The idea of a one-piece bar and stem is nothing new. Both Syncros and Bontrager have made them for everything from DH to XC. Now Faserwerk, the components brand of Arc8 Bikes
, has thrown their hat in the ring and undercut the other two brands on the scales. The Baslerstab measures 800mm wide and is DH-rated, yet weighs just 236g. In case you're wondering about the name, “Baslerstab” refers to Arc8's hometown: Basel. It literally means ”Basilean bar”.
Faserwerk Baslerstab Bar/Stem Details
• 9° backsweep, 6° upsweep
• 15mm rise
• 35 or 50mm "equivalent stem lengths"
• Uncut Width: 800mm
• Weight: 236 grams (actual)
• MSRP: $299 USD / 299€
To put that weight in context, a lightweight 800mm carbon handlebar (like Renthal's Fatbar carbon) plus a 40mm stem (e.g. Renthal's Apex stem) weighs a combined 345g. At 236g on my scales (4g lighter than claimed), the Baslerstab undercuts this by 109g. Impressively, it's lighter than some carbon handlebars without stems. More to the point, it's lighter than other one-piece cockpits like Bontrager's RSL bar/stem
(274g, actual) and the 800mm-wide Syncros Hixon iC 1.0 Rise
(270g, claimed). Only the Gemini KÄSTOR
comes close (235-245g, claimed), but it costs 650€.
At $299, the Baslerstab isn't exactly cheap, but it's a little less than the Bontrager RSL ($350 USD) and the Syncros Hixon iC (€330), and not too far off the cost of a high-end carbon bar and conventional stem. You can pay almost as much for an ENVE stem
The other downside of the one-piece approach is a lack of adjustability; you're stuck with the handlebar roll (the amount of backsweep and upsweep) the bar comes with. The Baslerstab has pretty conventional numbers: 9° backsweep, 6° upsweep. Being able to minutely adjust handlebar roll is important to some people, but not everyone. I know a few riders who have never adjusted the handlebar roll from where it was set at the bike shop. Perhaps for the everyday rider, having a prescribed roll position isn't such a terrible thing. $299 isn't everyday rider sort of money, but then mechanical competence doesn't necessarily scale with one's bank balance.
The bar sweeps forward directly out from the steerer clamp, then curves back to form the backsweep for the grips. According to Faserwerk, this puts the grips in the same place as a conventional bar with a 35mm or 50mm stem (depending on which option you pick); but by skipping the "pseudo-stem" (a piece of carbon jutting directly forwards from the steerer), they say they can minimise weight and streamline the manufacturing process too.Shape and Ergonomics
I usually ride a 40mm stem, so I chose the 35mm (not 50mm) equivalent stem length option as, on paper, it's closer to what I'm used to. But a line drawn through the middle of the grips sits slightly behind the middle of the steerer tube, which is further back than most conventional bars on a 35mm stem, and in my view, as far back as you'd ever want the grips unless you're up-sizing your frame. Richard Cunningham wrote an excellent article
about the relationship between handlebar sweep and effective stem length.
This shortened the effective reach noticeably; the 50mm equivalent stem option is probably closer to a 40mm-stem conventional cockpit.On the trail
The upsweep on the bar is just a little up from neutral (flat), which feels comfortable to me. On flat terrain, I'd go a touch steeper (rolled forward a few degrees) to bring my elbows out, but if you're the kind of person who regularly rolls their bar forward and back for different terrain, these probably aren't for you. But if you're happy with a set and forget approach, the sweep is about right in my book - it definitely doesn't feel weird. It's worth mentioning I tested on a bike with a 64-degree head angle and steeper head angles will increase the upsweep slightly.
Fitting the bar is simple - just be sure to tighten the four faceplate bolts evenly as you would with a stem faceplate. I had no creaking or slipping on the steerer. However, like many carbon handlebars, the brake levers are prone to twist too easily on the bar when torqued up to the recommended 4 Nm.
Despite the low weight, they are slightly on the stiffer side compared to other 800mm bars. The tower of spacers I need to compensate for the low rise introduces a little side-side flex in the steerer, but there isn't much movement when pushing and pulling on the bars in a sprint. Too stiff? I wouldn't say so. It's easy to overstate how much handlebar stiffness affects hand comfort; if your fork is working well and your tire pressures are reasonably low, the handlebar should be a pretty insignificant part of the overall compliance. I didn't notice much difference in harshness compared to a Renthal Fatbar 35, which I'd say is less stiff than most. Pinkbike's Take: