Compass 31.8 mm Randonneur Handlebars

Compass 31.8 mm Randonneur Handlebars

Compass Randonneur Bars 31.8 Clamp
We are glad to offer our Compass Randonneur handlebars with a clamp diameter of 31.8 mm (for modern stems), in addition to the 25.4 mm model we introduced last year.
These handlebars have been very popular, and for good reasons. They support the rider’s hands much better than conventional handlebars. Having ridden them (and the 1940s Mavic/AVA bars on which these are modeled) in two Paris-Brest-Paris, a 24-hour Flèche, and on numerous tours, they are by far my favorite handlebars.
Unfortunately, too many modern handlebars have a very short reach and a very square shape (above), which locks you into just three hand positions. After a few hours of riding, these bars often feel uncomfortable, and during longer rides, you can even suffer from nerve damage.
Compass Randonneur Bars 31.8 Clamp
The generous curves of Compass handlebars allow you to find the perfect hand position on a continuum: Moving your hands slightly in- or outward will also change your wrist angle. And, of course, you can change your hand position during the ride.
We now offer both Compass handlebars for modern 31.8 mm stems: The Randonneur (above) has an upward sweep that provides a curves that supports the cupped palm of your hand perfectly.
Compass Maes Parallel 31.8
The Maes Parallel (above) offers flat ramps and generous space to roam as you ride. (Both models are also available in a 25.4 mm diameter. For 26.0 mm stems, we offer a shim that increases the diameter for a perfect fit.)
Click here for more information about our handlebars.

Share this post

Comments (28)

  • Paul

    It’s a very slippery slope when it comes to chasing modern bicycle “standards” (gimmicks). I would be very careful as to how far down the rabbit hole you chase the money. 31.8 could be tomorrow’s flex stem.

    May 27, 2016 at 8:28 am
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      Perhaps you are right that larger-diameter aluminum handlebars don’t provide any real advantages, but there aren’t any real disadvantages, either. We want riders of modern bikes to be comfortable on their bikes, too, so we offer our handlebars with oversize as well as standard clamp diameters.
      Most of all, if you use an oversize steerer (which you have to do when making a fork from carbon fiber), then your stem will either have a very sharp transition from the large steerer clamp to the smaller bar clamp, or you go with larger-diameter bars, too. We chose to make our Compass 1 1/8″ stems for 31.8 mm handlebar for that reason.

      May 27, 2016 at 2:22 pm
    • Steve Green

      Earlier this week I saw a reference to a new “standard” for handlebars… 35mm!

      May 28, 2016 at 2:14 am
  • Bigschill

    they look great… but please make a 46 cm model for us larger chested riders.

    May 27, 2016 at 9:08 am
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      We’ll consider adding wider options. However, 44 cm is already quite wide… Click here to read about handlebar width and the factors influencing it.

      May 27, 2016 at 1:50 pm
      • Bob C

        In my experience, the Compass Randonneur bars seem slightly more sensitive to bar width than others. I’ve got a broad chest (46″) and proportional shoulders and I’ve been riding with the 420mm Randonneur bars. The upward rise on the bars is comfortable when cupped, but when I rotate my hand to grip the area inside the rise, it puts my wrists at an uncomfortable angle. I wish I had gotten the 440mm version to try. But I’m still giving it time — the longest single ride I’ve done on them is 240K and overall have done only a couple thousand kilometers on them — so it might be a matter of acclamation because the bars are tantalizing in most respects. Overall, though I would recommend people go a bit wider with these because of the bends.
        By contrast, before switching, I was riding 410mm Maes Parallel and felt they were the best bars I’ve ever ridden and completely free of width-related issues. Always comfortable, no matter how long the ride. Pretty perfect. The only reason I switched was to try the new hand positions of the randonneur bars. In the end, I might go back to the Maes Parallel, but want to give the rando bars a bit more time.
        If I wasn’t a bit of an outlier on the body dimensions, I’m sure the rando bars would be completely amazing, as opposed to *mostly* amazing.

