Sunday, July 31, 2011

First Impressions with the Ragley Luxy Dirt Drop Handlebar


I've had an on-and-off relationship with dirt drops - I love them for awhile, then I decide they don't work... then I say, "Hey, why not?" and get into them again. The general problem I have with dirt drop handlebars is that they are a bit narrow for my shoulders. So, when I read about the new Ragley Luxy Handlebar, I was excited to give them a try.

My original thought was to put them on my single speed (as in the pics), then I got a wild hair to put them on my Surly Pacer. After mocking them up on my Pacer, however, I decided they were just too odd to put on a road bike - so on to the SS they went.

The Ragley Luxy bar is something that just can't be studied by a future purchaser with pics alone - you really have to see it yourself and grab it; it is the oddest handlebar I have ever seen and used. The drop is short, the reach a bit far and the flair at the bottom of the drops extends to 680mm wide. The top is 31.8mm and will need a 31.8 stem. The best way to describe this handlebar would be a "...mustache handlebar that has been flared and dropped".

Like all dirt drops, the rider has to expect to be in the drops most of the time and should adjust stem length and height accordingly. As said by Shiggy on MTBR, "...the drops ought to be placed in the same area as you would place your hands on a regular handlebar..." or something to that effect. So before committing to dirt drops, understand that your sugary-sweet Thompson stem may not work - you may have to buy another to work with this set-up. I always have a handful of stems in my parts bin, so finding something that would work was not a problem. As you can see, I have a number of spacers to bring the stem high enough for the dirt drops to be in a reasonable position.

First impression was I felt pretty stretched out until I got used to the dirt drop position again. After the initial weirdness, I really enjoyed being somewhat tucked. As I've described before, dirt drops make you feel like you're "in" the bike instead of "on top". When I finally hit the trails, the true test was afoot!

I don't know what is was, but I felt a good 10% faster than normal. Was it the new handlebar or just feeling good? I know one thing, however, was that drops did help the crank out on the steep XC climbs. I did get some arm pump from bearing down, but that's just riding single speed in general. For the sit and spins, I rode the brake hoods and the top of the handlebar, which was nice.

Descending was extremely confident because you are riding the front tire a bit more than a regular flat or riser handlebar which places the body more upright on the bike. But because of this, you may have to be aware of any rocks, logs or other obstacles that may come your way where you have to heave your front end up-and-over. I was definitely faster on the descends with this bar than I was with my riser bar. Again, there is something about being tucked down that just really speeds things up. Could be in my head, but whatever it was - it made a difference. Don't know how this would do in an extremely technical situation.

I was able to bunnyhop curb height without a problem.

Dirt drops are NOT for everyone. It takes an open mind and a general feeling of experimentation to enjoy them. Some riders will hate this handlebar from the looks alone, as the Luxy really steers away from anything traditional. It is nothing like a road handlebar and a far cry from a MTB flat or riser. Even in the alternative handlebar world, this thing is a monster.

I am not finished, by any means, with dialing in the set-up. I feel like I need a different stem, so I will try one I have in my parts bin that has a very steep rise. If you're in for an alternative ride, try the Ragley Luxy. I like it much better than the On One Midge Bar, plus it has a 31.8 clamp area for extra stiffness.

PROS

1. Strange design that just works
2. People will look at you like you're a space alien
3. Positive climbing and descending characteristics

CONS

1. A shorter, higher rise stem will almost always be needed
2. Bar tape rips on tip-overs unless protected
3. May need disc specific road brake calipers if using discs


3 comments:

  1. hi, are you still using the bars? what stem did you settle for? maybe its a part which is back in the parts box not being used...

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  2. Hey Joe,

    Sorry it took so long to reply to your comment - I don't know why I wasn't notified.

    Unfortunately, I sold this handlebar. As much as I like the look of dirt drops, for my trails, they are a bit of a chore.

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  3. Dion, can you ride the hoods on the Ragley? I have Woodchippers on my SS Monster Crosser and climbing in the hoods is awesome but looking at the pics it seems like they would be pretty angled.

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