This is a shameless attempt to save the the most advanced civilization in
history from imminent self destruction by eliminating carbon emission,
dependence on foreign sources of fuel,obesity, hypertension and diabetes.
Cycling accomplishes all those things at once and helps us develop a better
understanding of ourselves, each other and our relationship to the cosmos.

Oh, horse puckey!
I like to ride bikes, have been doing it all my life.
The rest of that crap is just a fringe benefit,
and the blogosphere gives me a chance to share my interior
monologue with virtual rather than imaginary friends.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Rivendell's Bosco Bars

    So awhile back that guy at Rivendell bikes decided to make a new handlebar.  He said his goal was to create something with more usable positions than the "butterfly" trekking bars without it being as ugly.
Now, I never thought of them as ugly, just very different.  The project did attract my interest and I watched the progress of the bars on his blog.  When I ordered my new Hillborne, I saw that the final version of the bars would be arriving at the same time and decided to give them a try.  I wrote to Spenser at Rivendell and asked if he would add them to my frame order, to be sure I got one in case they sold out quickly.  He was more than happy to do it, and even sent me an e-mail to let me know that I was officially the first owner of a Bosco Bar.
They come in a couple of variations, but I chose the widest (58cm) and lightest (heat treated aluminum alloy).Compared to the famous Allbatross bars, they look like this.
The width is not as extreme as I had anticipated (1.5 cm per side) and when I first saw them they had made sense to me.  They are somewhat counter intuitive to a standard drop bar.   The aero position is in the center near the stem and puts the hands 3-4 inches lower in a position similar to a time trial tuck.
The bar ends have an enormous sweep, open up the arms and allow the rider to sit nearly bolt upright to negotiate traffic or take advantage of a tail wind.  There is a huge amount of area for any variation to continually change positions.  While waiting for the bars, I had found those little knobs made by Dia-compe  and thought they would prove useful to establish a comfortable "midway" lean for all day riding.
After a few test rides, I found that position, had added interrupter levers to the front and located my "thumbies" on the stem where they would be right in the middle of everything.  I adjusted the bars so the bar-ends were about level with the seat, used a pair of Cardiff leather grips for the end and wrapped the rest with cloth tape to test it out.
I had put the Dia-Compe knobs in a position where I could lean all my upper body weight on the fleshy part of my hand between the thumb and forefinger.  
My first ride on the bike or the bars was a 100km at the Harpeth River Ride outside of Nashville.  The terrain was variegated between a few mountainous climbs and level river bottoms.  
I have to say that Grant might be onto something here.  I was perfectly comfortable all through the ride.  I made use of  every position I could find and never experienced any numbness in the hands at any point in the ride.  The bar-end or upright position is not only good for traffic situations and down wind cheating, it is a great climbing grip.  The bars practically beg you to get out of the saddle on the hills and you find yourself between the bar-ends practically pulling the bike up the hill as you mash the pedals.  The aero position is
not quite  as aerodynamic as you might like for real fast riding, but satisfied me for a hybrid style ride.
In short, these bars could prove to be real game changers for the hybrid market.  I would still prefer drop bars for touring or road bike performance but these will be great for everyday use and credit card touring.
I  am not experienced enough to recommend them for mountain bike use, but I'm sure somebody will use the "Bullmoose" variation for that.  I suspect they will work out just fine.
I was impressed enough to take a copy of  Spenser's e-mail, laminate it, roll it up and stick it inside the bar, just to certify to future generations that I am the first owner!
As a great man once said:  " I got that goin' for me!"


  1. Looks great Marc. I've put a set on my tandem: very comfortable. I've used the old stoker dummy levers as you did the knobs. The Atlantis is next. Awaiting parts. Nice meeting you at RREast. Cheers

  2. I looked it over, very nice. How is the shifter arrangement working for you? I thought the stems were in better proximity to the whole arrangement.


  3. I agree but the forward bar has the drag brake and the stem is 1 1/8 so I'll probably experiment a bit. As is not too bad really. I will use the stem shifter setup on the Atlantis.


  4. Marc,
    I currently have trekking bars on my bike; they work well. However I really like the look of you Bosco bar set-up. How do they compare with trekking bars? Are you able to provide a more detailed analysis of trekking vs bosco?
    Many thanks and great blog.

  5. Erl, been out riding my bike too much to answer. The big difference btween the bars is the 3 1/2 inch drop on the Bosco bars. That provides a longer stretch down into a bona fide aero position. I can't get that from mustache or trekking bars. This past weekend I rode the Michigan Mountain Mayhem and, to my eye, I was as aero dynamic on the descents as the spandex hamsters, maybe even more since my elbows were tucked rather than spread. Other than that, they both provide a multitude of comfortable variations.


  6. Hi Marc,

    I'm contemplating a change to a Bosco bar as well and can I ask if you had kept the same stem when you changed your bars? I am currently using a soma sparrow bar, with a 10cm hi-rise stem. Would i need to get a longer and lower rise stem given that the Bosco bar has a higher rise and the grip area seems to extend back more. ? Thanks John

    1. I would definitely use a lower and longer stem. I used a 12 cm Nitto stem on my Hillborne which has a long top tube by most standards. Those bars have an enormous sweep back, but the longer stem allows a lower and longer stretch for the "aero" position on the front of the bars. There was also an issue that arose during installation. Riv contacted me and asked if there was a problem getting the bars tight enough to stay in place. Apparently a lot of people had problems, but I noticed it right away and used a pipe to extend the allen wrench and provide more leverage to get them tight. The sweep on the bars creates a lot of leverage and made them prone to slip if they weren't really tight. I didn't use a torque wrench so I don't have a reference, but suffice it to say that they have to be tightened a lot and probably several times to get it right. You won't believe the difference while riding with them

  7. Hi Marc, thanks for writing this review of the Bosco. I'm very interesting in acquiring one for my tourer. I'm curious though why you would recommend them for credit card touring and not loaded. Thanks for your thoughts. Ride well mate, Matt

    1. I wrote that after my first ride and was still a little naive about the comfort these bars provide. After a season riding my Hillborne with the Bosco's and my Hunqapillar (on loaded tours) with drops, I changed the Hunq to Bullmoose Bosco's. I couldn't be happier. The Bosco's are a world more comfortable on loaded tours. They provide, not only great variety of hand positions, but also body positions. Posture ranges from near semi-recumbent upright to TT like aero position and everything in between. They are great for loaded touring.


    2. Thanks so much for the reply. It's good to hear your seasoned opinion. I haven't toured since '12 and since then my sport bars have become too much for me. It's difficult to even ride on the brake hoods - too much of a reach. I'm hoping to snowbird it south from Montana next winter and want to get my pack mule in order. I see Boscos and sunshine on the horizon. Thanks again.