Break into segmnts, HOW ?
Draw it bent from the beginning.
As usual, DaveR is correct. The best way to do something in SketchUp is to generate the geometry the way in needs to be from the start. I strongly suggest that you follow the advice of DaveR and just draw what you need properly from the beginning.
Assuming for some reason you are unable to do this, the CLF Shape Bender extension is a good alternative. Here is a link: Extension | SketchUp Extension Warehouse
If the cylinder is the same diameter all along its length you can copy either of the end circles (just the edges, not the face) along the rod as many times as you need. If it’s not parallel, you’ll have to “slice” it using an array of grouped planes along its length, then intersect it all and finally select and bend the individual segments with the Rotate tool (or use Chris Fulmer’s Shape Bender script)
But as Dave says, it’s far easier to extrude a circle along a bent path to begin with.
Good … how do I do that? ROD ~ 1" diameter, ~ 15" Long.
Just any old random bend?
15 in. long path for Follow Me, 1 in. dia. profile for the rod. After Follow Me, 1 in. diameter rod 15 inches long, bent 90°.
I just wanted to answer the question in the title
“How would you ‘bend’ a Rod?”
You don’t bend a rod, you make the bent rod
As @DaveR said ealier.
Unless you can’t draw it bent or you want to make something that looks bent.
Dave’s example explains how to make a 15" long rod of any diameter/radius.
You need to choose the radius of the bent part of the path.
Note that the circular face must be perpendicular to the start of the path, so if the path is curving from its start you need to rotate the path or face to be at 90 degrees.
Also, you request for a bent rod 15" long is in reality going to be hard to get exactly right.
If you started with a ‘real’ 15" straight rod and physically bent it, then that the rod’s material will have to deform. and therefore it probably won’t measure exactly 15" in any meaningful way - either measured along its center-line or its inner/outer-sides.
With Dave’s method it will be exactly 15" along its center.
By relocating the path/face you could make it 15" along one of the sides instead.