Unlike saddles, handlebars are normally an easy component choice, generally based on the use of the bike. With higher bars, like on my Bob Jackson, I prefer deeper drops, the Nitto Noodle works brilliantly giving varied positions, on my Condor with a lower front end, a shallower drop works well so both the hoods and drops can easily be used.
When I built this Surly, I chose Nitto RM014 Dirt Drops but I haven't been completely satisfied with them - they are a bar of extremes - the deep extreme flared drops are very comfortable and give good control, they are a little too low compared with the hoods on this bike though, the tops are narrow and consequently riding in the hoods feels a bit cramped and the angles a little awkward.
Zipp recently released a silver Service Course range of components including stems, seatpost and handlebars and the new Zipp Service Course 70 XPLR bars caught my attention - similar to the well liked Salsa Cowbell, but with some positive difference, in my opinion, to the shape.
I went with the standard 42cm width, specifications show a 70mm reach, 115mm drop and an 11 degree outsweep and 5 degree flare. There is also a 3 degree backsweep on the bars. Lots of numbers but translated, this is a mild curve on the tops of the bars back towards the rider, neutral hood position and then a gentle outward flare in the drops giving additional width and wrist clearance - a subtle but noticeable difference from a more standard modern road bar. Finally the flattened section of the tops provide a comfortable platform if that's your preferred position. It's a great fit for the Surly Cross Check and as my mixed use bike for both road and off road, the perfect match.
The Nitto bars have a logo engraved at the front which I use for centring and calibrating adjustments in position, the Zipp bars have a clear cross and calibration marks for this purpose as well as marks on the bends for aligning the levers properly. This makes setting up much easier, particularly as my Thomson stem is open at the front.
Finally, I have belatedly discovered Supacaz bar tape - as much as I like my "go to" Condor perforated tape it's excellent value and better quality than the "branded" equivalents, the Supacaz is a different product altogether - superb quality, stretchy, clean edges and a pleasure to wrap. It is fairly thick when wrapped but not lumpy - no additional gel padding is needed. Length is reasonably generous, I wrapped with the figure of 8 method and there was easily sufficient.