At Interbike last year we wrote a bit about some exciting new gear from Spank. Well not too long ago Spank sent over a couple items for review!
The new Spank Spike 777 Evo bar and Spike Race stem both showed up on my doorstep, so needless to say I tossed them on my DH and DJ bikes right away! I didn’t toss both items on the same bike because I feel the 777 bar is too wide to really be used on a DJ bike, and I always try to avoid cutting bars. So different bikes it was!
Specs and Manufacturing
Spank uses their Dual Extreme Gradual Taper (XGT) technology on the Spike bar, which is a proprietary tooling technology that ensures perfect roundness and taper/wall thickness throughout the bar’s length. Using Finite Element Analysis (FEA), the folks at Spank designed a bar that can be both wide and strong, yet lightweight. The FEA program allows engineers to see how the bar behaves, as well as calculate the stress that runs through the structure of the bar. In short, they place material where it’s needed for strength, and remove material where it is not. At the ends of the bars, there is added material to both reduce the chance of crushing in the event of an impact, as well as allow you to use bar ends (if you so desire).
For more information on how the bar was made, be sure to watch this video showing the entire bar-making process.
Throughout the entire process of producing their bars, Spank took extreme care to ensure that the bars conform to the design specifications. Checks for straightness, uniformity in the bends, and roundness of the bar are done every few steps. Every batch of bars is cut by the engineering group and bar thickness is double-checked in the crucial areas.
I installed the Spike Race Stem on my DJ bike. It is designed for use on any gravity-oriented bike (DH, FR, or AM) and it’s also the perfect stem for a DJ bike. The stems are constructed from a 2D forging of 6061 aluminum and are finished off in a CNC machine for a combination of light-weight and high-strength. The final product looks a bit different from the prototype I saw at Interbike, but it still looks just as sexy!
Model on display at Interbike.
As you can see, the forging and machining gives the Spank Race stem a cleaner, almost jewel-like look. Available in 50 mm and 35 mm lengths (shown) with a bar clamp opening for 31.8mm bars, the face plate is a decent 55 mm wide, with four M6 bolts holding the bar firmly in place. A neat snap-fit top cap finishes off the look of the stem, keeping the whole unit to a 35 mm stack height. The stem comes in at 145 grams for the 35 mm version, which is pretty competitive for what it is designed to do.
As I mentioned before, I tossed these units on two different bikes, so I did a bit of back-and-forth riding and evaluating. Apparently a few riders had clamping issues with the first batch of stems from Spank so the company tweaked things a bit to allow greater torque on the clamping bolts. Spank upgraded the bolts from stainless to chromoly and added a new spacer up top. I did not find any clamping issues myself, and I also did not have the need for the upgraded clamping hardware. I installed the stem with the top cap recessed in the stem as shown above. Installation for the stem and bar on both my Banshee Amp and Santa Cruz v10C was pretty easy even with the new instructions for the stem.
Out on the Trail
Both the stem and bar worked well! I really enjoyed the 777 bar: it felt really close to a carbon bar in how it absorbed vibration. The overall feel of the bar was stiff-yet-forgiving when I came off the bigger stuff. I went with the 5 mm rise, which keeps me lower on the bike. The 4° up sweep and 8° back sweep places my hands and wrists in a very neutral position. A properly-bent bar reduces the chances of fatigue and stress, and it also allows you to use less gripping force as your whole hand has even pressure on your grips.
Over my time with the race stem I had no issues with it creaking or coming loose once everything was torqued down. I really did like the short stem on the dirt jumps as it allowed for easy whips over tables. The wide face plate clamps down hard on the stem, with no hints of movement.
The best part of it all is that you don’t have to pay an arm and a leg for this stem and bar. For $75 (bar) and $69 (stem), you’re getting high-quality gear at mid-level prices. Add to that the flawless, jewel-like appearance and the corresponding bling-boost on your bike, and I’d say the new Spank Spike gear is a winner!
Many thanks to Spank for sending over the bar and stem for review!