With the 2011 launch of Trek’s Slash all-mountain bike looming, Bontrager set a Trek engineer the task of building the ideal ‘wide’ bar. He produced the Rhythm Pro Carbon Riser, available in 750mm and 820mm lengths, each of which can be cut down by 60mm.
The Bontrager bar is tested to Trek’s downhill standard, despite its light weight – our 750mm model weighed just 220g, 10g less than Bontrager claim on their site.
Despite being of downhill girth and strength, Bontrager brand manager Michael Browne said he expects the Rhythm Pro to be a hot item in the all-mountain and trail sectors. Predictably, Trek spec the 750mm model on their top-end Slash.
“We didn’t anticipate being able to put such a light bar on a downhill bike, but we definitely have the capability to do so [now],” said Browne. “But we’ve definitely positioned the bar at more of the all-mountain guy in the aftermarket.”
As intended, we’ve been using the bar on our 6in travel trail bike. We’d be lying if we told you we could notice the 45g weight reduction in comparison with the aluminum bar it replaced.
However, the Rhythm is 10mm longer and noticeably stiffer than our normal bar. These differences were obvious, and appreciated. The bar’s rigidity seemed to make steering inputs more direct and feedback more apparent. Both factors improved our trail experience.
We found the bend, upsweep and rise very comfortable
The 9-degree bend and 4-degree upsweep offer comfortable offset, while the low 15mm rise should be helpful if you’re pushing around a bike with a longer-travel fork or big wheels – yes, wide bars are great for 29ers.
So the bar is stiff, with a comfortable bend and extra width, but is it worth twice the cost of a comparable model? Yes and no. If you’re looking for the lightest option and are easily wooed by carbon, go for it – we couldn’t find any reason why you shouldn’t. In theory and practice, a carbon bar should be stronger and more durable than an alloy one. However, it didn’t really change our riding.
We must mention that there’s something to be said for changing your bar every season, if only for peace of mind, especially if you’re riding your bike as hard as an all-mountain rig should allow. In that case, a cheaper but good aluminum bar will always have an advantage.