PRO Discover Big Flare Bars: Checkpoint – by MG
With its massive 30 degree flare and 35 degrees of sweep, the new Discover Big Flare handlebar from PRO Bike Gear is one of the more radical gravel drop bars available today. Guitar Ted and I received early samples for testing, and here are our impressions of the bar after two months of riding.
Be sure to check out Guitar Ted’s “Getting Rolling” post for the sizes/dimensions, weight and other specifications.
Installation and Fit
While Guitar Ted mounted his Discover Big Flare bar on his Noble Bikes GX5, I chose my Salsa Ti Fargo as the test rig for my 44cm model.
The bar replaced a 46cm Salsa Cowchipper – my current favorite flared drop bar. I’m very familiar with the ride feel and position of the Cowchipper, so it was easy to compare the Big Flare against as well.
Installation was straightforward, and both Guitar Ted and I were quickly able to find the bar angle and lever positioning that suited our preferred fit. We tested a variety of Shimano and SRAM levers, and all were easy to find our fit on the Discover Big Flare bar.
The lack of a 46cm option for the Discover Big Flare bar may at first seem strange, but a quick comparison of measurements between it and a 46cm Cowchipper is revealing.
While both bars are true to their respective stated widths at the hoods, the Discover Big Flare bar is less than 1cm more narrow than the Cowchipper at the drop ends (56.5cm vs. 57cm). This is likely due to the increased flare and sweep built into the Discover Big Flare bar shape.
According to Guitar Ted, “In terms of shaping, flare and hand positions, I give the Big Flare a thumbs-up.”
On the road, the Discover Big Flare bar feels bigger, or more broad-shouldered than the Cowchipper, again likely due to the increased flare and sweep of the design.
Guitar Ted said the position in the drops, near the end of the extensions, is one of his favorite of any drop bar he’s ridden. Considering how many bars he’s ridden, that’s a huge compliment, and it’s one I can’t argue with. I’m a big fan of both the drop and hood positions of the Discover Big Flare bar.
The levers sit at a bit more of an angle on the Discover Big Flare bar than on other flared drop bars. For some that might not be a plus. For the relatively upright, long-haul bar position on my Salsa Ti Fargo, it worked well, and Guitar Ted liked it just as much on his racier Noble GR5. Clearly PRO Bike Gear is onto something with the bar shape.
When it comes to ride quality, the Discover Big Flare bar has a distinctly stiffer, more firm feel than a number of other gravel bars we’re riding now, including other models in PRO Bike Gear’s own line.
Here’s Guitar Ted’s assessment:
“The ride quality is not all that forgiving, and that causes a bit of discomfort after a time on a longer ride, when compared to other bars out there.”
I found that by paying careful attention to front tire pressure, I could effectively mitigate some of the effects of the stiff bar.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t eliminate the harshness altogether. A quick swap back to the Salsa Cowchipper revealed that it’s a more compliant riding bar than the Discover Big Flare bar, regardless of tire pressure. I also have the PRO Discover Medium Flare bar on two test bikes, and it too has a more forgiving ride quality.
Big, strong riders and/or singlespeed riders take note: this is one stiff, strong bar. The massive sweep makes it easy to work the bike in high torque, low cadence situations, and again, a little attention paid to tire pressure goes a long way when it comes to ride comfort.
So What Do We Have Here?
The Discover Big Flare bar from PRO Bike Gear has a lot going for it. The shape is one of the best out there for flared drop bar lovers. It’s easy to set up to comfortably ride in the hoods or drops, with easy reach to the levers in both positions.
The bar looks and feels like a quality piece, particularly for a bar that retails for just $60. Impressive. While ride quality may be a bit behind the best alloy bars available today, the stiffness will be a boon for hard chargers, singlespeeders and riders of stature.
For those interested in a more forgiving bar, PRO Bike Gear just announced a new carbon fiber Discover flared drop bar. While it has slightly less flare than the Discover Big Flare bar, at 20-degrees it’s still on the ‘more flared’ end of the spectrum. Plus, it’s design uses Dyneema fibers in its layup to make it smoother-riding.
We’re supposed to get one of those new bars in for testing, so keep an eye out for a review to come. We’ll also keep riding our Discover Big Flare bars into the winter, and Guitar Ted will post our parting thoughts in his final ‘At the Finish’ post, coming soon.
In the meantime, learn more about PRO Bike Gear’s growing Discover family of gravel cycling components and accessories at PRO-bikegear.com.
Note: PRO sent over the Discover Big Flare handle bars to Riding Gravel for test and review at no charge. We were not paid, nor bribed, for this review and we will always strive to give our honest thoughts and reviews throughout.