Going Dutch…or rediscovering the swept back handlebar.

I have 4 bikes. At one point they all had drop bars (Nitto Randonneurs…the best drops ever!), but I’ve recently rediscovered the joy of swept back handlebars. They look classy and they make great utilitarian handlebars. I use to have drops on my Xtracycle, which made for a fast ride, but when the bike was really loaded it was a little tough balancing the weight. Now, I have Soma Sparrow handlebars on the Xtra and it’s still zippy (I lose a little off the top end due to a less aero position) and I have better control of the load.

The setup!

Now I’m working on a new project. I’m turning my Trek 520 touring bike into a Riven-Trek, inspired by some Rivendell Atlantis bikes I’ve seen on the web. I’m swapping out the drops and putting in some Albatross bars. I’m planning to run mountain brake levers and bar-end shifters. I’m going to pop on some cork grips with some ample amber shellac to match my brown Brooks.

Insert smoking joke here...

My 56cm Albatross bars just came in and so did the the hemp twine. Still awaiting the rest of the parts (adjustable stem, brake levers, etc.,), but when those come in I’ll be sure take pics of the whole process.

Dutch is fun!

Anyone else going Dutch these days?


  1. Ghost Rider

    Sweet! I am digging those bars.

    I’m currently working on a utility bike project (converting my 70s Astra) using some old chromed Northroad/Albatross- style bars. I’m using some old parts from the bins…BMX grips, MTB levers and a Shimano friction thumbshifter for the 1×6 drivetrain (I can only find the left-side shifter…I hope it works to push the rear derailleur far enough).

    It’s certainly not going to look as classy as yours, but I won’t cry about this particular bike if someone decides to steal it…after all, it was originally salvaged from the bottom of a bicycle junk pile!

  2. RL Policar

    Man that’s what I wanted to do to my Xtracycle. I was going to use my moustache bars from the 925, but the mtn brake shifter comb I had were too narrow for the bars…

  3. RL Policar

    um…you can’t get high if you were to light up that hemp twine right?

  4. Russ Roca (Post author)

    I believe the Albatross bars were a Grant Peterson (founder of Rivendell) design and they’re pretty well thought out…

    The bars take mountain brake levers and road bar-end shifters! Many swept backs don’t take bar-ends.

    What is particularly nice about this design is you can get 3 distinct positions…an upright one, semi-aero near the curves…and a pretty good aero/climbing position in the curves….

    So it may look big and curvy (which it is), but it also has some provisions for getting out of the wind

  5. Will

    man, i have been planning the switch to dutch for about 8 months! im reworking my fixie (mercier) into my cargo carrying, beer hauling, turn-of-the-century dutch country side bike! i am making very slow progress due to a lack of appropriate funds, but in february i will be getting it powder coated navy blue and it will have some temp parts on it until i have enough money to do the whole lower half right (i.e. with all phil wood stuff). i LOVE those dutch bikes! i have been obsessed with them for YEARS and ive always wanted one.

  6. Val

    I have always loved swept bars; my favorite is the classic “North Road” three speed style, but they’re all great. Aside from the more upright position (which can be changed if you want speed – just flip the bars over for a super sporty dropped position) they place the hands and wrists at a much more natural and relaxed angle than straight bars or most positions on drop bars. The Dimension Cruiser bars are another low cost option. They also take any controls you care to install (barring bar ends), and they’re aluminum. Have fun!

  7. Ghost Rider

    I like pretty much every bar Rivendell makes…but the Northroad style is my favorite because the bar I’m transplanting back onto the Astra is, in fact, its orignal handlebar. It just looks right.

    Belgian-made French city bikes RULE!

  8. Smudgemo

    Anyone else going Dutch these days?

    Me. <a href=”“>Shellac and all.

  9. Russ Roca

    I think you mean this:

    Cool! I see you’re using a pretty long stem too. Is that a 130? Also, how do u deal with the cable and cork? Did you notch the cork grip?

  10. Smudgemo

    That’s what I meant.
    I notched the grips with a rat-tail file, but truthfully I don’t care much to feel the cable housing when I’m riding. I like the bar-end shifters other than that. The stem is something like 120 or 130mm, but I’d like to get one with some additional rise so I sit more upright. Seems to be the way to go with an X.

  11. patrick

    I switched my Van Dessel Country Joe to a set of Bontrager swept back bars….for here in Chicago with all the flatland they’re just what I wanted. I still have my other bikes but this one is currently my fave…along with a rack or my Bob trailer I have no complaints to date.

  12. Greg Raisman

    I’ve been riding a “real” Dutch bike since 2004. It’s perfect for city riding. I usually don’t ride it much more than 6 or 7 miles in any direction. It’s slow uphills. Sometimes friends make fun of me for riding a “girls bike”. But, I don’t think I’ve ever loved any bike more.

    It’s practical. The chain case keeps the chain clean and lubed and my clothes clean and without rips. The internal stuff is basically maintenance free. The upright riding position is comfortable and very visible. The permanently attached panniers and lights helps carry stuff and be seen without having to remember where stuff is. The center stand, combined with the rear wheel lock with a chain makes it so I can lock anywhere — even if there’s no rack. Man, I love that bike.

    It’s also stylish. It has a bit less swept handlebars than those in your picture. I went out for beers with Scott Bricker — Exec. Dir of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance — on Sunday night (long weekend). He rides a bike that sounds like your Riven-Trek. Very stylee, fast, and good on hills. Scott’s a pretty fashionable guy and that bike is definitely a part of the get up.

    Off to the day job.

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  14. justin

    I have two bikes right now, neither with drops. I just put Jitensha Studio’s custom Nitto on my SOMA Double Cross and its heaven. My other, beater bike, has some swept back bars but they never go parallel to the frame, I don’t like the loss of control it gives me. I tried soma’s 3 speed bar for a long time but it never fit right so I gave up.

  15. Benocycle

    The Albatros bars are awesome for the city/grocery store bike. Try em upside down. They will surprise you. Once you get over the geek complex you’ll put em right side up. They are now on my wife’s bike. She loves em too.
    I have installed mustache bars upside down. Gives proper height for my sore neck (resulting from an aggressive dog crash) Also gives a couple of differnet hand positions. Its on my Indy Fab road bike.

    Next I will get a set of sparrow’s for my 78 trek 510. Which will them become my new city bike.

    Once I look around the garage I won’t have a bike with “drop bars.”


  16. Carol

    I really like dutch style handlebars (sit up and beg) but have just bought a new bike with straight black handlebars. I am looking to buy dutch style handlebars in black to fit this bike. It’s a Maran – Larkspur from Edinburgh Bicycle Co-op – look great apart from the handlebars which I find so uncomfortable.
    Do you know anywhere I can buy the type of handlebars you have but in black (in Edinburgh or UK)?

  17. Ghost Rider

    Carol, you may want to check On One:

    The only other black “Dutch” bars I’ve seen are in the Soma Fabrications shop…called Sparrows. They ship overseas, but they’re based in San Francisco:

  18. olivier

    I have been riding a Specialized Globe city bike since 2006, with a Brooks B67 saddle.

    I love the Brooks saddle but somehow I thought it deserved a more upright riding position. So I decided to “go dutch” for a try and bought a sparrow handlebar.

    The whole thing really improved a lot , and it is quite a difference to the straight “mountain bike” bar I was using before. It’s much more confortable and overall gives a better feel when riding in the city.

    The only thing I miss now is the slightly degraded uphill capability… But it is so much better on average that I decided to keep the dutch style.

    Now I’m waiting to install an electric kit and my bike will become the ultimate city bike 🙂 WITH a wicked uphill potential too

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