Review: Thomson Carbon Flat Bar

Thomson is widely known for their quality-machined bike components, but recently the company has started working with a a different, non-metal material… aka carbon fiber.

Carbon Flat Bar Specs

Thomson’s Carbon Flat Bar features an asymmetrical clamping area that allows for a 0° rise or a 5mm drop. When mounted in the “flat” position, the bar doesn’t provide any additional drop–it runs flat across the top. But if you flip and rotate it and remount the bar in the stem, the handle bar itself provides an additional 5mm of drop. This is perfect if you are trying to get as low on the bike as humanly possible.

Measuring 730mm (29 inches) wide with a 6-degree sweep, this isn’t your daddy’s XC bar. Rather, Thomson has thoroughly subscribed to the wider-is-better mantra.

According to Thomson,

Bars are made with three different fiber types with different tensile strength and tensile modulus, including High Strength carbon fibers. This helps to allocate stiffness and flex where needed.

The ends of the bars have been reinforced to protect against crash damage, and to allow for shortening if you aren’t willing to commit to a full 730mm width.

Reinforced bar ends.

While I tested the flat, more XC-oriented version of their carbon bar, Thomson also sells an all mountain riser version of the same bar.

Despite the rather large width, this bar weighs a scant 205 grams, and is almost guaranteed to lighten your bike’s front end!

Out on the Trail

I’ve had the pleasure of using one of Thomson’s Carbon Flat Bars for many months now, and it has been just what the doctor ordered. I became a wide bar fanatic years ago and today most riders will agree: “more wider, more better.”

Still, even I have come to moderate my stance on wide bars in recent days. While I will run a full 800mm-wide bar on my downhill rig without any hesitation, a bar that wide just doesn’t feel comfortable when it’s time to climb. Still, I can’t stand riding anything shorter than 700mm, so I had to try to find a sweet spot. The carbon flat bar from Thomson hits that sweet spot between descending control and climbing comfort perfectly with the 730mm width.

I spent a few months testing this carbon bar on my XC 29er hardtail, and it performed superbly! However, what really impressed me was when I swapped it onto the Diamondback Sortie 3 29er trail bike for 400 miles of punishment in the Rocky Mountains this summer.

Despite being a more XC-oriented bar, I figured since the Thomson Carbon Flat Bar had an all mountain-flavored brother with essentially the same construction, this bar would be no slouch on an aggressive bike. Part of my decision to throw it on the Sortie was prompted by cockpit setup–I couldn’t get low enough with the stock components, so I flipped and slammed the short, stock stem and installed this flat bar.

After the changes, the Sortie felt great, and the Thomson Carbon Bar was in its element! The 730mm width was wide enough to provide precise steering during fast descents, but since this 120mm-travel FS bike was intended to climb too, the width provided a perfect compromise.

The composite construction predictably provided the classic carbon bar feel, damping some of the vibration from the trail without sacrificing any steering precision.

As a total side note, you can see the individual pieces of carbon that were wrapped and shaped to form this bar–way cool!

Bottom Line

While Thomson’s carbon bars might be manufactured overseas (despite being designed in-house in the US), the quality of construction and performance that have been associated with the Thomson name have not been compromised. Despite almost a year of testing before I wrote this review, I haven’t had a single issue with this bar… and I don’t expect to, either.

MSRP: $149.95

Many thanks to Thomson for providing this carbon bar for review!