Wooden Fixie Bars From Etsy

Do you get wood on your fixie? I do. Every time I ride now. Here’s a short video of how it happened:

Wooden Fixie Bars from Etsy from James Pollock on Vimeo.

If you recall my review of the Brown Jersey Divvy Van you’ll know how much I loved the bike, but with reservations about the braking. If you don’t recall that review because you never read it then the colored underlined bits are a links and you click on them. I know, I just found out myself. It’s like this internet thing can do anything.

I like brakes and I’m not (too) ashamed to admit it. I like stopping almost as much as I like going. But I’ve never really got on top of this fixie skid thing. Or to be honest, never really even looked like getting halfway close to trusting myself in traffic without brakes. And also because I’m old and sensible and have an astute grasp of physics there’s just no way in fucking hell you’re going to convince me that braking on the back wheel alone is as good as braking on two wheels.

So I needed decent stoppers. The choices were, upgrade the levers for some good road levers or change the bars. When asked by Brown Jersey which bike I’d like to review I was keen on the Divvy Van because I liked its old school aesthetics but it wasn’t the bike I’d want to live with. I’m not big on drops. So I decided to change the bars.

That lead to an almost inexhaustible round of speculation. Everything from some swept-back city bars to bullhorns were considered. I was in danger of getting serious choice paralysis when I happened upon some wooden bars in Etsy. These were the ones I saw first:

Holy crap they look good. They’re from Wood Cycles. I was all set to grab a pair. Then I saw these guys:

To best honest they’re not as nice as the first ones but they’re a third of the price. The Divvy Van is gorgeous but I’m a cheap bastard and so the Babkeen bars won out.

I wasn’t disappointed when the bars arrived. They took about a week, or a bit less, to arrive. I then had to stare longingly at them for another week while I waited for some brakes to arrive.

(You can get your name monogrammed onto them.)

Your existing brakes probably won’t fit on the wooden bars. Most handlebars taper, so the bit your brake lever attaches to is skinnier than the bit the stem clamps to. Wooden handlebars don’t taper so you need a lever that will clamp to a 25.4 inch bar. There aren’t many levers that’ll do that. I got myself a pair of Dirt Harrys.

That also means you’re not going to fit grips to your wooden handlebars. But to be honest if you want grips you really don’t want wooden handlebars anyway. 
Teak is a strong and flexible wood often used in boat building. Most teak these days is cultivated. (Yeah, I read it on wiki.) Having purchased the bars on looks first and looked up the properties of teak second, I’m glad it’s not fragile and prone to snapping under stress (unlike me). Seems like teak is a good choice for wooden fixie bars but a part of me still wishes I’d bought the laminated ones. Not only does lamination increase strength and decrease the likelihood of snapping bars but it also looks awesome. Never mind, the teak bars look a treat on the bike and should develop character as they wear (unlike me).

Here’s a piccy:

What that photo shows you is how good the bars looked before I messed them up with brakes. At times I wish I wasn’t so sensible (read: lame) about all this stopping business. You can see what the finished product looks like in the video up top so I wont bother repeating it for you. Needless to say the word “cluttered” comes to mind.
The bars come with compromises. You’re essentially sacrificing some comfort for the sake of looking awesome. They’re skinnier than normal bars with grips but the wood feels pretty good in the hand. Good enough anyway. And wood has good dampening qualities. But if you really care about how they ride then probably wooden handlebars aren’t for you.
Oh, and did I mention you can get them monogrammed?

One Comment

  1. Austin

    Thanks for sharing! I’m also converting to wooden handlebars. Though I’m making my own. I’m using red oak and I still have to stain and treat the wood so as to protect it from the elements. I’ve had an extremely hard time finding brake levers with a 1 inch clamp. Thanks again! BTW You meant to write 25.4mm. 😉

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