Ritchey WCS Butano handlebar review

Aluminium bars created for ‘mixed terrain riding, with a shallow drop and gentle flare that puts them firmly in the all-road category

Ritchey WCS Butano bars
(Image credit: Luke Friend)
Cycling Weekly Verdict

The WCS Butano handlebars are perfectly suited for all-road riding and gravel adventures. They’ll appeal to those who aren’t concerned with maximising flare but still favour a short and shallow bar that offers additional width in the drops without creating an extreme lever position. Pretty lightweight, they excel over rougher terrain and longer rides when comfort is the most important factor. All told, the Butano is a stellar offering from Ritchey.

For
  • +

    Allow for multiple comfortable hand positions

  • +

    Flare adds control without creating awkward lever angle

  • +

    Suitable for both road and gravel use

  • +

Against
  • -

    No recessed area to 'hide' cables

Some product descriptions carry a little more gravitas than others. The WCS Butano is one such component, named as they are after Tom Ritchey’s favourite home trails. 

It’s fair to say that Tom was exploring the limits of drop-bar bikes long before most. His appreciation and understanding of riding gravel and dirt means that any product he designs for this intended use is one born from years of experience.

So how does this translate to the WCS Butano?

Ritchey states that the Butano is “designed for the rigors of gravel and adventure riding” and “serves up plenty of comfort and control”. This is pretty much de facto for any of the best handlebars for gravel riding; (opens in new tab) a bar that you can ride over sketchy surfaces, aiding both ride qualities and the bike’s handling. The Butano looks to achieve this by combining a shallow drop with a little flare plus a couple of extra design tweaks.

Ritchey WCS Butano - the construction

The bars are made from triple-butted 7050 alloy and are available in 40, 42, 44 and 46cm widths. Ours are the 42cm model and weigh a very respectable 275 grams.

By the numbers the Butano features a short reach of 73mm, a shallow drop of just 118mm and a 12-degree flare at the drops. It adds up to a compact looking bar with a pretty subtle flair when viewed against Ritchey’s other gravel offerings, the VentureMax and the Beacon, with 24 and 36-degrees of flair respectively.

Ritchey WCS Butano bars

(Image credit: Ritchey)

As the proliferation of gravel bars continues, they appear to be forming two camps. There are those, like the VentureMax and the Beacon, whose wide flair makes them bikepacking and single-track friendly. And then there are those like the Butano; bars that still resemble traditional road drops in some respects and seem to better suit gravel racing and all-road exploits.

Ritchey WCS Butano bars

(Image credit: Ritchey)

This all-road application is strengthened further by the Butano’s tops. They blend a 4-degree backsweep with an ergo-aero profile that oozes comfort. The platform is generous and feels like it would be a great place to rest your hands after many miles, be it on road or off.

Setting the bars up was straightforward. They feature an abrasive surface to help provide some additional friction when clamping the brake levers and the stem. There are guides for positioning the levers but these aren’t as clearly marked as on some bars. However, there are no recessed areas to help tuck the cables away. The bars are however drilled for Di2 compatibility. 

Ritchey WCS Butano handlebars - the ride

My early impressions of the Butano aligned well with Ritchey’s claims of a comfortable and capable bar. The short reach with the shallow drop feels instantly good. It makes switching from the hoods to the drops a breeze, as well as ensuring that I remained stable and in control. The shallower drop also by its nature puts you in more of an upright position than traditional depth drops, which is certainly appealing on long road rides and for any kind of gravel riding.

It’s worth mentioning the hoods here. The 12-degrees of flare allowed me to position the levers as I would on any regular road drops. For me this is a bonus; I spend a lot of time riding on the hoods and I’ve never really adapted to the more extreme hood angle that some gravel bars promote. 

Once in the drops though the flare does become apparent. The additional width it provides definitely helps with control. I navigated a few steep dirt trails that required due diligence and I naturally found myself moving into the drops for reassurance and stability. After a few hours in the saddle they also provided a nice alternative position when I wanted to switch it up to avoid any niggles in my back and neck.

Ritchey WCS Butano bars

(Image credit: Luke Friend)

The ergo tops with the backsweep also matched Ritchey’s comfort guarantee. I’ve got to the point now where this combination is pretty much a must for any bars I’d consider for my own bikes. On longer rides the wider platform has been particularly helpful. Put simply, it’s just more comfortable. This is also true when climbing with the additional width giving your hands a solid platform to grip onto as you tap away on the inclines. The backsweep, meanwhile, puts the bars just a little closer to your hands, again promoting a comfy position when on the tops.

 

Value

The WCS Butano handlebars are priced at £82.99 / US$104.95. The Zipp SL-70 XPLR bars (opens in new tab), which are pretty similar in both shape and the grade of alloy used have an RRP of £115 / US$110.  

Verdict

Having ridden the WCS Butano for several months now they feel like an old friend. The goal for any component is that it eventually becomes forgettable, not because it’s under performing but that it has been bedded into your bike set-up to such a degree that you move past thinking how good it is and just come to rely on it. 

This is where I’m at with the WCS Butano. I know they’ll perform whether I’m going out for a quick spin or heading off on a far longer journey. On the tops, in the hoods or in the drops the bars are always reliable. Stable. Stiff enough. And supremely comfortable. Which, in short, is everything I need an all-road or gravel handlebar to be.

Specs

  • Weight: 275g (42cm)
  • Sizes: 40, 42, 44, 46cm
  • Clamp diam: 31.8mm
  • Drop: 118mm
  • Reach: 73mm
  • Drop flare: 12 degrees

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Luke Friend has worked as a writer, editor and copywriter for over twenty years. Across books, magazines and websites, he's covered a broad range of topics for a range of clients including Major League Baseball, the National Trust and the NHS. He has an MA in Professional Writing from Falmouth University and is a qualified bicycle mechanic. He fell in love with cycling at an early age, partly due to watching the Tour de France on TV. He's a passionate follower of bike racing to this day as well an avid road and gravel rider.