At just 210 grams for the 10 mm rise (20mm and 35mm rise also available), the Race Face SixC 35 Handlebars (£129.99) are currently the lightest 800mm bars available, beating most of the high end carbon competition by around 10-30 grams, and most aluminium bars by in excess of 100 grams. These bars use a new, larger clamping diameter, 35mm rather than 31.8mm, so how can something bigger be lighter? Well, the increased structural strength from the larger diameter allows Raceface to tailor the material thickness to save weight.
Looking down at the bars when fitted to the bike, they look reassuringly stiff and purposeful, visually far larger than the 31.8mm bars they replaced. This sense of purpose can also be felt on the trail too, with a stiff but still forgiving ride. I had worried that the oversized bars would be too harsh over rough ground, amplifying chatter and trail buzz, but the bars have just enough compliance to smooth out vibration without feeling in any way flexy. I ran the bars at 800mm for a month and the feel was excellent, however my bruised pinkie knuckle indicated that the bars were too wide for the tree lined trails of Innerleithen, so I cut them down to 770mm. Race Face print cutting guides on the end of the bars making the cut down process easy.
The finish of the bars is very nice, a matte and classy look with silver logo’s, over a flawless unidirectional carbon layup, indicating why these bars are so expensive. After a few lever swaps, there are still no clamping marks on the bars, as you would normally expect to see in the lacquer of many of the competitions carbon bars, and all the graphics are protected by the clear coat. They look great on the bike and exude quality.
With a four degree up and eight degrees back sweep, these bars feel familiar and confidence inspiring at the first grasp, they make you want to push yourself, like any wide bar should. I opted for the 10 degree rise as I wanted to keep the front end of my bike at 104cm tall, and they feel just great.
Matched with the 141g, 35mm long, 35mm clamp Race Face Atlas stem (£79.95), The cockpit looks purposeful and clean. The stem is made from 6061-T6 Aluminium and the face plate is specially designed to eliminate stress risers which can damage bars. The stem is stiff and compact and does exactly what you would hope.
There will be many that argue that we do not need yet another standard, that we already have too many choices. Indeed there is absolutely nothing wrong with the 31.8mm format, but the 35mm does deliver the same strength in a lighter package, which makes it a winner for me. For sure changing both the bar and stem together is an expensive way to save a few grams, However if you are in the market for a new bar and stem and want the lightest available, then these are certainly worth a look. The finish and ergonomics are top notch and the generous 800mm width is perfect.
The only real negative I can think of is the exclusivity of the pairing. If you break a bar in transit or have an issue with either the bar or the stem, you will have to source a 35mm replacement or replace both, which will not be cheap.
For more information check out the Race Face website.
Words and photos: Trev Worsey