.

Installed and ready to rip
The width is an acceptable 660mm, keeping up with today's other fashionably-wide bars. It does not use the 31.8 shim the original Jones bar does - it is already 31.8.

The front appendages will make nice alternative hand rests, and could also serve as a light or GPS holder.

It took a while to find what felt like the best position of the bars (rotation in the stem) I'm still experimenting - I may want to angle the bar a bit more down to the front.

The only thing that I struggled with was mounting my Shimano XT brakes on it. They barely fit around the curves of the front 'horns' of the bar, and it took me a bit of pounding with a rubber mallet to get them on. I couldn't have done it without the hammer. And in doing so, the brakes scraped off the black paint a bit. No big deal but not quite what I'd hope if they were brand new.

I need longer brake cables
You'll also notice in the photo above that my brake cables aren't quite as long as they should be. They still work fine but could use a few more centimeters.

We'll see how the J-Bar fares on the trails, specifically up some good hills and through some technical areas - more soon.

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Update 1

I did 25km of trails this morning. For the first hour, I loved the bar. I was convinced this was the bar for me, and was even considering buying the Jones titanium version.

But after that hour, a pain started developing on the inside of my right wrist - sort of where the thumb meets the arm. Probably due to my hand being bent or even kinked a bit too much.

The night before, I had read a bit in forums about how to best mount this bar, and everybody seemed to agree the bar should be angled back a bit, so the bottoms of the grips point down to the ground a bit. The way I rode them was the opposite - pointing a little up, which now I understand to probably not be quite right.

Nevertheless, the leverage I could pull was awesome. And I found a few comfortable hand positions which were nice for some variety. Overall, I like it, I just need to experiment with it.

But at US $380 I will be sure I like this concept before buying a titanium Jones H-bar.

Update 2

After having adjusted the bar and riding another 27km, my opinion is back to what it was for the first hour of the first ride: It's the bar for me.

Tilting the bar back more so your grip is more like you're holding a gun made all the difference. No wrist pain or discomfort.

I also tilted the brake levers way forward so now they are pointing almost straight down. It's just the natural position your hands need. Everything is smoother and more ergonomic.

We'll see about that titanium Jones bar!


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