Last year I reviewed Coefficient Cycling’s first offering, the Wave Handlebar. It is a bar aimed, primarily, at gravel riders (though it works fine for road use), and staked its territory on offering a more ergonomic fit. I can verify it did exactly that. While changing bars is a discomfort in one’s keister, if I hadn’t preferred the position to my original position, it would have come off. Period. As it happens, I’m in the
unenviable position of having to replace the frameset that bar is on. I can confirm that the Wave bar will make the transition.
I offer that little prologue as a bit of foreshadowing for this review of Coefficient’s second offering the RR (road race) bar. I’m just going to say it because you are almost certainly already thinking it: Road Race is a terrible name for this bar. Conjuring the specter of racing is as helpful to this bar as helpful to selling this bar as images of melting glaciers are to selling cars. If there is a cycling demographic less open to new ideas and plunking down full retail for a product, guess what? Racers are exactly that bunch. Which is a shame because the RR is one of the best ideas in handlebars since the FSA K-Wing bar was back in the early aughts. For anyone willfully forgetting how many birthdays they’ve had since then, that’s one of the scores in Lincoln’s famous opening of the Gettysburg Address. To go that long without any truly fresh ideas in road bars is a kind of fail.
Rather than describe how the bar is different, let’s discuss it in terms of how your fit evolves by mounting it. Suppose for a second that you’ve had an amazing fitting done by a pro fitter. That fit enables you to ride on the hoods all day without discomfort, on the bar top up a long climb and enjoy unrestricted breathing, and settle into the drops for more than a few minutes at a time.
With the RR, if the bar is swapped with not change in stem height, the first, most noticeable, change is that the bar top sits higher and features what Coefficient calls “swope,” which is a portmanteau of sweep and drop. The bar top begins higher than the stem clamp and drops to the height of the stem clamp, mirroring the way your hands would normally fall if held in front of you. Your hands would also more naturally point forward, rather than toward each other (think of someone holding drumsticks, rather than holding a barbell). To mimic that, the bar top starts forward of the stem clamp and sweeps back toward the reach of the clamp.
This rather unusual start does not result in a new position for the hoods relative to other bars with a 77mm reach. Hood position will only shift if a rider moves from a bar with reach of more or less than 77mm. Most Zipp bars come in at 70 or 80mm reach and FSA makes nine bars with a reach between 74 and 78mm. Coefficient’s choice of 77mm is solid.
The drops feature a narrowed section in the hook that sits where most riders’ thumbs will wrap around the bar. In my previous review of the AR (all road) bar, I noted that the recess was a good place to hide satellite shifters. What I realized after playing around with the bar some more was that the narrowed section feels more comfortable and secure. I found that I felt more confident on descents. My advice: Don’t stick anything in there other than a wrap of bar tape.
There are two features that differentiate the RR from the AR. The first is that the bar top is flattened on the RR, to give it a more aero profile, and while there is a gentle chamfer at the edge of the top to indicate a good position to stop wrapping tape, I wrapped all the way to the stem because comfort. The second feature is the computer bridge that runs in front of the stem clamp. This creates a little nook in the bar that allows a rider to hook their thumbs and adopt a flat-backed aero position without settling into something that makes a joke of control.
The bar comes in four widths: 38, 40, 42 and 44cm, measured center-to-center; I’m impressed that they offered 38cm bar for more diminutive riders and former trackies who like fitting through gaps the width of a house cat. Drop for all four bars is 127mm, which keeps them in the range of other relatively shallow drop bars that have become the standard.
The computer bridge is a pretty neat innovation, honestly as it gives your computer a terrific place to sit and a GoPro mount can be added. They have changeable inserts that can handle just about anything from Garmin to Wahoo and all units in between.
The bar won’t win any weight awards, but that’s okay because some of the lightest bars I’ve ridden were rather flexible. Weights are claimed to range between 310 grams (40cm) and 325g (46cm). The carbon for them “off-the-front” computer mount pulls the scale by at least 30g.
At $399 the bar isn’t cheap, but considering what the fitting itself can run, it seems a shame to shortchange the process by not finishing it off with what is arguably one of the most fit-friendly bars out there.
So how comfortable is the RR? I’ve done four hours on this bar and arrived home more comfortable than I have in a few years. Considering my spinal stenosis, this is an achievement on the order of a time machine. Believe me, I’m amazed to write such a thing.
Cable routing is internal but not easy. I devoted a solid six hours to setting this bar up and learned three things along the way:
1. Don’t try to route housing from the stem toward the lever; go from lever toward the exit port near the stem.
2. The inside of the bar would benefit from a bit more finishing because I couldn’t route the housing from lever to port without less-than-gorgeous scratches running the length of the housing, and because #1, I had to run the exposed housing through the bar.
3. Pay your shop to install them.
Coefficient includes two rubber plugs to hold housing in place at the exit ports and they includes additional ports for satellite shifters for Di2 users.
Final though: Housing be damned, the comfort offered makes it a keeper.