First Look: Bontrager RSL Integrated Bar & Stem

Jul 8, 2021
by Seb Stott  

Bontrager have released a lightweight, one-piece carbon bar/stem. It's available in two widths: 750mm aimed at cross-country riding and 820mm for trail/enduro. The XC bar is available with 70mm, 80mm or 90mm effective stem lengths, all with 0mm of handlebar rise and a -13 degree stem. The trail bar is available with a 35mm or 45mm equivalent stem length, with a 0-degree stem and 27.5mm of handlebar rise.

The 750mm bar has 8-degrees of backsweep and 5-degrees of upsweep, while the 820mm version has 7-degrees backsweep and 6-degrees of upsweep.
Details
• OCLV carbon
• 750mm negative-rise XC bar or 820mm, 27.5mm-rise trail bar.
• Claimed weight: 214g-250g
• Titanium hardware
• Knock Block and Blendr compatible
• MSRP: $350 USD
trekbikes.com

The main reason for the one-piece design, aside from a cleaner look, is weight saving.

According to Bontrager, the weight goes from 214g for the 750mm by 70mm bar/stem, up to 250g for the 820mm by 45mm version. Those weights would be respectable for a handlebar on its own and while there aren't many 820mm-wide carbon handlebars to compare Bontrager's bigger bar to, for some context a Rehthal carbon Fatbar (800mm) weighs 225g, plus 120g for a 40mm Renthal Apex stem (one of the lightest on the market) works out at 345g. So Bontrager's 820mm bar&stem would save about 95g in this comparison.

In case you wondered what RSL stands for.
Cut marks to help rein in the 820mm width.


But of course Bontrager aren't the first to offer a one-piece carbon cockpit.The Syncros Fraser iC SL bar/stem, which measures 740mm wide, has a claimed weight of 220g whether with a 60, 70, 80 or 90mm effective stem length. Alternatively, the Syncros Hixon iC 1.0 Rise, which is 800mm wide, comes in at a claimed 270g. So, based on claimed weights, it looks like Bontrager have managed to go even lighter than Syncros, at least in some configurations.

The bar includes the parts needed to work with Knock Block headsets.
Bontrager's Blendr standard allows lights, computers and accessories to fit neatly on the bar.

The bars are compatible with Trek's Knock Block headsets as well as standard headsets. They also accommodate Bontrager's Blendr integration system to mount lights, computers and other accessories to the front of the bar.

The obvious downside of the one-piece design is that you can't adjust the bar-roll, and if you want a longer stem you have to change the whole cockpit.


137 Comments

  • 109 2
 27.5mm rise? so out of date. all the cool kids are on 29mm rise now.
  • 164 1
 You mean, 27.5 left and 29 right? It's all mullet in 2021
  • 7 0
 Nah. The cool kids have one side on 29 and the other on 27.5. Oh wait...
  • 27 3
 Here I thought it was 28.99mm rise that was all the rage.
  • 2 10
flag PAmtbiker (Jul 8, 2021 at 7:57) (Below Threshold)
 @faul: Underrated comment
  • 2 0
 As someone who had an imbalance in my shoulders this would probably work for me lol
  • 9 18
flag tonkatruck (Jul 8, 2021 at 11:41) (Below Threshold)
 is it just me or does Trek/bontrager just immitates everyone?

ABP suspension(Split-pivot), wavecell(koroyd), BITS(Swat) and now this ??? Scott did it first.

