My son gave me FSA SL-K, carbon, flat top handlebars last year. I didn’t think I needed them. Or, more to the point, would appreciate them. After all, many of the pros still prefer less expensive aluminum bars despite the added weight. I don’t race and am long past my athletic prime. Why would I need them? Was I ever wrong! I love these bars and would recommend them to anyone wanting a more comfortable ride.
These bars boast a long list of features but three make a notable difference for me.
- The multi-directional carbon mould dampens small bumps on the road. This makes a difference on longer rides. There is less jarring and, as a consequence, you are less tired at the end of the ride.
- The short drops makes it easy to adjust hand positions while maintaining a relatively consitent aggressive back position. In addition, the drops are slightly angled inward supporting a more neutral wrist position when on the drops.
- And, most importantly for me, the tops are slightly flattened and tilted to fit a neutral position for the palms. I didn’t use this hand position initially. I didn’t feel as much in control with such a narrow hand placement. One day, while out on a training ride with my son, he asked how the I liked the flat tops. I told him I didn’t because I felt I could not control the bike as well. He said, “you are not climbing enough”. Say what? Not climbing enough? He was right. I began incorporating more climbs into my workouts and realized this is a perfect position for climbing. It opens up the chest making it easier to breath during exertion. The more I climbed, the more I like the position. Now, I frequently position my hands on the bar tops even when on the flats.
If you want a more comfortable ride and can afford it, I would recommend carbon, flat top bars to any cyclist that enjoys long road rides.