Easton is Control! The New Havoc Stems and Bars

Easton has been very busy indeed: new for 2011 is the totally revamped Havoc component line up. On the control side of things, Easton looked at what mountain bikers wanted in quality parts and boy did they deliver! This line is stocked with highly machined components, both inside and out, super sexy lines, cool graphics, and solid products just waiting for riders to send it.

Havoc Stem

The photo above offers just a peek at what Easton has in store for 2011 – the Havoc 50mm stem. Easton is offering the 1 1/8″ version in three reach choices (35, 50, and 65 mm) while the 1 1/2″ steering tube version comes in 50 and 65 mm lengths.

The new graphics are a big departure for Easton and in this case, beauty isn’t just skin deep – it’s also in the details. I’m big on proper machining practices because you can destroy a perfectly good component by not following good engineering practices. Clearly Easton understands this. All the machined surfaces flow together well with no sharp points or sudden thickness changes. Everything has a radius or chamfer to minimize stress risers and all the exposed surfaces are clean and burr free.

Easton’s four bolt DST bar clamp system works a little differently than other stems on the market. The top two clamp bolts are tightened all the way in, leaving no gap, while the bottom two bolts are torqued down afterward with a gap. This feature spreads load across the stem, reducing stresses which could lead to damage.

Havoc Bolt-on Stem

Taking a look at the sub-140-gram Havoc Bolt-on stem you can see that a ton of consideration went into saving weight as well as keeping the strength up. The Bolt-on version will work on BoXXer, FOX 40, and Dorado forks without a hitch.

The Havoc Bolt-on offers three positions at 45, 50, and 55 mm, making this stem very versatile (10mm either way for a DH rider will make a considerable difference). Unlike the standard Havoc stem, the bolt-on features a 5-degree rise; that is, the bar is mounted a bit higher than the fork crown. This configuration is perfect for those who want to keep their center of gravity low. The Havoc Bolt-on is a two piece stem unlike some other brands that offer direct mount stems made from three pieces. In terms of mounting, a two-piece stem is easier to install – the Havoc Bolt-on literally too me just a few minutes to mount.

Havoc Carbon and Aluminum Bars

Along with the new stems, Easton also added a duet of new bars in the Havoc line up: a super slick carbon bar and an equally sexy new aluminum bar. Now what is really awesome about the carbon version is the fact that it’s lighter than most all-mountain carbon bars. At 235 grams and 750 mm wide, the Havoc carbon is impressively light as well as tough.

The Havoc aluminum bar is pretty light as well, weighing in at 315 grams. This version is made from tough 7050 aluminum (high strength with just enough flex to it) and features Easton’s Taperbore technology. Taperbore doesn’t just mean the center is thick and the ends are thin; Taperbore actually tunes the thickness of the bar throughout to ensure there is sufficient material where it needs to be, improving vibration and stiffness characteristics. The chart below shows how the bar thickness varies over the length of the bar.

Both bars have the same bend at 9-degrees back sweep and 5-degrees up sweep with a 20mm rise. What does all that mean? With a bar at 750 mm (29.5″) wide and my shoulders at 520mm (20.25″) wide, this places my wrist in a very neutral position without feeling uncomfortable at all. A slight inward bend is perfect when traveling through the rough stuff and for hitting jumps or needing more control, the width really stands out and gives a major boost in both precision steering and torque. The good thing is you can always shave some width off the bars if you find it’s too much. For me the extra width even worked on my trail bike – the wider bars allowed me to breath easier on the climbs.

Installation

Installation is a breeze thanks to the instructions from Easton that are easy to understand with pics to back everything up. When playing with new products such as these, it’s important to torque everything down per the instructions – you don’t want anything to fail due to installation errors. In the case of the carbon bar I added Motorex anti-slip for carbon on my stem before installing. This adds a measure of safety and increases friction to prevent galling if the bar were to rotate. Swapping the Easton parts between my FR, trail, and DJ bikes I had no issues with fit or installation.

The Ride

Playing on my DJ and FR bikes with both bars and stems, hitting jump after jump on the progressive tables I felt really comfortable without any real shock to my hands when landing. Everything stayed tight with no hint of creaking. Of the two bars I did enjoy the carbon Havoc better as it transferred a bit less shock to my wrists and hands.

On the trails I noticed improved control over my front wheel (750mm provides ample torque). The added width may take a bit of getting used to, especially if you’re upgrading from bars that are 660mm (26″) wide or less but in the end, it’s worth it. On my FR bike the Havoc bars are similar in width to what I had been running so the lighter weight is a big bonus, especially when you consider that the front end can get heavy near the end of a day’s riding.

My only complaint so far is I’d like to have a slightly larger clamping area on the stems. Seeing that everything held up well during my tests, I wouldn’t say this is a problem – it’s really just a style point.

So, how much is all this high performance gear going to cost? Well, considering the quality or workmanship, the damage isn’t too bad: the stems are both priced at $90 MSRP (black or orange) and the aluminum bar comes in at $75 MSRP (black, orange or gray). The carbon bar is a bit pricier at $150 MSRP (matte black). All these products will also match the new Havoc wheels (review on that later) which come in grey or orange hubs.

Thanks to the folks at Easton for sending down the new Havoc components for review.

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