Bontrager Race X Lite IsoZone VR-CF handlebar review£220.00

Vibration-reducing bar

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You need chutzpah to explain to your loved ones why you need to spend the cost of an entry-level city bike on… the bit that does the steering. But assuming you can swing it, the gorgeous Bontrager Race X Lite IsoZone VR-CF handlebar oozes quiet luxury, with a subtly alluring carbon finish and neatly moulded cable grooves.

Its lack of mass is impressive: our 42cm bar weighed in at 233g including the red ‘IsoZone’ pads, about 100g lighter than the aluminium version. It’s also getting on for four times the price…

    The adhesive-backed IsoZone foam pads that cover the bar’s contact points are designed to reduce the amount of vibration transmitted to your hands. They’re made from a material with perceptible ‘squish’ which, as we discovered, can be undermined by excessively tight bar tape – it’s likely that Bontrager’s own stuff would be a better choice than the Lizardskins we were using, as its stretchiness permits a looser wrap.

    Related: How to wrap bar tape

    It’s open to question how great a difference the pads can make, as you are still very much in contact with the bar with your fingers wrapped around it, but we’re not sure how much it matters anyway, as the bar itself does a good job damping vibrations.

    We fitted ours to a cyclocross bike along with Bontrager’s very competent, if unexciting, Race Lite stem (as pictured) and took it along some rough bridleways where it performed admirably, effectively muting the sting of rock and rut impacts while offering precise handling.

    The slightly flared drops (about 3cm wider than the hoods, across which bars are measured) add wrist clearance and make for confident descending, while the semi-ergo bend (123mm drop, 85mm reach) is a great hybrid of bar styles.

    Tyre pressure, wheel construction and frame design are hugely important factors in comfort, but on more neglected highways and byways, we welcome any morsel of respite.

    Bar choice is always personal to an extent, but if you’re prepared to stump up the cash, there’s a great deal to like about this.

    This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

    Matthew Allen

    Technical Writer, UK
    Former bike mechanic, builder of wheels, hub fetishist and lover of shiny things. Also a really, really terrible racer who's been dropped more times than you've shaved your legs.
    • Age: 26
    • Height: 174cm / 5'8"
    • Weight: 55kg / 121lb
    • Waist: 71cm / 28in
    • Chest: 84cm / 33in
    • Discipline: Road, with occasional MTB dalliances
    • Preferred Terrain: Long mountain climbs followed by high-speed descents (that he doesn't get to do nearly often enough), plus scaring himself off-road when he outruns his skill set.
    • Current Bikes: Scott Addict R3 2014, Focus Cayo Disc 2015, Niner RLT 9
    • Dream Bike: Something hideously expensive and custom with external cables and a threaded bottom bracket because screw you bike industry.
    • Beer of Choice: Cider, please. Thistly Cross from Scotland
    • Location: Bristol, UK

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