come on up with something thats actually original (not boost, thats useless)
  • 5 0
 @tonkatruck: I don’t like to comment usually, but koroyd only deals with frontal impacts, and relies on mips for rotational management. Wavecel does both.
  • 8 0
 Isospeed, the weird supercaliber isostrut thing, knockblock, reactiv, bb90. All Trek proprietary innovations. Now to be clear I don't think any of these are good, but they are unique. I think it does illustrate that large companies instead of trying to innovate should just work on refining already existing ideas. Like making a one-piece pretty light bar that is easily available.
  • 4 0
 @hmstuna: Isospeed works pretty well so I’ve heard.
  • 1 1
 @MaplePanda: I don't like it personally, but many do.
  • 4 0
 @tonkatruck: Well, ABP and Split Pivot was developed in parallel an so not imitation (read the patent documentation). SWAT builds on carbon technology that Trek developed in the early 2000's. Combining bar and stem in carbon for a modern platform, Gemini (Unno) did before Syncros (Scott). Both Cannondale and Klein (Trek) did integrated alu bar/stem combos in the 90's. Get your facts right.
  • 1 0
 @hmstuna: I'd wager you haven't spent much time on a bike with isospeed....
  • 1 0
 @TheBrosCloset: don't be a DUB
  • 65 2
 I couldn't imagine anything worse not been able to roll my bars into the position I feel most comfortable.
  • 71 0
 You could bend a slight adjustment into the steerer tube to get that custom angle just right!
  • 12 0
 @pcledrew: That sounds an excellent idea!
  • 45 0
 Don't worry you could just put a 27.5 wheel in the back instead of a 29 to adjust the bar roll just a little bit.
  • 9 0
 @kcy4130: I would need a 24 at the front and a 33.45 at the back to get the bars where I like them.
  • 2 1
 You could find out what the up- and back-sweeps are for where you are most comfortable and just get a combo that matches. Maybe this one lines up with exactly what you like. Maybe the Scott does. Maybe neither does and you'll stick with separates forever. However, very weird that Bontrager didn't list those specs.
  • 2 0
 That is a good point, but these one piece bar/stem combos do look slick.
  • 5 0
 Sounds like a product idea: eccentric grips with a selection of contours you can rotate to change position for these type of bars. ($1000 a pair)
  • 2 0
 @justinfoil: Good point.
  • 2 0
 @chrod: That's a great idea. Even for bars with "not enough" or "too much" sweep. Or for trial bikes that uses roll to adjust reach, with mitigated results in hands position.
I wonder if the TPU I can 3D print is suitable for grips. I have something to try, now.
  • 2 0
 @chrod: You shouldn't have said that out loud. Someone's going to nick that idea now!!
  • 2 0
 It gets worse: you pay a $150 premium to boot!
  • 2 0
 @Veloscente: Yeah, and a rider that rides hard/often should really be changing out bars every few years at least. Whereas, a stem will last pretty much forever.
  • 1 0
 @MattP76: I hope they do and I can pick up a set for cheap in 2022!
(if covid-delta-21 isn't slamming our supply chains...)
  • 1 0
 @chrod: $37
  • 2 4
 @kcy4130: A rider who rides hard/often should really be changing out bikes every few years, at least.
  • 1 0
 @faul: Where can I follow your experiments? I'd love to try this out myself if you developed it.
  • 1 0
 @SasaAbazovic: Interesting. 1 to 2 degrees is definitely a noticeable change.
  • 1 1
 @chrod: Production Privee make grips similar to what you describe.
  • 1 0
 @kcy4130: I have had 3 stems fail; never a bar. Just saying.....
  • 48 0
 How will I know if I have my roll just right, without being able to move it one way, conclude it feels worse, then move it the other and also conclude that feels worse too?
  • 7 0
 @kcy4130 accurate af
  • 7 0
 Just cut it apart and then clamp it back together a few times. You'll get there - I believe in you!
  • 1 0
 That is my reality... Oof
  • 22 0
 Maybe next fork manufacturers will start making forks with one piece steer tube, stem, and handlebars. INNOVATION!
  • 22 0
 one piece bikes, no more need to struggle with frame up builds!!
  • 8 0
 That would be awkward to shove through the hole.
  • 9 0
 @PTyliszczak: Nah...just creates a whole new "standard" for the "Universal Head Tube". Bolt your front end sub-assembly onto any UHT compatible frame. Just shim the upper and lower mounts to adjust head angle. And when combined with AXS, head angle changes wirelessly and automatically based on dropper post positioning.
  • 19 0
 @neons97: just buy a pole where the head tube opens up
  • 3 0
 @neons97: I'm about to throw up
  • 4 0
 @PTyliszczak: That's not what your mother said last night Trebek, Ha
  • 6 0
 @ltharris: I heard one piece cranks are all the rage
  • 2 0
 @neons97: SHHHH don't give them any ideas.
  • 2 1
 @PTyliszczak: That’s what she said.
  • 2 0
 @focofox37: I love celebrity jeopardy
  • 14 1
 Oh good, at least they're Knock Block compatible...
  • 12 3
 "There's no word from Bontrager on the upsweep or backsweep numbers for either bar just yet."

Some people got those numbers in their press kits... might check if you're missing a page? Because those numbers are super f*cking important if you can't roll the bars.
  • 8 0
 I wish they did a down country or light trail middle ground. 50 and 60 mm stem and 780 width.
  • 17 9
 Ah yes. Integration. One of the things no one is asking for.
  • 6 1
 Dangerholm? Not my style but I know there is a group that's very interested in stuff like this and they seem to be willing to spend.
  • 6 11
flag MattP76 (Jul 8, 2021 at 8:13) (Below Threshold)
 AKA a Fad. Like Mullets!
  • 5 1
 I literally asked for it earlier this week. You just weren't listening Frown
  • 21 2
 I don't think you're as in tune with cycling as you may think. We've been doing the syncros fraser/hixon bars for a few years now, and we sell more of them than RaceFace carbon bars, for example.

