Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Wide Or Die

The other night, bored by whatever NBA playoff game was on, I decided to go on the Dan's Comp website and see how many two-piece bars were available that were at least eight inches tall and 28 inches wide. I believe there were 22. And that's just different models—if you break it down further with colorways and such, there are probably something like 80 different variations available. And that doesn't even include bars like the FBM Ape Hangers and the Animal Sway Bars and the Sunday “Forumph” bars which weren't on Dan's for whatever reason. So it’s probably more like 100.

All of these bars are direct descendants of the venerable S&M Slam Bar (above, itself still available in eight different variations from the same parent company, if you count S&M race bars as well as offerings from Metal and Fit), which itself was just a beefed-up version of the even-more-venerable GT Pro Bars. In the '90s, if you wanted a large two-piece bar, you had a choice: Slam Bars or Strip Bars. You could just flip a coin. Now you need some Dungeons and Dragons die.

But more choices must be better! Right?

Well, there sure are more options these days. Bars differ (albeit slightly) in upsweep and backsweep, even in width and height. (The 8.25"x29" Grand Slam and Fit Sky High bars exist just in case Gary Ellis starts racing again—although I think he'll be disappointed by modern seatpost choices.) Backsweep ranges all the way from 10.5 degrees to 12.75, and upsweep from zero degrees all the way to 2 (the Tree Branch Bars actually have a four-degree option, and the Sunday Forumphs are four degrees as well). So yeah, they're different. But only so much.

(Also, a bit off-topic, but are we about done with the cutesy handlebar names? We've had Slam Bars, Strip Bars, Gay Bars, Dive Bars, Nudie Bars, Sleazy Bars, Wack Bars, Prison Bars, Cell Bars, Juice Bars, Milk Bars, Karaoke Bars, Holy Cross Bars, Iron Cross Bars, Hot Bars, Turn Bars, Candy Bars, Chocolate Bars, Mitzvah Bars, Variety Bars, Mustache Bars, Love Handles, Bar:E:Os, Fubars, Space Bars, Glam Bars, Electro AND Elektro Bars, Scenester Bars, the Vinnie Bar(barino)s, Regal Beagle Bars, Sissy Bars, Chicago Bars, and—God help us—the Roseanne Bar. What did I forget?)

So anyway, when is a choice not a choice? When pretty much every "big bar" available may as well just be a Slam Bar with different stickers (and heck, some, like the Fit and Metal bars, most likely are exactly that). And when every company decided "hey, our team riders and all those kids are riding big bars—we'd better make some!" And sell them to…who exactly? At least Sunday bars will save you some money at the powdercoaters if you want to match them to your Wave frame. I can’t help but think there are going to be a heck of a lot of leftover big bars being sold on clearance when the pendulum swings the other way and small/low bars come back in vogue. Oh, that’s right, they won’t because big bars give you more control. My bad.

(I also find it funny that every company under the sun makes a big two-piece bar, but hardly anyone offers four-piece bars. Sure, they’re heavier than two-piece, but a lot of people run Bob Bars anyway. You’d think a bigger Castillo/AD Bar would be a no-brainer for S&M. Guess not.)

46 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm sad that BMX is slowly stopping the use of clever part names. Oh yea..sukadikyoucant720.

Anonymous said...

If you really think small bars are going to make some kind of massive comeback then you're even dumber than I thought (that's pretty fucking dumb).

wade said...

Woody Itson Bars?

Anonymous said...

I like your blog, but after a while every story is the same. Too many brands do the same products, "we had all that back in the days etc." Imagine just one big company would do everything and no one else (did you like the time when only gt and haro was there?). Progress would not happen. The problem is, it's just too easy to produce in taiwan. There are just a few manufacturers doing all products for anyone.

Stephen said...

people thought stupid ass big pants and small wheels were gone from skateboarding...

all it takes is one video part...

everything comes back.

Russ said...

It's not too many companies making parts as much as it is too few doing any actual innovating. It's all a big game of follow-the-leader, and I can't even figure out who the leader is.

