Carbon FatBar –
I’ve been a fan of Renthal gear for a while, always trusted it to do what it needs to do. If any part of your bike is going to fail, your handlebars are probably going to be the part you want to stay together. It’s hard to ride out a snapped set of bars.
- Width – 780mm
- Backsweep – 7 degrees
- Upsweep – 5 degrees
- Weight – 225 grams
Rise – 10 mm / 20 mm / 30 mm / 40 mm
OK say they aren’t the cheapest set of bars on the market but you can look to justify this in a number of ways. The weight, it’s good saving over the alloy equivalent (135g). So an extra £60 or so for a 135g saving, not bad in my book. Not so fussed about weight, how about comfort? The small amount of damping in these over the alloy version is noticeable. One of the benefits of carbon is you can alter the layup of the material to add weight, strength and stiffness in areas you either want it or don’t want it. While Renthal wanted this bar to be as stiff as the alloy alternative, they knew the carbon characteristics would add extra harshness, that they didn’t want. So because of this, they deliberately made the carbon bar slightly less stiff, in doing so they’ve taken that harshness out. You can’t feel the stiffness difference in steering, but you can with small vibrations over time. Maybe not on little short local trails but certainly on longer descents were the vibration can lead to arm pump.
Price – £135
Apex Stem –
Fashions come and go in the cycling world. Back when I first started racing, we were pretty much still on flat bars. Not long later we had huge risers, with welded cross bracing. Now we’re back to low or now rise, but at least they’re staying wide for now. One thing I hope we don’t go back to is those ridiculous long stems. 100mm plus, what were we thinking? This minuscule Apex stem from Rental is spot on for me. I tried one of those zero-reach stems back in late nineties but that wasn’t for me. The Apex comes in a range of lengths, we’ve got the shortest 31mm here. It’s about as short as you can go without being zero-reach, leaving less than 1mm between the external faces of the steerer and handlebar.
The clamp system is different to other Renthal offerings, with the clamp wrapping around an impressive 240 degrees of the bar. This allows material to be removed from the main body of the stem, allowing a great weight reduction. But the tolerances are tight, each side of the clamp as to be separate slid along the bar instead of just clamping over the top. Because of this, the stem might not work with bars which are even slightly larger in width than advertised. The weight saving isn’t huge over the same length Duo stem, around 20g for matching 50mm stems.
- Weight – 106g / 118g / 127g / 136g / 140g / 149g / 159g
- Rise – +/- 6 Degrees
- Clamp Width – 46mm
- Stack Height – 40mm
- Clamp Diameter – 31.8mm
- Steering Clamp – 28.6
Length – 31mm / 40mm / 50mm / 60mm / 70mm / 80mm / 90mm
Price – £90
Grips can be easily overlooked but they form a major part of the bike, one of the few contact points. They come in a range of widths, girths, colours and compounds.
Compounds – kevlar / Ultra Tacky / Super Comfort / Soft / Medium
Until I tried these from Renthal, the only real one variable I’d concerned myself with was girth. I don’t have the largest hands in the world but I still like quite a narrow grip. The rest I’d partly put down to being cosmetic. How wrong I was. These tacky fellas are smashing. They took a little getting used to and I thought they’d wear out real quick. After a full summer riding and racing, they’re obviously showing signs of use but are far from being worn out.
Price – £22