The standard bar diameter has moved towards 35mm over the past few years and since 2016, Renthal has been advancing a bar and stem that can fit the agility and weight of the 31.8mm while adding strength and stiffness that many of the faster tracks now require.
Since the beginning of March, our man in the field, Josh Lowe has bolted the FATBAR and INTEGRA Stem to his Kona Operator and has topped it off with some moto looking Renthal Kevlar grips.
Renthal now offer a second version of the FATBAR in a sleek black anodised finish, which is an alternative to their traditional golden look. Whether this is a change to keep up with the all-black fashion or simply just to piss-off the photographers, the slick-black bars with Kevlar grips look as moto as ever.
“I’ve personally cut the bars from 800mm to 760mm and have been testing the 20mm rise FATBAR. The Renthal cockpit has been put through hell and high water…uplift days, mud, grit, dusty days and even some pretty heavy crashes. Yet still the paintwork seems untouched and they are still looking brand new. So for longevity, the bars can’t be faulted”.
When it comes to bar stiffness, it often comes to personal preference.
A few companies such as Reverse have moved towards producing ultra-flexible bars that can absorb shockwaves, in the hope to reduce dreaded arm-pump. While others offer a stiff, rigid-bar which is more responsive and tend to benefit high-performance and racing at the top end of the sport.
On track the 5-degree Up-Sweep and 7-degree Back-Sweep feels comfortable from the get-go, allowing for some aggressive riding. Renthal have also managed to successfully mimic the flex of the 31.8mm so that the 35mm FATBAR isn’t too stiff; this can often lead to quite an uncomfortable ride through the rough sections. Ultimately the FATBAR provides a stable cockpit for you to keep a naturally strong position on the bike.
The INTEGRA stem looks as neat as can be with a 6-bolt system and coated with the renowned golden finish. The INTEGRA offers a light stem for those who search to shave-off the odd gram here and there, while the ultra-wide, 64mm clamping area increases handlebar rigidity.
“I have been testing the 45mm length INTEGRA 35 with zero-rise. Alongside the FATBAR, the INTEGRA 35 offers a very reliable, and rigid feel. My initial concern was that the extra-wide clamp with a 35mm bar would be too stiff and that this would be uncomfortable on the longer tracks, but after a couple of uplift days it seems that the balance between flex and rigidity is pretty spot-on. Overall the INTEGRA 35 and FATBAR combo is hard to fault and offers a responsive platform for aggressive riding.”
Push-On Kevlar Grips
It was the first time I’ve ridden with Push-on grips without a lock-on system and it took some getting used to. I have spent a lot of my riding career with the end metal lock-on digging into the palm of my hand, and although this gives quite a nice “end-point” to the bar, it’s quite uncomfortable at the end of a long day on the hill.
With the Push-on grip you can definitely feel more flex on the bar and you also get a bit more feedback from what the bike is doing – in the same way that some people prefer to ride without gloves. The actual grip itself has a simple dual stage pattern and this once again accentuates rider feel, without neglecting grip. This could be due to the soft Kevlar Resin compound, which provides a squidgy-type feel. In terms of durability, the Kevlar Resin grips have lasted a few months of testing without succumbing to large imprints…which is impressive considering the soft compound.
The Push-on Kevlar grips were fitted using the Quick Bond Grip Glue provided by Renthal. At first, the grips stayed firmly in place but during the hotter days the grips sometimes edged their way in towards the centre of the bar (albeit it only by a couple of millimetres). The grips however, do not rotate when riding.
Overall Renthal have once again nailed it, both in terms of looks, feel and longevity. The 35mm bar and stem combination adds strength and stiffness to the original 31.8mm diameter version whilst matching its sensitivity on track. At a reasonable price-tag, the aluminium FATBAR 35 and INTEGRA 35 should be considered by anyone looking to get their hands on a new bar or stem.