This lightweight Merit Rodla carbon handlebar takes the adventure gravel bike cockpit to new extremes with a bigger integrated loop and interesting shaping throughout. Built around a longer mini aerobar loop out front, the Rodla bar offers several ergonomic hand positions optimized for mixed-surface endurance riders, plus more accessory mounting opportunities than ever…
Merit Rodla carbon loop gravel bar
The general integrated loop shape of the Merit Rodla carbon handlebar isn’t new. A few companies have mashed-up the mini aero bar with various road or gravel drop bars. We first rode the alloy Farr Aero Gravel drop bar that debuted back as 2019, or Redshift’s 2020 Kitchen Sink.
But Merit really takes it to the next level – not just in their shift to lighter weight, better vibration-damping carbon…
Modern gravel alt bars
Alt bars used to be super niche, limited to the likes of Jeff Jones. But now, there’s really no limit to cockpit customization. I mean, Black Sheep will custom fab you a 1-piece looped gravel bar & stem combo out of titanium these days (if you have $700 to spare). Or you could bolt-on a few different Farr aero loops or even a compact PRO clip-on to a lot of conventional flat or drop bars.
But, Merit’s new carbon Rodla bar seems to offer much of the best of all of these different options in one single lightweight, strong, and integrated package.
So, what’s so special? Tech details
You get an 15cm forward extension of the loop past in front of your stem. That’s key as the ~10cm of most mini aero loops (that try not to stick out further than your shift/brake hoods) just isn’t really long enough to shift your weight further forward to a real aero tuck or to take much of the weight off your hands. (Farr’s recent Carbon Aero Bolt-On Large stretched out to 15.2cm, and it’s a huge functional improvement in my opinion.)
You also get a 15° upsweep of the loop for a more relaxed angle of your wrists in an aero tuck, with your forearms resting on the bar tops.
The entire front loop is the 24mm standard diameter of the drops of many dropbars, so you can mount plenty of extra accessories up-front or hanging down below the loop. It’s NOT however the 22.2 standard of MTB bars at the grips or aerobar extensions, so attaching accessories might require a little spacer creativity with 31.8 mounts, although I suspect most with rubber spacers will work.
The tops are also unique. The bar itself features a conventional modern 31.8mm clamping area – yet a full 11cm wide so you can attach plenty more accessories like GPS mounts or a bar bag next to your stem. But those tops also flare out to an even wider 37mm across their flattened top (x 26.7mm deep) to better spread the rider’s weight through their palms or forearms in a relaxing aero tuck. Wrap the bars to or past the loop depending on how cushy you want your cockpit to be.
The UD carbon Merit Rodla bar also is compatible with internal routing – featuring grooves & ports on the underside of the bar and an opening in the 31.8 clamp area to direct internal cables into the body of a stem with fully internal routing. The bar also includes textured surface treatment at the stem & hoods for better low-torque grip, and printed-on angle guides for easy setup.
Merit Rodla loop bar – Sizes, pricing & availability
The carbon Rodla gravel loop bar comes in three sizes – 44, 46 & 48cm, measured c-c at the hoods – with real weights of 356g. It’s not ultralight as Merit prioritizes a durable carbon layup, but it’s still more than 100-150g lighter than comparable alloy loop bars. The base dropbar feature a compact bend with 75mm reach and 110mm drop, and a wide 25° flare in the drops.
It sells for 260€ and is in stock now direct from Merit’s GravelBike.cz e-commerce portal. But quantities are limited in this first batch, and once these sell, restock is likely going to take a while.
So, act fast if you need to upgrade your alt gravel cockpit before winter sets in.