Tuesday, September 28, 2021

First Impressions: Surly Corner Bar handlebar


Surly Bikes is known not only for making versatile and durable bicycles, but also for making weird and unique parts. The new Corner Bar handlebar is no exception.

The story with these handlebars ... suppose you have a mountain bike or hybrid bike with a flat or upright handlebar, but you're curious to see what a road-bike or "drop" style of handlebar feels like. This is usually not as simple as just swapping the handlebars, because the brake and shift levers made for flat handlebars do not work on drop handlebars. Making the switch can involve lots of expensive upgrades to your levers and/or your drivetrain components.

Enter the Surly Corner Bar. It's got a drop section on either end to get your hands in the "down and dirty" position, plus nubbins extending forward that are compatible with your flat bar controls.

(Note: Yes, it's a more common issue that many people want to trade their drop handlebars for a more upright handlebar. The reason this is difficult is the same--incompatible brake and shift levers. But designing a handlebar to get around this problem is a trickier thing to do.)

The Corner Bar is made of 4130 Chromoly steel for that Surly durability, which means it ain't light. It comes in three widths (46cm, 50cm, and 54cm). It's rated for "ASTM Condition 3 Intended Use," which means that if hucking off-road jumps is your thing, it can handle it, as long as said jumps are two feet tall or less.

The stem clamp area of the corner bar works with 25.4mm stems found on many older bikes, but the handlebar comes with a set of shims so that you can use it on 31.8mm stem clamps found on many newer bikes.

Here's Surly's Product Info Page for the Corner Bar, plus their blog post about it for their take. There's also two video reviews out there, from Bikepacking.com:

And from Path Less Pedaled:

When I first learned of the Corner Bar, I knew I had to try it on my Surly Bridge Club, just because I'm a sucker for trying new and weird things. Mind you, the ironic part is that I already had a drop handlebar on this bike, when I set it up as a super-commuter-touring-bike earlier this year:

This setup worked well and was pretty comfy. With the Bridge Club being billed as "a highly versatile bike that hits the sweet spot spanning on-road and off-road excursions," you might even call it a perfect, dare I say it, gravel bike. I resisted the urge these past several months to throw on some 29er wheels with 700x40-something tires. I figured the Bridge Club was the perfect bike to try out the Corner Bar, something with a "road" feel and a "mountain" soul. Those previous handlebars, brakes, and shifter are set aside for a bicycle project to be named later.

Cutting right to the chase, here's the bike with the new Corner Bar installed:

And a close-up of the bars from the front for ya:

I opted for the widest 54cm version; I figured go big or go home.

As the video reviews above indicated, there are a number of ways you can #MakeItYourOwn in how you setup the Corner Bar. I opted for a pair of ESI Extra-Chunky Xtra-Long silicone grips on the drop sections, and a short stretch of bar tape on the "hoods." The hood area is not quite as comfortable as what you'd find on a "true" drop handlebar, but I didn't feel I needed to employ more pieces of grip in these areas, or other "hacks" as outlined by the other reviewers. One roll of bar tape was enough for both sides, what you'd normally use for just one side of a regular drop bar.

You can put your brake and shifter levers both on the extended nubs, or on the other side below where the drop part meets the hood, or a combination of the two--whatever floats your boat. I suggest doing a dry run by testing out a couple different configurations to see what feels right for you before you connect your brake and shifter cables and finalize your grips and/or tape.

The cables pointing up kinda give the bike a bit of that old-school 10-speed look; not sure how I feel about that yet. Since I had to swap brakes and shifter, I had to install all new cables and housing anyway. If you're swapping from your flat or upright handlebars, you MIGHT be able to get away with using your existing cables and housing, but depending on your setup, you may need to replace them with longer cables.

I wanted to get a setup that allowed the use of both the brakes and the shifter in both the drops and hoods hand positions. I have a traditional mountain bike trigger shifter that would work with this setup, but I found that it was easy to shift from the drop, but impossible to shift from the hood. So, I went with this thumb-style shifter. It's a compromise, but I preferred to have so-so shifting from both hand positions, rather than great shifting from one position and no shifting from the other position.

