Whisky Parts Co. Spano Drop Bar: Getting Rolling – by Guitar Ted
Just a few days ago we told you the news of the Spano Drop Bar from Whisky Parts Co. Well, it did not take long for us to receive a sample for test and review. This is a carbon fiber drop bar with some very unique features. Let’s take a closer look.
What It Is: The Spano derives its unique looks from carbon fiber’s ability to be shaped in ways that metal tubing cannot hope to be without some heavy doses of dollars and technology. (I’m not saying it would be impossible to do a metal bar like this, just that it would be exorbitantly expensive and require a lot of R&D to realize.) So, what does the Spano do that your garden variety aluminum flared drop bar cannot do? Well, for a few hints, here is what Whisky Parts Co. says on the webpage for the Spano Drop Bar:
“A multi-stage flare puts the hoods at an optimal angle for comfort while maximizing control through the drops. The bar’s flat top promotes flex and offers relief from rough surfaces, and its 31.8 clamp diameter with 90mm width allows compatibility with bar-mounted accessories, including aero bars.“
It is really the combination of shaping and the promise of built in flex for rider comfort that make this Spano Drop Bar so compelling. Both things being in the realm of what carbon fiber is best at, and Whisky Parts Co sought to exploit those traits in this drop bar. The flex is due to carbon layup and the thinner, flatter tops section. (See our “Drop Bar Terms Defined“ for a legend on drop bar terms) The compound flare, which is 12° at the point on the drops where the brake lever would mount, and then flares more to 20° in the lower part of the drop, provides tons of wrist clearance while in the drops, but leaves the brake hoods about where you might expect them to be on a race bike set up. Other bars with a simple flare in the 20-25° range lay the levers over a fair amount which may put some folks off, especially if you are coming from a mostly road biking background. Both of those features would be harder or impossible to pull off in metal.
But that is not all that is going on with the Spano Drop Bar. There is the ovalized portion in the drops for more hand comfort. There is the sharper bend from the ends of the tops to the drops which makes this section a bit wider for a more stable ride and surer grip when riding the tops. The drop measurement, a paltry 100mm, is pretty shallow, and the reach is an incredibly short 68mm. The final feature worth mentioning here is the slightly longer extensions which are Di2 ported and big enough to support bar end shifters.
Of course, all of this would be extra nice if the bar was also light in weight. We received a 46cm sample, (the Spano comes in 2cm increments from 40cm – 48cm), and ours weighed in at 250 grams. Not crazy light, but it saved 40 grams over the aluminum bar I removed from the Nobel Bikes GX-5 test mule. By the way, the Spano Drop Bar is available now and runs $280.00USD. The bar is made in Taiwan.
First Impressions: Out of the box the Spano Drop Bar looked great. A typically nice, flat black with a hint of some uni-directional iridescence in a few spots. There is minimal branding. The bar has textured areas where the stem clamps on and where the brake levers mount which should help keep things where you torque them down at. (You are using a torque wrench to install stuff, aren’t you?)
The bar felt pretty light and the way the flattened section feels in the hands is natural. The more triangulated underside of this flattened section is one reason why, I think. There are a lot of nice grip positions here, and I was intrigued by the ovalized part in the drops. Okay, enough gawking! It was time to mount these things to the bike and wrap some bar tape around them.
The bars were easy to set up and no more difficult to wrap than a standard handle bar, in my opinion. Once everything was set, I put my hands into the drops and pushed down. Whoa! These bars have some noticeable give. This may be a very comfortable bar on the rough stuff then. I thought that the 12° flare for the levers was spot on for traditional grip and looks. Yet that 20° flare was there and in the drops you can feel confident that you will be able to throw the bike around if need be without fear of contacting the tops with your wrists or forearms. I really don’t have anything yet to say about the ovalized bit in the drops. I’ll be getting this bike out for a long gravel ride or three soon enough though, so I will report back on that and more in my “Checkpoint” update.
So Far… The Whisky Parts Co Spano Bar offers the rider a unique carbon fiber bar with some give to its layup which should translate into comfort in the riding. That and the unique shaping to the flare and other parts of the handle bar give the Spano an ergonomic advantage over other bars in its class. The bars seem competitively priced and if the claims for the features hold up throughout this test, it should be considered a great option for the off-pavement drop bar rider.
The next update in this review, the “Checkpoint“, should appear in a few weeks. Until then, learn more about Whisky Parts Co here: https://www.whiskyparts.co
Note: Whisky Parts Co. sent over the Spano Drop Bar at no charge to Riding Gravel for test and review. We are not being paid, nor bribed, for this review and we will always strive to give our honest thoughts and views throughout.