My partner recently picked up a pair of Tumbleweed Bicycle Company’s Persuader handlebars to potentially put on her gravel bike as part of a flat-bar conversion.
After they sat in the parts bin, piquing my interest every time I walked past, I decided to throw them on my Specialized Chisel hardtail mountain bike. More recently they have found a home on a bike the designers probably didn’t anticipate when creating the Persuader – my Specialized Vado e-bike.
First impressions of the bar are impossible to share without mentioning that these bars are heavy. I’m talking some serious weight – far and away the heaviest handlebar flat or drop (or any other shape for that matter) that I have ever ridden.
At a claimed 638g, these bars tip the scales and come in at around three times (!) the weight of many high end carbon mountain bike handlebars from the likes of TruVativ, Race Face, Specialized, and others.
To be honest, the weight alone was the biggest curiosity for me – I was super interested to see if the benefits of the shape and construction would outweigh the massive weight penalty, especially in a part that I have often sought to drop weight from.
I got the clearcoated “raw” – they’re also available coated black. I absolutely love the coated raw finish – it’s even and has a satin smooth coating that gives the bar a really nice appearance that will compliment a wide range of builds. It’s unique without being polarizing. The Tumbleweed logo looks great on there and is a nice subtle graphic hit without feeling like a billboard.
Onto the shape, really the most distinctive aspect of this handlebar. Typically I lean towards a 760-780mm bar with an inch or so rise to compliment my bikes, which generally have modern geometries (think a little longer, a little slacker).
A little sweep is nice, but I don’t usually deviate from the run-of-the-mill shapes available readily off the shelf from the major manufacturers. The Persuader takes all of what you know about a flat bar and throws it right out the window – in a way that I was hesitant to ride and had no clue what to expect.
It’s got a really wide flat section in before the rise, and the sweep is pretty unique. It’s halfway between a classic Dutch style townie bike and a typical mountain bike handlebar. The shape is really unlike anything I’ve ridden on a bicycle, but actually similar to some handlebars on various motorcycles and dirt bikes I’ve ridden – with a little more sweep.
The all steel construction has a confidence inspiring heft – this is a super strong bar built to support weight. The clamp area is 31.8mm – a thoughtful touch which means no need to shim the bars to use a modern stem with an open faceplate, a departure from many of the steel handlebar offerings on the market which have smaller 25.4 or 26.0mm clamp areas. Main specs are:
- 800mm width (can be cut down to 640mm)
- 50mm rise
- 30mm backsweep
- 31.8mm center clamp diameter
- 638g claimed weight
The wide flat area offers ample real estate for bar mounted accessories, and really is designed with the bikepacker in mind – strap-on bar bags or the ubiquitous Wald basket will have plenty of space to mount here without entangling cables or crowding the controls. The rise is just enough to give some comfort without being so drastic that adjustment for fit is out of the range of what a few spacers shuffled around would mitigate. And the sweep provides a natural hand placement for a more upright riding position.
The bottom line is that these bars were designed with utility as the top priority. Riding them on an XC hardtail like the Chisel was an interesting experience, and I threw them on more out of curiosity than any sort of expectation that they would replace the TruVativ Noir’s that were on there prior.
The handling was not really to my taste, as the bars are super wide and made the front wheel feel like it wanted to flop any time I wasn’t expressly holding it steady. Although it was kind of a novel experience to blast my local trail loop on what felt like a townie bike, they came off after a few rides.
The bars really found a home on my Specialized Vado e-bike, a bike that I use instead of my car whenever I can to run errands, catch a breeze, and scoot around town. A Road Runner Burrito Supreme and Co-pilot bar bag pair pretty much stay on there and provide me with a great space to carry some snacks, a wind jacket, some sunglasses, and a can of La Croix.
Although this is perhaps a departure from the intent of Tumbleweed’s designers, I absolutely love them on my Vado. They look remarkably at home and make an otherwise mostly proprietary bike (read: not much opportunity to customize) into something more of an expression of my personal taste and style.
They’re super comfortable in a more upright riding position, and I can see how a bike packing setup would benefit from lots of hand positions and space to mount accessories. All of that comes at a price however, with the Persuader retailing at $135 USD MSRP, a pretty significant ask for a metal bar.
Do I think it’s worth it? Really, the answer depends – if the weight penalty doesn’t bother you and won’t hinder your setup from performing, the bar is super comfortable, definitely very strong and durable, and offers a unique opportunity to customize your cockpit to suit you without the space limitations of a more traditional handlebar.
If you’re looking to outfit your trail bike or XC rig, this probably isn’t the bar for you (although it’s certainly capable there) and you’d probably be better served with an option that prioritizes the same things that inform the rest of your build.