The Ritchey WCS Butano Handlebar not only looks great, with its excellent finish, but also offers loads of comfortable hand positions for gravel/adventure riding or for long jaunts on the road.
The WCS range is the showcase for Ritchey's top end kit and the paint finish makes the Butano look and feel like it is carbon fibre. That finish is hardwearing too – it takes a lot to scratch it and make it look tatty.
The Butano is a bar designed for gravel and adventure use, primarily thanks to the curved shape and flared drops. Flared drop bars for off-road riding have become commonplace: you can ride in your normal narrow road position on the hoods, but when you are descending at speed or attacking a fast technical section in the drops, the wider stance means you have better stability by distributing your body weight wider.
Like many, Ritchey has gone for a 12-degree flare either side, which means that the bar's width increases outside to outside from the tops to the drops by around 5cm in total.
The drop is just 118mm from the top to the bottom of the bar, so you don't need to be super-flexible to make full use of them.
For comfort, it's not just the drops that are flared. The top of the bar either side of the main clamping area also kicks back by 4 degrees, putting these areas in a closer position to you for a more upright riding style when climbing or taking it easy, without affecting the overall reach figures for when you're riding on the hoods.
The bar is made from 7075 grade aluminium alloy and offers all the stiffness you need without feeling overly harsh when riding on rough roads or gravel.
The clamping area for the stem and that of the gear shifters has a sandpaper effect for grip, and I had no slippage issues with either.
The only thing I would prefer to see are slightly wider grooves to run cables and hoses, because they are quite shallow on the Butano and end up sitting proud of the bar. I positioned the cables one in front of the other underneath towards the front of the bar to avoid having to wrap my hands around them, but some bars have a cleaner finish, such as the Deda Gravel100 RHM.
In fact, I swapped the Deda bar out of the gravel bike for this Ritchey, and the quality of the finish and ride is very similar. The Deda is more expensive at £94.99, but it's also lighter by 30g, if that is important.
Another very good bar I have been using is the Easton EA70 AX, which comes with plenty of clamping space for all your bits and bobs along with flared drops for £79.99.
There are other cheaper options out there, but taking the performance, fit and finish into consideration, I think the WCS Butano offers decent value for money, especially when paired up with other WCS components.
If the WCS is too rich for you but you like the design, there is a much cheaper Comp version which starts at around £40.
Very comfortable bar with plenty of hand positions that also looks the business
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Ritchey WCS Butano Handlebar
Size tested: 42cm
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Ritchey says, "Named for the mixed-use trails behind Tom's home, the WCS Butano is an homage to the early days of off-road and mixed terrain riding. Designed for the rigors of gravel and adventure riding, the WCS Butano handlebar puts the rider in a confident position with a shallow 118mm drop and a comfortable 73mm reach. The WCS Butano doubles down on its ergonomic comfort with a 4-degree sweep on the top and a 12-degree flare for the drops. Ready for exploration and adventure, the Butano serves up plenty of comfort and control."
A clever shape that is very suited to off-road riding and long rides on the road.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Material: 7050 alloy
Flare out: 2°
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
A bar shape that is perfectly suited to gravel riding.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
I love the shape.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Grooves could be deeper for channeling cables.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Compared to very good Deda and Easton options I mentioned in the review, the WCS Butano sits right in the middle.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
One of the nicest gravel handlebars I've used, and the finish definitely justifies the price.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!