Race Face Next ¾ handlebar£99.95

Light, reliable and nicely shaped carbon bar

BikeRadar score4/5

When it comes to brands we trust not to snap in our hands, Race Face are always right up there. Having a Canadian perspective on what even a cross-country component should cope with always helps, but they're reassuringly obsessive about their quality control, too.

This does mean the Next is slightly heavier than its main rivals, Easton's Monkeylite XC and Truvativ's Noir bars, but it's certainly not overweight.

A bit more beef plus reinforced anti stem-crush bracing under the naked finish and daily destruction test checking on the RF production line makes them well-suited for the rougher side of trail work.

Given that we’ve had several trouble-free years on Next carbon gear now, the ¾ gets the nod from us in terms of proven performance too.

At 685mm, they’re wide enough to add plenty of power steering authority without scuffing trees and dislodging squirrels every time you hit the singletrack.

The low centre, with relaxed backsweep and a profile that tapers out before the upper bend, makes them an instantly comfy bar with almost everyone. They’ll take the sting out of relentless boulder sections without fudging the fine edge of what the tyres are doing.

If the weight bothers you then there’s an SL version that uses a slightly flatter tip sweep and a narrower span to get weight down to 170g. It’s an extra £20 though and we reckon most riders would rather have the extra leverage than lose grams.

Also check out Race Face's Deus XC ¾ at £59.95. It's the same sweet shape as the carbon version but in high-strength, seamless, cold-drawn alloy to keep the price down.

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 44
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster tfhan the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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