        May 30, 2016 at 10:49 am
  • kennethsamuel

    Randonneur handlebars have ruined me for normal bars. I rode a 300k using vintage GB (Gerry Burgess!) rando handlebars last Saturday. When I went to ride my commuter bike to work this week, I was shockingly repulsed by how terrible my “normal” bars are! I had never noticed much difference before, but I guess longer rides really accentuate the subtleties…

    May 27, 2016 at 9:42 am
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      I am glad you enjoy the old British GB bars so much. I haven’t tried those, they sound great.
      Not all “Randonneur” handlebars are created equal. Most only raise your bars a bit, but the curve isn’t at the right place and in the right shape to support your palms. We tested numerous models and prototypes before settling on this shape.

      May 27, 2016 at 1:57 pm
  • Willem

    I was wondering about the length of the straight section of the randonneur bars, between the bulge and the bend. I am currently using a 46 cm Noodle bar with a special Mittelmeyer Rohloff twist shifter for drop bars and I am not completely happy with the Noodle bar. I need a straight section of preferably 45 mm.

    May 27, 2016 at 10:55 am
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      I am touring right now (with a bike that has Maes Parallel bars), so I’ll measure when I return in a few days.

      May 27, 2016 at 1:58 pm
      • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

        On the Compass Randonneur handlebars, there isn’t any straight section where you could mount a rotating shifter for a Rohloff hub. The upward sweep starts right where the bulge at the center ends. You probably could put the shifter on the end of the drops, where it might be easier to reach and operate (similar location to bar-end shifters).

        May 30, 2016 at 9:30 pm
      • Andrew

        Jan’s comment about continuous curvature making it hard to find a place for the Berthoud shifter is also true of the rando bar I sort-of succeeeded with. I think it is a 46cm VO not B136 (I have both). I pushed the shifter right next to the 26mm bulge (which is the clamp end of the shifter), and even so, the little amount of bar bend under the shifter means it is hard to get bar tape overlapping under the start of the shifter, and this is the point where bar tape wear is heaviest. Jan’s suggestion about using the end of the drop bar negates the reason for using the Berthoud or Mittelmeyer shifters – you’d just use the Rohloff shifter there with a cheap adaptor. There’s a webpage devoted to what were originally 12 and more recently about 20 ways to run Rohloff with drops.

        May 30, 2016 at 11:19 pm
    • Andrew

      You might want to check on the radius of each of the bends of the handlebar. I don’t know if the Mittelmeyer shifter installation involves sliding each of several parts along the bar and assembling in the final place like my Gilles Berthoud shifter, but I speak from bitter experience with an “anatomic bend” bar and a cheap bar that looks a bit tighter/squarer than the Maes Parallel is, more like the black one above. I have succeeded though with another brand randonneur bar. It looks from the photos as though the rando one above has a larger radius than the Maes Parallel.

      May 30, 2016 at 4:23 am
      • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

        All Compass bars have relatively large radii – that is one reason they are so comfortable. This is especially important when using a classic stem (without removable face plate), where some of the “square” handlebars simply cannot be installed.

        May 30, 2016 at 9:28 pm
  • Frank

    Here’s a long shot … but y’never know with fingers crossed …
    Is there anyone in Hobart Tasmania that has these handlebars so that I could go for a wee test ride?
    Best, Frank

    May 27, 2016 at 3:04 pm
  • Dr J

    But wouldn’t a longer reach mean that I would have to switch to a shorter stem? The reach of those rando bars is almost 4cm longer than my current bars (which I find very comfortable, BTW). Switching to your rando bars means the hoods would be 4cm further away from the saddle. That’s a lot! Going with a bit shorter stem would negate that but then my knees could hit the bars when riding out of saddle. Bummer. What do you do then? Force yourself into a different (and unknown) fit or shorten the stem?

    May 27, 2016 at 5:11 pm
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      These bars provide more hand positions than just the “classic three” (tops, hoods, drops). Most of the time you’ll ride on the ramps, a position that actually is a bit closer than the hoods on your current bars (and much more ergonomic).
      Basically, you split the old position on the hoods in two. Most of the time, you’ll be on the ramps, where the generous curves allow you to find just the angle you need your anatomy. (Everybody’s wrists and shoulders are slightly different.)
      Use the hoods for a more stretched-out position, and the drops to get aero and low. You can raise the stem a little to bring the bars closer, if you find the reach to the hoods too long.

