I can bet that the majority of you have experienced, at the very least, a slight pain in your back. Maybe numbing of your hands, or some shoulder fatigue on a bikepacking trip. So have I, and over time I certainly have tried to remedy those chronic aches and pains. I have adjusted grips, stems, handlebars, saddles, saddle angles, and bar ends. Over the past few years of riding long distances, I have slowly figured out how to take care of these issues, and I can’t lie, it is a combination of things. I recently just finished the Tour Divide that lasted over 14 days. I averaged something around 20 hours of saddle time each day. I hopped off my bike at the end of the tour with zero hand issues, no back issues, and hardly any arm fatigue. The Fred Bar by Siren Bicycles was a huge contributing factor for this.  fredbarfeature-05920 The Fred Bar was introduced to the world from Brendan Collier, previous owner of Siren Bicycles and current co-owner of Hub Cyclery in Idylwild, California. After his wife Mary Collier was looking for a more upright position for the Tour Divide, he designed the Fred Bar. Siren Cycles has continued to manufacture the Fred Bar even after the company has changed hands. Some specs on the Fred Bar:
  • Heat treated which gives the bar a tensile strength of more then 42,000psi.
  • The clamp is also CNC’d rather then stamped.
  • Switched from powder coated version to a anodized black
  • 133 grams and width is 6.75”
  • Made in the USA
So how does it work? The Fred Bar is made up of a 6061 aluminum 31.8mm tube that is welded to a stem clamp. The stem clamp comes with a hex screw that tightens down on top of your stem. While the Fred Bar may work as a pop on accessory for some steer tubes, I specifically cut down my new Whiskey Carbon Fork (carbon steerer) with mounting the Fred Bar in mind. After talking to two bike mechanics, they both recommend that I have at least 3/4 of an inch of the steerer inserted in the Fred Bar spacer to insure proper safety. They were also hesitant in placing a spacer above the Fred Bar. Their recommendation was right in line with Siren Bicycles which required no less then .625” of steer tube above the stem.  After you have figured out measurements and stem spacings, you tighten down the Fred Bar screw along with your stem making sure it is straight and parallel with your handlebars. fredbarfeature-2 What is it good for? So what is this weird looking bar good for? Well aerobars of course. I mounted my Profile Designs T2+ aerobars along with one aerobar bracket riser on each mount. The Fred Bar is a simple tool that gives you a number of benefits. The biggest benefit is it keeps you more upright and your back happy. While road riders are looking to maximize their aerodynamics by placing aerobars on their bikes, bikepackers are trying to maximize comfort. The ability to mount the aerobars higher and a couple of inches back on the handle bar where they are normally mounted allows bikepackers to achieve more comfort. But the benefits do not stop there. After throwing the aerobars directly onto my handlebars, I noticed it took away all stem bag functionality. Once the Fred Bar was installed, I could at least access both my Bedrock Tapeats and Spoke Works stem bag. I did however need a bit more space. So I ended up cutting nearly an inch off of each side of the Fred Bar with a steer tube trimmer. While I am not sure If this is recommended by the manufacturer or not, after Jay Petervary and I chatted on the trail, we had both cut our Fred Bars down to create that extra space. How did it hold up? Before the Tour Divide, I receive a bike fit from Absolute Bikes in Salida. We made sure to position the Fred Bar and aerobars so that my back would create a rounded shape rather then my shoulder blades sticking out. Between the bike fit, Cane Creek bar ends, ESI Extra Chunky Grips and the Fred Bar, I was able to keep my neck, back, arms and hands happy.
fredbarfeature-9364
you can see how much space the the Fred Bar lifts the aerobars. I even used the bar for a velcro strap for one of my stem bags.
The Fred Bar held up with everything I threw at it. With countless days of abuse, rough terrain, a major fall, rain and some serious time spent in my aerobars – the Fred Bar passed the test. At first it took some time to adjust. Learning to trust a one of a kind product that was taking a large load kept crossing my mind. But once I got more time on it, it was obvious these bars were built to last. My go to position over the course of the divide was on the Fred Bar in my aeros when it was relatively flat.
fredbarfeature-9608
The Fred Bar positioned my aerobars above my saddle, creating the most comfortable position for the long haul.
These things are perfect for anyone taking on a route that has plenty of forest roads such as the Tour Divide. And apparently they have been popular in Australia. Siren has sold more Fred Bars in Australia than any other country. The final batch of the 2015 season is now ready to ship. $90 will have one at your door in no time. Head over to the Fred Bar Google Form to get yours while they last.  

