Tumbleweed Alloy Persuader Bar: First Ride Review
Tumbleweed just released the more affordable new Alloy Persuader handlebar that’s a half-pound lighter than the original Chromoly Persuader. The Alloy version also comes in a massive 840mm width, which is a whole lot of fun. We’ve been riding them for a few weeks now for this first ride review…
We were immediately blown away when Tumbleweed originally launched the Persuader bar back in 2019. Its broad 800mm width paired with a comfort-oriented 50mm rise, a notable 30° backsweep, and strikingly long grip area all contributed to a handlebar that’s perfect for long bike trips. Not to mention, its finish, graphics, and overall aesthetics are easy on the eyes. But there was one drawback: the steel Persuader is quite heavy, as 638 grams (1.4 pounds) is no joke for a handlebar. Today, Tumbleweed released the Alloy Persuader, shaving 35% of the weight with a 411-gram 800mm version and a wide-load 840mm that weighs in at 424 grams.
The Tumbleweed Persuader Alloy has nearly the same angles as the original steel incarnation, save an extra degree of backsweep (31°). The bends and shaping are also similar, except for one new detail: Tumbleweed widened the fat clamp area, making it even friendlier for strapping on bags or attachment hardware. As for aesthetics, it looks mostly the same but also a little different. The graphics are nearly identical, but the raw steel look and ED coating were replaced by a flat black finish that’s not too dissimilar from the typical black coating seen on most handlebars.
The Alloy Persuader is made from 7000 series heat-treated aluminum that’s single-butted with thicker tubing at the clamp area and a thinner-walled grip area. The 31.8mm clamp area is 160mm across the center of the bar, with the only difference in the two widths in the grip area. The bar can be trimmed down to suit rider preferences.
I didn’t really use the steel Persuader that much. Virginia did, as well as my friend TJ. Honestly, I’ve always used bars with a standard 7 or 8° sweep, with the most dramatic being the very moderate 15° Hunter Smooth Move bar. The Persuader’s relatively intense backsweep wasn’t something I expected to like. However, when Tumbleweed sent the new 840mm Alloy Persuader, I thought I’d give it a go. I’m glad I did. After a few spins out on the trails, I knew that Tumbleweed had something special on their hands. Everything seems just right about this bar. The rise, clamp area, longer grip area, weight, and feel all seem perfect. I would assert that it’s one of the best alt bars on the market right now.
The one con I have with this version is that it requires 25 to 30mm longer stem to get the same fit as you would with a normal MTB bar. Folks will likely argue that up and aft positioning is more appropriate for an upright fit, but with my personal fit preference, I needed to lengthen the cockpit for it to work.
I used the Alloy Persuader on my Nordest Sardinha II and rode it on everything from fire roads to technical singletrack. It requires a slightly different mindset with the more dramatic backsweep, but the 840mm width inspires confidence and is a hoot to ride. Once I got used to the slightly different position—and re-learned where a few trees were due to the extra width—I really liked it and rode it just as aggressively as I would with my traditional MTB bars. I think most long-limbed riders will love the added width. Coming from the 825mm Whisky Milhouse bars, these were just a step above.
My only wish is that T’weed would make a variation with a 16-20° backsweep. This would offset the need for a significant stem increase and provide an alt bar that’s somewhere in the middle.
I’m perhaps the opposite of Logan, in that I’m coming from handlebars with considerably more sweep – Jones’ 45-degree H-Bars – which makes the 30 degree Persuaders seem relatively modest! In fact, how well you get on with these bars, or any ‘alt’ handlebar for that matter, is likely to be influenced by what other bike setups you run, as well as your muscle memory from years past.
If a 30-degree handlebar seems right for you – and personally, I think it’s a great sweet spot in the alt handlebar world – there’s a lot to like about these new alloy Persuaders. They certainly score highly on the bikepacking practicality front. The 160mm wide, 31.8mm midsection is great for simultaneously running a gamut of bags and devices – I run a Quadlock and a Karoo 2 – whilst the long grip area allows brakes and shifters to be positioned inboard to fit longer grips. In my case, this means I can 205mm Jones EVA grips, similar in length to ESI’ Chunky XXLs, with plenty of room to spare.