      May 27, 2016 at 5:54 pm
      • Dr J

        Ok, I see. The problem with it is that I would rather be riding with my hands either mostly on hoods (or drops) because that’s where I can reach brake or shifter levers all the time. I think ramps (or tops) should be those short-term backup options only as they give you no control over brakes or shifting.
        Another question – those rando bars have ramps a bit higher than tops, which is nice. Do you know how large than upward bend is?

        May 27, 2016 at 6:04 pm
        • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

          I can see your concern to reach brakes and shifters. For short rides, it’s fine to have your hands locked into one position, but over a few hours, this often leads to discomfort. With your hands on the ramps, you have more room to roam.
          It only takes a split-second to move your hands to shift or brake. When I drive a car, I also don’t hover my foot over the brake pedal and my hand over the shift lever…

          May 28, 2016 at 2:09 am
  • James

    How does your randonneer bar mate with the newer style integrated shift/brake levers, specifically Shimano? Have you used them with hydro STI?

    May 29, 2016 at 1:01 pm
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      The Randonneur bars work great with STI/Ergo/Double Tap. Several of the riders on the BQ “Team” use them that way. We’ve used the Maes Parallel bars (with equally long reach) with Hydro STI on our Specialized Diverge test bike, and it worked and felt great. Much better than the stock bars, which gave me hand problems after just 2 or 3 hours on the bike.

      May 29, 2016 at 5:55 pm
      • James

        When using Shimano hydro, can you recommend 1 bar over the other (Maes Parallel vs Randonneur) or will it boil down to personal preference?

        May 29, 2016 at 6:09 pm
        • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

          I think it comes down to personal preference. I prefer the Randonneur style, with the Maes Parallel being a close second.

          May 29, 2016 at 6:11 pm
  • charlie

    I use the nitto b135 and was wondering how different the compass rando bars are, I enjoy the flared out drops so much more and am looking at either bar for my modern bike since both are now available in 31.8 clamp. I’m using brifters with the new bike and I use downtube shifters on the bike with the b135 now so the only real visual difference I can see is the angle that drops flare out seems to be different. Wondering if anyone has ridden both bars and can comment on differences?

    May 30, 2016 at 8:52 am
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      Like you say, the Nitto B135 “Randonneur” bars have a nice flare, but their shape doesn’t really do anything to support your palms when you ride “on the ramps”. I think that if you use the Compass Randonneur bars, you’ll notice a huge difference in comfort. The difference between “almost right, but not quite” and “just right” is very noticeable. In fact, in handlebars, “almost right” often is worse than “just flat”.

      May 30, 2016 at 5:50 pm
  • Waldo

    Jan, it’s great that Compass now offers a bar with a 31.8 clamp. Does this mean a quill stem with a 31.8 clamp is in the making? One can only hope….

    May 31, 2016 at 4:02 pm
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      Thank you for the suggestion. We’ve thought about a quill stem with a larger bar clamp diameter, but it really doesn’t make much sense.
      For a quill stem, 31.8 mm doesn’t make all that much sense. The quill fits inside the steerer tube, so it’s smaller in diameter. There isn’t an elegant (and lightweight) way to transition from the smaller quill to the large handlebar clamp. You’ll get a lighter and more elegant solution by going with a 25.4 mm bar, which we also offer.
      The larger diameter makes sense for an Aheadset-type stem, which fits outside the steerer tube, and thus is larger in diameter. Compass already offers Aheadset-type stems for 31.8 mm diameter and matching handlebars.

      May 31, 2016 at 4:42 pm
  • Justin Hughes

    Really glad to see these. Goodbye, shims!

    June 1, 2016 at 11:13 am

Comments are closed.

Are you on our list?

Every week, we bring you stories of great rides, new products, and fascinating tech. Sign up and enjoy the ride!

* indicates required