A no-nonsense aluminium handlebar with a relatively competitive weight for its price, plenty of size options available and a round shape that will appeal to those who don't want the aero boost of a flat platform.
I first came across the Specialized Expert Alloy Shallow bend road handlebar fitted to the Amira road bike I bought back in 2012.
Nine years later, this is still my go-to handlebar when it comes to seeking a comfortable, inexpensive and reliable solution for fitting out the steering department of a new bike.
Specialized Expert Alloy Shallow bend road handlebar construction
As the name would suggest, these bars are constructed from Specialized's premium aluminum. The material choice means that they're heavier than the carbon S-Works version, but when considered alongside the price, the difference isn't huge.
Our 36cm pair weighed in at 263g. For reference a 42cm bar dropped onto our scales at 288g; they cost £55/$55. The S-Works carbon model carries a claimed weight of 200g (size 42), at £205/$250.
Specialized has opted for the same shape across the Alloy Expert and S-Works models. The shallow bend drop measures 123mm, and the reach is 75mm. The drop itself is round, so this is an option for riders who prefer a curly-wurly of a drop, over a more staggered straight drop.
This is a mostly round bar, there's no pronounced, aero surface to cling on to come a climb, but there is a slight flattening to provide an extra hand position.
A major selling point for these handlebars is that you'll find them available in widths from 36cm to 44cm, which gives a suitable option for the majority of wingspans. The clamp diameter measures 31.8mm, which is the industry standard and will marry with most stems.
Specialized says that the 'front of the bar [is] optimised for dual cable routing'. The handlebar is shaped so that both a brake and gear cable fit neatly with one either side of the bar, as opposed to being crammed on the inside, which does make for a good fit once bar tape is added. There isn't a hole for internal cable routing.
There are markings to make fitting the bars easier, with integers on the drops and the famous 'S' logo making for a handy bullseye in the centre of the stem fitting.
Specialized Expert Alloy Shallow bend road handlebar the ride
The Expert Alloy Shallow bend handlebars from Specialized provide a comfortable position on the tops and the drops. The shallow bend ensures that moving from the tops to the drops is rapid, without the need for any 'revolutionary' shaping.
Round shapes generally yield greater compliance over square shapes, and whilst not as vibration damping as a carbon model, these have always dissipated enough road buzz for me. If muting road feedback is an area for concern for you, a good bar tape can make all the difference.
Having raced these bars, I've no concerns over their stiffness when getting out of the saddle, though thoroughbred sprinters may beg to differ.
Riders who want to get extremely low at the front end could potentially find the shallow drop limiting. However, it's only 7mm more upright than the 130mm drop on the brand's own 'Aerofly' handlebar - which then comes with a 25mm rise in the centre, bringing the rider up by 2.5cm when on the tops. Comparatively, the Expert Alloy Shallow Drop provides a consistent experience, and most can find a suitably low position via adjusting their stack with a slammed stem.
Being simple, round, aluminium bars, these don't feature a chunky flat platform, which means they feel compact and work well with small hands, there's still plenty of real estate for perching on the tops when pushing out the watts up a climb.
Aluminium comes with the benefit of being relatively hardy when compared with carbon, so, whilst no one ever plans for them to touch the tarmac or over-torque a bolt, there's some peace of mind attached to choosing a metal option.
Specialized Expert Alloy Shallow bend road handlebar: value and conclusions
The Specialized Expert Alloy Shallow bend road handlebar is a comfortable bar, that's readily available in a vast range of sizes.
A size 42 weighs in at 288g, vs 304g for the Deda Zero1 RHM Handle Bar (£37.99) and 305g for the Zipp Service Course 70 Ergo Handlebar (£43.99). Really, there's not a lot not to like.
- RRP: £55/$55
- Reach: 75mm
- Drop: 123mm
- Sizes: 36-44cm
- Weight: 263g (size 36), 288g (size 42)
Cycling Weekly's Tech Editor Michelle Arthurs-Brennan is a traditional journalist by trade, having begun her career working for a local newspaper before spending a few years at Evans Cycles, then combining the two with a career in cycling journalism.
When not typing or testing, Michelle is a road racer who also enjoys track riding and the occasional time trial, though dabbles in off-road riding too (either on a mountain bike, or a 'gravel bike'). She is passionate about supporting grassroots women's racing and founded the women's road race team 1904rt.
Favourite bikes include a custom carbon Werking road bike as well as the Specialized Tarmac SL6.
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