At road.cc every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.
Good scores are more common than bad, because fortunately good products are more common than bad.
Pro says its PLT Ergo Carbon handlebar is all about 'maximum comfort and ergonomic fit...for long, hard days on the bike'. With its shallow drop and wide tops that extend nicely around the corner to just behind the hoods, it certainly fits that bill. You can also spend an awful lot more on a carbon handlebar.
Pro, being a Shimano subsidiary, effectively makes Shimano's own-brand saddles, stems, seatposts and handlebars. In its eight-strong line-up of carbon handlebars, the PLT Ergo is the one that's designed to be comfortable, while the others focus more on weight, aero or stiffness.
It's made from UD T700 carbon, and that carbon has been laid up well. There is noticeably less road buzz than I'd get with an alloy handlebar on the same bike. Although it's not designed for racing, it's plenty stiff enough for muscling around sprinting or hoiking up a steep hill.
Where you really notice the difference is on longer rides. After a recent 170km gravel ride, my hands and wrists felt absolutely fine. And that was with some basic handlebar tape and no gloves to provide extra padding. Similarly, on road rides with narrower tyres, comfort levels are positively plush.
I'm reviewing the 42cm version here – it's also available in widths from a super-narrow 36cm to a super-wide 46cm. That 42cm is measured centre to centre; at its widest point across the top, the handlebar measures 45cm.
This is a compact handlebar. The drop is 13cm, which for me feels just right for a performance all-day handlebar – as in, deep enough to fight a headwind but not too deep that you can't use the drops comfortably with 100 miles in your legs (and back).
The reach is in keeping with that shallow drop, at a relatively short 73mm.
The bar flares by 4 degrees, which equates to a centre to centre width of 44cm across the drops.
The flattened top section is 4cm at the deepest point, and curves around to just behind the hoods. This makes for super-comfortable hand positions all across the top.
Installing this handlebar is made as easy as it can be. The diameter of the drops is just small enough that shifters slide on easily – no worries about scuffing up that precious carbon. Also, the white height markers on the sides make it easy to line up both shifters in the same place and at the same angle; that can be a fiddle on handlebars that don't have this scale.
The texture of the carbon is rough where it interfaces with the stem and shifters, and smooth everywhere else. That rough texture, combined with the sachet of mounting paste the handlebar comes with, ensures that everything stays in place at the recommended torque settings.
Underneath the flats there is a channel that is wide enough to fit a cable outer and a hydraulic hose, tucking both out of the way effectively. The exit angle is well judged for a nice cable run onto the down tube without touching the head tube.
Also worth mentioning here is the fact that you get an 11cm section of round diameter (31.6mm) in the centre of the handlebar. The stem will take some of that space, but there's plenty of room either side to fit your favourite GPS mount and a light (or two).
At 230g, weight saving is probably not going to be the reason you decide to spend carbon handlebar money on this. Pro's Compact Ergo Handlebar, the alloy version of the PLT Ergo Carbon, weighs 255g for the smallest (40cm) size, and costs £54.99. But using carbon allows component designers to achieve shapes and properties, like absorbing vibration, that are not possible with alloy. I can't judge the road feel of the alloy Compact Ergo, as I haven't tested it, but going on other alloy handlebars I've tried, I'm pretty confident the difference will be obvious. Case in point – the alloy version of the PLT Ergo Carbon does not have the same flattened-off shape along the top which makes it so comfortable.
You can find cheaper carbon bars than the Pro – the Prime Primavera Aero Carbon, which Liam gave 9/10 when he reviewed it last month, costs £149.99, as does the Bontrager Pro VR-C, and the MT Zoom Ultralight Gravel Handlebar is both lighter at 195g and cheaper at £160, but is a different beast entirely in terms of shape.
It's interesting to note that all these are within a handful of grams of each other.
If you're looking for a carbon handlebar to reduce road buzz and provide some super-comfortable hand positions, this one should be on your list. Its weight is on a par with other comparable carbon bars, while its price is lower than many. Highly recommended.
Super-comfortable carbon handlebar, perfect for long days in the saddle
If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website
road.cc test report
Make and model: Pro PLT Ergo Carbon Handlebar
Size tested: 420 mm
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?
The PRO PLT Ergo Carbon Handlebars featuring an ergonomic design in six widths to ensures comfort for riders of all sizes.
Designed to provide you with a better sports' bicycle experience the PRO PLT Ergo Carbon Handlebars provide the maximum comfort and ergonomic fit for all riders. Boasting a range of sizes, from a narrow 36-centimetre width to an extra-wide 46-centimetres, they are the perfect bars for long, hard, days on the bike. A 4-degree flare, to the drops, provides extra comfort by providing you with a wider base from which to control your bike on long, sweeping, descents.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Comfortable handlebars with compact drops and ergonomic top sections
UD T700 carbon construction
Compact shape to the drops
Ergonomic top sections
External cable routing
Weight: From 195g
31.8mm clamping diameter
Sizes: 36, 38, 40, 42, 44 and 46cm widths
The worry with carbon handlebars is always what happens when you crash. To which the answer is probably: if you're worried – replace.
Pretty much on a par with other comparable carbon handlebars we've reviewed.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
This handlebar is seriously comfortable on the hoods and the flats; the shallow drop is judged just right and works really well too.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Easy installation, super-comfortable.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing to report here.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
For a carbon handlebar, £179.99 is not an outrageous amount of money. You can spend less – the Prime and Bontrager bars I mention in the review are both cheaper – but most others we've tested cost more.
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
It's excellent: it reduces road buzz and provides some super-comfortable hand positions, its weight is on a par with other comparable carbon handlebars, while its price is lower than many. Highly recommended.
About the tester
I usually ride: All of them! My best bike is: Ribble Endurance SL disc
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, club rides, mtb, Zwift