Hope has been pushing into new territory over the past few years, experimenting with new materials and new products. Not only have they got their heads around carbon manufacturing, but also they've made entire bikes from it, and all this designed, tested and manufactured in Barnoldswick, UK. As well as bike creation, they've been busy making their carbon handlebars, which we have here.Buy Handlebars on
Aptly named, the 'Carbon Handlebar' takes Hopes reputation and hangs it from a shapely and refined piece of carbon. Measuring up at 780mm wide and with a 31.8mm clamp, these bars will suit many riders. With 7 degrees back sweep and 5 degrees upsweep, they are reasonably 'straight' and feature a 20mm rise. All this comes in at 225g and these are the only numbers you need to know as this is the only option available.
The bars are instantly recognisable due to the bulging nature of the bars just before they rapidly taper to a smaller diameter. This bulge is all about strength but creates a distinctive look. The laminate has been 'optimised', meaning they have carefully placed extra carbon where needed to keep the bars strong and light. Hope decided that 31.8mm was the clamp size for them, despite offering a 35mm clamp stem, the reasons being that there are few advantages to the wider clamp and they didn't want to make the bars too stiff.
Coupled with these bars is the AM/Freeride Stem, which is a more traditional Hope offering being CNC machined from a solid billet of 2014 T6 aluminium and is available in 35, 50 and even 70mm (for you old school freeriders perhaps) and has a 0 degree or 20 degree rise if needed. Unlike the bars, there are plenty of options including all the classic colours offered by Hope. Weighing in at 134g, it's a small, light and very strong package and a perfect match for the Carbon Bars.
Installation is straightforward and the stem clamps firmly onto the steerer with opposite bolts, which are claimed to add to the stiffness. The bars need some attention as they are carbon, and a torque wrench is a worthy addition to the installation process. The bar clamp is exceptionally neat and requires the top bolts to be tightened first and then the bottom ones which leave nearly no gap visible around the bars.
The bars have simple, clear lines on each side making lining up brakes and other controls very easy. With little back sweep, the bars sit quite straight and work well with the 35mm stem. The 7-degree sweep encourages more of an “elbows out” stance rather than tucked in, and encourages the rider forwards, which if you like that style, is great.
For me, the sweep on the bars is ideal, and I immediately felt at home with the setup. The only downside was the 20mm rise was not quite enough for my preferred position so extra spacers provided the lift to get me in the correct position.
Once up to speed, the bars are calm and collected, offering good damping while remaining stiff and precise. This precision can be felt both at high speed, but also when threading the front wheel down super-steep rock gardens with lots of weight on your arms. The 31.8mm to 35mm debate is not easily solved, and in the past, I've certainly enjoyed 35mm carbon bars but I never felt that these bars were not stiff enough.
This stem is the unsung hero, dutifully doing its job in fine style, generally unnoticed. The bars were held in place happily and the stem is small neat and stylish. I'd love to be able to extol the virtues of this little number further, but I think it's enough to say that it's definitely strong enough, light enough and the Hope badge of reliability just adds to the confidence and overall package.
UK made components at their best; the Carbon Handlebars add another fine product to the Hope catalogue, providing a comfortable, precise and well-damped feel. The AM/Freeride Stem continues to offer everything you want in a reliable stem made to the highest standards.
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This review was in Issue 58 of IMB.For more information visit Hope Technology
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