Easton gave Pinkbike a sneak peek at its 800-millimeter-wide ‘Havoc 35’ oversized handlebar system a while back and we were impressed. Previously, Easton offered a conventional 31.8 millimeter bar in a 750-millimeter width, but when pressed to widen it to 800, its design team was not satisfied with testing results. The Havoc 35 system is based around a bar with a 35-millimeter center section – a step up from the present 31.8 mm standard in strength and stiffness – and it includes a selection of matching CNC-machined stems. Havoc 35 bars are offered in black, silver, orange and green anodized, and natural carbon. All have ample length in the grip area to stack up all the necessary controls – even if the user chooses to lop off a few centimeters from each end. Havoc 35 aluminum bars weigh 300 grams and cost $90 USD. Havoc 35 Carbon bars weigh 220 grams and cost $160. Easton says that Havoc 35 components will begin arriving at your LBS around May. A Balanced Big Bar
Havoc 35 bars are available in carbon or aluminum and were created after intensive testing in the laboratory showed without a doubt, that expanding the bar’s center section to 35 mm would make it stronger and stiffer than any modification of a conventional 31.8 mm bar could produce. To ensure a balance between stiffness and comfort, Easton worked closely with Sam Blenkinsop, Cameron Cole and Nico Vouilloz on Lapierre’s International team, and with Kona freerider Graham Agassiz. The collaboration dictated the Havoc 35 handlebar’s complicated internal and external tapers which occur across the transition between the oversized center section and the grip area. In short, Havoc 35 isn’t an old-school DH bar with a larger center section – it’s a ground-up design. Havoc 35 Stems
Havoc 35’s oversized bar dictates that the stems meet the new standards as well. After all, any added stiffness in the bar must be translated to the fork through a stem designed to handle the additional stress. Havoc stems are available in a 190-gram zero-rise, 50mm-length standard stem, or in a dedicated direct-mount version that fits Fox or RockShox DH forks. The 110-gram direct-mount Havoc stem is offset to grip the handlebar with a wider stance – a design element claimed to increase lateral stiffness. Two bolt positions offer either a 45mm or 50mm extension and the direct-mount option drops the centerline of the handlebar 5mm. Both stems are CNC-machined from Easton’s ‘EA90’ aluminum alloy and anodized either black or orange to match Easton’s elite-level DH components. Both stems are priced at $100 USD. Where the 35mm Handlebar Came From
With the definition of wide handlebars expanding from the mid 700s to 800 millimeters and beyond, downhill riders are challenging the physical limitations of both materials and the designs of existing bars and stems. Easton ran into this wall as the same trend swept through motocross racing. Easton’s answer was to increase the diameter of the center, clamping area of the handlebar to an unheard-of-at-the-time, 35 millimeters. The MX world balked at first, but three years later, Easton’s oversized bars have been widely adopted among the sport’s elite racers as well as its rank-and-file riders. Now, Easton hopes elite Downhillers will accept the logic of its oversized handlebar system for the same reasons.Why the 35mm Standard Makes Sense
Easton’s reasons for bringing the 35-millimeter handlebar standard to DH cycling may be more compelling. MX handlebar makers probably would have been forced to adopt the oversize standard had the cross-braced bar not been accepted fashion. The cross-brace in effect, was a triangulated reinforcement that took some of the stress from the bar’s center section. Without a cross-brace, there are only three ways to make a handlebar stronger and stiffer: make it thicker, make it from a stronger material, or make it larger in diameter.
The first two options can make only marginal improvements and at a substantial weight penalty. The larger-diameter option is the only one that makes engineering sense because, as the diameter of a structure increases, its stiffness grows exponentially. For this reason, simply jumping from 31.8 to 35 millimeters earns Easton a 21-percent increase in stiffness – and Easton further capitalizes on the larger format’s mechanical advantage by reducing material in key areas. Easton claims its 35-series bars weigh 10-percent less than comparable 31.8 mm bars across the board. In fact, at a full 800 mm wide, the carbon fiber Havoc 35 is the lightest DH bar on the market at only 220 grams.
Why Believe Easton?
Easton's carbon fiber havoc 35 bar is said to be the lightest DH handlebar made - and it is a full 800 millimeters wide.
Havoc 35 Carbon Handlebar Specs
-Material: EC90 carbon
-Bend: 9 degree
-Upsweep: 5 degree
-Clamp Diameter: 35mm
Easton’s history of intensive product testing and meticulous quality control protocol is the high-bar of the cycling industry. It is a poorly-kept secret that event the best bike companies test their components against Easton’s products to establish base-line standards. Easton’s tapered and manipulated aluminum literally reinvented the mountain bike industry, breaking strength-to-weight barriers with its fork tubes, frame tubes, fork steerers and handlebars. Later, when Easton moved on to produce carbon fiber handlebars, its rigorous engineering and testing standards earned widespread trust from hard core riders who had learned from previous experience that carbon was the color of death. There will always be jerks selling shiny turds to trusting fools, but for the most part, Easton raised manufacturing standards so high that even an average handlebar from a no-name maker is pretty darn good.Is My 31.8 mm, 800mm-Wide Handlebar Unsafe?
If it was made by a trustworthy manufacturer, your handlebar is probably safe and sound. Basic engineering, however, dictates that smaller diameter bars made from similar materials will be less rigid and possibly, less strong. If you like your present bar and stem combination, then you have nothing to worry about. If you are looking for a bit more from your bar and stem, then Easton’s ’35 series offers far more potential.Will Havoc 35 Bars Be More Crashworthy?
No way to say for sure, although if Easton’s published numbers are correct, the new Havoc 35 bars should hold up correspondingly better in a crash. Easton (and most other bar makers) states that its bars test strong enough to be pushed right through the bones and flesh of a human without damage (well, to the bar, at least). The worst-case scenario is when you send your bike flipping down the trail on its own. In such events, the impact can do damage that the rider is unaware of. Easton has an in-house inspection and replacement program and encourages its customers to routinely inspect every part on the bike, including its handlebars, for warning signs like bends, cracks or deep abrasions.Pinkbike's Take:
|Havoc 35 bars and stems look stunning on the bike and offer performance enhancements unavailable from the 31.6 mm standard. Easton is a sharp company with a staff who is well connected to racing and riding at the highest levels, so we trust that their claims for the performance of the Havoc 35 system are equally well grounded in science as they are on the dirt. Easton is well aware of the river of tears which will be shed when the gravity crowd hears that yet another industry standard is being implemented. That said, when a company like Easton moves forward with a breakthrough product like Havoc 35, it almost always signals the beginning of the end of the old standard. If 800-millimeter bars are here to stay, then Easton has made the right call. - RC|