First of all, why 35?
To paraphrase a friend of mine who is a mechanic, the biking industry is unique in that innovation makes its own predecessors obsolete. Like me, the first question that many readers may ask is, “why bother changing the diameter of a handlebar that has worked so well for so many years? Why the hate for 31.8?”
The longer answer from Easton can be found in this video (featuring the Havoc), but the short answer is much simpler: lighter, stronger, wider. Skeptics may justifiably cry foul that this push, like so many others, is simply fuel for mtb capitalism. But the truth is, this drive is stoked by one clear evolution in mountain biking: the “rise of enduro,” and everything that comes along with it. Like everything else, most of us want the latest and greatest, but the real question is, do we need it? I say, absolutely.
Believe it or not, the 35mm clamp diameter has been proven for quite some time, particularly in the DH circuit. Easton did extensive handlebar fatigue testing and impact testing to prove that 35mm is superior to 31.8mm in terms of strength-to-weight. Having a beefier bar torso is what allows a tapering bar to be thinner (thus, lighter) and stronger. Easton’s proprietary TaperWall technology using their own composites is what lends this particular bar its favorable characteristics.
Easton designed the svelte matte carbon Haven 35 to have a 9-degree sweep and 5-degree upsweep to position a rider’s hands in an optimal position for slaying the grouchiest of singletrack.
The Deets (from Easton)
|FINISH||MATTE UD CARBON|
|BEND||9°, 5° UPSWEEP, 20MM|
As a rider, you should be as picky about stems as I am. After all, a stem is your lifeline, because a weak stem that fails could result in catastrophic quadriplegia (grim, I know). Haven stems have been popular for years, for good reason: they are trusted as a high-quality, CNC-machined work of art by pros that maximize strength-to-weight for this critical bike component. Even more brain power went into engineering the 35, including the clever TopLock technology to ensure a smooth, even stem clamp surface area.
The Deets (from Easton)
|LENGTH||32MM, 40MM, 50MM, 60MM, 70MM, 80MM, 90MM|
|MATERIAL||CNC MACHINED ALUMINUM|
Easton somewhat reinvented the lock on grip with a savvy new mechanism that protects the carbon bars from the grip’s aluminum rings by preventing them from directly contacting the carbon. The clamps are also concealed by the elastomer polyurethane (i.e. the “rubber” part of the grips), preventing damage and giving them a nice clean look. The grips come in both 30mm (115g) and 33mm (132g) diameters.
The endcaps are made of aluminum and look really slick. Although the endcaps are prone to damage and scuffing, they totally encase the carbon end of the bar and protect it–a very reasonable trade off. I banged these pretty hard several times during testing, and they still look nice. The grip is designed to have more padding over the palm for damping, and more traction for fingers on the underside of the grip–pure genius, especially if you ride without gloves. They were exceptionally comfortable even on heinously-brutal trails where I tested them in Colorado and Utah. Users will also notice that the diameter of the grip is somewhere between the common thin and equally common thicker grips, a diameter I deem “just right” for medium to large hands.
Overall Ride Impressions
Having used many Easton products in the past, I have faith in this company and decided to test this bar first in Moab, UT. After slapping these on my Pivot Mach 6, my very first test of the Haven 35 bar/stem/grip setup was on Porcupine Rim, which I finished well after dark. The fading light did not stop me from rallying that trail harder than ever, and finding everything in (and out of) sight to huck off of. The 35 setup was flawless and the bars provided the absolute perfect level of damping, while giving me more and more confidence to push my bike hard.
The Easton 35s have seen many rides in the Colorado Front and Western ranges since Moab. The 50mm stem (what I normally run) felt a little short on the climbs with the sweep built into the bar, but perfect on every descent that I have done. The 750mm bars felt a bit narrow, however, which is my only complaint about this setup. Like many riders, I’ve personally become accustomed to riding much wider bars for the leverage and stability on both climbs and descents. Many racers are running 780-810mm bars in the enduro circuit these days, so 750mm seems to come up a tad short for this demographic. The Easton Havoc bar is 800mm, although somewhat burlier and it only comes in one color. But truth be told, 750mm is probably adequate for most riders.
Aside from the bar length, I have yet to find anything else to criticize about this setup. Initially Easton only offered the stem in four lengths, but I’ve noticed during the time it took to review this cockpit that they have expanded their stem length offerings (strong work guys).
The grips are comfy–in fact, I can easily say that they are the best I’ve ever used. The bar is solid but has good damping. The stem is strong and light. Best of all, the price is right, and you have the option to get the bars in aluminum or carbon, in high or low rise, and four different colors.
Do we need this technology? If you are 120lbs and race XC, the answer is probably, “not yet.” But if you are hefty like me and routinely jump off of things taller then you are at mach speed, then the answer is “yes.” Saving a few grams while going wider is nice, but having a bar that is ten times stronger (watch the video links I posted) during fatigue testing makes accepting this technology irrefutable.
- 35 Stem: $100
- 35 Riser Carbon Bar: $160
- Easton Grips: $25
Thanks to Easton for sending over the Haven 35 handlebar, stem, and grips for review.