The mustache handlebar’s pretty much about providing a variety of hand positions. Riders with ‘busy hands’ get antsy with the limited number of options provided by the straight bar on a mountain bike. Drop bars are better than straight bars, but the mustache’s got them both beat in the eyes of ‘stache-aficionados’.
I suspect these are the same people who had to touch everything in the store when they were kids. Now that they don’t have their moms around to hound them, they want to touch their handlebars ‘all over’.
Other riders report that mustache handlebars alleviate pains in their arms and hands because of the variety of hand placement options these handlebars provide.
A few brave souls confess to liking mustache handlebars because they’re ‘different’. Resistant to the herd mentality, these bicyclists revel in their own uniqueness. The rest of us learn to tolerate the novelty of who they are.
Summary of advantages- the mustache handlebar enables you to ride in an upright position, with your brakes readily available, all the while providing the option of multiple hand positions.
Where’d They Come From?
The mustache bar was an integral part of the Bridgestone XO bike series produced around 1993. That’s of little interest to most of you, but to the ‘cult-like’ followers of the Bridgestone XO it’s very important that proper credit is given to the ‘mother bicycle’ who birthed the mustache bar. The last thing I’d ever want to do is insult a ‘cult-like’ following.
That’s about all I’m willing to give you on the origins and history. You’ll have to find and attend one of the cult’s meetings to learn more.
Hand Positions- Don’t Leave Out The Dummies
Sidenote: The line drawing originated from the Bridgestone Cycles literature and the picture of the ‘dummy brake levers’ is from Drew Saunder’s granddaddy of mustache handlebars site, www.stanford.edu/~dru/index.html.
An interesting twist is to add some ‘dummy’ brake levers (with the lever removed) onto the back of the bars. This allows your ‘busy hands’ to explore another option…Sort of like when you really, really, really wanted to know what that Elvis porcelain figurine felt like on that ill-fated trip to the mall with your mom.
‘You broke it, you bought it’.
I once came across a nice picture of a rider ‘getting aero’ by leaning forward over his mustache handlebars with his hands on the outermost
part of the bars. Now I can’t find that picture. But I did find this one of Fignon using the ‘wide-and-low’ hand position that contributed to his stunning loss to Lemond in the 1989 Tour de France time trial.
Moral of the story- low and wide is for us duffers (and Fignon) using handlebars in the ‘mustache’ family. Lower and narrow is for ultimate speed (aero bars).
You’ll Want Some Bar End Shifters, Too
Bar end shifters are the shifter of choice for these types of bars. Shimano makes them and they’re available at Bike Nashbar if you’re interested.
At first I thought, ‘How outdated can you get? Bar end shifters?’
Then I realized these are the same shifters I have on my time trial bike. For a feller with limited neural capacity, like myself, these realizations come hard. The bar end shifters on my time trial bike face forward and these face backward. That’s downright befuddling.
You can see the little rascals on the top picture.
Nitto For Quality, Nashbar For Value
There are commonly between one and three mustache handlebars available. That’s about two.
There’s the high quality Nitto bar available from Harris Cyclery. It costs about $90, is made of aluminum, comes ready to fit either 1″ or 15/16″ stem clamps, and claims to have been specially designed for the Bridgestone “XO” bikes.
Then there’s the Bike Nashbar Mustache Handlebar pictured at the top of this post. This one is made of steel, comes ready to fit the 1″ stem clamp, and costs only $24.99.
Aero vs. Non-Aero Brake Levers
This whole issue took a little bit of concentration on my part.
Mostly because I couldn’t remember what a ‘non-aero’ brake lever looked like. Years ago they were just called ‘brake levers’. It wasn’t until aero levers came onto the market that they earned the moniker of ‘non-aero’.
Aero road brake levers are what are pictured at the top of the page on the Nashbar bars. Because of the angle of the bars, the brake cables take a couple of bends as they trace their way under the handlebar tape on their way to the brakes. Additional bends mean more resistance (friction) in the brake cable housing.
Non-aero brake levers are pictured to the right (image from Drew Saunder’s site). You can see that the ‘sweeping’ nature of the brake cable housings adds something more for your ‘busy hands’ to explore.
Oh yea, fewer bends means less brake cable friction and improved performance.