- Handlebars are a very personal choice, but every mountain biker likes them light
- If you are paying a premium for carbon handlebars, you expect better performance
- Race Face has a new carbon-fibre handlebar that isn't cheap, but very light - and comfy to ride
Mountain bikers obsess about the lightness of carbon-fibre components, without always appreciating all the benefits of this wonder material.
Skilful composite engineers can orientate individual fibres in such a way, that carbon-fibre retains its strength whilst remaining flexible.
This flexibility can reduce hand fatigue, by absorbing some of the trail buzz, which is a familiar sensation for experienced mountain bikers, when riding off-road.
The latest brand to reveal a new bit of carbon-fibre kit, with clever structure, is Race Face. The Canadian company’s engineers have designed an incredibly light carbon-fibre mountain bike handlebar, that promises outstanding ride comfort, called the Next SL.
Using carbon-fibre's flex
By using complex material analysis, Race Face’s engineers have been able to reduce the handlebar’s thickness in place, without weakening it.
The result is a handlebar that allows for vertical movement at the ends, thereby reducing the shock of those terrain impacts, as you roll down a singletrack trail, over rocks and roots.
The Next SL has an interesting set of dimensions. It is not a classic enduro or downhill rider’s handlebar. Race Face is targeting this ultralight carbon-fibre handlebar at weight aware XC and trail riders.
It is terrifically light - if not that wide
Unlike most contemporary mountain bike handlebars, which edge towards 800mmm of width, the Next SL is only 740mm wide. At only 167g, this is the lightest 35mm diameter handlebar you can buy, and that is a big deal.
Mountain bike handlebars have traditionally been 31.8mm in diameter but increased to 35mm as riders demanded greater width. To ensure that wider handlebars would retain their overall strength, engineers increased the bore size, to 35mm.
The Race Face Next SL handlebar is light and should be ideal for smaller riders, or those mountain bikers who don’t have very broad shoulders.
Weight and width might be the numbers most riders use to evaluate a new handlebar, but geometry is important. The Race Face Next SL handlebar has 8° of backsweep and 5° upsweep at its tips, which should provide a great hand position when climbing and descending.
The Race Face Next SL retails for R2250.