Review: Jeff Jones H Bars

by David Gould 0

By Sanny

Mention the name Jeff Jones in a bike forum discussion and you are sure to provoke a reaction. For a bearded fellow living with his family out in the woods in Oregon who designs and builds some truly striking steel and titanium frames, he doesn’t half manage to split opinion. It’s a curious thing that a design such as his trademark spaceframe can engender everything from positively gushing levels of enthusiasm to wholesale derision and complaints of it ‘just looking wrong!’. Never let the experience of actually riding one get in the way of forming an opinion! At the end of the day, though, it’s just another interesting take on bike design as far as I am concerned.

Jeff Jones H Bar singletrack magazine

Taking delivery of a set of his 710mm Aluminium (that’s ALUMINIUM! Not Aloominum or however else our American brethren pronounce it…wrongly, of course!) H Bars in a rather natty anodised black finish, I was impressed by their relative lack of weight compared to what I was expecting. The pronounced back sweep looked weird to my lo-rise eyes but having previously ridden a set, albeit briefly, my initial scepticism had mellowed a little.

Jeff Jones claims that this gives a more comfortable riding position that more naturally makes use of your arm and back muscles

The theory behind the bar is fairly simple. With your hands placed at the rear of the bar and at their widest point, you should be able to more easily adopt a weight back position not dissimilar to riding a wide bar coupled with a short stem that is the current flavour of the month for cockpit set up. For climbing, with your elbows pulled back further than with a regular set up, Jeff Jones claims that this gives a more comfortable riding position that more naturally makes use of your arm and back muscles. Further benefits claimed are that if you tend to push a high gear, the bar position enables you to pull against them more easily and thus push down harder on the pedals. On switchbacks, your arms and wrists aren’t taken as close to their flexible limit. Phew! Finally, with multiple positions from wide and back to narrow and tight on the front bar, you’re not confined to one position. ‘Blimey, where do I sign up?’ I thought to myself when I read the claimed benefits on the Jeff Jones website. More pertinently, it made me wonder why the mountain biking community hadn’t embraced them en masse? Only one way to find out.

I really appreciated the stability and control on offer from the bars when descending the likes of Gypsy Glen loaded up and riding at speed

Set up was a snap. Hey, they’re handlebars, it isn’t rocket science! After a bit of faffage, I angled them slightly down as I found this to be the most comfortable position. Jeff Jones recommends a long handlebar grip with the brakes placed further inboard than I’m used to but it just didn’t feel right from the get go so I opted for regular length grips. The pronounced rear sweep felt a bit odd at first, not bad, just odd. Not one for doing things by halves, I settled on a technical rock fest of a coastal ride for my first time out. Even without dropping the saddle, I found that I could easily get my weight right back in that old school style of the early nineties when riding steep drop downs. Endo hops felt somewhat unnatural but with a bit of perseverance they are now second nature again. For steep climbs, having my arms down low with my elbows dropped proved remarkably effective for getting up and over obstacles. Popping a wheelie was particularly easy. On subsequent rides, my initial favourable impressions have been consolidated. Riding up Keppel Cove beneath Helvellyn, I didn’t find myself doing that awkward, nose of the saddle hunch to retain traction on the steeper switchbacked sections. From a breathing perspective, it felt like my lungs were more opened up on the climbs making things seem just that little bit easier.

Jeff Jones H Bar singletrack magazine

An unexpected bonus was that when riding up long ascents, I could ride with my hands right next to the stem, road bike style. Also, when staring into the teeth of a headwind, I found that I could place my hands on the front bar and drop into a comfortable aero tuck position; the bar tape I had wrapped round the bars giving both comfort and grip.

For bikepacking, there is an awful lot of space upon which to hang a harness and dry bag while you could probably disprove a key tenet of quantum mechanics and illuminate a black hole if you filled the front bar with lights! Loaded up, the bars felt pleasingly stable even when riding over rough terrain. Using them for the Capital Trail, I really appreciated the stability and control on offer from the bars when descending the likes of Gypsy Glen loaded up and riding at speed.

Jeff Jones H Bar singletrack magazine recommended

So what do I reckon to these curiously shaped bars? Bloody marvellous, truth be told. I was prepared to hate them but the more I ride them, the more I have come to appreciate that the benefits claimed for them are on the money. I’ve not tried them on my full suspension bike thus cannot comment on how they fare with a suspension fork. However for rigid bike riders, bikepackers, fat bikers, commuters, cross riders looking to take a different path or even riders with back issues, I suspect that they will really come to appreciate the benefits they offer. Look weird, work brilliantly. Job done.

