I am a huge proponent of drop-style handlebars for mixed-terrain riding. Lately, however, I’ve been wishing for more control when riding my front-loaded commuter on dirt roads and trails. I also wanted something that would be comfortable and efficient for on-road use. After doing some research, Titec’s J-Bar found itself at the top of my list.
At first glance, the J-Bar looks like a cross between a traditional porteur handlebar and flat MTB bars (with some bar-ends thrown in the mix). The design–licensed by Titec–is based on originator Jeff Jones’ H-Bar.
The Jones bars were designed to provide the following benefits:
- Better handling and power output
- More comfort and ergonomics
- Additional hand positions
Proper setup is the key to taking advantage of those benefits. The Titec J-Bars offer a tremendous fore/aft range, so it’s best to choose a stem length that “splits the difference,” reach-wise. In my case, I opted for an 120mm stem with an 8-degree rise. That replicated my drops’ on-the-hoods position when my hands were on the middle of the J-Bar’s extensions. Titec provides instructions that detail brake lever and shifter setup and positioning, and I found their advice spot-on when setting up my controls.
If you’re used to conventional drop bars, you’ll immediately notice J-Bar’s extra width. Measuring 660mm at the ends, they’re 200+ millimeters wider than my usual drops. That extra width–combined with the extensions’ 45-degree angle–creates a secure, natural-feeling grip (especially when the ends of the bars are angled down slightly). The J-Bar’s additional width also offers more leverage when you find yourself temporarily over-geared and need to grind out a climb instead of downshifting.
Other types of handlebars often seem to “lock in,” or define a bike’s feel or behavior. With the Titecs, however, I felt like the bike took on a different personality with each hand position. Want a mellow, heads-up position? Grab the bars at the very ends. Looking for a nice, middle ground? Slide your hands forward until they butt up against the cross-bar. Want to really stretch out? Drape your fingers (or wrists) over the forward extensions. No matter what your mood or preference, you’re bound to find a position that works for your particular needs.
The J-Bar is constructed from 6061-T6 butted aluminum, and is compatible with 31.8mm stems. For those who want a more upright position, the company’s H-Bar features a 1.5″ rise, and is compatible with 25.4mm stems. Both bars feature an anodized matte black finish, and are compatible with MTB-style (22.2mm) shifters and brake levers. For my setup, I used new-old-stock Avid Speed-Dial Ti brake levers, and Shimano bar-con shifters mounted on Paul Thumbies. I’m currently using cork grips and cork bar tape, but will probably try just cork tape in the future.
Disclosure: Titec and Paul Component Engineering provided review samples for this article, but offered no other form of compensation for this review.