SOMA HIGHWAY 1 HANDLEBARS
281g 46cm 31.8 (as tested) £49.99
The Soma Highway 1 Bar is a competitively priced, compact drop handlebar. One that comes in a decent choice of widths, two diameters and a choice of silver, or black finishes. Riders with shorter torsos, reach and smaller hands, arguably benefit most. However, as I discovered, the Highway 1 are a good option, if drops are your default, but you don’t fancy going too low.
Pros: Lightweight, well made great shape.
Cons: Single cable groove may be a turn off, for some.
Like most bars of similar calibre, the Hyway 1 are made, from 6061 T6 aluminium alloy. Look closely and you’ll notice the centre bulge is a high lustre anodized finish, whereas the remainder, is shot peened. Yes, this kerbs production costs. However, there’s a structural rationale, too.
Shot peening, although aesthetically divisive, helps reduce fatigue and ultimately, the component’s life. Theory goes, it “pounds out” tiny microscopic fractures in the metal, that might otherwise, develop into tangible cracks, over time. Since we’re on the subject, observe your stem’s torque settings carefully to avoid unnecessary stress. Being a four-bolt face, I wound my Holdsworth’s up to 5.2nm.
Anecdotally, I’ve found this effect also offered better adhesion, for some handlebar tapes. No less than I’d expect, given the brand and price point. However, the finish and detailing, is excellent and should keep its looks.
The finish seems relatively hardy (although silver always ages better than black). Minor mid-ride slippage and readjustments haven’t left unsightly scratches, in the polished sections.
I touched on this, in the introduction. Widths range from 38 to 46cm, in 2cm increments, catering for most riders’ needs. Reach is 75mm, drop 150mm. I’m also much broader across the shoulders, than my height and build would suggest. Therefore, 31.8 and 46cm were the obvious choices.
Proportionately short, in the torso, I was looking to switch my Holdsworth’s pursuit style bars, to a shallow drop. Though the former, were fine for cruising and offer, a great view of conditions ahead.
I longed for alternative hand positions, and something a bit more aero for TT paced efforts.
With the existing stem, I could cruise comfortably on brake lever hoods. However, I wanted to retain the carbon composite, reverse action brake lever, rather than liberate a set of drop levers, from my spares drawer.
TT lever plugged into the bar ends, I took this opportunity to upgrade the brake cable to Jagwire Pro Road Cable Kit . Now, though not a deal-breaker (in this instance perfect) but a single groove might alienate some riders, running brifters.
Dressing them in this silicone wrap, was even easier, thanks to the slightly dimpled surface. This prevented the bound bar wrap, from unravelling, while I reached for the electrical tape.
Contact points, are particularly subjective things. I’ve found the shape perfect. for my design brief. The curves fall naturally to hand and make for a comfortable default, while keeping the brake lever in easy reach.
Rigidity is excellent, although, compared with their Condor, or an MTB biased design, some very minor, flex was discernible. Riders nudging 85, maybe 90 kilos may tell a different story. However, this was very subtle and only apparent, when sprinting along sharp climbs, with my full weight pressing down.
I’ve equalled my 42mph record, along a local 1in7 descent. Flicking around holes, broken glass and similar hazards, was effortless, due in part to their width and increased leverage.
Though this bike was built with 25mile, TT paced distances in mind, the additional positions were welcomed on rides around the 40-mile mark and battling strong headwind. (although there were times, I was tempted to add a cyclo-cross style “interrupter” lever, when cruising on the tops).
Width-wise, the 46cm are absolutely bang on, for my needs, and there’s ample real-estate for computer, lighting and bar cam. Riders looking to sneak through the smallest gaps in traffic, will want to go narrower.
The Soma Highway 1 are a great compact bar for the money, and road riding. Especially, if you cannot get along with more traditional patterns. While reassuringly stiff, those looking to venture beyond asphalt (On a gravel, or mountain bike build, for example) should look towards their Condor stablemates .