Race Face Turbine R 35 Handlebar and Stem Review

Aaron tests and reviews the new Turbine R 35 handlebar and stem mountain bike components from Race Face.

photo: Aaron Chamberlain

Race Face’s latest Turbine components are now available with an “R” tag at the end of their name. According to Race Face, the “R” stands for Rally. What that means is open to interpretation, but the Turbine R handlebar and accompanying stem certainly have the specs to go big.


photo: Aaron Chamberlain

The aluminum Turbine R 35 handlebar uses the 35mm clamp diameter standard, spans a full 800mm wide, and provides 8° of backsweep and 5° of upsweep. Race Face offers three different rise options for the Turbine R 35: 10mm, 20mm (tested), or 35mm. As an aluminum bar meant for getting rowdy, the Turbine R is hefty, weighing in at 300g. Other Race Face bars come in a variety of colors, but not these — the only option is Stealth. That works for me, as black goes with everything.

A 35mm diameter bar needs something to hold it to the bike, and what better pairing could there be than the Race Face Turbine R 35 stem? The CNC’d aluminum stem has 0° of rise and comes in one of five lengths: 32mm, 40mm (tested), 50mm, 60mm, and 70mm. My stubby, heavily-machined stem weighed in at an impressively-light 130g.

The Turbine R 35 handlebar retails for $80, while the Turbine R 35 stem will set you back $105.

Testing the Race Face Turbine R 35 Components

Riding the Snake Creek Gap section of the Pinhoti Trail near Dalton, GA (photo: C. Rampton)

Initially, I bolted the Race Face Turbine R 35 handlebar and stem to the front of my steel Kona Honzo hardtail. But after just a couple rides I knew I had made a mistake: my hands and arms were getting beat to a pulp during the ride. The larger 35mm clamp diameter, sturdy handlebar, squat stem, and built-like-a-brick-shithouse steel frame made for a rough ride. Just to make sure I wasn’t crazy, I swapped out the Race Face 35mm setup for my previous 31.8mm bar and stem. Problem solved.

The Race Face bar and stem sat on my workbench collecting dust for about a month until I ordered a new frame — an Intense Spider. I opted to give the Race Face duo another try on the new bike, with much better results. The Spider is no slouch in the stiffness department, but rides no longer felt like punishment. Perhaps the frame material played a role as the Spider is carbon, or maybe it’s because the Spider has more travel up front. I can’t say for sure. All I know is the Turbine R 35 handlebar and stem made my steel Honzo basically unrideable, but on the carbon Spider I’ve had no issues.

In typical Race Face fashion, the fit and finish on both the Turbine handlebar and stem is excellent. Honestly, it’s kind of hard to screw up a bar, so it’s the stem that really shines. The machining on the stem is top-notch with special attention paid to make sure there are no sharp edges where your knees might contact it in a wreck.

Finish Line

photo: Aaron Chamberlain

The Race Face Turbine R 35 handlebar and stem fulfill their roles as components for hard-chargers. That said, I’m not totally convinced of the merits of the 35mm clamp diameter. It’s been kicking around for a number of years, but hasn’t yet taken off in popularity — unlike the rapid swap over from 25.4mm to 31.8mm. Granted, I eventually found a happy home for the components on my full suspension trail bike, but I’ve also never been left wanting for more stiffness from a 31.8mm bar and stem. I weigh close to 210lbs fully geared up, so I tend to notice when a component feels noodly. I can’t think of a particular instance where I thought that about a 31.8 cockpit.

Regardless, if you’re in the market for a 35mm setup, the new Race Face Turbine R line of components is worth a look. The handlebars are a full 800mm wide — leaving room to trim, if needed — and the geometry is dialed for aggressive trail riding. The machining on the stem can go toe-to-toe with any other premium offering out there and does so at a reasonable price.

Thanks to Race Face for providing the Turbine R 35 handlebar and stem for review.