I'll diversify at some point, most likely.

Anonymous said...

yeah this blog was funny but now its just the same shit but with a differnt product.can you start to write about something other than moaning about how many of the same there is.how many pairs of nike dunks do you own.funny thing is there all the same just a differnt color...oh and didnt www.dontbelivethehypebeast.com
do this same moaning/eyeopening blog but about streetwear..wow all these blogs nowadays all the same moaning about the same shit..........

Todd's dad said...

'everything comes back'

no, no is doesn't captain retardatron

Russ said...

What's worse, starting a blog to complain, or coming onto someone else's blog to complain anonymously ABOUT their blog because there's too much complaining going on?

You're all just lucky that Jason Enns already did a Z-Rim post on HIS blog.

Anonymous said...

I wish there was a good looking big 4 piece bar. The bob bars are so skinny stock I couldn't get used to them. That and they had so much upsweep. Although bars have gotten a bit redundant they used to be just as redundant a while back in a different style and much uglier so at least the trends are leaving bikes looking fairly normal still by my definition. Also I believe GT pro bars had a 9" rise and slams came from the old woody bars didn't they?

Russ said...

GT definitely did have a taller bar (which maye have actually been 10"), but their regular old Pro Bars were 8" rise. I thought the Woody Bars were more the spiritual ancestor of Standard Strips, which had the same boxy shape.

Russ said...

Which would make some sense since Moliterno rode for Hutch.

Sunday! said...

Ha! Excited that Sunday's on here! Loved the 8"bar, but didn't like the 1 degree upsweep on the Triumphs which is why the Forumph's were made.

In a weird twist, I recently rode a white GT Performer like I had when I was 14. I remembered the bars to be way too big for me then and I thought they would be the same way today. Luckily after riding Triumphs I was completely use to them. It all comes full circle doesn't it.

Anonymous said...

VDC, Star Bars and Woody Itson bars all played a roll...not GT bars.

Russ said...

I'm sure a bunch of bars had some influence on Slams, but a) I distinctly remember reading something about GT bars, and b) Moeller actually RAN GT Pro bars himself (check the recent interview on OS-BMX).

Anonymous said...

Sayville Bike Works- Monkey Bars

The guy would think up a silly name for a product, then that would be his reason to make said sill product. Also Sayville Bike Works - Woody Cranks (they were stiff like a woody, get it?) and the "Chain of Command"

Shad said...

My man Wade hit it right on the button! Actually Slams are pretty much a exact copy of hutch woody itson bars.I beleive they just copied those when they started making them.I have both in the shop and the itsons really arent boxy.The GT moose bars were nasty and way to big though!

Russ said...

GT should re-make those huge bars now. They'd be a hit!

Smitty said...

Somebody help me out with remembering this story.

Some company wanted a set of Slams for "testing" or something - Moeller knew they were going to copy the design. So he ran the bars over with a delivery truck to flatten out the sweep before sending them out. Sure enough, company X later comes out with a bar with nil sweep angle.

Did I get that right? Anyone remember the details?

Anonymous said...

Jason Enn's has the best blog on the net.

VxD said...

So people come on a blog specifically made to complain about the bmx industry, and then they complain that this blog they are reading out of their own free will is always complaining about the bmx industry?

The list of bar names alone made this post worthwhile.

Russ said...

Enns's blog is indeed awesome. Tunney's is really good, too.

wade said...

I am indeed Shad's man.
Except that we have been out of touch for a while. Shad - get my email from Enns (through Rich) or one of our other common friends and hit it.
Back to bars - I remember Wilkerson running Woody Bars years after everybody else went to 4 piece bars, and what an individual he was for it. Now it's reversed?
I'm going to email Woody and see if he'll drop by here.

Russ said...

I thought about getting a pair of Woody bars to run four or five years ago. My worry was that I wouldn't be able to cut them down far enough. Little did I know.

