Mtbmag.com recently did a comparison of our Gradient Full Carbon Handlebar versus our Gravity Aluminum Bar and had some great feedback. If you are debating which material to use in your handlebar, this article might help you get closer to a decision.
The bike market has exploded in recent years with new carbon products that are focused on the gravity segment. There was always a demand for this super material in cross country, but the changes necessary to make some of those products suitable for Enduro and Trail riding have taken a while to make. One of the key components on a bike that has been really hitting the market hard in the last year has been carbon handle bars for Enduro. Full Speed Ahead have a Enduro based line of products under the “Gravity” brand that fulfil this segment and they sent us a few bars for us to test after we met them in Taiwan.
The idea of our test was to evaluate and see how the use of carbon in a handlebar affected out riding when compared directly to an aluminium bar. Luckily Gravity make two bars with the same rise sweep and diameter in carbon and aluminium, the only difference being length and material out of the box.
Our idea was to ride the two bars back to back on an Enduro trail in Punta Ala, Tuscany, Italy to see how the different bars compared and if we could see how our riding was over the same rocks and roots and sweeping trails. We choose to ride on trail 301 which was recently used for our large back to back comparative test as it had all the elements necessary to test a bar, including tight turns, rocks, speed sections and jumps.
This is where the test ended, the bottom of trail 301, in Punta Ala.
Methodology / Set Up
We first built up the bike with a the carbon bar utilising a Gravity 50mm stem and new grips, the idea was to keep the test as fair as possible and eliminate any possibility of confusion or false results. We also cut the aluminium bar to the same length as the carbon bar, which was a 740mm width. Both bars had the same diameter 31mm and the same sweep and rise angles. The bars were installed on the bike with the same brake lever angles and position of the bar relative to the stem.
We did about 4-5 runs swapping out the bars each time to get an idea of what was happening, we pedalled up the hill each time to see how they felt on the ascents.
Testing On The Trails
Riding up on normal trails we felt both bars were as expected, at low speed there is very little difference to feel on the bike, with the same hand positions and widths riding was normal and reactive considering that the width of bar we used was fairly wide and the stem was fairly short.
Descending was where we started to understand the differences. Our first descents with the carbon bar set a baseline of the test, but considering we normally ride with aluminium bars we immediately started to feel a difference. Once we had completed a few runs we then did the same thing with the aluminium bars and we noted the following points.
Precision of Steering Response
The aluminium bar was precise but the carbon bar was more precise. The carbon bar felt more direct and felt quicker to do what we intended when we turned the bar. This was especially noticeable in rocky sections and tight switchbacks where the bike came alive more compared to the aluminium. We felt that we could use a narrower bar for the same type of steering response due to the stiffer make up of the bar.
The bike often kicks back and jars when hitting rocks and corners when riding, with the carbon bar installed we felt more feedback from the trail and more of an idea where we were and what we were doing as we rode. We actually felt our riding inputs were utilised better with the carbon bar and after a while made less errors on the trail. In a sense we felt we became a better rider and knew what the front wheel was doing more on the trail.
Vibration and Fatigue factor
This is where we felt a huge difference. The carbon bar left us with the feeling of a softer ride and less vibrations back through the bar, which in turn led to a significantly lower amount of fatigue in the arms and hands. The feeling of arm pump was less and we felt like we had greater control on the bike for longer. This surprised us greatly as despite the performance of the aluminium bar being admirable, it felt like the carbon bar really moved on our riding in a short space of time.
Our long awaited Gravity 40mm rise bars are now in stock along with a new graphics update.
The specs for these bars are as follows:
- Built For Mountainbiking
- Triple butted and tapered AL7050/T6
- Shot-peened to increase surface hardness
- 31.8 x 25mm rise x 800mm width
- 31.8 x 40mm rise x 800mm width
- 9 degree backsweep x 6 degree up sweep x 15 degree setback
- black with polished center
- color graphics
- 310 grams (25mm rise)
Our Gravity rider Charlie Sponsel rides these bars right now and he loves them!
Charlie loves his new bars so much he tried to impregnate them. #barhump
Here is the direct link to check out our stem:
All items are avaible now for purchase on our webstore for people with a US IPS address only.
You can visit our online store at our link below:
A few weeks ago I picked up the new Patrol from Transition and met up with videographer Jack Anderson in Seattle for a few days of shooting. Jack and his friends cut a new trail through some classic northwest forest that was a prime spot to put the Patrol through it’s paces. With inches of fresh dirt, moss, leaves and pounding rain, we came up with Loam Patrol. Enjoy!
Just wanted to give everyone a heads up that the TV Show “World of Adventure” was here in Bend Oregon filming a Mountain Bike segment up at the local bike park. I was invited to come up and ride in front of the cameras with a talented crew of riders. The show will air on NBC 5pm EST this Saturday 10/25 (yup mainstream TV!!!) So stoked to help get mountain biking and my sponsors some TV time, its been a hell of a year so this is rad!
Our boy Charlie Sponsel took down another Enduro win this weekend up at Chuckanut out here in Washington. Charlie is really out on a rip this season, and taking no prisoners. Reports suggest Charlie was traveling at “Extremely Dangerous Speeds” through some of the tougher sections of the course.
Charlie Sporting the Gradient Enduro Stem that is now in stock!
Charlie’s been taking cross training very seriously this season, and it looks like all his hard work is paying off.
Spoke Magazine had this rad article of our boy Conor Macfarlane down in New Zealand. Conor killed it this season in Whistler, Colorado Freeride, The Gradient Trip, Dirt Diaries, and even Deep Summer! Talk about an epic season! We got a chance to bring Conor around to our local Dirt Spots here in Seattle and he shredded every line at them as well! Conor is very well rounded and that was proven by his absolute shredding on all of his bikes. Look for more out of this guy in the near future! We’re crossing our fingers he’ll be back to the PNW next season! Conor in Spoke Magazine
Kelly is from Nelson New Zealand and lives part time in Whistler, BC.
Mike Hopkins is a Professional Mountain Bike Athlete bred from Canada’s B.C. Interior. He grew up amidst the outdoor driven community of Rossland,
Charlie Sponsel is from Portland, Oregon and runs the Team Robot Blog and Writes for Pink Bike. He also sends it further than you on the weekends.