One of the all-time favorite handlebar shapes is the Philippe Professionel. Back in the 1940s and 1950s, you found them on the bikes of professional racers (below), randonneurs, cyclotourists, even track bikes.
Their flat ramps provide plenty of hand positions, rather than forcing you onto the brake hoods like many modern bars. The medium-sized hooks provide enough room to be comfortable, and the long drops not only look great, but also allow you to roam in the drops. Few handlebars that are as comfortable, especially if you spend long hours in the saddle.
A few years ago, Grand Bois reissued these bars as their “Maes Parallel” model. They’ve become my favorites, too, equipping my 650B randonneur bike and even my cyclocross bike. (The bars on the Weigle at the top of the post also are Grand Bois version – you can’t tell them apart, unless you look at the logo, which is hidden under the bar tape on the Grand Bois model.)
Mid-century racers and riders (and the BQ crew) aren’t the only ones who like these bars: They have been one of our more popular products. However, many customers have asked for versions that are either narrower or wider than the 410 and 420 mm we’ve offered. That is where our new 400 and 440 mm-wide models come in. The widest bars are heat-treated for strength, and all pass the stringent EN “Racing Bike” standards for fatigue resistance.
We have many friends who ride modern bikes, and they were frustrated by the lack of similar handlebars for modern 31.8 mm clamps. So we worked with Nitto on making the Compass Maes Parallel 31.8 mm handlebars. Same great shape, but with a 31.8 mm handlebar clamp diameter. They are also heat-treated and tested to the highest standards.
To go with these and other modern handlebars, we now offer a stem for bikes with 1 1/8″ threadless steerers. It’s fillet-brazed from lightweight steel tubing. The stem is designed to provide a little extra height, so you don’t need to run a stack of spacers underneath. The clamp is on the front, which provides a cleaner, more elegant appearance. The stem is available in lengths from 80 to 120 mm.
The new Compass stem integrates seamlessly with the Grand Bois decaleur. This finally provides a reliable off-the-shelf decaleur option for riders of modern bikes, without bolts that come loose or parts that break off.
To clear the larger-diameter handlebars, you need to use a decaleur drop kit as shown in the photo above. We offer these drop kits with between 10 and 30 mm, so you can get the decaleur to match the height of your handlebar bag. (The decaleur does not replace a front rack; your bag still needs to be supported from below.)
I am excited by the possibilities that these new components offer. You can install the 31.8 mm handlebars on a modern racing bike to provide comfort for your hands, wrists and shoulders. Or you can use the stem and decaleur together with modern carbon-fiber handlebars on a randonneur bike. And you finally can get these bars in the width that works best for you, both for classic 25.4 mm and modern 31.8 mm stems.
All these products are made by Nitto in Japan. Nitto offers different quality levels. All are safe to use, but there are real differences in weight and finish. For all Compass components, we’ve chosen Nitto’s highest quality level, because we want our parts to be as light, as strong and as beautiful as possible.
I hope these new products will bring your dream bike one step closer to reality!