Handlebars & extensions
Thomson has a well earned reputation for its top end CNC machined mountain bike and road components, but these Carbon Road bars are their first foray into making carbon fibre drop handlebar and they certainly impress with fantastic stiffness, vibration damping and a very low weight.
Zipp's Service Course SL bars are up at the top end of what you'd expect to pay for an aluminium handlebar, but they're well made, light and comfy.
The SL-K handlebar is the cheapest carbon bar offered by FSA - cheaper still if you find it discounted. In terms of shape, the SL-Ks are only available in a 'compact' bend which features short reach and a shallow drop. This style of bar is becoming increasingly popular as it suits a wide range of hand sizes and encourages more time spent in the drops.
A good price and weight makes the Ritchey WCS Logic II handlebar a good upgrade for any bike. The unique finish makes them look far more expensive than their price tag would otherwise suggest. There's a lot to like about these bars.
While the decision to spend £425 on a bar/stem combo will always be a big one, what can't be questioned is the quality of the Ritchey MonoCurve Carbon Integrated carbon bar and stem.
Light, stiff and above all, extremely comfortable, the Monocurve has certainly raised my expectations as to how a top notch cockpit should perform.
The 3T Ergosum Team bar is a high-performing carbon handlebar boasting a modern shape. It provides a great interface with the hoods combined with a shallow drop that most should find comfortable to reach. But, at over 3 times the price of its aluminium understudy it is a high price to pay for only 40g of weight saving.
Salsa's Moto Ace range of drop bars are designed to be an economical option for bikes running a non-oversized stem, and the Short & Shallow is a good all-purpose bar for road riding. It's not that shallow, in spite of its name, but it is comfy and fairly inexpensive.
Gusset's stash bar is a swept bar with a shallow rise that gives a different position on an urban steed. I didn't find it better or worse necessarily, but it gives a more upright feel on a town bike without going to a full-on utilitarian swept bar like a Soma Oxford or similar.
FSA's Plasma is an all-in-one bar and stem combo that's been around for a while, but we noticed it again on the front of some pros' bikes earlier in the year and decided we should get one in for review.
Joy beyond measure, Minoura have finally revised and improved their venerable Spacegrip.