It’s has been almost exactly 12 months since the Production Privee Shan GT arrived at Singletrack Towers. In that time I completed a full review of this hard-hitting, Andorran 29er, and became so smitten with the svelte steel bike that I went ahead and bought it.
In standard trim the Shan GT came with a complement of Production Privee finishing kit, Spank wheels and SRAM drivetrain and suspension, but over the year I’ve swapped a few components out to see how slight changes to the bike might affect the ride.
So when Hotlines got in touch and asked if we wanted to test a pair of Spank Spike 800 Vibrocore bars and an itty bitty 35mm Spike Race Stem, how could I say ‘no’? After all, I had a feeling they’d be a good-looking match for the Spank wheels already on the bike [Ed: not that that matters to you or anything Andi…]
As I already had a 55mm stem on the Shan GT combined with a 780mm wide bar, I also thought it would be a good opportunity to see how these cockpit changes would affect the handling of the bike. To really shake up the front end, I chose a huge 50mm rise bar too.
My hope would be that the shorter stem, and taller, wider bar would give me a comfortable “sit up and beg” seated position – perfect for spinning up hills and enjoying the scenery, but then give me an extra ounce of flick-ability when hitting the downslopes and jumps, while the taller bar would get me in a good position for when trails get vertical.
It wasn’t just the 20mm extra width I would be testing however, because the alloy-walled Spank Spike 800 Vibrocore bars are filled with Vibrocore foam. Spank offers the same foam in their Vibrocore rims, with the idea being that the foam inside will reduce hand and arm fatigue by absorbing trail bumps and buzz.
Spank Spike 800 Vibrocore Handlebar Features
- MRG Super 6 Alloy construction
- Vibrocore foam filling
- 31.8mm diameter
- 4° upsweep & 8° backsweep
- 800mm wide (cuttable to 740mm)
- RRP: £74.99
The claimed benefits are that Vibrocore can reduce short-term effects of hand-arm numbness and fatigue and also reduce the long-term effect of arm-pump. Using Vibrocore foam also has the benefit of allowing Spank to reduce wall thickness and weight, while having no negative impact on strength.
Another interesting point to note is that the Vibrocore foam is biodegradable. So in conjunction with the recyclable alloy bar you’ll have something much better for the environment than a carbon handlebar.
As already mentioned, I went for a 50mm rise. They look a little out of place on the Shan GT, but as long as they work I don’t really care. If you don’t want such a monster rise you can go for the smaller 15mm or 30mm rises. All three versions of the bar are manufactured from Spank’s MGR Super 6 Alloy, with a 4º upsweep and 8º back.
Our test version came in black and yellow (as I also wanted to test it on the Shan No5), but black, red and blue options are available with white decals too.
Weights for the 31.8mm bar are 340g for the 15mm rise, 350g for the 30mm and 360g for the 50mm bar. Keep in mind that these are designed as a downhill race/freeride bar, so if you wanted something a little lighter for less extreme ride duties, then it’ll be worth checking out Spank’s Ozzy Trail 760 Vibrocore bars.
On The Trail
So what can I say about the bar? Well, the extra width gave the additional control I was after (surprise surprise) and the height means I’m in a much more comfortable seated position when climbing. It’s when the terrain points down and the going gets steep that the high rise of the bar comes into its own though. While a lower bar can help push more weight onto the front wheel, I found that the additional height gave me way more confidence, and in turn, actually allowed me to lean further forward and weight up my front wheel when riding super steep and technical trails. The taller height also helps to put you in a good position to see what’s coming up next in the trail.
The main selling point is Vibrcore and those claimed benefits, so the big question is; “Was I able to feel a notable difference between these and a non-Vibrocore bar?” The simple answer? A resounding yes!
During the first few rides with the Vibrocore handlebars, I was convinced that something else must have been going on, because the front end felt so smooth. Leaving everything exactly the same – including fork setup and tyre pressure – I fitted a regular alloy handlebar to use for a few more rides. The difference was instantly noticeable, with more vibration and sharper impacts being felt through the grips. Once I refitted the Vibrocore bars back on, the harshness disappeared. These things really do work.