Moving the shifter clamp way up from the brake lever gave me better hand clearance, but still allows me to reach it, from the drop:

And from the hood:

My favorite bell is the Mirrycle Incredibell Brass Duet, and placing it on the left in this nice jaunty angle gives me the same benefit as the shifter: hand clearance but still easy to reach from either hand position:

The trickiest part was picking the right stem to attach the Corner Bar handlebar to the bike. I had five in my parts bin to choose from, and settled on the Salsa Guide Stem with 80mm length and +15-degree angle because it provide the best balance of comfort and aesthetics. And, it plays well with my Topeak Freeloader Stem Bag. My other choices were (from top to bottom):

  1. Salsa Moto-Ace SUL 80mm length/+35 degree angle - Pros: most comfortable, 25.4mm clamp so I wouldn't have to use the adapter shims. Cons: I didn't like the look of that big chunky steerer tube clamp, plus the high angle didn't play well with my stem bag.
  2. Thomson X2 110mm lenght/+6 degree angle - Pro: 5 stars for the aesthetics (duh, it's a Thomson), 25.4mm clamp meant no adapter shim. Cons: Way too long and way too flat. I bought this for a mountain bike I rode 18 years ago. Mountain biking was a lot different 18 years ago, plus I was, well, 18 years younger.
  3. Salsa Guide 60mm length +6 degree angle - Pro: Nice and short. Con: Still too flat.
  4. Sale Moto-Ace SUL 80mm length/+25 degree angle - Pros: comfy; it's the one I used on the previous drop bar setup. Con: Can't quite put my finger on it; some older Salsa stems look a little too "road"-y?
Finally, getting to the question of the day, "How does it ride?" Pretty nicely, I must say, although I wouldn't say I'm in LOVE with it. I've ridden it on two commutes to and from work, plus a 57-mile lunch/coffee run into the city. The drops position feels the most comfortable, but after riding that way a couple of miles, I do need to relax a bit and hang out up on the hoods for a while. Occasionally, though, I got a bit of tingly hands if I stayed on the hoods too long.

Is the Surly Corner Bar for you? If you're in the target audience, a flat-bar user who is drop-bar-curious, then I'd say yes. It's the least expensive way to test out a drop handlebar setup without too much commitment. Or if you're just a bike freak/weirdo who likes to experiment, have it it. Will I be keeping it? Probably until at least next Spring. I've owned this bike a little over a year, and this is the fourth handlebar I've had on it, so don't be surprised if it's different the next time you see me...

As of this writing, Century Cycles has got the Surly Corner Bar in stock in 46cm width only. We had a few of the 54cm, but they sold out quickly. We'll keep an eye out on Surly's distributor for the 50cm and more of the 54cm!

Friday, August 13, 2021

Ed Meyer Memorial Fund


In July of 2020, Century Cycles lost a friend and fellow employee, Ed Meyer, to GBM (Glioblastoma – brain cancer). He worked at both the Medina and Peninsula locations as a bicycle mechanic.

To honor Ed's memory, a public bicycle repair station with an air pump will be constructed at Buckeye Woods Park in Medina, as well as one at Century Cycles in Peninsula. Both projects cost a total of approximately $5500. If you wish to support the repair station construction, donations are greatly appreciated! Please make your check payable to "Century Cycles" and mail it to us at:

Century Cycles
1059 N. Court St.
Medina, OH  44256

Please write the following in the NOTES section of the check: For Ed Meyer. You can drop it off at any of our three stores if that's more convenient! Please include your mailing address and email address so we can update you with news later.

We are planning to have ribbon-cutting ceremonies and group rides in both locations, so stay tuned! If you know of anyone else who might be interested in donating for this project, please share this information!

Any leftover funds from the project will be donated to GBM research, in loving memory of Ed and the good he brought to the people in his life.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

We are one of America's Best Bike Shops in 2020!


Century Cycles is proud to be named one of America's Best Bike Shops for 2020, and EVERY year since 1999! Thank you to all of our new and returning customers, plus our dedicated staff, for helping us during this most challenging year EVER! Tonight we're going to party like it's 1999!

