Renthal is one of the big names in handlebars and few brands have established themselves as firmly in the cockpit game. Unique styling along with innovative stem clamps and high tech materials have really made them stand out from the crowd. The motocross heritage gives plenty of confidence that their products are more than up for the job when it comes to mountain bikes.Buy Handlebars on
The most recent update to their range is the Fatbar Carbon 35, which sees the Fatbar range extend and develop with the current trend and move to a 35mm clamp. Claimed as the ultimate downhill bar, managing to be strong enough for the toughest competition, yet weigh in only 225g. Using UD Carbon, the constriction method puts strength and stiffness where needed alongside flex to create the best blend for ultimate control.
With plenty of rise options, getting the right fit is easy and the 5/7 degree sweep combination is always a winner for me. Meeting all the standards for durability, the bars also feature an abrasive central clamp section and markers for cutting them down to length.
The Apex Stem is a great match for the Fatbar obviously, in terms of both function and style. The system uses the 240-degree clamps to slide onto the bar before attaching to the stem body which itself has been machined to reduce weight. The plus or minus 6-degree stem offers flexibility and the zero gap mounting makes torquing the bolts easier and safer. The anodised finish sets it all off as an impressive cockpit for those who like the finer things in life.
Installation takes a little time to make sure it is done correctly, with the two clamps needing to be slid onto the bars first before being bolted on the stem body. The bottom two bolts are installed with zero gap, before then tightening the top two bolts to finish it up. Markers help with the process, but they are more for angle adjustments rather than centralising. A marker to help get them central every time would be helpful. There are further markers to cut down the bars, but not for aligning brakes and shifters, but this leaves the bars looking clean.
The sweep on the bars is 5 up and 7 degrees back, which is pretty common on more modern bars, and gives the bar a 'straighter' feel. Matched with a 40mm stem this put my hands in a good steering position and kept me a little more forward on the bars with elbows further out. The 35mm diameter bars creates a stiffer package and as such bars can sometimes become over-stiff.
With the Fatbar, this never felt like an issue, but being carbon, it does deal with the smaller vibrations well but lighter riders may find it just too stiff. The carbon does a good job of dampening down trail vibrations but ultimately they are a highly accurate and precise tool and are generally feel like they are unwilling to flex. They really do feel like the bike becomes a sharper tool compared to other bars, and although the benefits of stiffness can be debated, for me this is why they are such a good bar.
The stem is a great combination but plays second fiddle to the great Fatbar. If you are going to drop $165/ £135 on a set of bars, the Apex is an excellent way to clamp them to your steerer tube. The clamp system really does work well and keeps the weight down whilst colour matching the whole system perfectly.
Sharpen up your ride with some exceptionally stiff and precise bars from Renthal. The 35mm versions may be too stiff for some, but if you like precision, then you can't go wrong with these. One of the finest cockpits around, there is a price to pay, but the quality, feel and weight saving combine to make this a highly desirable upgrade.
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By Ewen TurnerEwen Turner is a self-confessed bike geek from Kendal in the Lake District of England. He runs a coaching and guiding business up there and has a plethora of knowledge about bikes with an analytical approach to testing. His passion for bicycles is infectious, and he’s a ripper on the trails who prefers to fit his working life around his time on the bike.