A long time ago, there was a handlebar bend that was very special. For some reason, this design "dissappeared" during the 1940's. There were a few vintage enthusiasts who were aware of them, but they were off the radar of nearly everyone.
I was lucky enough during the 1990's when I owned Bicycle Classics inc. to have purchased a bike with bars of this design. The bike was a Reynolds tubed old Raleigh (kinda like a 3sp style frame). I adored the handlebars. What is so special about them is that they have a split personality. The usual position is to ride on the lower part of the bar in a very upright position. Great for that have-my-briefcase, ready to find a Latte sort of mode. But when you want to put on the heat, you reach forward to the front curved section of the bar. That puts you in an extended flat-back position that lets you keep up with those go-fast folks who are on their punish-thy-neighbor training ride. Many folks try this with some of the other bar bends out their, but this bar for at least some of us does it better than any other bar out there.
A number of years ago, I sent through the US importer for Nitto, my beloved set of Lauterwasser bars to Japan so they produce some for us. Horror of horrors, Nitto had a fire and the bars, which had survived from the 1930's if not earlier, were lost. Nitto bribed me with lots of money and it was all they could do. But the dream was lost. I knew a few other folks with their own cherished pair of Lauterwassers, but the request "can we send yours, they destroyed mine" didn't give folks the warm fuzzies.
Fast forward to today. I'm now staring at a small pile of these bars that have just been produced by Soma Fabrications which just arrived at our shop. Now I don't need to hunt down vintage bikes for the chance they have this elusive bar. Now they are obtainable once again. Now the Lauterwasser bar is no longer just a part of our memory, but rather a choice available to the current enthusiast. No longer must this bar remain the secret of those lucky enough to have stumbled upon a pair.
The Soma Lauterwasser has as 25.4 clamp diameter, and is roughly 22.4mm at the grip. So most folks will run these with a mountain bike style brake, and downtube shiftlevers we suspect. I used to run the brake levers near the grip, Raleigh 3 speed style.
The bar is available in either cro-moly or alloy. The Cro-molly bar has lovely chrome plating. These bars (the originals anyway), did have a fair amount of flex. So if you are a stand-up kind of person, steel might be ideal. For those who sit and spin, the alloy should be swell. Both versions have a Soma marking in black printing on inside of the bar portion which sweeps forward.
Now, I'm dreaming of building a bike with these bars and a 3speed fixed gear hub. Would Rene Herse have sold a bike like this? Probably not. But I bet him and his family might have had a very similar bike which they kept around for their own use. This is too fun.
We will have these bars on our on-line store under handlebars by mid-day today. Enjoy!
Mike Kone in Boulder CO USA