One of the most radical features of the new Ribble Ultra aero road bike that we told you about last week is the new Ultra bar that accepts brake/shifter lever via a direct mount system, but both Shimano and SRAM have said that they do not recommend ditching the clamp bands when using their products.
Essentially, Ribble has come up with a design where the dual-control lever bolts directly to the Ultra bar.
Ribble says, “The lever is positioned in the conventional location and attached to the handlebar using a removable and adjustable plate. The plate is accessible via a cavity at the rear of the bar and allows the lever to be adjusted through the horizontal and vertical planes.”
This eliminates the need for the clamp band that usually goes around the drop section of the handlebar to hold the dual-control lever in place.
Ribble’s design gives you 15° of side-to-side movement and just under 30mm of vertical adjustment.
The idea is to give more freedom to the designers who no longer need to use a round profile for the lever clamp point or the lower sections of the bar. Ribble says that this allowed it to improve the bar in terms of both aerodynamics and ergonomics.
However, component brands say that their products should only be used in accordance with existing user manuals.
“Our products are designed and tested to be used as they arrive for our customers,” says Shimano’s Ben Hillsdon. “Our products aren't approved for usage with modifications. If products are modified we can't guarantee they will work as intended. That's why the user manuals state: ‘Do not disassemble or modify the product other than as stated in the information contained in this dealer's manual.’
“Our user manuals also give a severity rating to the recommended practices. The recommendations are in place to highlight danger, warning or caution.
“Regarding the shifters, the recommendation is a caution. It reads: ‘The clamp band, clamp bolt, and clamp nut are not compatible with other products. Do not use with components that are used in other products.’
“Failure to follow that particular instruction could cause personal injury or physical damage to equipment and surroundings.
“I can't comment on Ribble's testing procedures but as far as Shimano manuals go, we recommend using our products as it is stated in the dealer manuals.”
SRAM kept it brief. The brand’s Daniel Lategan said, “The Ribble handlebar is not something that we have tested and SRAM parts should always be used according to user manuals and frame fit specification.”
To be completely fair, this is what you’d expect these brands to say. There’s no reason to suspect that anything will go wrong with Ribble’s mounting system, but if it does Shimano and SRAM wouldn’t want to be held liable because the levers aren’t attached to the bar in the way intended.
Ribble said, "The new Ultra bar has been designed to be compatible and tested with all current brake lever manufacturer systems including SRAM and Shimano, utilising the manufacturers supplied hardware (excluding the band) and recommended torque.
"Our new design challenges the conventional band type clamping mechanism enabling significantly more scope for handlebar design from an aerodynamic, ergonomic and functional perspective. The new design also offers a larger, more consistent and therefore stronger clamping area which is particularly effective with carbon fibre handlebars."
Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.