Solid, sweepy bars with just enough damping
It’s been a some time since going plastic was a fraught decision demanding meticulous installation and regular inspection (not that either are a bad idea). No longer at the bleeding edge of composite technology, carbon handlebars are clearly here to stay. Most brands large and small have a composite offering between 700mm and 800mm, with many claiming to be both lighter and stronger than their aluminum counterparts.
Why seek out Syntace’s Vector Carbon High10, then? While their 740mm width and 220g weight (actual, 208g claimed) aren’t especially noteworthy, the titanium mesh reinforced clamping area is interesting and Syntace’s VR-3 approval for downhill use – without a rider weight limit – is confidence-inspiring. But what really sets the Syntace carbon bar apart is its unusual 12° sweep (an 8° is also available) and a level of vibration damping that seems to have gone missing from many modern carbon bars.
A full third sweepier than more common 9° bars, this tester finds 12° sweep to be just right: natural feeling without forcing a turn into into the ‘alt bar’ wilderness. Adding to a great position is a measure of vibration damping that makes for an all-day comfortable bar in a way that aluminum and burlier carbon bars simply can’t match- but without the unnerving flex of some flyweight bars. In addition to several rises (see below), Syntace cunningly offers two inverted-graphics models for li’l folks or those looking to drop the front end on overly-tall 29in trail bikes. In keeping with their intended uses, taller bars ship in wider widths, with the longest 780mm wide.
While bigger and more aggressive riders are an obvious market for DH-rated bars, those of us at the lower end of the weight spectrum will really appreciate the Syntace bars’ subtle, comfort-enhancing flex. Given a price that sits at the upper end of what can be considered acceptable – even among cyclists – it would be hard to recommend Vector Carbon bars if they weren’t so good. After a few months on the 12° model, returning to less-sweepy bars felt odd and I found myself retiring a perfectly good pair of carbon trail bars to buy a second Syntace pair- using honest-to-goodness money. And that’s as high praise as any product is likely to get.
|Product:||Megaforce 2 & Vector Carbon High10|
|Tested:||by Marc B for Eight months|