America's Best Bike Shops are chosen by the National Bicycle Dealers Association in a rigorous process that evaluates every aspect of our business, including a visit by a Secret Shopper!

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Rest In Peace, Ed Meyer

It is with profound sadness, and a heavy heart, that we mourn the passing of fellow coworker and great friend, Ed Meyer. Ed had been a wonderful part of the Century Cycles family for 10 years, both in our Medina and Peninsula locations, but 16 months ago, he was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer.

We never know when life will take a turn on us, but if you knew Ed, he took all things in stride. He had a love of adventure and a deep passion for cycling. We are honored and blessed to have had Ed in our lives. He was one of the good guys and will be truly missed. Rest In Peace, dear friend.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Cross-Country Cyclist Visits Century Cycles in Medina

Theresa Mellas stopped into the Century Cycles store in Medina on July 9, 2020 during her bicycle trip from Cannon Beach, Oregon to Staten Island, New York! By the time Theresa finishes, she will have biked over 3,200 miles! She stopped into our store to take a break and get a quick check-over of her bike. Theresa's parents also met up with her and they all planned to visit family in Wadsworth. It was a great pleasure to meet Theresa and we wish her a safe journey on to NYC!

You can see more photos of touring cyclists who have visited all three of our stores in our Bicycle Touring Photo Gallery.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Medina County Lifestyle visits Century Cycles in Medina

The Century Cycles store in Medina is excited to be featured in the June 2020 issue of Medina County Lifestyle Magazine! Thanks much to Emily Shea for stopping by to chat with store manager Bob Soroky about Century Cycles' impact on biking in Medina and across Northeast Ohio!

You can read the issue online here.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Bicycle Rentals in Peninsula for the Towpath Trail Re-Opening on May 22, 2020

We have resumed bike rentals for the Towpath Trail at the Century Cycles store in Peninsula as of May 22, 2020. In addition to rigorous cleaning and social distancing that we will be doing to keep everyone safe from Covid-19, please help us by observing the following rules and changes to our procedures:

  • Please limit your group to FOUR or fewer people. If you are part of a larger group, then split yourselves into smaller groups.
  • Designate ONE person in your group to be responsible for filling out the paperwork and payment processing.
  • Follow the instructions of the staff in our rental barn.
  • We may close or limit access to our parking lot to allow for more space to service bike rental customers. Please find on-street parking nearby, or use the Lock 29 Trailhead and Overflow lots (located on Mill Street north of the store).
  • Please be patient, as rental and return procedures may take longer than usual.
  • Bicycles and trail-a-bikes ONLY; child trailers are not available until further notice.
  • All of our sales and rental staff are wearing masks. Use of masks by customers is optional.

Be aware that we may adjust these policies and procedures as the need arises. For the latest information, plus details about our rental bikes, rates, and hours, go to:

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Jon Pana rides a 53-mile route through local parks using a Giant Bicycle from Century Cycles

Thank you to Jon Pana of cleveland.com for using a Giant Escape 2 hybrid bicycle from the Century Cycles store in Rocky River for a 53-mile route he created, which traverses Cuyahoga County through five of the Cleveland Metroparks, the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, and the Summit Metro Parks, using all-purpose trails including the Towpath Trail. The route required less than one mile of on-road connections!

You can see more details about the route in the description of the video above, or in the cleveland.com article. Click here if the video above is not appearing for you.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Buy a Limited Edition Century Cycles T-Shirts available online from Howlers Ink

Century Cycles has partnered with Howlers Ink to give you this exclusive limited edition t-shirt! Printed on Bella Canvas 100% cotton tee, it's available in unisex sizes Small, Medium, Large, X-Large, and 2X-Large. Just $20+tax each, which includes shipping!

Any t-shirt purchase you make from the Howlers Ink shop helps support us and other LOCAL businesses during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Thank you for your support!

Thursday, March 26, 2020

How To Lubricate Your Chain (Video)

Sheltering in place? Need to get your bike ready for a little ride? Bike Cleveland has partnered with local bicycle shops to bring you simple tips to prep your bike for its first outing of the year. First up: Lubing Your Chain, featuring Kevin from Century Cycles in Peninsula!

Click here if the video above is not appearing for you.