Gravel riding has exploded in popularity as a form of exercise during the pandemic and not just among road bikers who want a change of scenery. Mountain bikers are taking notice of gravel riding as well and as more mountain bikers take to the dirt roads, they bring their voices and technical ideas with them. As a result of the intermingling two of the major disciplines of cycling, gravel bikes are becoming the perfect balance of efficiency and stability. Our CEO Aaron Kerson recently joined Craig Dalton of the The Gravel Ride Podcast to talk about the history of PNW Components and how its inception in the mountain bike industry has influenced the development of gravel products like the Coast Drop Bar and Coast Stem.
One of the most common questions we get about the Coast Drop Bars is, "Why are they so wide?" Aaron fielded a similar question as part of the podcast:
Craig: Early on in the conversation we were talking about gravel drawing from lots of different sides of the sport, and you certainly have a lot of road athletes who are familiar with drop bar riding coming over to gravel and typically mimicking their same cockpit, so an average male might have a 44cm bar. You came out with the Coast Handlebar and you've kind of blown that out. Your minimize size is 480mm (48cm) and then you've got the 520mm (52cm) as well. Can you talk about the wider Coast Bar and why you think wider bars have a place in gravel?
Aaron: The cool thing about the Coast is that we went with a shallower drop, shallower reach, and then widened the bars. Coming from the mountain bike side of things, I would run a 42cm or 44cm bar and when I was out of the saddle and pedaling it just felt more twitchy and I thought that was just how a drop bar was. On a mountain bike we're running handlebars that are about 780mm wide and the biggest benefit is stability. When your hands are really wide, it takes more movement to have the wheel pivot down the center line, but if your hands are really close to the stem it's going to be really twitchy. Now that we're taking these things off-road you want more stability. When that front end starts to chatter around it's pretty sketchy and pretty scary and if you hit a bump weird and your bodyweight is off center and you over correct, you're going to go over the bars. So that was the opinion we came from and we thought, "Let's take inspiration from the mountain bike side and make these bars a little bit wider."
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