26 February 2008

Way cool Wald bars

Posted by todd under: Handlebars; Reviews .

Wald bars, upside down Wald bars, upside downI am loving the new look and feel that a set of Wald 8095 handlebars is giving my Raleigh Super Course. If you are having some trouble finding a comfortable setup for your commuting bike, or if you just want to try something a little different, check these out.

I saw these bars at Scheller’s Harrodsburg Road location here in Lexington, Ky. They are selling them for $15.99. (In comparison, a new set of Nitto mustache bars will set you back at least 50 bucks.)

Picture from Wald Web siteAdding to the coolness factor, locally at least, Wald is located right here in the bluegrass state — in Maysville. Wald has been around since 1905, when two brothers found success in Wisconsin by making and selling a tire-repair tool. They moved their operation to Kentucky in 1924. Wald’s Web site has a great page describing the history; the black and white picture in this post is from that page.

Wald is perhaps best-known for its baskets, which have an excellent reputation. I have never used a basket myself, but they fit nicely with any philosophy of practical cycling. (Incidentally, here’s a guy working on bags to fit in Wald’s baskets.)

But I digress …

I have a great Raleigh Super Course (from 1976 — in emerald green! Thanks for scanning the catalog, Sheldon, RIP!) that I hadn’t been riding much. I’d had it set up with flat bars and thumbshifters.

Wald handlebars on bike, back view Wald handlebars on bike, front viewI was thinking of converting the bike to a single-speed, but I was daunted by the price and/or logistics. After seeing the Wald bars, I decided to reconfigure the bike, and leave the gearing alone.

In a moment of trying to be cool, I installed the bars upside down. After riding the bike on several commutes I decided to leave them that way, and added some cork handlebar tape from Nashbar (this stuff is a killer deal at $5.99 per bikesworth, by the way.)

Wow, what a difference. The bars transformed the bike!

The Wald bars offer three great places to rest the hands: On the ends; on the bends; and next to the stem. I find that I get a most comfortable fit by gripping the bends.

I think the bars work so well because of this diversity of hand-placement options, and because the rise of the bars (or the drop, if you install them like I did!), combined with the spread, is just right.

But don’t just take my word for it (although you should, of course!). Jim Almgren, excellent mechanic at Scheller’s says he’s selling a good number of these bars to people who are unhappy with the way their bikes’ fit, and he’s getting great feedback.

Jim also has some of these bars on his singlespeed, and he likes the way he can get leverage while climbing by gripping the bars at the ends.

Some of you might have tried mustache bars. The Wald bars don’t extend as far forward, and they sweep back further.

I can’t vouch for them being lightweight, since I don’t know or care about that.

These are not widely available online, although I did find them here (can’t vouch for the seller), but your local bike shop can probably order them.

Very highly recommended.

One Comment so far...

Jason Nunemaker Says:

26 February 2008 at 7:42 pm.

Drat, Todd, now you’ve got me thinking about cheating on my beloved Nitto 115 drops. Very classic look there, with just a hint of “I’m a cool fixie punk” thrown in.

Wonder if a drop-bar brake lever (perhaps with some creative shim-work) would work on the curved portion. For $16, I might just have to find out. (Kids, don’t try this at home…)

Jason, thanks! I am not certain about the drop-bar levers — now I’m wishing I would have checked for myself before the tape job. Let me know how it goes if you do try it. Or how about trying out some of those way-cool bar-end brake levers? I am thinking that these levers might be the last outpost on the frontier of middle-aged-bike-guy hipsterism.

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About the picture atop the page

Yes, that's me, Todd Van Campen. No, I'm not wearing a helmet. Yes, I usually wear one, so please don't scold! Seriously, I endorse wearing a helmet! Pinky swear! In fact, I almost ALWAYS wear one (while riding a bike anyway). (On the other hand, if YOU don't want to wear a helmet, I have no problem with it.) I don't remember what happened on this particular day. Fortunately for all of us it makes for a less-nerdly picture. My exceptionally talented professional photographer friend Charles Bertram took this photo.

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I asked my 6-year-old son, Caleb, an avid bicyclist and artist, to draw a bike for me. I think he did a great job!

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