Here’s the gist of an email conversation I had with our tech editor Syd a couple of months ago:
Syd: I’m sending you some 740mm bars and a 50mm stem from Spank Industries.
Me: Wait, you do remember that I ride an XC 29er, right?
Syd: Shut up and install them. You’ll love ’em!
So just to humor him, I went ahead and bolted them on, and before even hitting the trail, the components looked great on my ride.
But, how would it feel going from 690mm flat bars on a 90mm stem to 740mm mid-rise bars on a 50mm stem? In a word: awesome!
General Wide Bar/Short Stem Cockpit Impressions
The first thing I noticed was the more upright position on the bike. While some hardcore XC types will insist that this hurts climbing, I haven’t noticed that at all. In fact, I’ve even knocked off a couple of climbing PR’s on Strava with this new setup. This may be related to the second thing I noticed, which is a more open upper body, which seems to help with deep breathing.
Things really got interesting out on the trail. With this setup, there is no “getting into the attack” position–you’re just automatically in that position, all the time. Similarly, the shorter stem places the center of gravity a little farther back on the bike, making it that much easier to get your weight back for steep stuff.
There has been a lot written about how wider bars “slow down” the steering, and I have definitely found this to be true… but let me try to explain how it feels. Wider bars result in a wider arc as you move through the range of your steering. This means the bar ends effectively travel farther in order to achieve the same amount of wheel turn, as compared to shorter bars. The other noticeable effect is an increase in mechanical advantage over the turning of the front wheel. This allows the rider to more easily muscle the bike through technical sections, and also reduces kickback from hitting obstacles with the front wheel. On rough terrain, the increased control and reduced effort is quite noticeable.
Oozy Stem Specs
The Oozy stem and bars are both alloy, and Spank has a few tricks up their sleeves in the construction of these components.
The stem is described as having a “true zero rise” setup, which means that the clamping area is dropped slightly to offset the amount of rise that would normally be caused by the head angle. This is especially helpful on a 29er or longer-travel bike, where getting the front end low enough can be a challenge. In addition to being functional, the stem is also a work of art. It is initially forged, and then CNC machined to remove excess material (and weight). Finally, it is polished to a high gloss, and then laser etched with the Oozy logo. The stem is offered in either polished aluminum or gloss black finishes.
As an added bonus, Spank includes their own stem cap that matches the overall finish of the stem and includes a rubber o-ring to keep the elements out of your steerer tube.
Oozy LTD Bar Specs
Starting in 2014, the Oozy LTD bars will be available in the 740mm width I tested. Spank uses a proprietary CNC method to bend the extruded aluminum in a way that results in a more uniform metal thickness. Spank claims that this allows for lighter weight without sacrificing stiffness or strength. This process also allows for super close tolerances and perfect roundness at the bar-to-stem interface, which creates a better interface between these two components and therefore reduces stress points.
The LTD version is essentially a lower-rise version of the regular Oozy, and comes in either 5mm or 15mm (tested) rise. Black with silver graphics is the only available color.
Installed together on my Giant Anthem X 29er, the Oozy bar and stem were a fantastic fit: they didn’t exhibit any creaking or play, and clamp-on grips fit snugly but smoothly at both ends. I have since moved the stem to my daughter’s Giant Trance along with some carbon bars that I bought, and it is just as solid and good-looking there. I plan to purchase a second stem and use it and the bars on my Fatback bike.
The Oozy stem carries an MSRP of
$98.99 $69.90 and the LTD bar goes for $95.49 $89.90. If you have an XC bike with a traditional long stem and narrow bars, then this is a worthy upgrade that will make your ride handle more like a “trail” bike and, in my opinion anyway, make it a lot more fun!
Thanks to Spank Industries for sending over the Oozy stem and bars for review!