Redshift Sports Kitchen Sink Handlebar: Getting Rolling – by Guitar Ted
NOTE; In any of our reviews for drop bars, we will be using terms which describe certain aspects of a drop bar design which you may be unfamiliar with. Please refer to THIS LINK which will take you to our article which explains these terms so you can garner the best information from these reviews. Thanks!
Handlebars used to be a thing that wasn’t a questionable part of your cycling componentry. Your bike had a handlebar and you just rode the bike. End of story. Mountain bike handlebars were one way, road drop bars another, and of course, there were a few outliers. Always are.
Then things started to change radically in the 00’s for whatever reason. My take is that the advent of 29″ers, the internet becoming more ubiquitous, and adventurous companies looking for something different to sell to gain an edge caused much experimentation. We saw flared drop bars make a comeback, and then gravel bikes adopted that type of bar.
Now we are seeing even more handlebar experimentation. Rise, sweep, flare, width (!!) and more details like those are finding their way into drop bar handlebar design. Redshift Sports‘ new “Kitchen Sink” handlebar being one of the latest to push boundaries further.
What It Is: Redshift Sports Kitchen Sink handlebar is a flared drop bar, which you may be familiar with, but it adds other add-on features and design cues to make the total package a very unique take on a drop bar for unpaved travels. The bare-bones Kitchen Sink handlebar may have enough going on in and of itself to make it a stand-out in the flared drop bar market. Add in the accessory grip package and it becomes a very different handle bar. Redshift Sports even went as far as to provide extra long handle bar tape to wrap this unique bar with. Let’s take a look at the details. Here is what Redshift Sports says about the Kitchen Sink Handlebar on the webpage for the product:
“Yes, you can get everything AND the kitchen sink. Simple and thoughtful design provides control, comfort, and confidence no matter the riding situation. Sometimes the small subtle changes make the biggest difference. “
• 20mm RISE means less pressure on the hands and a broad range of fit options.
• 7° SWEEP means the bar is positioned where your hands want to be, whether you’re on the flats, the hoods or the drops.
• 25° FLARE on a compact drop means a stable, aerodymanic drop position that is actually comfortable enough to use.
• Optional endurance loop adds an alternative aerodynamic riding position and a perfect spot for gear storage and mounting accessories.
Plus Redshift Sports sent along the Cruise Control Grip System and the “Really Long Bar Tape” to wrap it all in. To top it all off, we also received Redshift Sports ShockStop PRO Stem which is like the normal ShockStop Stem we’ve reviewed before but now with further CNC machining and titanium hardware to lighten things up a bit. This PRO version also has a nice new finish which sets it apart from the standard ShockStop Stem. We’ll do a short sidebar on the stem for the “At The Finish” post to come.
The Kitchen Sink Handlebar can be purchased in the “Loop” form or without the added loop. Prices are $99.00 without a loop and $129.00 with it. The bar can be ordered in 44cm, 47cm, or 50cm width in either form. We were sent the 47cm width with the loop. We also received the Cruise Control Grip System, which are add-on rubber grips which add shape and ergonomic comfort to the tops and drop extensions on a Kitchen Sink Handlebar, (or most any standard round tubed drop bar), and these cost $29.99 for the Drop Grip and $29.99 for the Top Grip, or both can be purchased together for $49.98. The “Really Long Bar Tape” has black or grey color options for $34.99 each.The ShockStop PRO stem comes in five lengths from 80mm-120mm and costs $229.99.
First Impressions: The idea of, what amounts to, integrated aero bars is an intriguing one. I was curious as to how this feature, arguably the most prominent feature of the handlebar, would work out. The idea of add-on grips is not necessarily new. We tested a similar idea at one point here, but the Redshift Sports version is a much better executed design idea than those were. Then the PRO version of the ShockStop Stem was pretty much what I expected. Beautifully executed with a classy look and the familiar inner workings. I was sure that component would be just what we have come to expect from a ShockStop stem– that being an excellent addition to any gravel bike in terms of vibration reduction and comfort.
As far as the base handlebar goes, the Kitchen Sink Bar we got in is the 47cm version. This bar has a sweep, rise, and flare, (see above for spec) and the only one of those things that really stood out to me was the flare. At a claimed 25° of flare, the handlebar seemed similar to something like a Cowchipper, or the Spank Bar we tested earlier. That’s a healthy amount of flare, but nothing crazy. The rise and sweep seem barely there, but they do lend a slightly different feel to the bar when it is set up on the bike. The bare Kitchen Sink handlebar weighs in at 490gms for this 47cm version, by the way.
