PRO's PLT Carbon Handlebar offers good stiffness and excellent comfort and is reasonably lightweight, at a price that is lower than most other carbon options. The compact drop offers a powerful sprinting position and the round tops with internal cable routing mean the tops are a super-comfy place to spend time on the climbs and flats.
- Pros: Very well made, looks great, comfortable, stiff, reasonably light
- Cons: Not a huge weight saving over aluminium
Carbon upgrades are great, but not everything carbon is about saving weight. Carbon wheels, for example, are generally more aerodynamic than stock aluminium wheels and it's that aero gain rather than the weight saving that makes you go faster. Similarly, the best benefit to buying carbon handlebars like Pro's PLT isn't about the weight saving. Compare this to my Zipp Service Course SL88 aluminium bar and the saving is an unnoticeable 30g.
The noticeable difference comes in the form of a brilliant combination of stiffness and comfort gained. First things first, the PLT Carbon bar is constructed using UD T700 carbon, with a 130mm drop that is identical to my Zipp and a comfortable 80mm reach. The drops flare out by 2 degrees, giving a hand position in the drops that is 1cm wider than at the hoods. It's all very comfortable for a relatively aggressive position.
On the subject of comfort, carbon is rather good at absorbing road buzz when the layup is correct. Here the PLT bar really shines. The front of my Cannondale feels much smoother compared with when it had the Zipp bar installed. Whether this improves physical performance at all, I'm not sure, but it's much nicer now that the majority of the local roads are surface dressed!
Having just finished reviewing Prime's Primavera carbon bar, I'd say that this is slightly more comfortable. It's probably because of the Prime's aero top section. I'd imagine that this has to be beefed up to achieve the stiffness it gives. The round top section here might not be as fast, but I still prefer the simplicity.
While we're on that top section, one benefit of the round shape is much easier bar wrapping. Combined with the small section of internal routing and it's very easy to get a nice clean finish, where quite a bit more effort was required with the Prime bar.
That small bit of internal routing runs for about 3 inches. It might seem a bit silly, but it gives a very clean finish and because the section is straight and short, it's incredibly easy to feed cables through. In fact, setting the bar up from start to finish would have taken less than 10 minutes, had it not been for the internal routing of my rear brake. That's Cannondale's fault though, not PRO's.
Out on the road, there is no rattling from the internal cables and I've not heard any weird creaks or clicks from the contact with the stem. To test the stiffness, I headed up some of the steeper Mendip hills. Wrenching on the bar brings no front end movement, or if there is it's tiny and likely to be an issue for only the largest riders. For those of us with cyclist's arms, this is brilliant.
Other bars like this tend to come in north of £200 so I'd say that the PRO PLT Carbon offers pretty good value. Deda's Superleggera bar is £249, while the ITM X-One is a close contender at £189.99. Personally, I'd highly recommend the PRO PLT Carbon bar. It looks really smart, performs well and comes in at a very attractive price. That said, we're still talking about £179.99 for a handlebar, so I'd wager that you're not overly concerned by penny-pinching if you're considering this. The biggest rival though comes from Prime. Its Primavera bar is cheaper at £149.99, equally as comfortable, offers similar internal cable routing and an aero top section. Personally, I prefer a more traditional round bar, so I'd pay the extra for the PRO PLT, but the Primavera is certainly worth considering, especially if the budget is limited.
If I was considering an upgrade to a carbon bar then I'd find it very difficult to look past the PRO PLT Carbon. It does everything perfectly, offering very good stiffness and comfort with some internal routing, a respectable weight and smart, clean looks.
Great all-round package of stiffness, weight and comfort
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road.cc test report
Make and model: PRO PLT Carbon handlebar
Size tested: Width 38cm, Diameter 31.8mm
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?
PRO says: "The perfect carbon upgrade. Strong and lightweight the PLT Carbon bar will exceed the expectations of any serious cyclist"
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Stiff and robust carbon fibre layup
Ergonomic, 31.8 mm, oversized top section design further increases strength, stiffness and comfort
Semi-integrated cable routing ensures a clean cockpit
Compact, 130mm drops feature a 2° flare for improved control
Claimed Weights - 38cm, 235g / 40cm, 240g / 42cm, 245g / 44cm, 250g
The small internal cable routing section is easy to feed cables through.
Great comfort and stiffness create a great carbon bar.
I've not crashed with it or even bumped it, but no creaks or clicks from the stem clamp.
It's not too bad, but no huge weight saving for the money.
Brilliant. Kills road buzz really well and the small internal bit of cable routing creates a very smooth top section.
This is one of the cheapest carbon bars (that I'd trust), but it's still an investment and doesn't offer an amazing weight saving over much cheaper aluminium bars. You can spend less on Prime's Primavera bar. That's £149.99.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Really well. During hard efforts, the stiffness was very welcome and the comfort is particularly appreciated on the rough local road surfaces.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The comfort is just brilliant. It's a noticeable upgrade from aluminium bars.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Not much. I'd possibly like to see more weight saved for this money.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
This is one of the cheapest carbon bars on the market. ITM's X-One bar is a tenner more and Stu remarked on its value. Prime's Primavera bar is cheaper at £149.99, but I prefer the rounded top section of the PRO PLT over the aero top section of the Primavera.
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 overall score
The only criticism I could level at this bar is the small weight saving over aluminium bars. That's it. Everything else is great.
About the tester
I usually ride: Cannondale Supersix Di2 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, club rides, general fitness riding, I specialise in the Cafe Ride!
Son of a Marathon runner, Nephew of a National 24hr Champion, the racing genetics have completely passed him by. Liam spends his time plodding his way through cyclocross races, very busy not winning. As an advocate for perfectly clean chains, he can be found cleaning his bike instead of training. A shop mechanic, Liam has many helpful skills, such as being able to identify 'cross tubs by the tread pattern alone. If you bump into him, he'll probably be eating.