Jeff Jones Loop H-Bar Review…

27 08 2012

Jones Loop H-Bars on my Surly Pugsley…

I’ve been using the Titec version of Jeff Jones’ H-bar design for ~4yrs and liking it a lot for all day comfort. It provides 3 distinctly different hand/body positions as you move from the end of the bars to the middle cross bar to the forward position. The normal cruising position is with your hands on the rear part of the bar towards the ends. This give you lots of control and an upright riding posture. If you move your hands to the front on the bars you narrow and lower your riding position for better aerodynamics. I sort of think of these bars as drop bars for MTB shifters/brake levers.

Front view…

The Titec H-bar has a fairly short grip areas at the ends of the bar making positioning controls – particularly gripshift style shifters – a challenge. I’ve always managed to find a work around, but the resulting shifter and brake lever placement never made me happy on steep technical terrain.

Lately it seems that the Titec H-bar is hard to come by. I’m not sure if that’s because they are no longer making them or if there is just a hiccup in the production cycle. So I thought I would review the aluminum Loop H-bar which is sold direct by Jeff Jones. Getting your hands on a Loop H-bar shouldn’t be too hard.

Titec H-bar top & Loop H-bar bottom…

If you click on the image above you can read a detailed post discussing the differences between the the two versions of the H-bar. What should be obvious is that the Loop H-bar has a closed loop of material at the front of the bar and that the rear bar end portion is considerably longer than the Titec H-bar. The middle cross bar portion also meets the outside portion of the bars at different angles. The upshot of all this is that you have room to fit any controls & grips you want without a hassle. The forward loop also gives you some bar space to mount lights, GPS or other gadgets.

Tons of room for brake lever, shifter and grip…

There are a couple downsides to the Loop H-bar vs. the Titec H-bar:

  • Loop H-bar costs $120 vs. the $75 the Titec H-bar sold for when you could actually find them for sale
  • the extra grip length of the Loop H-bar shortens the effective top tube reach and requires a larger frame or longer stem

The Loop H-bar is probably a bit heavier due to the extra material up front, but I’m not a gram counter so it’s not something I worry about. You can get a cut version of the Loop H-bar from Jeff Jones that is similar [not identical] to the Titec H-bar and Jeff offers his bars in an expensive titanium version as well if you want to lighten your wallet.

The “loop” in the Loop H-bar…

My hope was that by getting an optimal placement of the grips/shifter and brake levers I’d really like these bars for technical riding. They work better than Titec H-bars when tackling steep gnarly MTB terrain, but I can’t say I love them for that application. While the Titec H-bars were poor for that type of riding I’d rate the Loop H-bars just okay. By comparison using a standard MTB riser bar on my Pugsley is much better when mountain biking than the Loop H-bar.

Now bars are a personal thing and Jeff Jones really promotes the use of Loop H-bars on his line of MTBs. So they work for some people. Just not me.

Shredding the gnar with my Loop H-bars…

On the other hand I do love these Loop H-bars for all the other non-technical riding I do. For a commuter bike or a touring rig they are ideal. You get a bunch of hand positions including one that’s reasonably aerodynamic. The main hand position at the end of the rear portion of the bars is particularly nice as it is relaxing for the body and hands are spread wide for lots of control on the bike. At the moment four of the bikes in our garage are equipped with either Titec or Loop H-bars.

Fully taped Titec H-bars…

You’ll notice that my Loop H-bar only have Ergon Grips on them and the rest of the bar is bare. The H-bar is totally functional without any tape for shorter rides. However, I’ve had issues with riding them for longer all day/multi-day trips – especially when it’s cold & wet. The bare metal gets slippery and sucks the heat from my hands. That’s not fun. I like a double wrap of cork tape on these bars once I’ve got my controls figured out. It gives a nice comfy place to hold onto. I’ll be wrapping my Loop H-bars sooner or later.


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7 responses

27 08 2012
Jim Oppenheim

I have a set of the alu loop bars. I have used them periodically on my Thorn Nomad for commuting. Lovely. I agree with everything you said about positioning. It took a bit of fiddling to get the angles just right…ie balancing aero stance with the back part but once done….fantastic! Just one problem though….in my neck of the woods there is alot of traffic. I feel I need the mirrors on both side to avoid any stupid moves into passing vehicles. With these bars it is possible but really wide and I hate to say it….vanity rules here….kinda of dorky. so off they go and on goes the thorn 5 degree flat bar….which works perfect for the commute with mirrors. It is so close though,,,they are both great systems!

30 08 2012
Andi

Used them for commuting some weeks as well. Definitely thumbs up! I consider the Loop H-bar absolutely best for long touring. When I had purchased them I actually haven’t been caring much about the multiple hand positions; only thought the angle would be perfect and the “loop” convenient for installing GPS etc .. Now I find myself very much liking this option to switch the grip. Especially when you have to cover some miles on tarmac between the fun.

Have been riding it only during this summer so far and didn’t wrapped it on purpose as the aluminum does a great job on cooling the hands a little. Of course the control on trails using a standard flat or riser bar is more acurate and direct but I works fine for me for I’m not heading out straight for the trails but include them in longer tours.

30 08 2012
Just4tehhalibut

Titec went under maybe two years ago and was resurrected in early 2011 but without the loop bars in the revised product line. So if you see loop bars for sale …

15 10 2012
Matt Dokken

Vik – I see Surly is coming out with a Moloko Bar in November. Have you heard anything about this bar? Wonder if it will be comparable geometry to the loop H-bar?

16 10 2012
thelazyrando

@Matt – I can’t really say until I have a Surly bar in my hands. I’m pretty sensitive to small changes in bar shape/position. It looks like it would be worth a try.

http://surlybikes.com/parts/moloko_bar

3 01 2014
Scott Lee

How well do you think they would work on a 20″ wheeled Bike Friday? Thanks for the reply in advance.

4 01 2014
Vik

@Scott – the only issue would be with the folded size of the bike. Other than that they would work just fine.

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