With foam pads to cushion the tops, the Bontrager Race Lite Isozone Bars are a better way to improve comfort than adding an extra layer of bar tape.
This is a nice idea. While it's always possible to substantially boost handlebar comfort with a generous wrap of padded bar tape, the Isozone pads provided with this Bontrager Race Lite bar effectively do a better job because the top of the bar is specifically shaped to accept them.
Indents in the bar correspond to the thicker part of the pads on the flat top of the bar, but the pads also give a small amount of protection on the curve just above the lever hoods.
The bar itself is compact in style, with a 125mm drop and an 85mm reach. It comes in a choice of widths (38, 40, 42, 44 or 46cm) and the front of the flat top is shaped to accept twin cables.
Weight is slightly above average for an aluminium bar at this price, presumably because of the extra material needed to maintain durability where the shape is manipulated. The marked lines for lever positioning are a nice touch.
There's an almost unnoticeable flare to the drops that helps with wrist clearance and the initial sweep forward to the lever hoods allows a nearly flat rest position when you're cruising on the hoods.
The marketing says that the Isozone pads 'turn cobbles into concrete'. Well, we wouldn't go that far, although it depends what sort of cobbles or concrete it's referring to. In comfort terms the Isozone pads certainly work better than a double layer of padded bar tape, mainly because a double layer of tape adds bulk where you don't need it as well as where you do.
The comfort here is on the flat tops, the classic high speed rough surfaces ride position, so it's of less benefit to riders who prefer to grip the drops most of the time. But there's also enough padding on the transition curve from the tops to the drops to add extra comfort for the palm at the base of the thumb, and this is also an area where some riders suffer from numbness.
For anyone using a simple bar extension set-up the padding could also be used as a weight saving alternative to forearm supports.
A good value nicely shaped bar if top of the bar comfort is a major priority.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Bontrager Race Lite Isozone Bars
Size tested: 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?
Suitable for all sorts of rider types, but especially good for those who ride rough surfaces with their hands on the flat tops of the bar. Very effective, but the bar isn't light so it may not appeal to weight weenies.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Nicely shaped compact aluminium drop available in all the popular widths.
The slightly flared compact shape is enough to persuade you to use the drops more often than you might on non-flared bars.
Tough but not light aluminium construction would suggest good durability.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The extra top of the bars comfort and the shape of the drops
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
About the tester
Age: 58 Height: 181 Weight: 78kg
I usually ride: Merlin Ti My best bike is: Ibis Silk SL
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
<p>Steve's passion for riding started around fifty years back with blatting about in the woods, closely followed by CTC rides, touring, schoolboy track league, a brief obsession with time trials then onto road racing, touring and cyclo cross... roughly in that order. Mountain biking and triathlon got a look in later. He tested and wrote about bikes for over 25 years and rode about 2000 of them. Steve also rode for the British team in three World Championships in the very early days of mountain bikes. He left us after <a href="http://road.cc/content/news/115389-cycling-journalist-steve-worland-dead... a heart attack at the Ashton Court Parkrun</a> in March 2014, and is fondly remembered and greatly missed.</p>