As you know, I like to try out new things myself, true to the motto: Better to know than to think. And this includes the following project.
I have been planning for some time the conversion of my shifting on the Fargo and would like to attach an electronic shifting here. More specifically, a SRAM Force AXS combined with a SRAM Eagle GX AXS rear derailleur. In this combination I would like to compete in the Bohemian Border Bash Race. But that will probably not work, because the delivery of my left shift / brake lever is delayed until the end of May.
However, I already had the rear derailleur, batteries and 10-52 cassette. And an idea: Surly had introduced the Corner Bar some time ago.
This is a handlebar that is a kind of hermaphrodite between drop and flat bar and is intended primarily for mountain bikers who want to try a drop bar on the MTB. The highlight: The MTB brakes and shifters can still be used, because the Corner Bar offers the appropriate mounting options.
He has a slight drop for it, but is very wide and somewhat flatter built and has small horns, to which the brake handles and shift levers are then mounted. The handlebar is somewhat reminiscent of the Surly Moloko, but is designed as a drop bar.
I wanted to reverse the principle and mount a handlebar with the Corner Bar, which offers me through the drop enough grip positions and with which I can put enough pressure on the bike to also go fast. And at the same time through its Flat Bar Gene offers more control and safety in the terrain. So dare more MTB. Because that’s something I would have liked to see more of in the Atlas and Kyrgyzstan, even though the Salsa Cowchipper handlebars I’ve ridden so far have been quite good when things get rough.
Briefly to the frame data of the Surly Corner Bar: The handlebar has a 25.4mm clamping and brings but also equal to an adapter for the normal 31.8mm stems with. So that the handlebar is suitable for the common MTB shift and brake levers, the tubes are 22.2mm thick at the horns. Its drop is only 95.2mm and its flare, so generally speaking how far it stands outward at the bottom, is 41.4 degrees. That’s a lot. For comparison (although you can’t really compare), the Salsa Cowchipper has 24 degrees of flare and a drop of 116mm.
The Corner Bar is available in widths of 460, 500 and 540mm, with this handlebar the width then below from bar end to bar end is 633, 673 and 713mm. That is already neatly wide. In terms of price, it is about 120 euros.
And unlike most handlebars that I have ridden so far, the Surly Corner Bar is made of good steel, more precisely from CroMoly. That makes him with 720g in the size 500mm quite heavy. For comparison, my Cowbell made of aluminum weighs only 306g. So the extra weight is not insignificant at 410g. I notice this of course in the front when I lift the bike. While riding, it has no noticeable effects for me, except that I can steer very well and safely and notice more directional stability on the bike.
The Corner Bar is currently – like so much – not really available. In the width of 500mm I was able to get hold of a model via MTB News marketplace. Also a GX AXS button was ordered quickly and also Shimano XT disc brakes, which I had anyway for my travel bike as a replacement for the HS33.
The assembly works easily and I have taken an example from the Bikepacking.com report on the handlebars. The brakes and switches I have built above on the horns. Thus, the brake handles are optimal on my hands, because with the corner bar I usually ride directly in the hoods below the horns. There is now also the AXS button, which I can operate intuitively with my thumb.
And here we are already at the riding experience: I must say, I am very taken. Meanwhile, I have just about 300km with the handlebars behind me and find it good. After Kyrgyzstan, I was looking for a handlebar that gives me more steering safety and off-road capability in the terrain and on trails. And that does the Corner Bar well. He rides for me more like a flat bar, with the advantages of a drop bar, so more grip positions and the fact that I have a good power transmission and can thus also build up enough pressure when riding under load.
For the terrain, the Corner Bar is ideal and together with the hydraulic Shimano XT brakes just really good. For the long haul I still have my Profile Design Aerobars built on it – and then read only later that Surly advises against it. But regardless of this is the ideal combination for tours, as I ride them. From the geometry and my seating position has not changed much by the handlebars. I notice of course a slightly more upright sitting, but that is rather minimal with significantly noticeable improved steering behavior. A longer stem is not necessary in my case, but that would have to be measured times, because data are often more meaningful than feelings.
The optical and perhaps practical disadvantage when transporting luggage are the brake lines, which stand away to the front like clotheslines. Although I can attach my Revelate Designs Pronghorn Harness in front and also have good access to the pannier, but I must say that the brake cables and the weight of the handlebars bother me a bit.
So can the Corner Bar be an alternative for me on the Bohemian Border Bash Race? Hmm, I still don’t have a definitive answer on this question. It all feels good, but for an event like the BBBR, I honestly don’t want to make any compromises, so I’d rather rely on my equipment that was already used in Kyrgyzstan. I love the hydraulic brakes and especially the electronic circuit, but both must then just wait until my Force AXS levers are there. And with these I also install equal hydraulic Hope RX4+ 4-piston brakes, which should bring even a little more brake power on the disc, as the Shimano XT.
But maybe I combine the SRAM Eagle AXS rear derailleur with cassette with the Rival brake levers and the semi-hydraulic TRP HY-RD, which I ride so far (and now you’re certainly wondering how 🙂 ). Or it still happens a miracle and the left SRAM Force AXS brake / shift lever comes yet in time. Let’s see …
The Surly Corner Bar is a handlebar that everyone should take a look at who is looking for an alternative to the flat or even the classic drop bar. I would put it as a bikepacking alternative handlebar in a row with the Jones Bar, the Denham Bar or the Sulry Moloko Bar.
It’s a bit more comfortable and wider for drop bar fans and offers a bit more long distance capability and relaxation for MTB or trekking bike riders. The higher weight and the routing of the brake lines take some getting used to, but not really annoying.
The price of 120 euros is in my view something very high. And I would be there immediately if the corner bar was made of aluminum and thus the weight issue would fall away as a hurdle.
And if you’ve already had some experience with the Corner Bar, I’d be very interested to hear your thoughts in the comments.
More Surly Corner Bar tests
- Bikepacking.com Review Artikel
- Corner Bar Review Video:
- Corner Bar Review Path Less Pedaled: