Ritchey WCS 10 Degree Sweep Flat Bar and Pro 4AXIS Stem Review

See if you can wrap your head around this: the Ritchey WCS 10 Degree Sweep Flat Bar is essentially a riser-less riser bar. If you like the shape and sweep of a riser bar but need the lower, more aggressive riding position of a flat bar this is just the bar for you. For me, the extra-wide 700mm width was a treat that made my little steel hardtail feel all beefy and powerful, like I was driving a Mack Truck. The WCS 7075 10 D Flat Bar is made with Ritchey’s proprietary XR50 triple butted aluminum: thick in the clamp sections and where strength is needed, thin everywhere else to save weight. Lightweight and strong, this 260 gram bar had no detectable flex, even when cranking hard out of the saddle on climbs.

Usually stems are just a piece of hardware to me; with a good one you install the right size once and never think about it again. A bad one though, will leave you with a slipping bar and taking the stem maker’s name in vain. Ritchey’s 4AXIS face plates ensure that once your bar is clamped in place you can forget about it, just like you should. Instead of 4 widely spaced face bolts the 4AXIS design groups the bolts close together and incorporates a high-precision forged face plate. The face plate evenly distributes clamping stress over a much wider area – just what you need for lightweight alloy and Carbon handlebars.

Installation was easy and all my components transferred right over. Dialing in the bar angle took a little experimentation; I found I preferred the bar tips rolled up about 2 degrees. Ritchey has nice hash marks on the bar clamp so it’s easy to make adjustments and fine tune your fit. The 4AXIS face plate bolts were easy to adjust. Ride quality was unchanged and predictable since I switched most of my mountain bikes to Oversized bars in 2005 and I’m accustomed to the extra stiffness and steering precision. The way Ritchey has shaped the handlebar your hands are the same distance from your saddle as they would be with a 5 degree sweep bar – the bar swoops forward before sweeping back. This gives the bar a striking appearance as well as eliminating the need for a longer stem.

I found the extra sweep to be nice on seated climbs where I was pulling on the bar to keep the front wheel mostly unweighted as I roll over roots and rocks. The extra wide width provided more control on rough sections, and even though my hands were a good 2 inches further apart I was still relaxed and comfortable. The Ritchey Pro 4AXIS stem earns my highest praise – I quickly forgot it was there. My bar stayed in place. The stem did not flex. The clouds parted, the sun came out and the birds began to sing.

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