Race Face's new Next SL bar is a unique offering. Claimed to be the world's lightest 35mm clamp bar, it's designed for aggressive XC—I'm sure it took considerable restraint on Race Face's part to keep the word d*wncountry out of the press materials. And they're right, XC is changing. The bikes are more capable, the trails are aggressive, and riders are pushing the boundaries more.
With that backdrop, Race Face is positioning the Next SL handlebar a bit differently. Compared to the current Next 35 bar, the new Next SL has gotten more compliant, lighter, and narrower. Yes, narrower. Before you warm up your twitter fingers, remember, plenty of races have been won on 740mm bars, and they still make the Next R 35 in a full 800mm wide too. Race Face was also quick to point out that you can use their Getta Grips to make them effectively 754mm wide.
But Race Face has clearly done a lot more than lop 20mm off the bars and publish a new weight; instead, they've redesigned the bar from the ground up. They wanted to reduce rider hand/arm fatigue (a common anecdotal criticism of 35mm bars) without compromising handling. To do that, they've added more material at the front and back of the bars, which they say allowed them to engineer more vertical compliance into this bar while maintaining good fore-aft stiffness. Their words: "All the Good Flex; None of the Bad."Features
• Optimized vertical compliance is designed to improve rider comfort and reduce hand fatigue
• Asymmetric carbon layup with reinforced fore-aft material for steering precision
• Colour: Black
• 8° backsweep, 5° upsweep
• Clamp: 35mm
• Width: 740mm
• Rise: 10mm
• Weight: 167 grams (verified on my scale at 166g)
• Price: $179.99 USD / $219.99 CAD
Gully is the king of bad flexes.
|The weight of the Next SLs is impressive. It's one thing for a boutique manufacturer to make a 167g bar for Dangerholm, but it's another thing entirely for a mainstream brand with such strong OE presence to confidently shave this many grams off. They're also very well finished and come in 1g under their published weight on my scale. It's really nice to see some different options for aggressive XC. |
That said, Race Face / Easton were some of the driving forces behind 35mm bars, and have now put considerable effort to eliminating the "too stiff" complaints about the larger clamp diameter. Some will see this as just solving a problem of their own creation.
Regardless, we are going to continue to see a lot of product managers speccing larger diameter bars, and the Next SLs look like an excellent choice for high end, weight-focused completes next year. If 35mm bars are here to stay, then we are very glad to see another brand concentrating on making them more comfortable.
While I'm nitpicking, I should mention that although these may technically be the lightest production 35mm bars, there's a 35mm bar from a specialist German manufacturer that's only 3g heavier (claimed) and a full 800mm wide. They're a good bit more expensive though. [Edit: also, shout out to JTab23 in the comments for pointing out that there's a 720mm full XC bar with 35mm clamp that's a claimed 133g.]
Back to the Next SLs. Most of us at Pinkbike choose bars that are wider than 740mm, even on our downcountry and XC bikes, because we are Pacific Northwest trail dorks. But I actually happened to have a bike with 740mm 31.8 bars on it right now, so I swapped these in. Initial impressions after one (mellow) ride are that they feel nice, but not dramatically different. My hand-flex-ometer has notoriously poor calibration though, and I suspect I'll notice a bigger difference when I swap back to my original bars. We'll see!—Brian Park
TLDR: the 31.8mm carbon and alloy bars actually flexed less than the 35mm bars measured (19mm alloy and 18mm carbon), and the oneup only flexed 5% more than the race face (21mm vs 20mm).
I hope that helps,
Jon @ OneUp
edit: actually not the fatbar though which looks close enough to be statistically insignificant.
I went from raceface sixc 35 carbon to oneup 35 and one up are way way more comfortable. Very noticable.
Actually 31.8mm bars are in fact 31.75mm bars: just like the older 25.4mm bars, it's based on inches: It's 1 and 1/4 inch, which is exactly 31.75mm.
Which is why there used to be some companies calling it 31.7mm. Same size, just rounded down instead of up.
