I was having difficulty getting the stock bars on my new Disc Trucker adjusted properly. If I had it so I was comfortable on the hoods I couldn't reach the breaks from the drops. If I rotated the bar down so that I could reach the brakes from the drops, the hoods were way too low.
I decided to give this bar style a try. These are know as mountain or off-road drops. Salsa uses them on their Fargo and Vaya models. This one is made by Soma. Salsa, Soma, Surly all seem to be playing in the same market.
Mike, the lead mechanic at Cyclotopia built a Disc Trucker with this bars, which I rode before deciding to try them out. I've just had them a couple of days and haven't done any long rides yet, but so far I like them a lot. The riding position is very different. Instead of being on the hoods, the 'neutral' position is in the drops, which are not as low as normal drops. From there I can easily reach the shifters, or slide up to the hooks to reach the breaks. It feels very stable. I can stand in the drops and even ride one handed in the drops, something I could not do with my old bars.
The hoods still work fine as a comfortable place to reach the breaks, and I can still stretch out 'over the hoods' which I like to do a lot. I can still sit up with my hands on the tops although there isn't as much straight bar before they start curving in, as with normal drop bars. So there still are plenty of positions for moving around a lot, which I do often.
Since these bars are most commonly used as off-road drops, I rode up into Bald Hill park on my way home today and tried out the easy trail. I would have to say they work great. Climbing in the drops was great, but for extra power I could go to the hoods. Descending in the drops was great. I felt like I had lot's more control then when I did the same trail with my old bars, and I took the downhill much faster.
The real test will come when I do an all day ride. Even though the drops are higher than my old bars they are still lower then the hoods, so I am bent over farther most of the time. This may or may not get tiring. On the other hand when up on the tops I feel like I am sitting even straighter up than before, so it may balance out well. Stay tuned for my next report.