Ritchey WCS Butano and Ergomax Handle Bars: Quick Review

Ritchey WCS Butano and Ergomax Handle Bars: Quick Review – by Grannygear

Editor’s Note: This review features two ‘Quick Reviews’ of Ritchey WCS range handle bars. Enjoy this rare two-for-one!

WCS Butano Alloy Bar

When I built up a Ritchey Road Logic frameset a few years ago, I needed a handlebar for it.  There was no carbon on that bike, so I grabbed a Ritchey alloy bar and fitted it up.  That turned out to be the best move I could have made, as that bar, a WCS Evocurve, immediately felt great but I really had little experience in such things.  For the last 25 years, all the bars I had been holding on to were MTB bars and much less ‘bendy’.
Ritchey Design WCS Butano handle bar.

Since then, I have purchased two more of those WCS Evocurves as I find the combo of reach, drop, and shaping to be excellent over long miles on the road. In alloy, it has a reasonably soft ride and I bet that bar in carbon would be sublime.

I mention this to pre-stage my time on the Butano bar, as it draws it’s shaping from the WCS Evocurve gene pool as far as I can see. The drop is more shallow, the reach is less, and there is a slight flare, but from the saddle, where your hands go, the Butano shares that lovely bar top shaping and slight (4 degrees) rearward sweep that won me over.

Side view of the drop.

With only a 12 degree drop flare, the Butano is not as aggressive as the Ritchey VentureMax bars, but that makes it a fine All Road kind of bar in my mind. Compared to the typical road bike bar, the reduced drop keeps you a bit more upright when in the drops and the shorter reach brings the controls closer to the rider, both things that are likely to be desirable on a gravel bike. However, even a 12 degree flare gives the bar a wider feel in the drops as opposed to a more conventional road bar. Again, desirable for gravel.

I ran the Butano on the Long Term Cannondale Topstone test bike, a bike I had set-up with a 44cm wide bar to keep it a bit more ‘tight’ on the cockpit then my Lynskey which runs a 46cm wide bar with more flare.  I think that narrower width on the Butano worked very well for All Road and lighter gravel sections where the wider bar would have just added drag on the road with that greater wingspan.  Of course, the Butano comes in widths from 38cm to 46cm.

Like the Evocurve, the Butano has a shaped top section that provides a nice hand rest and eases pressure.

It’s a very nice bar and there is not a thing I don’t like about it, especially as an All Road bar. Actually it would be quite good on the road too. If I acquired a road bike with longer reach to it and I wanted to keep the stem length at status quo, a shorter reach bar like a Butano will bring the controls back towards you but keep the bar tops out there. And 12mms of flare is not a terrible thing even on a pure road bike unless you really are focused on keeping aero.

At 283g in the 44cm size and at $94.95, it’s well worth it. Ritchey lists the carbon version of the WCS Evocurve in a 42cm width as 220g. If I chop off a bit of grams from the Butano to get the sizes even, I bet the Butano in alloy is only 50g of so heavier. I picked it up the other day and was surprised by how light it felt.

It also has nice degree markings for the controls and the stem area as well.  I love a bar with incremental markings on it as it makes evening up the brifters sooooo much easier.

Bar shapes are a lot like saddles in that they become personal choices. I love the WCS Evocurve and the Butano wooed me as well. A keeper. https://us.ritcheylogic.com/us_en/wcs-butano-handlebar

WCS Ergomax Alloy Bar

As I said, I run a set-up on my Lynskey gravel bike that places the controls slightly closer, slightly higher, and slightly wider than on my full-on road bike. It’s not a huge difference…10mms or so here and there…but it gives me some grace when things get rough.

Need a little lift?

Short reach bars are getting much more popular and commonplace, perhaps as an answer to the increasing length of today’s brifter controls. But if you need to get the bars higher than stock, that can be tricky. You can only do so much height adjustment if you take into consideration the steerer tube length. There is a limit to how much extension above the headset is OK on a carbon steerer tube but 30mms of spacers under the stem seems to be the general consensus as to what should not be exceeded. You can also flip the stem to a positive angle, but I find that both of these solutions…big stack of spacers and flipped stem… offend the eye. I hate the look of a flipped to positive stem. It just bugs my purist sensibilities and even if 20mms of spacers would do the trick, there is no guarantee that you HAVE that much free room on the steerer depending on how it was cut.

The Ergomax features a little sweep back and a nice, flattened section on the tops.

Enter the riser drop bar. With 15mms of rise and a short drop and reach, the WCS Ergomax alloy bar could give you that lift you want without exceeding the spacer limit or flipping the stem.

When I modified the GT Grade for Mrs. Grannygear, that bike had a very long reach and pretty short stack in the size frame she fit. And she likes her bar top about even with her saddle, but still with the controls out there a ways. To get that, I bought a Specialized hover bar with 15mms of rise, 12 degrees of flare, 103mms of drop, and 70mms of reach, its a pretty compact bar. But it also is simply round in its shaping and it is a smaller diameter as well, where many bars keep a larger diameter over the bar’s length.

That makes for a smaller overall diameter even with 3mm thick tape on it and although smaller hands might like that, I am not sure if isn’t a better compromise to have an overall larger diameter place to hold onto.

The WCS ErgoMax bar is very shaped, with 4 degrees of rearward sweep and a quite flattened bar top.  There is a generous straight section of 80mms at the stem so placing lights and computer mounts would be easy, unlike many other shaped bars I have used.  It also has a roughened stem clamping area and degree marks for both the control clamps and the stem location/rotation.  Oh, and a Di2 wiring port on the right side for a bar end port.

It’s a very nicely shaped bar and that widened and flattened bar top tapers but still makes it all the way to the bend and that should make for quite a nice dispersion of hand pressure.

It has more drop at 128mm (over the Hover bar), has a bit more reach with 73mm, but I expect some if not all of that increased reach number is mitigated by the 4 (shows 5 degrees on the tech drawing on the Ritchey site) degrees of rearward sweep.  Flare is 12 degrees at the drops and 3 degrees flare out at the bar ends.

Weight is 292g on my 44cm sample.

I think this also would make a very good road bar if one needed a bit of a bump in bar height and I have not found that the 12 degree flared bars feel weird on the road when you are in the drops. Obviously it’s a small loss in aero-ness as you will have a wider stance at the elbows, but I expect that someone who is looking for a higher bar position is not focused on time trialing.

Only thing is, I have no bike to run this on as 15mm of rise would mean moving too many spacers over the stem on my Lynskey for good measure. But. I am seriously considering swapping the cheaper Specialized Hover Bar for this WCS Ergomax on Mrs. Grannygear’s GT Grade to get that nicer shaped top section.

Of course that would be a 40cm bar, not the 44cm one I have.  But many bike frames that interest me, such as the Ritchey Outback gravel frame, have a lower stack than I prefer and this bar would make that situation very doable.  It might find a home someday.

$99.95 suggested retail. https://us.ritcheylogic.com/us_en/wcs-ergomax-handlebar

Note: Ritchey sent over the Ergomax and Butano WCS handle bars at no charge to Riding Gravel for test and review. We were not bribed nor paid for this review and we always strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.

Author: Grannygear

Grannygear hails from SoCal and spent most of his cycling days as a mountain biker from the formative years of mountain biking all the way up to the present day. His day job is in the tech sector, but he has spent time writing about off road 4X4’s, 29″ mountain bikes, and cycling in general. Grannygear and Guitar Ted have worked off and on together since 2009 after a chance meeting at Interbike. With gravel cycling on the rise, Grannygear has been exploring how this genre’ works in SoCal and now does guest pieces for RidingGravel.com in his spare time.

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