While reviewing bikes and products on a daily basis, I've unconsciously created a bit of a 'best of' list for each and every different bit of kit, something to judge others against. This ITM X-One Carbon bar is now sitting atop the handlebar group, the one that all other race bars will be compared to, with simply awesome comfort, stiffness and looks. I only wish I could afford it.
X-One isn't ITM's first foray into a semi-integrated handlebar and stem combination – anyone remember the K-Sword? The X-One uses a very similar design but it's been tweaked for even better stiffness and ergonomics.
I'm guessing the price is going to be the main stumbling block for most, that and the simple question of how this can be ten times better than an entry-level aluminium bar.
Well, in reality it isn't, value versus performance doesn't work like that, but it goes a long way to justifying that £189.99 price tag.
It's designed to work as a system with the X-One Carbon stem, reviewed here, with the stem taking on the stiffness role and the bar the comfort. The X-One is stiffer than most carbon bars I've used, though, especially with your hands on the wing-shaped tops. The larger cross-sectional area adds material and therefore rigidity, even when you include the hollowed out sections for the internal cable routing.
This means the bar brings a very direct feel to the steering input, even as you start to find more flex at the hoods and drops. My Kinesis Aithein test bed became very much more a 'point and shoot' machine with this bar (and stem). And this bike has been using Deda's Superleggera setup, so it's no stranger to top end components.
The bar is comfortable to ride on the tops, even without bar tape (you wouldn't want to cover those graphics) and padded gloves. The flat tops make a perfect place for your hands and with the bar sweeping back towards you, your arms feel in a very relaxed position.
The flattened section continues to the base of your shifter hoods, again giving a larger platform for your hands to rest on. Riding on the hoods you notice a tiny bit of give in the bar, just enough to take the buzz out, but if you really yank on it for acceleration or climbing it still feels as efficient and stiff as you'd want it to be.
Like a lot of bars on the market, the X-One uses a compact drop, just 138mm centre to centre, and 68mm from the tops to the furthest forward part of the bend. This means to get into an aero tuck doesn't require a large level of flexibility and also makes reaching the brakes with smaller hands easier.
At 230g the ITM isn't in the super-light category but it is on par with others we've tested with a larger aero topped design such as the FSA K-Force and 3T Aerotundo Team, both of which are considerably more expensive though.
In conclusion, the X-One works as an entire package, offering enough compliance to make what is in essence a full-on super-stiff race handlebar a comfortable enough platform for a few hours on unforgiving roads, while adding to the already direct handling of a race bike.
It just feels stunningly good: responsive, especially at speed when cutting through the bends, with just enough flex to offer control when you are right on the rivet. Compare the performance and weight against the competition and the X-One doesn't look overly expensive; it's pricey, but you're getting what you pay for.
Absolutely awesome carbon race bar with stunning looks, stiffness and comfort at a competitive price
road.cc test report
Make and model: ITM X-One Carbon Handlebar
Size tested: 420mm
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
ITM says: "X-ONE the new road set of ITM.
"Curvy and elegant shape, combined with solidity, strength and safety to give form to a unique product of its kind."
The X-One handlebar isn't just all about looking good, its shape provides excellent ergonomics, and the material stiffness.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
X-ONE: Integrated design
HM carbon UD matte finishing.
Widths:-400, 420 & 440cm
Measured:- Centre - Centre
The bar looks and feels very well made. Clean, smooth edges to the cable routing cutouts.
Stiff where it needs to be and less stiff where it doesn't, an excellent setup.
No unnerving creaking noises but crashing is probably never going to end well.
A decent weight for a carbon aero bar.
The hand positions are excellent.
Compared with others we've had in on test mentioned in the main review, the X-One is competitively priced.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
A beautiful carbon race bar with excellent stiffness and comfort.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
I can't afford it.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
The ITM is wonderful. The shape is absolutely spot on for fast riding and the carbon layup allows just the right amount of flex and comfort in the places it's required. The value for money quota can be argued, but against the competition it's well priced.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: Mason Definition
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed
Stu knocked out his first road.cc review back in 2009 and since then he's chucked the best part of seventy test bikes around the West Country, a couple of them quite literally! With three alloy and two steel bikes in his fleet he's definitely a metal man (that'll be the engineering background) but is slowly warming to that modern carbon fibre stuff along with fat tyres & disc brakes.
It's not all nostalgia though, after spending the last few years in product design Stu keeps banging on about how 3D printing is going to be the next big thing and he's a sucker for a beautiful paint job too.