While their promise of “turning cobbles into concrete” smacks of hyperbole, Bontrager also make the more believable – and measurable – claim that this handlebar reduces vibration by 20 percent.
The unique IsoZone foam padding on the tops and drops slightly increases bar diameter. It's also affected by the type of bar tape you use and how tightly it’s fitted – we used Lizard Skins and discovered that overtightening the tape reduced the effectiveness of the padding – so some trial and error may be necessary to achieve the best results.
To test the bar’s claimed vibration damping qualities we fitted accelerometers between the bar tape and our palms, which may not be exact, but does represent the riding experience. We saw a reduction in vibration of between zero and an impressive 58 percent. And that’s the issue with a product like this: its benefits aren't going to be the same for all riders on any bike on any road.
However not only have we shown that the bar does work in some situations, but even when it doesn’t offer a measurable benefit you’re still left with a very good quality carbon handlebar – so there’s nothing to lose, and varied levels of increased comfort to gain.
This doesn’t come at the expense of handling either. Not only is the bar rigid enough but it also transmits noticeably less buzz than the aluminium one it replaced on our test bike – though we’d expect that from any quality carbon bar. That extra comfort doesn’t add any significant mass either, with our 42cm bar weighing a scant 227g.
The shape’s not that extreme, which means you’re unlikely to require a new stem. It flares outward slightly at the drops, which offers good wrist clearance when standing, while the 125mm drop and 85mm reach give a good feel.
Overall, Bontrager have delivered a quality carbon handlebar with foam padding that really does represent a serious upgrade. The vibration damping works and adds comfort to your ride, we like the shape and it’s available in widths from 38-46cm.