Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Gathering Parts - Bars & Stem

As I'm gathering parts for the Sequoia, the last items I'll be discussing are "cockpit" items - bars and stem.

Part of me was interested in finding '80s vintage Specialized branded parts for this. Their bars and stems from the time were high quality and nicely finished. The problem is that unmolested vintage bars are hard to find in my preferred width (44 cm). Handlebars in the '80s just weren't typically as wide as I like today, and it wasn't uncommon back then to find 38 or 40 cm bars on many complete bikes - even in the larger frame sizes. It's hard to imagine a bike today with a 60 cm frame and only 40 cm bars, but it was common back then. The other issue is that the older stems were not as long/tall in the quill, and these days I like to get my bars a little higher than I did when I was in my 20s. (I think the Specialized ones were a little longer than contemporary Cinelli and other popular Italian stems from the time, but still not long enough for my current tastes).

I decided to get current production Nitto items - and truth be told, Nitto is the same company that made the bars and stems that bore the Specialized brand back then, so something about it still feels "right." My bars are Nitto mod. 176, which were once sold by Rivendell as "Dream Bars." They are a favorite of mine.

I have the 176 bars on more bikes than any other bar brand or model. In reach, drop, and shape, they just seem to work well for me.
I like that the logos on the higher quality Nitto bars are reminiscent of the old (pre '78) Cinelli "coat of arms" logo. I saved a bit of money in finding a very lightly used set of bars. There are some marks left on the bends from mounting brake levers - but the center section looks perfect - once they're wrapped, it will be impossible to know they weren't brand new.
Mod. 176 - 440 mm.
For my stem, I've got the Nitto Technomic. Again, I saved a bunch by finding a lightly used one. What few marks that are on it from installation are down near the bottom and will be well out of sight once I get it installed on the Sequoia. I strongly suspect this one was installed and removed again without actually seeing much/any use - maybe someone decided it wasn't the right size for them? In any case, this is the non-anodized version, which means the finish isn't as "maintenance free," but if it does get scuffs or scratches, it can easily be re-polished.
So, if readers couldn't figure it out from my recent post on bar-end shifters, these are the shifters I decided to use on the Sequoia. SunTour BarCons have a nice ratcheting mechanism so the action is fairly light - and I do like the "convenience" of shifting with them. Cosmetically this pair looks about as good as they come, short of finding a brand new set still sealed in the package (and yes, one can still find those!).
The styling of these didn't change much at all from their introduction in the early '70s up until the advent of their Accushift indexing version in the late '80s. As mentioned in that earlier post, one cool feature of SunTour BarCons is that they are completely rebuildable - and most of the necessary small parts can still be found! I've seen (and bought) NOS rebuild kits that included all the little nuts and bolts, and one can find new bodies/pods, ratchet covers, rubber lever hoods, and expander wedges. The only NOS replacement parts I never see for sale are the tiny ratchets, pawls, and springs - and those can be scavenged from used pairs if needed (and they are rarely needed!). Not only that, but many of the internal bits are also interchangeable with the downtube-mounted versions which are plentiful and cheap.
When it's time to wrap the bars, I'll be using Newbaum's cotton tape. Top quality stuff, and the rolls are a little longer than the Velox that I sometimes use - so, better for wide bars. Starting with brown tape, and with a few of coats of shellac (one or two of amber, one or two coats of clear) it will look almost like aged brown leather and be a nice match to my saddle.
That covers all the parts I've chosen for the Sequoia, save for a few minor odds and ends, nuts and bolts, etc. I literally just got a call from the painters to say the frame is ready for pickup, so once I get it back, I'll be sure to get more pics as it all gets put together. Stay tuned. . .

1 comment:

  1. Agree about that model of bars. I think I like the Noodle marginally better, but it's very close. They have enough reach to create a comfortable ramp, but not so much that you are pulled overly forward on the drops. Vastly better than bars with short reach or a down-sloping ramp that takes away a nice hand position.

    I got a Technomic Deluxe when I bought my Dream Bars. It's a bit shorter than the Technomic, but I was seduced by the beautiful finish.

    I like bar-end shifters, but I also like bar-end mirrors, so I have a conflict. I've attached my B&M mirror just below the left brake hood, but it is mildly annoying when I'm on the hoods. Have not found an ideal spot yet, and I don't like eyeglass-mounted mirrors.