I actually have a pair of Slams on my old Holmes, and they're barely cut (to like 27"). But I hold the grips on the flanges, which means the effective width is probably more like 24" or 25". I can't even fathom riding uncut 29" bars and holding them near the ends. Maybe if I was seven feet tall.

Shea Nyquist said...

so fuck, some people 'can't fathom' holding the bars in the middle.

And running flanges outside of woodward negates your opinion entirely.

shad said...

Link to jasons blog please?

Shea Nyquist said...

http://www.volumebikes.com/indexblogs.html

wade said...

Russ,
Woody Itson has now visited your blog...

Anonymous said...

Get this, assblasters and enns' blog on the bmxfeed rss thing. STAT.

jay said...

best product name ever = the texas chainsaw tensioner.

Brien said...

smitty- you're right. i can't remember what mag that ran in, though. for some reason, i'm picturing bmx plus.

Brien said...

also, when did grip flanges become such a faux pas?

Anonymous said...

When i cut them off because of a huge chunk of skin missing on my thumb a couple years ago.

Russ said...

I normally don't run grips with flanges, but on a bike with brakes I do.

g. edward jones, jr. said...

"also, when did grip flanges become such a faux pas?"

I reckon around '87 when GT started spec'ing bikes with A'me mountain bike grips.

Anonymous said...

what about MOE'S BAR? had a picture of Moe from the simpsons in the sticker.

Russ said...

^^ Good catch. Can't believe I forgot those. I'm sure there's more, too.

youaintno said...

Shea Nyquist sounds like a fag. Flanges are the shit. I feel like a faggot without them... kinda like shea!

Brien said...

FBM had the 4-piece dinner box bars, the geometry was on point but they looked kinda like real tall Castillo's. no one bought them. Also, WTP still make 4-piecers.

Anonymous said...

What about the Macneil 5 bars.. 5 degrees upsweep..

jcksy said...

aha...The CROW BAR. The Cameron Birdwell bar. who by the way had a recent video part that on sjbmx that some salt crusted oldtimers who actually have internet connections might enjoy.

http://sjbmx.com/videos/08cbirdwell.mp4

and i dont remember, was the mustache bar included. visit sasquatchcanyon.blogspot.com

jay said...

wow. that video was amazing. i wonder if he can still do a peg grab superman.

Spencer_MA71R said...

I think alot of these companies are forgetting about the minorities in BMX and they're focusing too much of their attention towards the narrow minded kids who want to run the same things their friends run.
if they ride big bars, they will too. if they ride brakeless,well.. dont doubt that they wont. if their friends were to start a trend of cutting off ther crossbar to save weight, well.. there's a scary thought they might join as well..
I find it near impossible to find a good set of bars for me.
the only ones to have caught my attention were the Fit Salt Lake Midz bars and the Metal Dirty/Dirty bars.
I've heard good reviews on the Midz.and the Dirty/Dirty.. well, they're made by Metal and they're burly as hell.
I've been running the same Mutiny Chicago bars since 2002 and I still love them. even at 20 years old and at a height of 5'11.
7.25" x 24.25" doesnt sound appealing to alot of the new guys or big guys..but I came to love them. but the market for bars between 7" - 7.5" ceize to exsist.
there's still smaller guys out there who love the lower bars.
I still do... I know several other guys who still do as well.
it seemed like a few years ago, bars were ranged from everything. wide, low, tall, short, strong, light,etc.
now it seems like every bar today is just wide and tall.. and unfortunately very weak. I mean,think about it.. the wider the bend on the bar, the more leverage you have.. that leverage adds stress on the bends,which will eventually buckle under the pressure.
anyways, I really wish someone would bring back the smaller bars and keep the metal bead tires alive... the companies are getting ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

the old school gt bars went up to a 12" rize in 83-84. trend gone wild. my friend swore by them , he did 720s in 83. pdx!

Anonymous said...

made by Metal Bikes means made by s&m (same for fit)

Anonymous said...

i had a pair of moe's bars. shit!