When I first saw a picture of the new Walmer Bar by Curve Cycling my first thought was, "WTF is this?" But the more I read about it the more it makes sense.
Earlier this year I talked a bit about the lack of innovation in cycling handlebars. I also provided a review of one handlebar that bucks this trend, the Coefficient Wave handlebar. Since then, there have been a number of different gravel-specific handlebars released. I'll likely revisit this in the new year for sure. But, first, what's the deal with this Walmer Bar?
Basically, it's an extra-wide gravel-specific bar with 29 degrees of flare and 7 degrees of outsweep. To give you some perspective, I currently ride with a Salsa Cowchipper which has 24 degrees of flare and 12 degrees of outsweep. By comparison, the Walmer has a little more flare but a little less outsweep. Those measurements are hard to really compare with since that's not even the main difference.
The biggest difference between the Walmer and other similar bars is the widths available. The Walmer has 4 different widths starting at 46mm and goes all the way up to a whooping 60mm bar. Sounds nuts, right? But there appears to be some method to the madness.
Judging by the profiles, it looks like they add a little backsweep to the tops to help minimize the reach of the hoods. With this configuration, you basically get a road bike handlebar that has the handling of a MTB handlebar.
However, to do this you would likely need a really short stem. Otherwise, the hoods will likely be too far out. Plus, without a shorter stem, your bike would handle like a huge freakin' boat. You basically have to think the way a MTB cyclist would and choose the right stem to give you the handling and reach you're looking for with a bar like this. The right width is likely to be a balance between the bar and the choice in stem used.
It's interesting to see a bar like this. Personally, I'd probably consider a 46mm bar. Still, if given the opportunity, I'd love to see what an even wider bar would feel like.