Straight out of Shimano's hardware department come these Pro PLT compact handlebars. Although oversize they don't obviously look it as rather than have a massive bulge in the clamp area that rapidly shrinks down to 'normal' bar size like other OS bars have a habit of doing these slim to the thinner circumference a couple of inches either side of the stem, about where you'd want to stop the handlebar tape, so the thickness of the bar-tape pads out to the same girth of the oversize centre section, which leads to a neat and clean handlebar line, should such things bother you, and the junction is easy on the hand. As such the bars don't look out of place on a skinny steel tubed bike.
There's a few lined markings on the bend of the bar where you're likely to clamp your brake-levers to aid set-up, and although Pro say the PLT has a recessed groove for cable routing it's nothing but the smallest of creases in the crook of the bend above the lever, more of a subtle guide for the cable rather than a bona-fide recess which might lead to unsightly bumps and grip-comfort issues, especially if you need to run double cables under the tape.
We really really liked these bars, for reasons we couldn't really put our fingers on considering they're mostly similar to a lot of other compact bars we've used, but within the first few miles we knew we were in love, sometimes you just know, you know. Maybe it was the nice wide flat bit on the tops that extends almost all the way to the drop before bending sharply in, maybe it was the curve of that drop that let us position a hand anywhere we wanted and for it to be instantly comfortable, maybe it was because from the saddle it didn't look like an oversize bar, maybe it was the double-buttedness making it stiff and yet wrist-batteringly harsh. Dunno, we just liked em.
With a reach of 65mm, a drop of 125mm and a gentle radius bend they look and feel very similar to a lot of the new breed of compact bars, and comparing the drops against a few competitors reveals a suspiciously similar shape, but hey, it's a curve that works. The gentle uninterrupted bend of the drops is supremely comfortable for the hands, leaving an infinite number of places to rest a calloused palm, unlike 'ergo' bars with their comedy bends and flat sections that tend to force the hands into specific positions, usually the wrong ones (well, for me at least).
If you are currently struggling with handlebars of an impossibly far reach and deep drop designed for those with the flexibility and pipe-cleaner arms of a road pro and are looking for a more real-world alternative, the reduced reach and drop of the PLT's bars is a great option. Using a more compact bar means you won't be be staring resolutely at the front wheel all the time you're in the drops, and more importantly it means as a rider can actually be comfortable in the drops they'll use that position more often rather than the entire area being a vague peripheral uncharted region somewhere below the brake-levers, unused except as a helmet hook at the cafe stop. This goes for racers, cyclo-crossers, tourists and sportivistas, any and everyone that uses a drop-bar and finds them a stretch then.
Available in 38, 40, 42 (tested) and 44cm widths (C/C)
A no-nonsense oversize compact bar that anyone looking for a more manageable position on the bike should stroke a palm over.
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Pro PLT compact drop bars
Size tested: 42cm
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
This is the blurb on the PLT bar according to Pro -
"* Lightweight and strong 2014 aluminium road racing drop handlebar, for oversized 31.8 mm clamp diameter.
* 2014 aluminium is a high strength aluminium alloy commonly used in the aircraft industry and a wide variety of high strength engineering applications making it the ideal choice to produce this lightweight, strong and reliable handlebar.
* For further weight reduction the aluminium has been double butted, keeping the strength where it is needed and reducing the wall thickness where vital grams can be saved.
* Oversized 31.8 mm clamp diameter reduces unwanted flex under high load by increasing strength and rigidity.
* Compact handlebar design gives a comfortable choice of handlebar positions.
*Single recessed groove cable routing.
* Weight: from 245 grams."
That's a lot of spiel for an alloy bar, we found it not gossamer light nor clunkingly heavy, neither too stiff nor too noodly, and really rather comfortable.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
An alloy bar is pretty much an alloy bar, double butted 2014 aluminium with an oversized 31.8 mm clamp diameter, Pro say the bar is made from aluminium commonly used in the aircraft industry, we do hope not the stuff they make the meal-trolleys out of.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
As a handlebar these performed flawlessly, it was somewhere to put the brake levers, it aided steering, they could be wrapped in a coloured tape that co-ordinated with the rest of the bike, and they were comfortable.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nuffin, although the lack of a decent cable-recess could be an issue.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
About the tester
Age: 42 Height: 180cm Weight: 73kg
I usually ride: It varies as to the season. My best bike is: The one I\'m on at the time
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, cyclo cross, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Fun
Jo Burt has spent the majority of his life riding bikes, drawing bikes and writing about bikes. When he's not scribbling pictures for the whole gamut of cycling media he writes words about them for road.cc and when he's not doing either of those he's pedaling. Then in whatever spare minutes there are in between he's agonizing over getting his socks, cycling cap and bar-tape to coordinate just so. And is quietly disappointed that yours don't He rides and races road bikes a bit, cyclo-cross bikes a lot and mountainbikes a fair bit too. Would rather be up a mountain.