48cm road handlebars are hard to find.  Most road style handlebars in that width are flared at the drops and the hoods are a much more standard 44cm or 42cm width. As a rider who spends a lot of time on the hoods I found the flared bars a little disappointing despite their nice ergonomic angle for your wrists.  Most road handlebars come in a maximum width of 46cm and many of them top out at 44cm. The JK 48’s are one of the few handlebars out there to give you a full 48cm width at the hoods. They also come in a slightly narrower 47cm width. Both handlebars are made with 6061 aluminum and come in a flat black finish.

The advantages of a wider handlebar will be obvious to anyone who has been riding a recent vintage mountain bike. The standard spec for off-road bars has grown year after year and for good reason, not only does it give you better leverage and control over your front wheel, but it is also addictive. Once you have been riding a bike with extra wide handlebars it is difficult to go back to something even just a little bit more narrow. I spent the winter last year riding my single speed with some extra wide bars on her, and in the spring when I busted out my cross-country bike with the slightly narrower handlebars those bars lasted for one ride and I changed them out immediately. They felt completely inadequate.

 

While I thought that I would miss my carbon fiber handlebar because of its smooth ride quality I came to appreciate the precision of a stiff aluminum bar and the sense of control that it instilled.  The aluminum offers that added advantage of showing any damage it may receive from a crash or other kind of fall. Many pro teams run aluminum bars because in the event of a crash any damage to a carbon bar may be “under the tape”, meaning that it may be severely damaged but since you can’t see the damage you might have to find out the hard way that it is already broken.

The JK 48’s I purchased are a small size with a short (70mm) reach and moderate (125mm) drop which meant that I didn’t have to change my stem to accommodate the extra width since both the hoods and the drops are a little closer and it makes up for them being at a wider stance. They also come in a medium size with a 80mm reach and a 135mm drop and also a large size with a 90mm reach and a 145mm drop. I weighed the bars before I put them on but only to compare them to the carbon bars I was taking off.  The comparison was not even close and I decided to put that number out of my mind forever and just enjoy the wide and stiff feel of the JK 48’s.

I customized my JK 48’s with my homemade ergo inserts to give me a comfortable flat spot in the drops and then added some gel dampening pads and wrapped them with Fi’zi:k Performance bar tape with 3mm of padding. Between the gel padding and the 3mm handlebar tape I have some fat and cushiony handlebars which work well out on the dirty roads.

I come in at just over six feet tall and with some fairly wide shoulders so you can see how these bars fit me nicely but I think anyone who rides drop bars in the dirt could benefit from a wider pair of handlebars.  You may not need to go as wide as the JK 48’s. You may just want to get a handlebar a little wide than the one you have like going from a 44cm to a 46cm.  Even a small increase in width can give you a superior sense of control over the bike out in the rough stuff, or just out of the saddle. The narrower drop bars are fine on the paved roads but the dirty roads require some different equipment.  Aerodynamics are not as important of a consideration out in the dirt since the speeds are often lower while bike handling and control are much more important making a wide pair of handlebars a great choice for your dirty bike.

The Joseph Kuosac 48cm Road Handlebars
Price $95
Weight 350 grams
31.8 mm clamp size
6061 aluminum

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