by Mark Alker
August 8, 2013
A stem and bars combo for the PRO look
Handlebars create a lot of chat for something that hasn’t any moving parts. But that’s understandable, as it’s the bit that connects you to your bike. I rejoice in being Mr. Average, and as such the Tharsis bar fitted me a treat, with the 20mm rise and 8° sweep being just right for my 50th-percentile arms.
At 740mm the uncut full width felt good too, opening the chest for big lungfuls of air going uphill while still fitting between the trees, although there are laser-etched cutting guides so that the dinosaur armed can shorten it down to 660mm. There are also stem alignment guides on the front face of the bar, but these don’t line up with the set-up marks on the Vanderham stem. Yes, I know it’s a different model range, but still…
All mountain bike legend Thomas Vanderham has put his name to a set of PRO products, like this stem, which cover most of the rider to bike contact and control points. For the consumer, it means you can be confident that any of this kit can stand up to a level of punishment that goes above and beyond what any mountain biker who isn’t totally suicidal could dish out. And that doesn’t mean light, it means chunky. The stem body and face plate are CNC machined from single lumps of 7075 aluminium. The mounting bolts are steel, M6-threaded, 5mm Allen key bolts, with a pleasing (well, to me) hexagonal head. The solid angular look owes more to Megatron than Rodney Copperbottom, but that I liked. You might not.
For this test, the Tharsis bar was matched to the Vanderham stem. That’s just the way it is. I didn’t attempt any 10-metre drop offs and so didn’t explore the limits of the stem. But what I did do was a week of riding in the Alpes Maritime. And on these sometime fast, sometime technical, sometime both trails, this bar and stem combo worked for me. In fact, for the most part I plain forgot all about them and just concentrated on having a blast. And that’s how it should be, right?
Overall: The design, quality and material is as good as you would expect.