Unless you've been living under a rock, you’re more than aware that bikepacking has been gaining traction over the past year here in the Philippines. Bikepacking revolves around the idea of biking and camping, and exploring the unbeaten path. Most of the time, looking for adventures require one to ride various road conditions, and even no roads at all.
Along with this trend, dirt drops are starting to get popular again with a selection from big name brands such as Salsa, Nitto, and Velo Orange. And it is good to know that the local brand The Project is picking up the cues and cashing in on this growing market with their Boondocks dirt drops.
Visually, the Boondocks looks quite similar to the Velo Orange Dajia Farbar. Even the specifications of the flair and drops are similar, as if they were cast from the same mold. Prior to installing the Boondocks, I actually have the Farbar fitted for about a week. I barely noticed any difference after the change, as the branding is covered by the Wald mounts. The only thing that is different is the exposed portion of the top part; the Farbar is gloss black, as opposed to the Boondocks' matte finish.
I was able to put the Boondocks to the test in last year's Ifugao to Ilocos bikepacking trip. This is actually my first time to really utilize a dirt drop, and can only compare it to my Fizik Cyrano with the classic bend. It only took a few hours to get used to the ergonomics of the bar, as it is the same width as my Cyrano at 44cm. First thing I noticed is the comfort the flairs provide as it is easy on the wrists, placing the hands over the levers in a more natural position. This makes braking way more easier than the classic dropbars, with a feel closer to that of the standard MTB brake levers.
The segmented drops really help in the steep climbs, effectively putting the riders weight to the front for more leverage. The middle part is quite nice for the climbs, and the lower segment is very nice for off-the-saddle climbing at 580mm wide.
On the descents, It became a bit twitchy. My saddle to bar drop is about 100mm, putting my hands at an awkward position while on the drops on descents. Dirt drops should be positioned with about the same level as the saddle height so you can stay on the middle segment and still reach the levers without problems. Consider this before cutting your steerer tube too low.
But most importantly, the Boondocks really shine in off-road conditions. And I just don't mean rough fire roads. We're talking about dried out river beds, with sharp rocks and mud left and right. Just check out the terrain on the photos below. It is surprisingly easy to maneuver, considering that I am very partial to low-rise handlebars in this kind of situation. It felt like I was handling an XC MTB with relaxed arms and hands feathering the brakes, managing over the obstacles. It was as if I was riding my Karate Monkey instead of the Straggler.
If you're leaning towards another option for dropbars on your daily commuter or touring bike, the Boondocks is definitely something to consider. Really, I can't find any detail I can complain about, just be mindful of the saddle to bar drop when installing. And at its price point, you better hurry up and hoard.