Somehow, we still don’t have cars that fly around at lightspeed while we sit back and text or quaff post-ride beers. Likely there’s some physics to sort out, and even more airspace logistics. Making things look like they belong on a flying automobile or Tron moto is rarely a bad move, and Bontrager has taken that aesthetic to the bank with their new Race Shop Limited (RSL) integrated cockpit.
I have tested a few integrated cockpit setups, including the Hixon iC Rise and Fraser setups from Syncros. Both of these took some time to get used to since the only adjustment available to the rider is via stem spacers. Angle adjusting grips like the CR35 from Production Privée can add some adaptability, but for the most part, you either get along with the angles of your integrated cockpit or you sell it. After some occasional wrist pain with one set I eventually got on with the Syncros bars, and when Bontrager offered to have us test their new integrated offering I was keen to feel the differences.
It’s debatable which model of carbon wounder-bars looks more futuristic, but there’s no doubt they all make unique shapes. If you show up to the trail with these bars mounted to your bike you’ll quickly receive comments on the funky looks and assumed high price. That assumption isn’t wrong, as a set of these costs $367. Still, that’s about the price of a carbon stem alone from a weight-conscious competing brand.
I tested the shortest effective stem offered at 35mm to fit with my bike’s 480mm limousine reach and cut the bar down to the 770mm hand-span that I’m used to. The carbon fiber tube is marked to be trimmed by a full 40mm per side, but going any further would likely sacrifice the compliance characteristics that Bontrager’s engineers intended.
There is a small wedge in the front of the bar that integrates with Trek’s Knock Block system, and it can be swapped for the included spacer if your bike isn’t equipped with that steering-limiter headset. There is also a small bolt on the leading edge of the handlebar where riders can mount a light, camera, or computer via the Bontrager Blendr system.
The geometry on a Race Shop Limited cockpit is fairly dialed to fit with the head tube and length of most modern gravity bikes. The 27.5mm rise is a good start to get the bars nice and high for steep riding, and the 0° stem kicks the bar out nicely from a modern, slack headtube. The only geometry complaint I ran into with the RSL cockpit is around the up sweep. At 2°, the bars feel notably flat compared to the PNW Range Gen 3 handlebar I had mounted previously. By “flat” I mean that the outside of my hand feels level with the inside and that reduced angle gives me the sensation that my hands can more easily slip off the end of the grips. I managed to mitigate that feeling by incrementally adding 5mm spacers under the stem until the bars were high enough that I could weight them similarly to the previous tube.
|Weight||240g (cut to 770mm)|
|Stem length options||35, 40mm||70,80, 90mm|
|Optimal head tube angle||65.5°||69°|
The PNW bar I was gripping prior has a 5° up sweep that’s intensified by the amount I rotate it forward in the stem. I moved the PNW bar around to mimic the RSL’s geometry as much as possible and found that I keep all of my adjustable handlebars rolled forward a fair bit further than the effective roll of the Bontrager RSL geometry. The PNW bars have a smidge more back sweep at 10° and my preferred forward rotation tips that back sweep upward to augment the up sweep in a way that feels great to me. While the flatter slipping-sensation was remedied, and likely most riders could get used to the 2° angle of these RSL bars, the stationary handlebar position is always something to consider before dropping cash on an integrated cockpit.
In terms of stiffness and overall trail control, the RSL bars take the integrated-cockpit win with my hands and wrists. I grew accustomed to the stiffness of the Syncros bars, but with these from Bontrager, I didn’t have to adjust or endure pain. I’m a fairly resilient cartoon character, and I’ll deal with pain for a while in the interest of adapting, but I was thankful to skip that step here. The RSL carbon cockpit is stiff enough that I don’t think about it or notice a change in steering control while riding rough tracks or pushing through harsh compressions. It feels as good as most carbon bars and better than some of those with 35mm clamps that can feel overly harsh. Maybe heavier and harder-charging athletes can speak more to the compliance qualities of the RSL cockpit, but overall it feels just right for my body and riding style.
- Accessory integration
- The right amount of stiffness
- Unique look
Pros and cons of the Bontrager RSL integrated cockpit.
- Expensive compared to separate bar / stem combos
- Not everyone will get along with the geomertry
Give the Race Shop Limited cockpit a look while you’re out searching for ways to drop grams from your massive gravity sled. If the geometry looks similar to a handlebar you already like this could be a good place to cut weight — even if it’s not a hands-free ride in the sky.
⭐️ The Bontrager Race Ship Limited cockpit is available for purchase at Trek.