Aside from the ability to pedal a bicycle really quickly and for a really long time, what’s one of the biggest differences between many of the top professionals and the average American weekend warrior?

Have a good look at this photo of the Cervélo Test Team’s bikes at the Ronde van Vlaanderen this past weekend:

Photo ©: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com

Photo ©: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com

It might not be completely obvious at first, but 3 of the 4 bikes shown use classic bend (round) handlebars; not one of the many varieties of ergo bend bars that are so common in American bike shops. In fact, even though they far prefer classic bend bars; the vast majority of the handlebars Competitive Cyclist sells have some sort of ergonomic bend to them.

Of the five bikes that I own, the three that I most often ride all have classic bend bars … and I’d probably ride the other two more often if I made the switch there as well.

Oval Concepts R701/R700 handlebar/stem combo

Oval Concepts R701/R700 handlebar/stem combo

Thankfully, there are a few people out there who agree with me … the most notable, for me anyway, being Richard Sachs who recently started carrying and selling the Oval Concepts R701 classic bend handlebars and matching R700 stem on his Sachs Toys page.

Full disclosure: Richie and I have a “business” relationship … I did his website several years ago, and still do maintenance updates, and he’s helped me out with a couple bikes, but I don’t get paid to pimp his products on my own site, and wouldn’t pimp them if I didn’t use them and like them. It’s part of that integrity thing that I like to think that I have going on.

The fact remains that often times old-school design still beats out modern design for both comfort and performance, and in this particular case, traditional design is certainly sexier (maybe it’s that perfect breast shape, as seen from a side view). Most ergonomic bend bars are outright ugly … and many of the ones I’ve tried are really uncomfortable as well.

While a lot of professionals ride the equipment that is given to them, many of the top stars have particular preferences that they won’t compromise.

And if classic bend bars are good enough for riders like Robbie McEwen, Magnus Backstedt, Thor Hushovd, and many of the top riders on the Cervélo Test Team, Cofidis, Caisse d’Epargne, and Team Saxo Bank squads, then they’re good enough for me.

So head over to Richie’s site, check out the bikes, then go off to the Sachs Toys section and think about buying a handlebar and stem combination. I can’t promise that it will change your life, but I think you’ll be happy with the switch.