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Verdict: 
Really good alloy bars with a shape that's definitely an improvement (for me) over a standard compact
Weight: 
298g
Contact: 
Ritchey WCS Evo Max Handlebar
8 10

If you don't get on with your current drop bars and want to try something a bit different, then I can highly recommend the Ritchey WCS Evo Max. Its 12° flared design is something you'll probably either love, or hate. Me? I love it.

The basic idea here is that the drops on this bar are flared so that the drop section is wider than the tops. This means that there's more arm room when you're down on the drops, and it's made even roomier by the short 73mm reach (middle of the bar to the middle of the drop curve). There's a 4° backward sweep on the top section too.

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Ritchey WCS Evo Max Handlebar 1.jpg

Ritchey WCS Evo Max Handlebar 1.jpg

These changes don't add up to a bar that's visually much different to a standard compact drop bar, but in terms of feel they're a very different beast. I swapped the stock bars on my Boardman Road Pro Carbon SLR race bike for these Ritcheys and the improvement was immediate. The Boardman bars weren't bad but they're a basic alloy compact set. The Ritcheys save a few grams but the main difference is in the ride position and the bar feel. The triple butted alloy construction gives a bit of comfort on the drops but without sacrificing anything noticeable by way of stiffenss when you're stamping on the pedals.

Ritchey WCS Evo Max Handlebar 2.jpg

Ritchey WCS Evo Max Handlebar 2.jpg

The main improvement is the hand position, though. The 12° flare of the drops just feels like a more natural position for my hands to be in, and it's much more comfortable, meaning I spend more time down there. And the way the sweep of the drop works means there's masses more room for my arms than before, without sacrificing any of the comfort of the bars on the hoods. I really, really like the shape of these bars. They remind me of Salsa's excellent Bell Lap bars, unsurprising since they also have a 12° flare. The Ritcheys are more of a racing shape though, with the Bell Laps really more designed for cyclocross with a looser curve from the tops to the drops. I'd say these are better for a road or gravel build, although Ritchey say they should appeal across all kinds of drop-bar riding.

For me, these WCS Evo Max bars are definitely better than standard compact drop bars. They feel more natural to use in the drops and I like the extra space for my arms. If you've been having issues with either of those things on your road setup, check them out.

Verdict

Really good alloy bars with a shape that's definitely an improvement (for me) over a standard compact

road.cc test report

Make and model: Ritchey WCS Evo Max Handlebar

Size tested: 44cm, Black

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?

Ritchey says: "Bell lap is bell lap no matter where you are. Twelve degree flared drop means forearm clearance when in the drops and greater leverage than a non-flared bar. An ideal shape for on or off road builds from a mixed terrain road bike to cross to mountain!"

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Triple butted 7075 alloy

40, 42, 44 and 46cm widths

Drop/Reach: 120/73mm

12 degree drop flare

4.7 degree sweep, 0 degree flare

Finish: Blatte or Wet Black (Intl only)

270g (42cm)

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
10/10
Rate the product for performance:
 
9/10
Rate the product for durability:
 
9/10
Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
 
7/10
Rate the product for comfort (if applicable)
 
8/10
Rate the product for value:
 
7/10

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Really well: I liked the shape and they're stiff and comfortable

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Shape

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Nothing

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

If you're having any issues with a standard compact drop bar then these should be near the top of the list. Not everyone will get on with the shape but I found it excellent.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 43  Height: 189cm  Weight: 92kg

I usually ride: whatever I'm testing...  My best bike is: Kinesis Tripster ATR, Kinesis Aithein

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track

Dave is a founding father of road.cc and responsible for kicking the server when it breaks. In a previous life he was a graphic designer but he's also a three-time Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling world champion, and remains unbeaten through the bog. Dave rides all sorts of bikes but tends to prefer metal ones. He's getting old is why.

2 comments

Avatar
Pfaff [11 posts] 11 months ago
0 likes

Well well well. Return of the randonneur-bar. 

Now waiting for the Morgan Grips.

 

Avatar
dave atkinson [6304 posts] 11 months ago
0 likes

Pfaff wrote:

Well well well. Return of the randonneur-bar. 

yeah, not dissimilar. not quite the same though, squarer and a bit more racy in feel