05 November 2008

bikefix Exclusive Review: Syntace Vector Carbon handlebar

We first looked at Syntace's Vector Carbon handlebar last March, when Marc named it as a bikefix Pick. Proving that he and Marc are psychically connected, Charlie went out and bought one as well. The pictures are of Marc's bars (sorry), but here's Charlie's take:

Syntace is a German company filled with excellent and obsessive engineers who manage to regularly turn-out top notch components. Their carbon fiber handlebars intrigued me because they were very sexy and light, and supposedly very strong. I liked the width, rise, and sweep available with this bar, so I replaced the Easton Monkeylite XC’s on my Maverick Durance with the Vector.

The Syntace is glossy and svelte looking with no abrupt curves or bends. The smooth transitions go a long way to hide the fact that this bar has a generous sweep of 12˚ (versus the Easton's 6˚) and a rise of 10mm. The bar weighs 190 grams with a width of 680mm. This is a perfect width for the rugged technical trail riding I usually do, and the lower the weight the better as long as it’s strong and durable. The Vector is rated for downhill use by the German VR-3 standard. I still don’t know exactly what this really means but they go to great lengths to test these bars in a laboratory type setting. If you want more information, it is available on their website www.syntace.com.

On the trail these bars felt very stiff. In fact, I think they are stiffer that the Easton bars they replaced. Syntace claims that this bar absorbs vibrations and smaller impacts better than other standard carbon bars and I surely noticed they don’t feel as harsh as some other carbon bars of this size. The 12˚ sweep is noticed (and appreciated) by my wrists and makes me wonder why this isn’t the standard sweep for most XC/Trail handlebars.

The bar doesn’t have inserts so bar-ends can’t be used, and they don’t want you cutting them down either. They did put a titanium lattice in the central area of the bar which strengthens it against clamping forces and wear. Due to this the Vector is approved for use with 4 bolt stems (many carbon bars aren’t).

This is an insanely good bar: it looks good, it works well, and it feels great. I highly recommend it if you don’t mind spending a good chunk of you paycheck. The Vector carbon should retail close to $130.00.



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