Review Info

Brand:Jeff Jones
Product:H Bar
From:yesweareontheweb.com/jones
Price:£130
Tested:by Sanny for 6 months

Comments (0)

  1. I’ve been using these on and off since I got my fatbike. They suit that fairly well, especially in snow/ice where they seem to offer a bit more fine control. I’ve been using standard flats over the summer though, I just find them more comfy at “speed” or when negotiating trees.

    I’ve now fitted the Loops to my new Pact B+ to try them out on that and will have the option to run them with/without suspension to see what difference it makes (if any).

  2. An excellent summary I reckon. I didn’t want to like them ‘cos they look funny, had a quick ride of someone elses, bought some, love them. About to upgrade to some wider carbon ones!

  3. Just bought a pair myself from EDS bikes and I am very impressed mounted on my Singular Puffin they are very comfy with a nice natural relaxed riding position. Fitted some esi long grips after a days riding did not feel beat up after riding rigid.

  4. “The theory behind the bar is fairly simple. With your hands placed at the rear of the bar and at their widest point, you should be able to more easily adopt a weight back position”

    A theory needs scientific proof. Could you draw me a kinematics diagram with reference to the human skeleton and joint angular movement to show this?

    Looking at the pics, with the stem used, the centre of the grips is no more “behind” the steerer than with a standard straight bar / short stem combo., and with your wrists angled, i can’t see how you can get as far off the back as compared to hanging off a straight bar? As typical persons shoulders are around 500mm wide, unless you are running an insane 1m wide bar, then the agularity of your arms is much smaller than the angularity of these Jones bars surely?

    Then we get to the “easier take sharp turns” bit. If the grips are angled (from straight across) then yes, one wrist will have to bend less as you turn, but the other one, yup, that’ll have to bend more.

    Basically, you might find these bars comfortable for the sort of riding you do (likely to be the more mellower kind of riding, rather than DH!) so in the same way as bar ends, they have their (niche) place, but are nothing special

  5. “Nothing special”…. I assume you have not used them then. Great on long distance easy going stuff. Great in technical fast singletrack. You really need to try them before dismissing them. Go and find a video of Jeff riding, it’s not mellow.

  6. “Cheap alternative” that is far too narrow and is a leisurely ladies trekking bar. If you try the cheap alternative to see if you like the jones bar, that is like saying… “I tried sex but didn’t like it, well it wasn’t actually sex, it was sitting on a bus while the engine vibrates the seat, whilst looking out the windows at tramps, on a cold drizzly day in Northampton. Yeah I tried it but it didn’t work for me”

  7. Thank you Sanny. Thanks Charlie – a vibrating bus on a drizzly day in Northampton was my first sexual experience. My first experience of H-bars was different. I totally subscribe to the idea that an open mind and a test ride is a very good way to work out if a bicycle, or bicycle component, works for me or not. I tried forming an opinion just looking at pictures on the internet but it didn’t work. It wasn’t sex. It was w*nk.

  8. I concur with Sanny & Charlie, I was a bit sceptical, the alloy versions weigh a bit, thought I might have to change my stem etc, but once I rode them straight off loved them. His videos are worth a watch as Charlie says, these aren’t just bars you need if you’re attempting The Tour Divide!

  9. Hi Maxtorque

    Cheers of the feedback.

    Re the positioning. Have another look at the ends of the bars at the widest point. Effectively, my hands are behind the steerer tube which even Mondraker don’t offer. My test bike doesn’t have fancy forward geometry which I suspect very few riders have. As such, I find myself with my weight further back than with regular flat bars and also a little more upright.

    The beauty of the bars is that if I want to weight the front end, I can do so as easily as a normal bar so as not to notice a difference but with my body further back, I feel in more control, particularly on steep and rocky descents.

    Try them before writing them off. They have really impressed me. I just wish I had tried them sooner! :-)))))))

    Cheers

    Sanny

  10. I like them a lot but am mostly in the ‘just look wrong’ camp…. Aesthetically they suit a Jones, on a regular diamond straight forked frame they just look a bit odd. Great for night rides 🙂

  11. I like the idea and theory of these and actually like the looks. The days of me paying three figures for handlebars are gone now though. Do the On-One Mary bars offer a similar experience? – they are more within my budget.