First question: why make an 800mm-wide handlebar? Simple: because Easton’s riders asked for it. Bikes have been getting slacker, longer and lower for a while now; suspension just gets better and better and the terrain that we are able to ride is rougher. A bigger bar makes sense, offering more leverage and greater control.
Next question: why add 3.2mm to the 31.8mm clamp diameter standard? Also apparently simple: this increase means that handlebar length can be increased, with the desired characteristics retained. Stiffness can be maintained without having to increase wall thickness and add weight. Compromises don’t have to be made.
Before riding the Easton 35mm setup I slipped into my lab coat, stood over my bike and pushed and pulled on my usual handlebar… In my notebook I then wrote: ‘can feel quite a lot of give’. But Easton takes a more scientific approach. It has 30 years’ experience in working with aluminium, a team of engineers and a testing facility with a machine that repeatedly subjects the bars to high loads and repeated cycles.
Both components are made to a high quality, with great attention to detail. For such a long tube of aluminium the Havoc handlebar feels light in the hand. Prior to installation I popped them on the scales and noted 308g (up 8g on the claimed figure). That’s low for an (aluminium) bar of this width, especially one approved for downhill applications. Easton labels the Havoc 35 as gravity (the Haven 35 is the all-mountain version) and states that this version of its Havoc handlebar is stronger, wider and lighter than ever before. Compared directly to the 31.8mm clamp bar, it is 50mm longer and weighs 15g less. It’s also only 30g heavier than the Haven 35 (all-mountain/trail riding), with 50mm extra width.
How much can you cut them down by if you don’t want to run full width? There are cut marks down to 750mm, in 10mm increments. It’s comfy too, with similar measurements to many others on the market: 20mm (or 40mm) rise, 9° backsweep, 5° upsweep. To me they feel just right.
Of course, you have to run the 35mm clamp stem with these bars. The Havoc stem is CNC machined from a solid block of aluminium and employs Easton’s Top Lock technology. This clamping method is mo’ carbon friendly; it’s designed to help eliminate stress risers and it effectively unifies the different parts of the stem. It also reduces fatigue on bolt heads; tighten the top two bolts first until the faceplate contacts the stem body and then turn your attention to the bottom two bolts, rather than potentially over-tightening all four.
I fitted the bar and stem to a 140mm-travel 29in bike. After the first couple of (local) rides I thought about cutting them down a little… then the moment passed. I am 6ft 1in-and-a-bit tall, and my arms are long. I did not experience any upper body discomfort or aches in my shoulders after switching from my old 740mm bar to the 800mm. Instead I noticed the increase in control. On a trip to the steep and densely forested hillsides of the Tweed Valley for the UK Gravity Enduro, I rode stages with no tree clipping incidents. This may have been luck, but I never did pick up the hacksaw. Five months later the Havocs remain untouched and enjoyed at full width, trees be damned.
Overall: Strong, light and wide – bigger is better! If, of course, it suits you and where you ride.
|Product:||Havoc 35 stem and handlebar|
|Price:||£79.99 (stem), £69.99 (bar)|
|Tested:||by James Love for Five months.|