|Once I had everything mounted up, and the bar trimmed to my preferred length of 785mm, it was time to hit the trails. Six months later, after being fed a steady diet of rugged, technical rides, the SIXC / Atlas bar and stem combo is still holding strong. There haven't been any creaks from the stem, even after being subjected to plenty of rainy, muddy conditions, and the stubby 35mm length has been absolutely flex free.|
As for the bars, they've survived unscathed as well, and whether I was pushing hard into a corner, or monster trucking through a rock garden, the SIXC bar felt solid, instantly responding to every little input. Bar stiffness can be tricky to get right - while you obviously don't want a bar that feels like an overcooked noodle, bars that are too stiff can quickly leads to fatigued hands. The SIXC bars are certainly stiff, but Race Face has allowed for just enough flex and vibration absorption that they avoid feeling overly harsh, although riders switching from a set of 31.8mm (or 25.4mm for that matter) aluminum bars will certainly notice the difference. My first few rides I found myself wondering if the bars were possibly too stiff, simply because I wasn't used to the level of responsiveness they possessed, but I've since come to appreciate their precise feel on the trail. Aside from stiffness, the actual shape of a bar has an impact on how comfortable they are as well, and Race Face has everything in order on that front. The 8 degrees of back and 5 degrees of up sweep put my hands in a natural feeling position, one that remained comfortable no matter how long of a ride I embarked on.
The world of mountain bike standards can be confusing, and downright frustrating at times, but when the end result is a bar that manages to be as wide, light, and stiff as the SIXC, it's hard to deny that the 35mm standard has merit. Does that mean your 31.8mm bars are worthless? Of course not, but for riders that are in the market for a cockpit upgrade, the SIXC bar and Atlas stem combo is an excellent option for any bike. The antiquated notion still persists that wide bars and short stems are only for downhill bikes, but that's simply not the case. Why not have the cockpit of your trail bike to feel nearly identical to that of your downhill bike? Well, with this set up you can, and without the weight penalty typically associated with DH worthy products. - Mike Kazimer
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