July 5, 2012
What makes a decent cockpit? You can’t beat plenty of width and ‘just enough’ depth (stop sniggering at the back). The Gravity Light brand is part of FSA and, as such, quality control and R&D are both top notch. The CSI flat bar and AL2014 stem are a nicely matched pairing to sharpen up your […]
What makes a decent cockpit? You can’t beat plenty of width and ‘just enough’ depth (stop sniggering at the back).
The Gravity Light brand is part of FSA and, as such, quality control and R&D are both top notch. The CSI flat bar and AL2014 stem are a nicely matched pairing to sharpen up your front end response. The numbers are perfectly normal; 10° sweep, 4° rise and 740mm width on the bar, 60mm length and 6° rise on the stem; but you might find it surprising that the bar is labelled as ‘DH, Freeride and All Mountain’ – I was, anyway.
A flat carbon bar intended to be smashed into the ground sounds more than a little counter-intuitive but it’s not ‘just’ carbon; it has an aluminium inner, which is butted and then thermally bonded to the carbon outer. Gravity Light says this means that the carbon part actually has an effect on, and imparts carbon’s properties (principally stiffness) to, the structure of the bar, rather than just being a cosmetic wrap; while the aluminium part makes it more resilient to both ham-fisted mechanics and clumsy riding.
Without access to a lab test I can’t comment on the former claim beyond saying that it was more than stiff enough for me to not worry about it at all, but the latter is certainly true. I’ve used Loc-On grips, shuffled controls countless times; hung kit off it for a tour, and – yes – smashed it off the ground plenty of times without mishap or the damage (even cosmetic) that I’d worry about with a full carbon bar.
The width is probably fine for most folk as a general use trail bar, unless you’re really pushing the limits of the ape index/trying to stave off a mid-life crisis. 740mm gives enough width to muscle the front end around when you need to but retains a bit more knuckle confidence. It’s still a big jump from 680mm but you can always cut them down if you decide better control and leverage isn’t actually for you. These are a good option for racers on technical courses, too – light enough not to weigh you down, and being flat and wide sets them apart. Stick them in a short stem and start to have some fun.
Now, the stem. Stems are always difficult to review. As long as the bolts and clamp do their job and, er, bolt and clamp (they did); it’s not too heavy (145g – perfectly acceptable) and the face plate doesn’t crack (not a chance), there’s not very much to say apart from ‘it works’, which doesn’t really fill a page.
You don’t get many polished silver stems, though, so there’s a point in its favour for starters (yes, shallow, but Gravity Light call it Ice Grey – arguably worse). The steerer clamp isn’t unobtrusive but corners are nicely rounded, so it will just bruise kneecaps rather than split them open. And while some people might twitch a bit over exposing their steerer in public, removing that bit is a smart way to shed some weight. All six bolts use the same size hex key too – and it’s these small things which make a stem not only worth writing about, but worth a recommended sticker too.
Overall: Super collar and cuffs cockpit for big wheelers, long forkers and tech racers, as well as doonhilly types.