People absolutely do want this. What you meant to say is "I don't want this. I am not asking for this."
  • 4 0
 I like it. I wish there were more options, so this is good.
  • 5 0
 @sherbet: 90% of Pinkbike comments in total could be replaced with that correction.
  • 4 1
 I know people will whine about the price but this is directly (same price USD) competitive with the Syncros bar/stem combo. Weight weenie parts get weight weenie prices, not worth it for most of us but the XC guy who spends 10-15 hrs a week on a bike might see enough benefit.
  • 2 1
 Came to say the same thing...top end stem and top end bar you are running that much. Still crazy but expected much worse. I do agree with those who question how you get the correct fit for you and your bike with no option on stem angle or bar position. Might not be expensive enough for the dentists and not " perfect fit " enough for the performance weight nerd crowd. Wish them luck, maybe pick one up in the PB Buy/Sell in a few years....
  • 2 0
 I did the math:

Syntactic Megaforce 3 40mm 95g $100
Enve 31.8 25mm rise bar 200g $170

Total weight is 300g and cost $270 so the Bontrager seems reasonable.

We Are One Da Package is $280 and 338g although made in Canada.
  • 3 0
 I LOVE the idea of weight savings of integrated bars & stems - but I DREAD the added cost of replacing them if I were to crash & just my handle was severely damaged(so I opted for a lightweight bar & stem combo instead)... O.O
  • 3 0
 Seems silly that their Blender thing is only one screw, wouldn't that lead to your light or computer potentially rotating? Just make it two holes for a more secure mounting platform.
  • 16 0
 Man, if only they'd come and asked you before letting their engineers make that rookie mistake!
  • 3 0
 Pretty sure it is concave where it meets the bar to avoid rotating lol
  • 1 0
 Rotating can save you the bar, mount and light. Just like not fasten brake leavers to tight do.
  • 12 0
 True. Just like Grindr, Blendr is a one-screw affair.
  • 2 0
 I wonder if the bar roll positioning is different between XC and trail models, with an assumption of slightly slacker head angles on the trail, and thus a slightly more forward titled bar roll on that model?
  • 1 0
 Can't speak for the heavier/longer "trail" bar combo, but for XC, all three stem length options are too heavy to justify the price. I don't even run anything crazy light or exotic, but at 90mm stem length and 760mm bar length, my stem/bar combo is 215g, at under CAD 250.
  • 4 3
 As cool as this is, it still says Bontrager on it. I like the idea. I like the weight. I would run this except I can’t get over it being made by Bontrager.

They should make up a fake company based in Germany or Japan and avoid any mention of or connection to Trek/Bontrager

They all of a sudden become cool if developed by a former F1 wheel bearing engineer in his spare time.
  • 1 0
 I always wanted to try the Hixon - sounds right to me - 40mm stem equivalent, 780mm bar, 9 degree sweep... checks all of my boxes. I got excited by the Bonty one - because of the liberal 30 day return policy. . Then I saw the sweep..... guess I'll keep riding my primative bar and stem.....
  • 5 1
 Missed opportunity to do a super short stem length IMO
  • 1 0
 Yeah - I don't get that either - it was the same with Scott before them (although they didn't even go as short as 35mm!).
  • 5 1
 35mm isn't short enough for you? Jeez...
  • 2 1
 @seraph: Options are good. Especially with the reach numbers on bikes these days. Personally happy with my 35mm stem on my large Megatower. However if I were on a longer reach bike shorter than 35mm could be a viable option. With no stem to bar interface, there's the ability to have an even shorter stem. Why not have the option and cater to a market others can't?
  • 5 0
 @gnarnaimo: this is purely anecdotal, but i find it more difficult to weight the front wheel with a short stem. much prefer 50mm to 35mm for this reason, wouldn't want to go any shorter than that. if the frame is that long i would size down and run a longer stem.

i think i also remember an article about those super short mondraker stems which said handling is negatively impacted if your grips are behind the steerer tube? perhaps someone smarter than me can explain why...
  • 1 0
 @scotteh: Totally preference, differing fork offsets will affect this as well as stack height and/or stem height. Some prefer short offsets while some prefer long, some prefer high and some prefer low.
You could have a super short stem and slam it to the frame, and play with fork offsets to effectively weight the front end more while still having a shorter reach.
TLDR: Options are good.
  • 1 0
 @scotteh: if you hate countersteering, leverage, sitting up, and minimal wheel-weighting effort, you'll love stems shorter than fork offsets; the bigger the discrepancy the better. Isak Leivsson is a notable exception, but uses 510mm chainstays and a high pivot
  • 1 0
 @gnarnaimo: great point about short stem and low stack! didn't cross my mind because i like an upright position with lots of stack - probably why i need a longer stem to get weight on the front wheel.

