Back in May I wrote about the high performance Race Face Respond crankset which really exceeded my expectations for the price range. Now I’ve had a chance to test other components in the Respond group and I’m ready to share my reviews. For me nothing beats setting up a bike all with a single component group because it gives the bike a nice clean look with matching graphics. In addition to the crankset, Race Face offers a riser bar, stem and seat post to complete the Respond group.
Race Face Respond Handlebar and Stem
First up are the Respond bar ($54.99 MSRP in white) and stem ($56.66 MSRP also in white). With a full 28″ bar width (710mm) and a choice of either 1.5″ or a flatter 0.5″ rise, you have two decent positions to set yourself on the bike. Unfortunately the bar is only offered with a 31.8mm diameter so if you’re considering a new bar but only have a 25.4mm stem clamp you’re outta luck. The upshot is most bars are now migrating to the 31.8mm size, with the exemption of some XC race bars.
These bars are clearly meant for the AM / DH crowd where riders need the strength of a fatter bar at the stem. As far as weight is concerned, the bar comes in at 370g for the 1.5″ rise version and 335g for the 0.5″ rise version – not too shabby for the price. If you’re looking for weight savings and still want mega strength, you can always grab the 700mm wide Atlas AM bar at 270g or the strongest bar from Race Face, the Atlas FR (340g /780mm wide.)
Coming around the bends with this bar is awesome and speaking of bends the Respond has a very comfortable 9 degree rearward bend with a 4 degree rise. The bars naturally keep your wrists pretty straight with a slight tuck inward, but not too much. Although the Respond bar is made from aluminum it doesn’t ride harshly; instead it has a comfortable amount of flex. While this 28-inch wide bar isn’t the widest around, it works equally well for the AM rider and the FR or DH junkie. I personally love the Whitemare finish, but for folks who just like a simple black Race Face has you covered there as well.
The Respond Stem shown above is the larger 1.5-inch diameter steering clamp version (there’s also a 1 1/8 inch option). Both sizes are set up with a 10 degree rise and you can choose from 45mm or 60mm lengths. Looking at the stem up close you can see even at this price point Race Face puts a lot into quality of workmanship and aesthetics. Most of us may not think about it but keeping a stem looking good while remaining rigid and strong is not an easy task; yet Race Face manages to pull it off well.
Without divulging too many trade secrets, the Respond stem is forged out of 6061 aluminum and is then machined to its near final shape. The stem is then media blasted to relieve stress and harden further before it’s sent out for beautification. To minimize the chance of cracking a bar at the junction where the bar meets the stem, Race Face completed engineering analysis and reduced the stress riser. They also designed an interlocking face plate resulting in a U-shaped clamp. This design transfers more loads through the stem rather than the bolts where they may break. At 195g for the 45mm and 215g for the 60mm, these stems aren’t breaking records but they will ensure your bar stays in place without breaking off on that large huck that you’ve been sessioning all day long!
Rounding out the Respond group is the twin bolt seat post ($47.99 MSRP). The great thing about this seat post is that it can take a massive amount of abuse and hard landings without creaking, complaining, or slipping. This is thanks to the super strong 6061 aluminum head that has been forged and CNC-machined to exacting standards. I particularly like this design due to the fact that both bolts are easily accessible and the grooves which hold the post allow for small incremental adjustments between seat positions. The upshot: it’s easy to dial in that seat angle and keep your lower bits happy.
The hinge on the head of the seat post allows for easy saddle removal and allows for either 7mm or 8mm seat rails. If you ever manage to trash your seat or need to change things up, the hinge makes for quick and painless changes.
The Respond seat post is 350mm long which is more than enough for the AM rider and those who ride DH/FR may even want to trim it down a touch. Just in case you’re wondering, the set back (offset) of this seatpost is 19mm which does give the rider a little extra room (many of the posts on AM/DH bikes are 12mm set back or none at all). The Respond seat post is offered in 4 diameters (27.2, 30.0, 30.9, and 31.6mm) which may limit those whose bike doesn’t fit one of those sizes.
Overall I have to say reviewing the Respond components was great. Good looks, not too expensive, and everything performs well with no issues. I personally like a slightly wider bar for DH but who knows, maybe a wider Respond bar will be available in the new year. If you have a chance, try out a bike that has the Respond components on it – I am sure you will like them!
A big thanks to the folks at Race Face for sending up the Respond components for review.