After clocking dozens of miles over the past few months with Answer products on all my bikes, I’ve finally come to grips with my love (pun #1) for the ProTAPER 780 DH ($65 MSRP + $10 for white) and the ProTAPER 720AM bars ($60 MSRP). I’m also smitten with this gem of stem, the Answer DJ stem ($72 MSRP). The all new 2010 line up from Answer really fills the needs of the modern DH / FR / DJ and AM rider and responds to the wider bar with shorter stem trend that more and more riders are discovering. Having spent a lot of time with both the longer/narrower set-ups and the shorter/wider combos, I have to say I’m sold on short and wide.
The ProTaper AM and DH bars share a few vital characteristics. First up, both the AM and DH bars are designed with the same 4 up sweep and 8 back sweep. When paired with a slightly shorter stem, this gives the rider a great comfortable wrist feel without over-flexing the forearm. The DH bars are offered in a 25.4mm rise configuration or a shallower 12.5mm rise for those DH riders who like to keep their weight a little lower up front. The AM bar is also offered with 25.4mm rise or a deeper 50.8mm. I decided to roll with the same 25.4mm rise on both the AM and DH bars.
Both ProTaper bars are made from 7050 aluminum which is very strong with just enough flex to take the edge out of those hard square-edged rocks and drops. At 335 grams and 315 grams respectively for the 780 DH and 720 AM, these are not massive weight savers nor are they overweight lead pipes.
With a choice of black, red, gold (DH only), gray (AM only), and white, Answer offers a decent selection of colors to choose from.
With all this talk about handlebars stemming from Answer (pun #2) I really have to talk about a jewel of a component that looks amazing. I dare you to pick up a DJ stem from Answer and try to find a flaw. This stem looks as if it was cut and shaped by a professional diamond cutter. Thanks to precise machining practices, you won’t see any tooling marks on this stem.
Another thing that really caught my attention was the detail that went into the finishing of the DJ stem – every consideration to both safety and weight was clearly considered. The underside of the top cap was even machined a bit to remove unnecessary weight. The use of tapered head bolts instead of regular rounded ones adds to the effect that Tom Porter and the wizards at Answer wanted to give us. Answer also opted to go with a 61mm wide face plate and attachment area that spreads the loads across the bar, securing the bar to the stem like a starving anaconda on fat cow.
The DJ stem weighs in at 210 grams for the 35mm reach and 250 grams for the 50mm reach version and both stems are designed for 31.8mm bar diameters (24.5mm is not offered). The DJ stem is made from stiff, durable 7075 aluminum, the same stuff used to make aircraft landing gear. A cool thing about the DJ stem is that it also comes in four top cap color options (black, white, red, and gold) to coordinate with your bar. With the DJ stem, Answer also includes a 10mm stainless bolt which allows you to run a line through it for a clean, tangle-free brake connection. Perfect for those who intend to to bar spins or styling on those progressive jumps.
I tested the bars on all three of my bikes (AM, FR, and DJ) and the DJ stem on my jumper. Bottom line: these bars really rocked. Once I got the feel for the wider bars I found it very difficult to consider going narrower; in fact, I won’t consider riding a bar less than 700mm anymore. For a guy like me with wide shoulders and a medium build at about 5’9″, these bars are perfect. I got back a whole bunch more control plus more power to steer and control the bike over the nastiest of terrain. Speaking of nasty, when going over rocky and rooted trails, the ProTaper bars took a significant edge off the vibration as well as the shock (thanks in part to the patented technology on board). These bars keep the weight where it should be and are the perfect wall thickness under the palms of your hands.
Try the ProTaper bars and the DJ stem for yourself – you won’t be disappointed.
I would like to thank the folks at Answer for providing the ProTaper bars and DJ stem for review.