what effect do you find fork offset has on front end grip, all other factors remaining constant?
  • 2 0
 So many compromises on bike design to fit the masses. But one of the most important parts for people fitting and being comfortable you lock in. The bike industry
  • 3 0
 Next, will be stem,bar and fram all integrated. Direction change will be wireless
  • 1 0
 If one of these companies would make one of these and sell it for exactly the same price as a Renthal bar and stem setup I would be all over it.
  • 3 0
 According to NSMB: the backsweep is 7° and upsweep is 6°
  • 9 2
 At what HTA...
  • 1 1
 Theirs
  • 2 0
 If I could test fit it AND reviews said it was compliant I'd be interested for my DC bike.
  • 3 0
 I mean nsmb said it was "muted" in the ride characteristic and bontrager has a 30 day no questions asked satisfaction guarantee. Hell you could buy it just for a race weekend and return it afterwards in whatever shape.
  • 1 0
 Here's the sweep spec for the bars. 750mm width bars have 8 deg backsweep with 5 deg upsweep 820mm width bars have 7 deg backsweep with 6 deg upsweep
  • 1 0
 Doomscrolled past the pictures and couldn't help instantly thinking it was called the "RSI". What a perfect name for an object design for being held onto...
  • 2 1
 Hmmm, Newmen 318.2 stem + Sworks 760mm bars - perfect for trail bike for 150 euros and weighs 250gr. This one piece cockpit is nice but way too expensive without any benefit.
  • 3 0
 Nice piece of art!
  • 2 1
 Look at Gemini Propus combo if you want something ligth, 149g in 740mm / 50mm. At least 60g lighter than Bontrager RSL.
  • 2 1
 740mm is too narrow.
  • 4 0
 At 650 Euros? Please, lol...
  • 1 0
 The Gemini has a drop to it, only long XC length stem lengths (equivalent), specifies 67-70' HTAs for sweep to be correct, and is only rated for XC usage. Quite the difference.
  • 2 0
 No mention about back sweep?
Glad im super happy with my SqLab bar
  • 1 1
 oh maybe i could put this on my bike

*handlebars cost more that half of my bike*

yeaah, nevermind
  • 2 5
 For a given material, an I beam shape will be less flexible than a flat strip. An oval will have more flex in one direction than the other and that direction will be more flex than the same material/diameter circle. So unless they have a materials breakthrough that they aren’t marketing yet, this shape will have less vertical compliance and even crisper steering than a round handlebar with the same material, length and thickness. Physics is the law, everything else is a recommendation.
  • 5 0
 From these pictures you can't tell for sure- but it does look ovalized near the stem and there's nothing that says this is a 31.8 or 35mm center. Since they have disregarded those standards, you don't have to have extra reinforcement for clamping force. Additionally carbon layup does not have to be equal in all directions so engineering in properties based on the amount of or type of carbon isn't really new, so there is not information to determine what kind of compliance this has based on these pictures.
  • 2 0
 of course I can't find it now, but some Italian company has been making integrated bar/stem combos that are very light (and very expensive, over $500 EUROs) that are also ovalized, just like the OneUp bars.
  • 1 0
 Where did they claim that a box section/I-beam is more compliant than other shapes? I'm seeing nothing alike that statement in this article.
  • 1 0
 @sherbet: I think it's an answer to someone in the doomed section of the comments.
  • 1 0
 Let's see them new tires already
  • 1 0
 Man where’d they get that idea?
  • 1 0
 looks like a Syncos Hixon Bar
  • 1 0
 another made in china gemini handlear clone by us made in china brand.
  • 1 0
 Bontragiaè
  • 1 0
 Putting this on my eBike
  • 4 4
 820mm WTF
  • 5 0
 Always better to have more !
  • 8 0
 Options for cutting.
  • 4 1
 But like what normal person even runs 820 on a DH bike?
  • 4 0
 @DatCurryGuy: i would prefer to have less since i like 760mm bars - you have to think that compliance is negatively affected by chopping 60mm off.

i'm surprised companies haven't started marketing bars with height/weight specific engineered flex. probably not financially feasible, which is why we see 820mm bars sold to everyone when only a tiny percentage of people actually need/want that width
  • 2 0
 After purchase, it's easier to cut them down than to add length.
  • 3 1
 @ryan77777: but when you cut them down they probably stiffen up
  • 3 0
 @Grantma: Really, really tall people?
  • 1 0
 @MaplePanda: I mean I'm already 6'2" and I only run 780mm bars
  • 1 0
 @Grantma: I’d reckon you’re an outlier. 800mm+ seems to be otherwise ubiquitous among the 6’ and up crowd.
  • 1 0
 @MaplePanda: I'm 6'1 running 760mm
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