17 Comments

  1. Neil, can you explain a bit on how you set this up with a carbon steerer? Did you use a longer compression plug? Thanks.

    • Neil Beltchenko
      Neil Beltchenko

      The Whiskey Carbon plug is built to sit on top of the Steer, So it made it simple for me to set up. I put the spacers below stem, installed the stem, and then made sure I had at least 3/4″ of steer tube above the stem. I then installed the Fred Bar and then the top cap. Pictures:



  2. I honestly have no idea what these bars look like. Do you mind taking pics with different and larger angles? Thanks
    David

  3. Neil,

    Glad we were able to get the top 2 of 3 places in the 2015 TD on our Fred Bars. I know we had a few others in the race as well. Good info on the carbon steerer tubes which come with their own set of special care required. We’ll refer others here on that topic. Anyone that has questions can feel free to shoot me an email or find us on the usual social media intertubes. @sirenbicycles everywhere.

    Congrats again on a great ride. In the 7 years or so I’ve been following the TD (and blue dots in general) this was definitely the most exciting of them all.

    • Hi Siren Brian,

      What’s your emailaddress?
      I have about 5 guys that are interested in the Fred bar. Since we live in The Netherlands I like to discuss price and shipping with you.

      Thanks!
      Gijs

  4. This sounds like an great way to be able to change up riding positions so my hands wouldn’t get numb. I remember in 1990 getting a bar that attached to my flat bars by Profile for riding long stretches. For that bar it gave bar ends and my forearms rested on my hand grips. Quick question about the functionality of the bar. How much different would it be to just raise the bars up the equivalent distance and then place the aero bars on them? The rise in the stem height would be maybe two inches at the most?

    Thanks,

    Joel

  5. What is the deal with those funky aero bars you have? I keep seeing them on photos of TD bikes. Did you add mini bar ends on to the end of your aero bars and then wrap them in bar tape? Otherwise I can’t figure how you got such a sharp change at the hand positions.

  6. Thanks for the review. That looks like a great aero-bar mounting option. I hadn’t heard of it before I read the article. 🙂

  7. Bas Rotgans

    Hey Neil,

    What brand is the carbon-looking ‘bridge’ between your aerobars. I have been trying to find something similar, and have found a few options, but not The One that I like yet.

    Grt
    Bas

    • Neil Beltchenko
      Neil Beltchenko

      Bas,

      That was made by Jefe Branham for me this year. He did something similar for the 2014 TD and I thought it would work really well for me, indeed it did. It is a old carbon handelebar. He used a tool to grind down the sides so it would fit on the aeros correctly. I then zip tied and taped it do the aero bars. It gave me the ability to run my light a bit further up and the GPS was also mounted on there. This was helpful to see my track when I was leaned over on the bars.

  8. Some interesting info here and on the rest of the site, but as you grow and publish more, may I suggest you change to the Metric system when referencing measurments and dimensions?

    Who can firmly say, based on reading an analog tape measure what .625 of an inch is?? ( as you recomend in the article). On the other hand when you say 15mm it is not only easily readable on an analog measuring device, but it is also easy to estimate in that it is 1.5cm.

    Also as different folks experiment with plus conversions and the like and look to your site as an information resource, a Metric measurement leaves nothing open to interpretation; 113mm is 113mm not 4.448 inches.

    Not to mention the rest of the bike industry uses metric ( except for MTB tire MFG’s …i know….i know…)

    Super simple stuff really.

  9. Pingback: 2015 Bikepackers Holiday Gift Guide - Bikepackers Magazine

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *