Handlebar Swaps

When I was building out the Ibis I ordered some DaVinci cable splitters and I noticed this on their website:

Easy-Splits also work for quick handlebar conversions.

If you have compatible road and mountain shifters and derailleurs, as well as compatible brakes. You could easily switch between road and mountain bars for different types of riding.

Bar Switch Shifter Kit Includes: (2) Shift Cable Separators (2) Extra male halves (1) 2mm Allen Wrench
Retail Price $39

Bar Switch Brake Kit Includes: (1) Brake Cable Separators (1) Extra male halve (1) 2mm Allen Wrench
Retail Price $20.50

The idea of swapping out handlebars without fiddling with brakes and derailleurs was attractive, but other than someone doing triathlete competitions without a dedicated bike I couldn’t see why you’d want to set it up that way.


In the spring 2017 I bought a set of trekking bars for the Ibis just to see if I could improve the fit.  Rather than commit to something I had no experience with, I set the new bars up with male cable splitters so that I could install them and take them off easily.  I eventually figured out that what I needed was a stem with less rise and that I wanted to stick with regular drop bars on that bike.  But I had a set of trekking bars with shifters and brake levers that were just sitting there…


This fall, while I wasn’t able to ride tandem, I converted the trekking bars so that they worked on the Fuji.  (All that entailed was cutting the cables to the right length, but as I rode with them I realized that they worked better with the curvature facing upwards and that I wanted the levers oriented differently.)  I had to buy a couple of quill adapters (I learned that I really like the ones made by Nitto) and some bar tape, but I was able to utilize a bunch of stuff from my parts bins to come up with two additional handlebar packages that don’t require anything more for mounting than just screwing in the cable splitters and tightening the quill.  This gives me a bike with four handlebar options:

  1. carbon drops with barcons,
  2. alloy drops with brifters and cross levers,
  3. butterfly bars with Pauls thumbies, and
  4. modified bullhorns with both bar-end brakes and shifters.

My plan is to spend some time riding each option and then to try and mount the one that makes the most sense for that day’s ride.


Here are the bars:

Carbon Drops with Barcons

These are the original set-up for the Fuji when I rebuilt it in 2015.  The bars are FSA WingPro carbon with big flat surfaces.  I find that they are comfortable and that they absorb a lot of road vibration.   The brake levers are standard Tektro and the shifters are 10-speed DuraAce bar ends.  There is nothing special about the taping but the bracket for the handlebar bag is attached with zip-ties and supported with a piece of shift cable.  The stem is a pinch bolt model from Compass (made by Nitto) that is an interesting pairing with big carbon bars.  To use it with a Profile Design stem adapter I had to fill up the void at the top with a small section of steerer tube but it works and I like the way it looks.

Alloy Drops with Brifters and Cross Levers

These are the Profile Design bars that came stock on the bike.  The brifters are used Ultegra 10-speeds from Recycled Cycles.  Installing them proved remarkably easy.  I was curious about cross levers and had a set from Paul Component Engineering that I’d never found an appropriate bike for (or more a bike where I wanted to invest the time in mounting interrupter levers.)  I find that I use them more than I thought I would, but there isn’t a lot of space for hands once you’ve got those levers and a handlebar bag mounted.  The stem is a Nitto Tallux that looks really cool and allows a lot of rise if I ever want to set the bike up for a tall rider.  (The seat post is also super long so that’s actually a possibility.)  At some point I need to re-do the brake cables since they wouldn’t allow extending that stem much at all – such are the limitations of using leftover parts.  When I do that I’ll also flip the cross levers around since the logos probably ought to face forward.

Butterfly Bars with Paul’s Thumbies

This was the set-up that started the project – a set of inexpensive Nashbar trekking bars equipped with brake levers and shifter mounts from Paul Component Engineering and utilizing 10-speed DuraAce bar-end levers.  Here’s the story on butterfly bars:

With its multiple bends the Nashbar Trekking Mountain Bike Handlebar allows you to place your hands in various positions to relieve fatigue in the arms and shoulders. The extra hand positions are great for long rides. All aluminum construction is light and durable for a responsive feel 580mm wide at the widest point, 550mm wide at the narrower cross section.

They do seem to be mainly used in touring circles and I gather that they are much more popular in Europe than over here.

Modified Bullhorns with Barcons and Inverse Brake Levers

I bought these for the promise of two sets of bar-end levers on one set of handlebars.  Here’s the blurb from Velo Orange:

Casey’s Crazy Bar

These bars are intended for touring on paved and unpaved roads. They are also sweet for gravel grinding. The main section of the bar is pretty wide at 67cm, but it can be cut down easily. This provides good control on rough surfaces and around town. The bullhorn section offers a streamlined position for smoother roads and headwinds. The center portion replicates the top of a drop bar, and placing your hands at the junctions is not unlike riding on the hoods.

The main bar is 22.2mm so MTB grips, levers, and shifters fit. The “horns” are 23.8mm, so road levers – including inverse levers – fit, as do bar-end shifters. Clamp area is 25.4mm.

Crazy Bars are made from 6061 aluminum and are heat treated. Weight is pretty reasonable at around 450gm. Note that these are intended for touring/gravel not mountain bike use.

I hated these when I first mounted them – then I cut off three inches from each of the bar ends and decided that I really liked them.  I wanted the shifters on the bar ends (as opposed to the bull horn ends) so I had to ream out the tubing to make road levers fit.  Not a big deal.  The shifters are 10-speed DuraAce and I had trouble with the little retainer clip that makes the rear shifter click.  The brake levers are Cane Creek 200 TT levers that I came to appreciate during my Rincon single speed project. The bullhorns fit around my handlebar bag as if they were made for it.

Here are some photo galleries:

  1. carbon drops with barcons,
  2. alloy drops with brifters and cross levers,
  3. butterfly bars with Pauls thumbies, and
  4. modified bullhorns with both bar-end brakes and shifters.
  5. unmounted, side by side