Much like a Jones bar, in fact, this allows me to scoot my hands fore and aft depending on the kind of terrain I’m tackling and where I want my weight to be. You don’t get quite the same range of motion in terms of reach, but it’s a similar idea. In fact, I’d consider sliding in some SQLabs Innerbarends for more of an aero position when headwinds encourage it. And, because there’s no forward bend to the Persuaders (unlike Jones bars), they play far more happily with wide front roll handlebar bags – like the Tribulus Endover seen here – which often end up getting snagged in brake levers and shifter cables. When I fitted a milk crate to my Old Man Mountain Divide rack, I was able to position it close and snug to the handlebars, which wouldn’t have been possible with my Jones bars.
Like Logan, I tried the mighty 840mm version of the alloy Persuader, at Daniel Malloy’s recommendation. I’ve run 820mm bars in the past – a set of Oddity Razorbars – and the Persuaders feel tangibly wider. If you’ve got the arm length for them, they certainly add extra steering leverage, particularly useful when I was dogpacking with a 13-kilogram hound in front of me. On open, unencumbered, and rugged dirt roads, it’s a blast!
Still, after several weeks of running them, I’m not completely convinced I make use of their full width enough to make up for the downsides of running such a broad handlebar. Which are? For me, my qualms relate to where I live and how I use my bike, from a day-to-day perspective. For one, much of my favourite local singletrack is relatively tight and twisty, and a wide bar risks hanging up on errant branches. When I ride around town, there’s hectic traffic to contend with, as well as awkwardly placed street furniture and lamp posts to wheel my bike around. Getting in and out of the apartment proved to be a bit of an issue, too! The same goes with hauling my bike up a narrow flight of stairs – think typical budget guesthouse on long bike tours where halls are narrow and space is at a premium. If you live in the magnificently spacious American Southwest or you store your bike in a garage, these concerns may not be relevant to you.
Indeed, I expect that for many taller and heavier riders, 840mm will feel like a gift from the heavens, whilst other riders will find them comically wide. Of course, if you’re undecided between the two widths on offer, there’s nothing to stop you sampling the 840s and later going at them with your hacksaw or pipe cutter – you’ll still have plenty of room to run extra long grips. I’m running mine at full wingspan before I make my final evaluation, but as mentioned, other setups may well be influential to the decision you come to. I’ve noticed that jumping between relatively narrow 710mm wide Jones H-Bars on one bike and yawning 840mm Persuaders on another feels too physically discordant – I think I’ll eventually end up trimming them down by 1-2cm per side, which should help in this regard.
In terms of stem length, it makes sense to swap your stem out for one that’s a little longer, though as I like a short and upright cockpit, I’m using what I have for now. You can check out the website What Bars to visualise how your reach will change compared to your current setup and adjust your stem length accordingly.
Comfort-wise, I have no complaints at all, especially when teamed with ESI-style super plush grips – just note that if you’re a lighter rider and you cut them down or run the narrower version, they’ll flex in a different way, so your experiences may differ. Just like the steel Persuader, 50mm of rise promises a tall and commanding riding position, which will really benefit those who ride bikes with a low stack. As you can expect from Tumbleweed, finish and attention to detail are spot on – these bars certainly exude a sense of quality that befits their relatively high price tag.
All in all, the alloy Persuaders may well be my favourite non-custom ‘alt’ bar yet. I’m a fan of their 30-degree sweep, finding it significant enough to alleviate strain on my wrists during all-day rides. Being butted and made from aluminium, weight is relatively low, especially given how burly a handlebar the Persuader is. The 160mm wide, 31.8mm clamp area is a real boon for bikepacking gadgets, whilst the generous grip area offers lots of scope for long grips and more hand positions. And lastly, there’s no doubt that all that extra wingspan offers improved control across rough terrain, especially on a heavily laden rig. Whilst I’m not sure the 840mm lifestyle is quite for me – for practical reasons as much as anything – if in doubt I’d suggest giving them a chance, and trimming them down once you’ve decided. You might just be surprised!
Tumbleweed Alloy Persuader Bar Specs
- Width (as tested) 840mm (also available in 800mm)
- Sweep/Rise 31° / 50mm
- Weight (as tested) 424 grams (15oz)
- Material Butted 7000 series aluminum
- Place of Manufacture Taiwan
- Price $115*
- Manufacturer’s details Tumbleweed.cc*
*Preorders for the Alloy Persuader begin today.
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