Don't know that I would want to play an 18" shallow frame bodhrán with no crossbar. So I think you have a good point there. Might be like juggling fish!
On the first bodhráns I had, I always popped out one bar to give a bit more freedom of movement. But the ones I've owned later all came without. I personally found that drums without a bar made me think a bit more about my playing, and how I was tensioning, damping, and reducing the playing area. That might just be me though?
In terms of membership I hope to drop the Gatekeeper a line tonight.