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Have you ever ridden a bike with a loose pair of handlebars? Maybe a stem bolt worked its way free, or you forgot to tighten everything after unpacking your ride? There’s very little that’s more horrifying than cruising down the street and feeling movement in your control setup. And yet the hinged design of the Morf bars has just that—it swings on locking hinges to go from aerobar to base bar without removing your hands from the grips. You may have even seen a pair on Frenchman Antony Costes’ bike during the Ironman Hawaii telecast when he spent some time at the front of the race.
To be sure, this looks and sounds like a horrible idea, but bear with me. When in the base bar position, the hinges are locked, and the controls feel almost exactly like any other base bar. Yes, we experienced a small amount of up and down play when standing and sprinting over small hills, but it wasn’t enough to be a problem or lessen confidence. The brakes are inverted, which takes a little bit of time to get used to, but if the bars are cut properly (more on this later), adaptation is pretty quick.
When it’s time to get into the aero position, you simultaneously squeeze two safety levers outward on the inside of the bars, just to the side of the brake levers. Once the bars loosen, they’ll swing simultaneously into the aero position in a flat arc that shockingly doesn’t upset your steering.
Yes, the first time I did it while riding, I was terrified of that switch, but I quickly realized it had no effect on the control of the bike (in case you were wondering, USAT has approved these bars for safety). In the aero position, the bars are not locked down—so you can very quickly move back into the base position. But because they’re in a plane of motion that doesn’t upset steering and the hinge is connected to both bars so they can’t move independently (this is key), not having the bars locked into place doesn’t feel sketchy at all.
The big positive at this point is now you have all of your controls (brakes, shifters) in the aero position and the base position—not only that, but the controls are in exactly the same place, so there’s no fishing around for a shifter in the base bar that’s in a different spot than on the aero bars. And of course you don’t need to get extra shifter pods for electronic shifting, you just use one set.
Because of the brakes in the aero position and the fact that you could quickly move to the base position without taking your hands off the bars—like you would normally—I did actually find myself in the aero position more often than usual. As a side effect of the free-floating aerobars, I could move my hands and arms around outward and inward while riding to mix up the position—I was no longer cemented in one place if things got uncomfortable after hours in aero.
Yes, there is a small learning curve on not taking your hands off the aerobars to reach for base bars that aren’t there—particularly in an emergency situation—but after about an hour of riding, my muscle memory did a good job of relearning the new deal.
So here are our takeaways after spending a month or so riding with the Morf bars:
- These are actually a safer setup than the aerobar/base bar combo. Never taking your hands off the bars is a no-brainer.
- Being able to bleed speed with brakes in the aero position means you’ll spend more time in your aero position. This is a very good thing for your average speed.
- Compatibility – These work with all aero shifters and you can use any 22.2mm bar ends (ski bend, straight, etc)
- Fit – Multiple stack heights work with most arm rests on the market to achieve almost any position. The ability to move the bars around while in aero is an added bonus.
- Packing a bike with moveable arms is fantastic—depending on the bag/case, you can put in whatever position works easiest.
- Having a little vertical play can feel disconcerting to some riders while standing and putting down power. The same could be said for the hinging motion itself.
- Sometimes the safety levers could be a little tough to engage simultaneously. This was mostly in the beginning of the testing, so it may have just been an unnatural movement that was part of the learning curve.
- I did have at one very scary “Oh s***!” moment when I reached for phantom base bars in a quick-stop situation, but of course this is to be expected for anything new.
- Cutting the extensions to the right length is VERY important to get proper fit and control of the brakes/shifters without moving your hands. It can also make installation a bit tedious for DIYers. If you take it to your favorite shop, be sure to bring your mechanic a six pack.
- Between-the-bars hydration is a little bit tricky, but Morf says they will be offering a bracket to help accommodate the popular hydration position.
- Only available in one width for the base bar (42mm) is slightly limiting, but not a huge issue for most.
- Weight – The whole aluminum setup weighs 950g with pads and brake levers, this is a little high for a similar integrated carbon aerobar with brakes factored in.
We really liked the Morf setup, and while the durability of something with hinging metal parts may be somewhat of a question mark, the brand has done some pretty extensive testing so far. Even though wind tunnel results are still out, preliminary reports state the obvious that having no base bar is faster than having one. Regardless, two SUPER important factors are completely clear with this device: You will spend way more time in the aerobars, and you will be safer given the location of the brakes and that you’ll never have to take your hands off the bars. If that’s enough for you, then these are worth the jump into the scary unknown.