Vibrocore really comes in to effect on those super long rocky downhills I ride in the Peaks. You know the sort? These are the downhills that go on forever and generally leave your wrists aching half way down when taking them at speed on a hardtail.
For me, Spank’s claims that Vibrocore dampens trail vibration and chatter are confirmed. This isn’t some snake oil sales pitch, they really do improve the comfort and reduce fatigue on long downhills. This doesn’t only mean that you feel better at the end of a rocky descent, but during the descent too. With that extra energy left in my arms and with significantly less fatigue, I now find myself searching for the harsher lines and jumping around much more.
I’ve been so impressed with the feel that I’m even toying with the idea of testing a set of Vibrocore-filled rims on my bike, but I do worry that the dampening effect might take away the playful buzz of a hardtail. Perhaps I’ll see if I can get hold of another Orange Four to play with again?
So now on to the Spank Spike Race stem. This itty bitty version of the stem measures just 35mm long, but you can also choose the slightly longer 50mm version if you so wish. The 35mm model weighs in at 150g while going for an extra 15mm in length brings overall weigh to 180g.
Both stem options come with 0º of rise, and are 2D forged from MGR alloy, then CNC machined for a neat finish and to reduce weight. If you did decide to go for the Spank Spike Race it’s worth noting that Spank only offers stems for 31.8mm bars – fine by me – but it does mean anyone with a 35mm bar will need to look elsewhere (or ditch your bar for a Spank option).
Spank Spike Race Stem
- 2D Forged MGR Alloy, CNC Weight Optimized
- MGR, chamfered bar clamp, “Snap Fit” sealed top cap
- 35mm and 50mm lengtsh available
- 0° rise
- 31.8mm diameter bars
- 35mm stack height
- RRP £55
The Spank Spike Race stem comes in black, red, blue, or green with a shot peen finish and CNC/laser logos, and it comes supplied with a Snap Fit sealed top cap that matches the stem and adds an extra layer of weatherproof protection to your headset. I didn’t use the Snap Fit headset cap during our review, due to using a test fork with a steerer that we couldn’t cut down too short.
As the name suggests, the Race is designed for race duties, but it’s also tough enough for freeride abuse so don’t worry about it if you like to hit Rampage style gaps and drops.
As the stem is designed for big airs, huge drops and fast competition, it’s good to see a large four-bolt faceplate upfront to prevent your bars from shifting or rotating as they are yanked around. Helpful torque measurements are printed on the stem too, so you don’t need to worry about under or over tightening things. Keeping the stem located on your steerer is the job of two bolts, which plenty of grip to stop anything from rotating while charging along the trail.
For such a short stem there should be no issue with flex or stiffness and there isn’t. This little gripper keeps everything where they should be without any complaining.
I rode the Spank Spike Race Stem and Vibrocore bars as a combo, and I’d be happy to continue to do so. I might have overdone the 50mm rise of the bars, and I’ll try to get a slightly lower version to try out soon, but the important thing here is that the bars are strong and extremely comfortable. Both the bar and stem are finished to high standards and continue to look just as good today as they did when I first fitted them.
I’d certainly recommend the Spank Spike 800 Vibrocore Handlebar to anyone who suffers arm pump or fatigue on long, rocky descents, and the Spike Race stem compliments the bars perfectly. It also doesn’t hurt that they both look great and aren’t overly expensive too.
|Product:||Spank Spike 800 Vibrocore Handlebar & Spank Spike Race Stem|
|Price:||£74.99 (Bar) & £55.00 (Stem)|
|Tested:||by Andi for 3 months|
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If the vibrocore/foam works that well in the bars, why not fill the whole frame with it?
Interesting result with the bar height too – I might give that a go if I can get hold of some other bars to try.
Anyone tried expanding foam to see how easily achievable the vibrocore (TM) effect is?
I’d suspect the benefit comes, at least in part, from thinner walls of the bar. So filling your regular bar won’t do much.
(Before reading the article I thought to myself, ‘ well if they thin the walls then I can see it working’. And read on to see they had.
so garish though, and I loathe the name. silly I know!