What I found most intriguing about this handlebar, (besides the loop), was the grip system. The Cruise Control grips are unique and different one from the other. The Top Grip features that ‘wing’ shape that some drop bars in carbon have that you might be familiar with. This Top Grip also features the option to cut it shorter, so it could go on narrower bars, as an example. It also comes with an adhesive on the mating surface along with strapping tape to secure its position on the bars. As with the Drop Grip, Redshift Sports has videos for the Top Grip to help you with installation. I positioned the pair sent out in a rather flat, neutral way. These grips weighed in at 98gms for the pair.
The Drop Grip reminds me a lot of a certain ‘ergonomic’ flat bar grip you might also be familiar with. It has a lock-on collar, and it also is not meant to be wrapped. This Drop Grip goes on the drop bar extensions, and should be positioned as you sit on the saddle to get the best out of it. I find grips like these with an ‘ergonomic paddle’ to be very position sensitive, so you may want to consider taking along a hex key to do a test ride and fiddle with the angle to get the best fit. The Drop Grip weighed in at 130gms for the pair.
The “Really Long Bar Tape” definitely lived up to its name there, but it also is a very tacky tape. The grip you have is so good I can see where even a sweaty hand without a glove might find decent purchase with this tape. The full rolls of the tape weighed in at 91 grams, but I did end up not using the full length, despite me using some to partially wrap the loop section of the bar.
The ShockStop PRO stem I got in for this review is the 100mm length and I used the stock 6° rise set up. The stem can be set in a negative rise position by switching around the internals, which I may do here in the near future due to this Kitchen Sink Bar having that rise of 20mm. This example of the PRO stem weighed in at 242 grams.
Ride Impressions: So, the set up was not all that difficult. I will only add that you may want to find someone who you regard as an ‘expert handlebar wrapper’ to do the tape installation because the Top Grip does present a bit of a challenge here. That said, I had no problems wrapping up everything to my standards, but then again, I do literally hundreds of bar taping jobs a year as a bike shop mechanic. So, I have a bit of an advantage there.
The loop section is about where I would want it, which is interesting, because I know everyone has their own preferences here. I asked Redshift Sports if they had considered making this an add-on feature, and not integrated in a fixed position. Here is the answer I received:
“ Regarding your question, we did consider doing the loop as a pure add on (and we still might do that in the future) but we decided on the fully integrated approach because it simplified the bar. You are right that it does not allow someone to upgrade in the future or add or remove the loop depending on what they are doing. But, based on what we have been hearing from everyone since we showed the bar at Sea Otter it seems that integrated is something that people really seem to like. “
Furthermore; orders for the Kitchen Sink Handlebar are running heavily in favor of the loop version, so it appears that riders are preferring the affixed version of the loop so far.
The Drop Grips and Top Grips are pretty impressive so far. My shorter test loops and the one longer ride I’ve been able to squeeze in since Winter weather broke here shows me these features have great promise. I felt more in control in the drops, the grips spread out hand pressure well, and I think they are going to reduce hand fatigue on rougher roads. That’s a bit that I want to explore more though and as for now, our roads are still not in shape to find this out yet.
As far as the bare handlebar goes, I like it. The loop section, ironically, reminds me of the aero position the UCI recently banned for Pro road racers. It seems that by crossing my forearms over the Top Grip and then grabbing the loop bit in the foremost part I am in that ‘banned’ position. So, I think that is a feature of the Kitchen Sink Handlebar which is useful. I will be testing it as a mount for bags in the future as well.
So Far… The Redshift Sports Kitchen Sink Handlebar, Cruise Control Grips, and Really Long Bar Tape combine to make a system that is intriguing for the gravel and back road cyclist. Add in the loop bar section and it becomes more versatile with an added possibility for cargo bag attachment, accessories attachment points, and obviously as an aero position for riding into winds. There is a lot going on here.
The entire system is a bit on the heavier side, with a total system weight of around 817 grams, including the handlebar tape, and excluding the stem, but the gains in versatility and especially comfort have to be seen as offsetting that weight concern. Speaking of comfort, initial impressions are leading me to believe that Redshift Sports could be on to something here. I have noted a better feel in the hands after riding this system, and the aero bit is effective as well. Stay tuned for my “Checkpoint” post where I will be able to take a closer look at those aspects of the Kitchen Sink Handlebar and more.
In the meantime, check out these products and more at Redshift Sports’ website here; https://redshiftsports.com/
NOTE: Redshift Spots sent over the Kitchen Sink Handlebar, Crusie Control Grip System, Really Long Bar Tape, and ShockStop PRO Stem at no charge to Riding Gravel for test and review. We were not paid, nor bribed, for this review and we will always strive to give our honest thoughts and views throughout.