I-MTB

FUNN – Wide Handle Bar Test

Normally you don’t see that many handle bar tests in magazines, why? Well probably because a bar is a fundamental part to any bike and all bikes come with them so why buy another one? Here we have been testing how a new wider bar feels and we will compare it to what we had before.

This is probably the first official component/bar test that I-MTB has carried out so before we go any further it should be explained how and what we test with bike components.

The concept that we will be looking at going forward regarding product tests it to try things which we are recommended or have been told improve our riding. Sometimes we test things that people want to know about but can’t test themselves. We will also try to test things which normal people buy, not just the special gold plated components. We are also going to write about how we got on with the products truthfully. We are not paid just to say only positive things and we mostly buy with our own money those things which we test, so our bias is not in favour of anyone.

So starting with the bar test we should first explain how it came about. The I-MTB main ride is a Santa Cruz Nomad, stock components and medium size. When showing the bike around it was often pointed out how the bar setup could be improved for the type of riding we are doing. So we looked for a bar to test and see what all the fuss was about.

Firstly by adjusting the components to the right angles and spacing and secondly lengthening the bar we were able to set up the Nomad with a FUNN Fatboy 780mm new bar and try it to see how it feels. The current bar is a TRUATIV 680 mm T20 bar with some gentle rise and sweep. Although not narrow compared to XC bars, the bar was mainly put on to the bike according to an estimated average rider size and also the style of riding anticipated by the bike manufacturer. In our case we ride mainly enduro so a wider bar might be appreciated.

Thus follows a sequence of photos showing how we set the bar up and what it looked like compared to the current size.

Original setup.

The bike.

New bar comparison size check. (Bar uncut)

Changing components.

Using a pipe cutter to cut the bar to a recommended length.

We were suggested by a pro rider to go to 765mm.

Newly installed bar compared to the old bar, which shows almost a 4cm increase in length on each side.

The bar setup ready to ride.

Component detail.

Bar after being ridden.

The track where we road with it.

Setup

This was easy to do, all the components came off the bar without hassle or fuss and we switched them all over to the new bar with everything fitting perfectly. Most bars have the option to trim the ends and based on a brief consensus amongst a few professional riders it was agreed to go for 765mm, which meant finding a pipe cutter to trim the bar down. This should be done carefully and patiently as to avoid making a mistake and also when using a pipe cutter, if you go slowly it means the cut will be much cleaner. A pipe cutter is recommended over a hack saw as the saw has more risk of not cutting straight and leaving more burrs on the bar.

The FUNN bar cut well but did take some time due to the, as we guessed the quality aluminium, or maybe we just had a blunt cutter… Once cut, everything slide on fine  and we set up the cockpit as per our preference and also on the advice of a few pro’s who were hanging around. The bar was easy to centre and angle due to the registration marks on the bar. We noticed as well that the colour coating was not easily marked or rubbed off like the TRUATIV bar that we were replacing.

Technical specs

Ok so the bar we installed was a FUNN Fatboy 765mm  cut down from 785mm, with a 15mm rise, and a back sweep of 5.5 degrees. The weight is 290 grams (as we cut and removed a bit) and made from 7050 T73 aluminium. The colour as you can see was blue, and the finish is quite nice it seems fairly scratch resistant and also is two tone which is nice. Also being triple butted means weight is not excessive.

Performance

Judging performance is quite hard to do on a bar, the fact that we are dealing with a World Cup proven bar,  gave us immediate confidence in the product. The key though to our test was “Do I need a wider bar and is this bar good for us?” The simple answer is yes!

This bar when installed and ridden on the same enduro track as ridden before, with the older bar, gave a huge difference in feeling and control. The bar was solid and positive to hold, with no vibration or other strange feelings coming back to our hands. In the rough sections we rode, the bar gave a completely new feeling to what we were used to before. Steering was much more positive, maybe 30-40 percent (don’t ask how we arrived at that number), we were literally blown away with the difference a wider bar makes. Significantly  towards the end of the ride, with tired arms and a fatigued mind the control we had was much greater than when we used a narrower bar. The risk of making a mistake was less as the effort required to correct any unwanted directional shifts was minimal.

All of this if one looks back at their high school physics makes sense. However actually trying it really made the difference. After this we would never go back to a narrower bar. Classic comments about wide bars in narrow wooded tracks in our opinion is a fallacy, at no point in the ride did we feel the bar was at risk of clipping trees etc, despite our short time on this wider setup. The speed of steering also improved with the longer bar. Remember we left the stem the same length as before. The difference in the length at 4 cm extra on each side under normal trail conditions would not be a worry for anyone, unless you are riding down shoulder width trails with mm’s to spare, and this is probably very unlikely.

Comparing to the previous bar the feel in the bar with regard to stiffness and vibration or control movements was definitely better than the shorter bar that came with the bike. We also could not feel the slight extra weight due to the bar being longer, and it made no difference to our pedalling abilities.

Conclusion

In our opinion having a wide as you can comfortably go bar is the best thing any rider could do to a bike. The feeling and performance improvement experienced probably can be felt more than changing any other single component on the bike. Also taking into account the cost of a new bar, with this FUNN Fatboy bar retailing at around €60 no other single component that you can put on a bike comes in with such a difference in performance for the price you pay. This test raised for us many other questions as well such as, “Why do bike makers ship bikes with narrow bars?” and “What is the next thing we can change that will produce the next biggest difference in bike performance or ease of riding?”

It should be noted that bar length should be proportional to rider size. In this case our riders were around 1.80 metres tall with fairly wide shoulders. The riders would probably be considered of average size, so therefore it could be concluded that for the average rider most bars that ship with middle range (i.e. the most sold) enduro/all mountain bikes are too narrow.

Overall then, FUNN have produced a top quality product at a reasonable price. It has an excellent finish and great feeling when riding from an ergonomics point of view. Of course there are a range of bar styles to choose from and this Fatboy seemed the best bar to buy for those wishing to make the step to a wider bar from the stock bar that comes with AM bikes without being too extreme. We will revisit this subject in the future and see how the bar performs over time and what happens when (not if) we crash or do other things bars don’t normally like.

We also now we will start a test list of the components that are worth buying or changing to improve our riding and enjoyment of our sport. We think it is really important to get the right thing for the right job.

FUNN distributor Italy – www.tribedistribution.com

FUNN Products – www.funnmtb.com

Posted under:  MTB Bike Test

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I-MTB is an online MTB magazine and trail areas operator based in Tuscany, Italy

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