Jones’ Loop H-Bars Are Unconventional For Good Reason

The impetus for a new handlebar design came from Jeff’s desire to find a way to bring his hands into a more natural riding position. In the process, he tossed out some of the conventional industry bike-fit standards that have been the norm for the past decade or two.

One word consistently comes up when the topic of Jones Bikes Loop H-Bars arises: unconventional. For good reason, they are. At first glance, with their 45 degree sweep, it might appear that the bars would be more at home on a cruiser beach bike than a sophisticated upgrade for mountain bikers, gravel grinder riders, or the bikepacking crowd. Jeff Jones, the man behind the bar’s concept and a long-time industry icon, is also a bit like his handlebars in that neither is particularly mainstream. But that hasn’t stopped him from building a cult following around his bike fit philosophy that his unique bars (and custom frames) are designed around.

The impetus for a new handlebar design came from Jeff’s desire to find a way to bring his hands into a more natural riding position. In the process, he tossed out some of the conventional industry bike-fit standards that have been the norm for the past decade or two. Using different tubing materials and various bends, he finally settled on the 45 degree sweep that has been the one constant that hasn’t changed as the bars evolved over the years.

With the various hand positions the Loop H-Bar offers (including having a more upright option), it wasn’t long before road riders – especially those with back or neck health issues that had forced them off their drop-bar bikes – took note. Recumbents had been one of the few choices for these riders before the availability of the Loop H-Bars.

In particular, the H-Bar offers a far more upright position than traditional drop bars when using the ends of the bar’s ‘sweep’. Having broken my neck several summers ago, and having the C1-3 vertebrae fused, the Jones bars offered me the potential of a game-changer in being able to get back on a road bike. But I would have to first re-think all of my ingrained bike fitting and positioning knowledge gathered over 45-plus years of racing, commuting, and adventure touring. More on that later.

A More Natural Riding Position

After thousands of miles on their double-butted aluminum model ($119) and the new-for-2018 SG 2.5 model ($79) – offering a bit more rise/drop than the 13mm found on the rest of the line, I’m an impressed convert. Jones Bicycles also makes the bars in titanium and carbon fiber in the $300 to $400 price range.

It didn’t take many test miles for me to understand why the bars have been become so popular with off-road and adventure enthusiasts. The range of riding positions is significantly increased over standard mountain or road bike handlebars. I found that having better hand and body positions allows for more power, control, and, particularly important in my situation, comfort. The bottom line is that I found it easier to cover longer distances with less strain and fatigue on my neck and back – I won’t be road racing or doing ultra events like solo RAAM again but at least I can get back on a road bike and complete 50 or 60 miles (if slowly). If you want to climb seated, you can grip the middle crossbar much like you would on a road or mountain bike.

When you get out of the saddle to climb – especially on aggressive terrain – you’ll appreciate the leverage provided using the back portions of the bars. On the downhills, I gained a bit more control and stability with the wider hand placement using this part of the bar.  If you start to get fatigued near the end of a long, epic ride you can also use these same ends of the bar, while seated, to gain a more upright position on the bike to take a break.   I didn’t miss having ‘drops’ on the bars since I rarely used that position on my former road set-up, finding it uncomfortable for long periods of time as I got older.

When you want to cheat the wind you can extend your arms and place your hands on the front of the loop bar section (much like a regular aero bar but without any ‘cups’ for your forearms). If needed, you can rest your forearms on the middle crossbar section for extra support in this aero tuck. Because of my fusion I wasn’t able to take full advantage of this lower aero position for long periods of time.

Riders won’t have any issues with finding places to hang all their bike toys like GPS units or lighting systems. Bikepackers will appreciate the ability to attach a custom Jones front handlebar bag ($98) using the middle crossbar as one of the attachment points – and several aftermarket bags are now available on the market including Revelate and Ortlieb models. I can guarantee you won’t find any other handlebar allowing this range of flexibility or hand positions. Now comes the challenging part.

Set It and Forget It

Proper set-up of the bars is critical to maximizing their potential benefits. To take full advantage of the multiple hand positions offered, not only will you need to raise your handlebars up (either with a stem riser or a stem with a good bit of rise), you’ll need to switch out your stem to a much shorter length. The shorter stem will allow you to be comfortable in the extreme positions between ‘aero’ (front) and ‘comfort’ (rear) positions of the handlebar. I used a Pauls Components Boxcar stem ($95) with their cool polish finish option for its stiffness, strength, and lightweight that enhances the H-Loop bar performance.   

After so many years of road riding using all the conventional fit parameters, these changes were a challenge for me to accept. But if you just slap the bars on your current ride without any modifications you’ll never come close to taking full advantage of what the bars have to offer.The new 2018 SG 2.5 Loop model with its extra rise (matched to a shorter stem with substantial rise) should be enough to avoid needing a stem riser. I wanted the ability to be a bit more upright when needed to give my neck and back some relief (few riders will have this requirement hopefully!), so I installed a stem riser with my SG 2.5 test bars. All H-bars use a 31.8 stem.

Even subtle aspects of proper installation like having the bars angled slightly downward makes a difference in comfort and performance as the miles add up. Following the instructions in the manual meticulously and/or watching the various instructional videos on the Jones Bikes You Tube ‘channel’ will easily get you to the correct set-up.

There are several variations of the H-Bars, including the original design, but the “Loop” configuration is the most popular. The bars come in 710mm or 660mm width, with the 710mm versions laser marked where you would want to cut them later, if needed, down to the 660mm width. I’ve been using the 710mm width bars which tend to be more popular with bikepackers, gravel riders, or former roadies like myself wanting the option of a more upright position for health issues. Mountain bikers accustomed to bombing down narrow single track trails generally opt for the narrower 660mm handlebar width for clearance issues.