So your 31.7999 is stiffer than a regular "31.8mm" bar.
that graph... So close and yet so bad. More constructively: No units, tiny font size, and absolutely massive empty space. Just set the axis limits properly.
I'm guessing it was generated by the test rig software for internal use and was hastily edited for public consumption. Or it was made by an engineer.
I like this kind of anecdotal evidence, but I wonder if you'd have noticed the same difference back to back on the same bike, only swapping bars.
Separate thought - Race Face is going to have a heck of a time selling 740mm bars, that's just dated.
Straight up XC bars. Nino runs 6## bars, and seems to do alright. Richie Rude runs 750s on his enduro rig, and many EWS pros run shorter.
Don't be a slave to marketing and fashion trends.
In the mountains.
Harshest bars I've ever used, straight up jackhammers, Surly Sunrise. Cool moto/bmx/clunker appeal, feel and weigh like solid steel. They're 22.2mm!
I hope that helps,
Jon @ OneUp
The challenge with a bike built from a manufacturer is creating something that works for everybody, while simultaneously trying to provide the newest part (associated with cost) and ultimately trying to keep the bikes affordability competitive relative to the tier of build.
While this is a place most people start, unfortunately no setup is going to be 100% ideal for most riders.
A bar/stem combo is a relatively inexpensive part to tune the flex profile and effect the riding characteristics to suit your needs. Best things to look for is ideally a bike that gives you most of what your looking for, but most importantly the big ticket items should be at the top of that priority list.
A general mindset is that bikes and components are developed in conjunction with professional riders. While this a mostly true, the final product released to the public can sometimes be altered as pro riders can vary drastically in preference.
I think you hit the nail on the head in saying "cover is a good thing"
We also need to take into account brand, bike setup, riding style ect ect.
I've ridden some very stiff and harsh bars, and some very soft bars. I feel an inherent delay in response if the bar is too soft. Maybe it's my mind messing with me, but thats my perspective
I'm at least sort of sensitive to bars too as I got a ton of hand numbness with my old SC carbon 20 rise bars, I get none with either of these bars.
Going the other way would be easier to ignore, but once you get dialed into your bike one way, making just a bar change to something harsh and non-compliant vs the OneUp will slap you in the face.
760mm would have been a (most) reasonable starting point, giving those few who might want 740mm some range to cut them down.
I guess making the number on the scale happy was more important than making paying customers happy
I don't have any empirical data to back up they are any better or the engineering background to explain why, me just better likey.
Given the fact they are Yeti turquoise to match decals also helps in bringing said test results closer together.
I'll leave the compliance/damping to the grips, thank you.
then I would buy
Does it feature auto fracture technology like every Next and sixc crank?
It’s just simple, if buying a bar it takes about 5-10 minutes to cut it shorter, but you can’t really get it any wider... I’m not sure what test data would show me that 740 is the perfect width that will change anything.
Most XC bikes are coming stock with 760 & 750 and I just know how stubborn people are, once they see a number bigger is better and smaller isn't an option. Just like you don't see many successful 120mm droppers these days.
All Race Face bars are engineered with a maximum cut of 25mm per end for a total of 50mm in total width reduction. The intended ride and flex characteristics are maintained within that range.
From our testing, having a larger maximum cut range really isn’t authentic to the rider as a 800mm bar cut down to 730mm won't ride the same - it's going to get substantially stiffer.
740mm is likely too narrow for a portion of trail riders but we do have the Next bar (760mm) and the Next R bar (800mm) for those riders wanting to go wider and charge a little harder. Making the Next SL bar 740mm wide allows us to cover as large a span possible of the desired bar widths for all XC and trail riders of all shapes and sizes.
I can understand as well that a bar cut down to 60mm would have other compromises inherent in design as well, so by better defining the end user, you've made a better product!
I am not having a dig at people, ride what you want, I’m not picking a width and being a dick about it. But I ain’t taking RF, Deity and few others pissing on my shoe with 35mm spread saying it’s raining gains over 31.8