The swoopy Condor is one ambitious alternative drop bar. It combines the features of a compact drop bar with those of a riser bar. It has rise, backsweep, upsweep, and flared drops. With its shallow drop, you'll be able to ride in the drops much longer than other road bars. Rotating the bars gives emphasized and de-emphasizes certain characteristics. Try it for touring, bikepacking, and long gravel rides.
- Shot-peened 6061-T6 Aluminum
- Reach: 52mm - Rise: 46mm
- Drop: 98mm (42mm the rise added in)
- Center: 31.8
- Sizes: M(40/45cm), L(42/47cm), XL(44/49cm) Small number is width at the hoods (c-c)
- Weight: 320g
Why I Bought the Condor
I bought the Condor to ride in a more upright position. Previously, I was too hunched over for comfort on my cyclocross/commuter bike using a conventional drop handlebar. My bike already has a tallish headtube and an upsloping top tube, but the fork steerer tube was cut all the way down by the previous owner, and I want to ride with a more upright posture. I’m almost 50 years old and as I get older, I get less comfortable riding so far down. Moreover, I use this bike to commute in suburban traffic and prefer being more upright to see and be seen.
I probably could be happy with a standard dropbar if I had room for a few more spacers on the fork steerer tube, but that option was cut off--literally. I considered converting the bike to a flat handlebar with some rise, but then I’d need to get new brake calipers, shifters, and maybe run into shifter/derailleur compatibility issues.
Impressions and Setup
Wow, I love these handlebars. The extra 42 mm of rise is just what I needed to ride comfortably.
Given the backsweep (see photo), these bars have a much shorter net reach on the horizontal plane, so I had to get a different stem to stretch my arms more forward horizontally. To raise the old handlebars up more, my previous stem was a high-angle 40 degree 100 mm stem. But with the Condors, I replaced that stem with a 25 degree 100 mm stem to extend the bars further in front, horizontally, and that was just right for me. So, be aware that with the Condor bar, you may need a longer and/or different angle stem. It’s all part of dialing in just the right fit for your physique, your bike setup and your riding preferences.
I like the Condor’s shallow drops. With my previous bars, I never rode in the drops. With these shallow drops, I can ride on the brake hoods most of the time, but I can slide to the drops when I want to vary hand positions, ride with more power, transfer some of the weight off my butt to my hands and arms, or if I’m riding into a headwind and need more of a tuck.
I like how the drops flare out a bit. The outward flare also means that the curved part of the drops are angled a bit, so the drops aren’t perpendicular to the ground, but maybe at 80 degrees, depending on how far up or down you clamp the hoods to the bar. It’s not very noticeable, but I like it.
I bought the 44 cm width version, which is 44 cm from center-to-center of the hoods, but 49 cm wide at the end of the drops measured center-to-center. The extra width at the bottom of the drops is nice for stability and for varying your hand positions. Be aware that with these bars, you might not feel comfortable riding on the flats, because the backsweep and rise makes it out of alignment -- see photo. But I find that I don’t really miss this hand position.
These bars look weird, with all the curves and slopes. It almost looks like a normal handlebar that got crushed.
Virginia Dogwood, , USA
From a ModernBike.com customer
The Condor bars raised the position of my hands and also moved them horizontally toward me. I can now ride comfortably with my hands on the brake hoods whereas they were too far away on my old bars. Another perk is that the drops are not as far away from the upper bar so I find the drop position is comfortable for longer periods of riding.
Eric D, Houston, TX
Dirt Rag Reviews The Condor Bar
... The Condor is dubbed as an “ambitious alternative drop bar,” a statement that I can certainly agree with. It has more curves than you can imagine – in fact, there’s no part of this bar that isn’t bending in some way. With rise, backsweep, upsweep and shallow flared drops, it offers hand positions galore and is ideally suited for long days in the saddle. Rotating the bars forward and back can emphasize or deemphasize certain characteristics depending on the wants and needs of the individual using them.
These aluminum drop bars were originally designed for the Japanese market, but Soma decided to try their luck in the States and see if this unique design would fly. Because of their intended market, the Condor bars weren’t designed with large hands and wide shoulders in mind. The XL size bars are 49 cm wide at the drops and 44 cm at the hoods, while the medium (the smallest size available) is only 45 cm wide at the drops and 40 at the hoods. The large is somewhere in the middle and the size that I tested, which I find somewhat amusing because, at 5 feet 3 inches, I’ve never been a size large of anything in my life.
I didn’t expect to love or even like these bars, but they surprised me. I should have been a little more open-minded going in, because I did suffer from lower back pain while using traditional drop bars on rides longer than about five hours as well as occasional hand numbness. I previously attempted to fix these ailments by swapping stems, but soon resigned myself to accepting that they were just a part of doing long rides.
Enter the Condor bars. I won’t say my issues were magically solved – regular stretching and riding are also vital – but I will say that I did a 10 hour ride last weekend with absolutely no back pain whatsoever and a number of other all-day rides over the past few months that resulted in similar outcomes.
The shallow drop allowed me to spend much more time in the drops without discomfort than on “normal” bars. Most of my long rides on the gravel bike are mixed surface, with chunky dirt roads and even some singletrack thrown in occasionally, so having the extra control that riding in the drops offers while maintaining a less aggressive position is very advantageous. I used to dread long, loose gravel descents because I knew that being in the drops for so long would hurt my back and neck, but the Condor bars have all but obliterated that issue....
Seven Day Cyclist Rides the Condor
The Soma Condor Handlebar is the quirky looking love child of a riser and compact drop bar.
The advantages are a slightly higher position and thus, the ability to spend much longer on the drops, compared with other road bars.
Great for commuting, gravel and rough stuff/touring, there are some minor drawbacks and I’d still be inclined towards something like Salsa Cowchipper for competitive ‘cross. Nonetheless, several weeks and 500 miles hence, I’ve formed a very definite bond with the Condor.
Pros: Comfortable, rigid bars well suited to touring, commuting and trail duties
Cons: Pattern can make fitting some accessories tricky.
...Coming from other flared patterns, I was immediately struck by the Condor’s stiffness, which gave a more planted, direct feel. The more upright positioning gives a much better view of conditions ahead, which is a boon in slow moving/stationary lines of traffic.
There is some trade-off round town. Smaller gaps, say between buses and other traffic were out of bounds and some very narrow alleys, induced a gasp, or two from yours truly. Nonetheless, true to claims, there was no call to deviate from the drops.
Similarly, while steering could never be described as “barge-like”, flicking around holes and hazards required a different technique than deeper drops, or pursuit bars. By the same token, the Condor’s girth and additional torque and stiffness is welcome, especially when you’re weary and/or hauling a trailer/tagalong.
Scorching along some 1in7s, late at night with Yak pattern and its supermarket loot following behind… minimal effort to keep everything in check, despite the inevitable lumps, bumps and nocturnal creatures, that clearly wanted to play!
These qualities made perfect transition to “gravel” roads and smoother trails where comfort and control are paramount. Admittedly big section tyres, steel frame and carbon forks certainly help, on the compliance front but I’ve never felt fatigue around my neck and shoulders-even after several hours.
During these longer runs, drops have been my default although, the ability to switch positions is paramount. Cruising on the hoods was similarly comfortable; the curved tops, an acquired taste...