There are several variations of the H-Bars, including the original design, but the “Loop” configuration is the most popular. The bars come in 710mm or 660mm width, with the 710mm versions laser marked where you would want to cut them later, if needed, down to the 660mm width. I’ve been using the 710mm width bars which tend to be more popular with bikepackers, gravel riders, or former roadies like myself wanting the option of a more upright position for health issues. Mountain bikers accustomed to bombing down narrow single track trails generally opt for the narrower 660mm handlebar width for clearance issues.

jonesbikes.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like
(Christoph Bayer) SRAM AXS – 13 good reasons why electronic components on bikes are the future
Read More

(Christoph Bayer) SRAM AXS – 13 Good Reasons Why Electronic Components on Bikes Are the Future | The Slow Death of ‘Buy It For Life’

We see the bike media et. al. falling over themselves to encourage a public dependence on component electronics. And both ebikes and component electronics have an intrinsic designed obsolescence, by virtue of these systems having a limited number of battery cycles. There won’t be ‘vintage’ drivetrains in 20 years as none of the batteries will be usable. I have a birthday coming up, maybe I’m being overly nostalgic to consider this.
Read More
Zoic Carbon Bibs
Read More

Zoic Introduces Men’s Carbon Bib Liner | ‘The Most Technical Liners I’ve Yet Come Across’

New for 2019, the ZOIC Men’s Carbon Bib Liner provides ultimate support for long days in the saddle, ideal for enduro racers and bikepackers, The Carbon Bib Liner is engineered to maximize comfort and minimize irritation, from seamless straps up top to the Italian-made 3D stretch foam chamois inside
Read More
SDMBA Black Widow Trail Building
Read More

Share the Work on the Trail with Modular Packable Tools

Trail Boss has pushed forward the idea of ‘rolling maintenance’, or the collective efforts of individuals to maintain mountain trails for running and cycling before conditions get to the point where organized action is required. This push in priority allows organizations to focus their resources on the problems that are out of reach for the individual. Namely trail access and advocacy.
Read More
Lezyne Torque Wrench
Read More

Behind the Curtain, BICYCLIST Wandering The CABDA Exposition, In Search Of Value, Innovation and Quality

The inaugural west coast version of the industry bike show took place at the Del Mar Racetrack in San Diego, California on January 16 and 17th of 2019. Here are some of the goods that caught our eye. Subscribe to the BICYCLIST Experience podcast for additional information on this field trip
Read More
schwalbe durano tires
Read More

Schwalbe Durano DD

Quiet, smooth, and fast, the DD proved to be a perfect option for long rides to improve comfort and provide all of the traction needed for fast descents and steep climbs. Power transfer to the pavement is smooth and consistent, particularly on steep hills, without any wasted effort on straightaways.
Read More
Read More

Carbon Wheelset under $800 and Backed By A 1 Year Warranty ? Go On…

Monoprice has traditionally been a manufacturer of electronics and accessories, but the Rancho Cucamonga-based company has created an outdoor department that will feature a select number of carbon bicycle components. They have developed some relationships with carbon fiber manufacturers overseas to bring quality components to consumers at a lower price point while still being able to offer a 1-year warranty for local customers.
Read More
Read More

Urban Exploring: Beyond Basics – ABUS GRANIT Plus 640

The ABUS Granit PLUS 640 is one of two ABUS locks that I use on a regular basis. As a D-shaped U-lock, it is a classic option for reliable and proven protection. It is light enough and small enough to carry in a bag, but stout enough to protect your bike from theft. The shackle, which is double bolted into the lock body and made of 12mm hardened steel, is also coated in rubber so that it will not damage the finish on your bicycle. The lock itself weighs less than 900 grams, which is quite light considering the amount of protection it provides.
Read More
hardcover book by guy andrews
Read More

Magnum Cycling: Guy Andrews Brings Together A Story In Photo, Offering Glimpses of Cycling Past

Magnum Photos opened their archives to Guy Andrews, founding editor of Rouleur magazine, so he could curate a book of unique photos chronicling the history of cycling. Andrews supplements the photographs gathered from the archives with insights into the lives of the people in the front of and behind the camera. Readers will discover many unfamiliar photos and gain a new appreciation for what it takes to be a professional race photographer.
Read More
Read More

Two Wheel Gear Backpack/Pannier

Two Wheel Gear recently introduced a new style to their line of versatile commuter bags, the Pannier Backpack Convertible looks like a backpack, but has the capabilities to transform into a pannier. A discreet zipper pouch in the back of the bag opens to reveal a Universal Rixen & Kaul rack attachment system that mounts on your bike if you prefer to ride without any baggage on your person.
Read More
studio shot of lubricant
Read More

Rock “N” Roll GOLD Chain Lubricant

As most chain lubricants require a cleaning step prior to application, Rock “N” Roll chain lubes stand out. It combines the two steps leaving one less thing to carry on a multi-day tour and one less thing to forget while traveling – not to mention the time-savings of being able to clean and lube at the same time. And all of this comes at a price well below the average of available alternatives.
Read More
watercolor painting of man on bike with helmet
Read More

Helmets: A Style Guide

Buying a new helmet or upgrading from an old one can be hard if you don’t know where to start. Due to advancements in modern helmet technology, many options are now available. Depending on a rider’s budget, type of biking, style preferences, and comfort needs, a suitable helmet exists for everyone. But knowing what you want can make your search easier.
Read More
Proviz Sportive Gloves
Read More

The Shiny Bits Make You Safer

The next step of PROVIZ apparel evolution has been the development of their Sportive collection, a performance apparel line focused on road visibility. The design is understated, and appealing for those that appreciate black on black. The safety police will appreciate reflective material on front and back, as well as day-glow accents that provide side awareness of the rider.
Read More