Let’s talk about handlebars, shall we? More specifically, Tumbleweed Bicycle Co’s new Big Dipper Drop Bar. Let me start by saying that I love the Tumbleweed Persuader Bars that I’ve been using. They are wide (810mm) and wonderful. So when I saw that Daniel over at Tumbleweed released their new Big Dipper drop bar handlebar, I wanted to try them out.
I’m a firm believer in the benefits of riding with wider handlebars. In my experience, they offer the rider more comfort and control. When it comes to trying wide drop bars in general, I didn’t think I’d initially like them. I’m from the old-timey days, when it was believed that your road bars should never be wider than your shoulders.
A few years ago I had the opportunity to swap my 44cm bars on my Masi Rando bike and try a “wider” pair of 48cm bars. Jeez, that changed how I felt about the wider bars. I really liked the way those 48cm bars felt, along with the added control and hand placement they offered me. I wanted more… I wanted to go wider.
When it came time to build my first gravel bike, I chose the Curve Cycling Walmer Bar in a 50cm. That bar felt like the perfect width for me. I don’t think it’s the most comfortable bar, and I don’t care for the amount of flair. But, I’ve put hundreds of miles on it in the last year, and I am ready for something different.
Along came the Tumbleweed Big Dipper drop bar.
The Big Dipper Drop Bar
Daniel designed the Big Dipper to pair perfectly with Tumbleweed’s drop bar adventure bike, the Stargazer. Ready for a good time, the Big Dipper drop bar is rated for off-road use (ISO 4210 mountain bike strength/fatigue testing). The bar has got clamping diameter of 31.8mm and is made of triple-butted 7000 series aluminum, which is stronger than 6000 series.
It’s wide right from the get-go with the smallest size being 51cm. The sizes of the Big Dipper go up from there with the next sizes being 54cm and 57cm. According to Tumbleweed, the width is measured from center to center at the hoods. It has a shallow drop (109mm), a short reach (50mm), as well as a nice 5° back sweep.
When I received the handlebars, I was pretty excited to get them installed on my Masi Incanto. I had just received fresh rolls of Camp and Go Slow’s Western Rattler bar tape and couldn’t wait to install the bars. I’m sorry to say that I forgot to weigh the bars in my haste.
Tumbleweed gives an average weight of 385g across the available sizes of the Big Dipper. Mine is the smallest of the three, so I’m guessing mine (51cm) is under the average weight. I don’t think weight is crucial when using a bar like this. I will say that it feels substantially lighter than my 50cm Curve Walmer Bar (425g)
Getting the bars mounted was easy enough. It had “to and fro” markings that helped center the bar in the stem. Once I got them mounted and taped up, I took them out for a lil’ 20 miler.
So far, the 5° back sweep on the Big Dipper feels ergonomic and comfy. The Big Dipper also feels more compliant than the Walmer Bar on the little bit of rough stuff that I’ve done so far.
Another thing I like a little better about the Big Dipper is the 20° flare when compared to the Walmer Bar’s 29° flare. On paper, the difference between the two doesn’t seem like much, but when riding with the Big Dipper, I instantly noticed that it was more comfortable while braking in the drops.
The Big Dipper has a nice short reach of 50mm. When compared to the Walmer Bar’s 65mm, my initial thought is that I may need to up the size of my stem from 90mm to 100mm. But, the jury is still out, as the Dipper has me riding a smidge more upright in the bike’s current configuration, and I don’t hate it.
The 109mm drop on the Big Dipper feels the same as my Walmer Bar whose drop is 110mm, so nothing to report there initially.
Not the End
So far the bar feels like a great match for the Masi Incanto and for my riding style. It has plenty of room for a lot of hand positions, and the real estate for a good-sized front handlebar bag.
I’ll be running the Big Dipper through its paces in the months to come. If it’s anything like the Tumbleweed Persuader Bars that I have come to love so much, I anticipate a solid relationship being built between myself and the Big Dipper.