Top quality bars for a decent price
Why carbon for my bike build?
It all began when my new bike came with a Rockshox Yari fork that was working great but also was ~160 grams heavier than a pike or fox 34 i was used to. I was looking to reduce front weight and to improve the ability to do small correction and manuals on slower technical segments. The original handlebars were an aluminum OEM 760mm bar , tipping the scales at a hefty but predicted 320 grams, so I knew I can shave some weight there. Two more changes I was looking for to fine-tune the bike build were:
1. A lower rise- because my Whyte t-129 is a slack 29er sporting a 66.5°-67° head angle (Whyte are more honest about mechanical tolerances on their specs) I felt a lower bar will help me to get more front wheel traction.
2. Better micro shock absorption – I felt my hands getting tired on longer descents and new the carbon might also help with some of the buzz the trail was delivering to my hands.
I also experimented with different widths on my stock handlebars , doing the old trick of sliding the lock-on grips inside a little every ride. I decided that when I will fill the width is spot on I will go ahead and order a new bar. I have shorter hand comparing to my torso so while very comfortable with long slack geometry the sweet spot width for my was around 730-740mm wide bars. A pretty narrow width when comparing to the last trends, but who can argue with tested comfort right?
Thomson all-mountain carbon handlebars
Thomson is one of the most distinguished aftermarket bike parts manufacturers in the world. Their world class premium and CNC machined aluminum and titanium parts for both mountain and road bike are known for their durability, quality and bling factor (lets not forget),decorating some of the most sought after bike builds out there.
The all-mountain carbon handlebars from Thomson are one of the first ever carbon bike parts Thomson ever produced. While their reputation and expertise are known for aluminum components I figured that a such well respected brand will have a lot to risk of a product will be of a low quality. Also, probably because of the fact carbon parts are a relatively new for them the price was competitive to other carbon bars.
The bars are built from nano resin unidirectional carbon and a skin of cross woven carbon at the ends for more durabilty if you crash.
The new Thomson mountain carbon bars are now (2016 and later models) produces at 750mm width, according to Thomson the bars are exactly the same except the width and some small changes to the graphics.
Unpacking and Installation
The bars arrived packed in a very nice cotton sleeve, with 2 decals (one black and one white) and a carbon assembly paste.
The bars felt very light to hold and the scale showed an actual weight of 205 grams, a little below stated.
As instructed by Thomson, the maximum torque you should apply on the clamping stem is a maximum of 5nm, you should also name sure the tem it self is not damaged or have any sharp edged parts that will touch the bars camping area. It also a good idea to double check you stem clamping was done right, usually a good way to check is having a look at the clamp of the stem and see discolored marks on both the stem and older bars on strategic areas.
Don’t forget to use the included carbon assembly paste, its not a must but it will increase friction and will help you to avoid slippage of the bars and other levers installed. Also, the increased friction will allow to use less torque to decrease the risk of damaging the bars.
The bars are marked for cutting to a recomanded minimum of 650 mm , a mission better left for professional if you ever need it, carbon fiber needs a 32tpi toothed saw to be cut right, a mistake can be dangerous.
Once the bars are in place the maximum torque to be applied on the bars from grips or other clamps is 4nm. You should also take care not to slide a tight clamp over the bar as a deep scratch will weaken the composite structure.
As a personal preference I find traditional grips like ESI chunky are better for carbon bars , one less possible failure point is always better. Those grips are also lighter than lock-on by around 50%.
The bars are not recommended to used with bar ends (bull horn handles) as well, although these are not very common for trail / all-mountain riding these days.
Out on the trail
The bars felt very stiff on one hand and also reduced some of the trail chatter compared to the aluminum bars and like most carbon bars. I found the bars feel very good, they are firm and not flexy when comparing to other brands carbon bars, Raceface older 31.8 for example but still more forgiving than the newer 35mm models.
The angles and low rise are tending to the aggresive side, so are not for everyone.
The lighter front end (I shaved ~100 grams with going carbon ,reducing 30mm of bars and changing the grips) help with small manuals and other complex maneuvers needs on those slower sketchy sections.
The mild rise and sweep measurements are not for every bike build and rider but for my slack 29er it helped with cornering and climbing, it did however made my lower back work harder with some discomfort.
I am pleased to let you know that this discomfort is now gone . It took two months of riding with the new bars and doing core muscles workouts 3-4 times a week.
The Thomson handlebars are a great prdoduct for a decent price.
They feel and look great while on and and off the bike and instalation is very simple.
Coming with a very respected brand and two year waranty the only drawback is for those who want a wider width or different rise/ sweep.
For better: Ride feel, brand, decent price, waranty, quality and packaging.
For worse: Only flat and small rise options, 730/750mm might be nerrow for some riders.
|205 gr on sample|
|2016+ models are 750mm|
|Sweep||6° Back 4° up|
|Clamp||31.8 mm only|
|Color||Natural black finish and clear coat.|
|Graphics are under the coat.|
|Options||Flat center 730mm model|