Integration can make sense in theory, but it's also something that us mountain bikers can get riled up about, and understandably so. Being locked into using a certain component can feel wrong, especially when said component costs an arm and a leg, but the upsides might include less complication, less weight, and more optimization. That was Syncros' brief for the wild-looking Hixon SL IC carbon fiber handlebar and stem combo that's surely going to divide opinions. One thing about it is clear, though: At just 290-grams, it's really freakin' light.
The $329.99 USD cockpit is available in a single matte UD carbon finish, and you can get it with 40, 50, and 60mm virtual stem lengths. Width comes in at 780mm, and there's 12mm of rise that's combined with 6° of up-sweep and 9° of back-sweep.
Syncros Hixon SL IC
• 1-piece 'bar and stem
• UD carbon fiber
• Width: 780mm
• Length: 40, 50 (tested), 60mm
• Sweep: 6-degrees up, 9-degrees back
• Rise: 12mm
• Torx hardware
• Color: matte black
• Weight: 290-grams
• MSRP: $329.99 USD
• More info: www.syncros.com
It might look strange, but your grips are going to end up in pretty much the same spot. That's a Race Face handlebar and 50mm stem laid over top of the Hixon.Construction
You know what's not needed when your stem and handlebar are a single piece? The bolts that'd usually hold the two together, of course, and fewer steel bolts mean fewer grams. To do this, Syncros uses a one-piece construction method that employs unidirectional carbon fiber, something they say is able to ''show more tensile strength and modulus than woven carbon patterns.
It certainly gives it a futuristic look that traditional handlebars and stems don't have, which is no doubt helped by the oval shape to its mid-section.
Speaking of shapes, the Hixon SL IC is curvier than I get in the middle of winter. First, there's the part where the middle of the Hixon sweeps forward in an odd looking way, but then there's also the part where it's sweeping backward about halfway out to where the grips are. From above, it doesn't make much sense, but the important thing is that those grips are going to end up in roughly the same place that they'd be with a normal bar and stem combo, even if they take a weird route to get there.
Torque specs are listed on the clamp (please use a torque wrench), and the two bolts have Torx heads and thread into an insert on the opposite side. Syncros has also added textured sections to where you're going to clamp your brake levers, shifter, and dropper post remote, which means you shouldn't need to ever over-tighten any clamp to keep it in place.
The Hixon comes with its own matching cap that fits into a slightly recessed section on top of the stem (you can buy a Garmin mount for here, too), but I just used a standard round stem cap because I had 10mm of spacers on top of it.
It took me one day to lose the specially shaped top cap (left) that fits the Hixon, but a normal one will work just fine. A textured finish where you clamp your controls means that you don't have to have over-tighten any of the clamps.
So, when it comes to numbers, how does the $329.99 USD, 290-gram Hixon compare to other high-end stem and handlebar combos? ENVE is the obvious rival here, with their 50mm stem coming in at $280 USD and 92-grams. Their M7 handlebar measures 800mm wide (40mm more than the Hixon), costs $170 USD, and weighs a claimed 240-grams. That puts the ENVE cockpit at a whopping $450 USD and 332-grams, or even more than the Hixon costs and around 40-grams heavier.
Yes, you can spend $100 USD and get an alloy setup that isn't going to hold any of us back and is actually adjustable, and full carbon fiber stem and handlebar combos aren't going to be on many of our 'must have' lists, but it's interesting to see how this Gucci-spec stuff compares and performs. That applies doubly-so when it looks as weird as the Hixon does.
The rider's point of view when looking down at a Syncros Hixon handlebar.Performance
Have you ever used a handlebar that wasn't rigid enough? At around 160lb, I have no problem admitting that I certainly haven't. I have used a few that were far too rigid for my liking, though, and the Hixon feels like it's right on the edge of that line. This topic is always such a subjective thing, and I think a lot of people are talking out of their ass to sound like they're ultra-sensitive when they go on and on about handlebar flex or a lack thereof, but the Hixon's stiff construction is clear-cut to me.
Is it too stiff? I did get some buzzy sensations coming through to my hands, but only on the sort of high-frequency stuff that you see when cruising on a fireroad; I had zero issues on singletrack. Still, that's a first for me.
Want your bike to stand out and lose a bunch of grams?
I also just couldn't get over how the Hixon looks, too. I know, I know, it makes zero difference when you're moving - my hands would be in the same spot if I was using a standard setup - but the odd shape from an in-the-saddle point of view is... Unique.
Appearance aside, there are two obvious knocks against the Hixon. First, you clearly can't adjust handlebar roll because, well, it doesn't roll. The position feels bang-on for me and I don't think I'd want to change it regardless, but I know that Mike Kazimer
had one as well and didn't gel with the position. Probably good to have a look before you order it off some website, then. The other thing is that you won't be clamping anything to this handlebar because it isn't round; the oval-ish cross-section means no lights or GoPro on the Hixon. Anything that mounts with a rubber band should be workable, though.Pinkbike's Take: