Compass Randonneur handlebars are based on a 1940s AVA Randonneur bar and are a pretty unusual shape compared to today’s modern options, with oodles of reach, a very pronounced rise on the tops and plenty of flare.
The bars are designed for all-day riding and, just like a saddle, whether you will like the shape of them or not is purely down to personal preference.
The bars have a very pronounced rise on the tops Jack Luke / Immediate Media
I personally got on very well with the bars and found that the extra flare put my wrists in a supremely comfortable position. I don’t have particularly large hands, but I’m also fond of bars with particularly long drops as I hate the sensation of my fingers being smooshed up into the hook of the drops — the Compass’s score well in this department with particularly roomy drops.
The drops are super long, so your hands won’t get bunched up Jack Luke / Immediate Media
Unlike many other old-school bars, I’ve found that the shape of the Compass Randonneur bars worked perfectly fine with modern shifters, with no awkward ‘scoop’ before the hoods.
The 31.8mm clamping area ‘bulge’ is very short and tapers down quite aggressively so you’ll struggle to fit a light with a 31.8mm clamp here unless you have a stem with an exceptionally narrow face plate.
This obviously rules out using clip-on aero bars as well, but if you were thinking of fitting a set to this sort of handlebar, you really need to have a sit down and have a word with yourself.
Handlebars are often overlooked when assessing comfort in terms of compliance and I have no doubt that the Randonneur bars will present an improvement over most stock alloy cockpits — the bars have a pleasing amount of flex that helps to take the sting out of bigger hits without feeling overly noodly when hoofing it up a climb.
I opted for the 42cm wide ‘Superlight’ version of the bars — these use a thinner wall and came in bang on the claimed weight of 298g. Bars up to 46cm wide are available in the non-superlight alloy and a 25.4mm clamp version of them is even available.
The bars may be designed for all-day comfort, but that hasn’t stopped me getting rad with them on occasion Benedict Pfender
From gravel nonsense to fast-ish centuries, the Compass Randonneur handlebars have proven to be an exceptionally comfortable option and I expect I’ll be swapping these between bikes for many years to come.