Ritchey WCS Carbon MonoCurve road cockpit £425

Superbike bar and stem combo

BikeRadar score 4/5

Ritchey’s MonoCurve design blends a carbon fibre EvoCurve style bar with a carbon stem, secured by a steerer tube clamp similar to that on their C260 alloy stem. At 362g for our 44cm wide bar with a 12cm effective stem length, it’s impressively light.

But weight isn’t the only factor here. The beauty of carbon construction is the ability to specifically tailor the performance of a structure, and this is where the integrated setup can outperform its two-piece rivals. 

Since the stem will not be flipped over, it flares out into a triangulated section where it meets the bar to maximise rigidity and resist twisting. The bar tops maintain their depth while being widened to give substantial purchase, and are swept backwards. A cable channel on the underside just accommodates both cables, and the supplied rubber grips hold the cables in place if you choose not to tape the flats.

Of course the bar angle is predetermined, but Ritchey have created a very neutral position. Rather than an ergonomic bend, the shallow 128mm drops have a smooth, conventional curve, and reach which varies by bar width. The tops are grippy and feel great – with or without bar tape – and the drops are spacious enough for riders with big hands.

Removing the junction between stem and bar has allowed Ritchey to increase stiffness to a level impossible for a conventional setup, while still keeping weight very low. On the road it was immediately obvious that this combo was designed with little compromise to outright performance, and when sprinting or climbing we could scarcely feel any movement. 

Feedback was considerable, though more conversational than argumentative. High frequency buzz was muted, but you could sense every contour and road surface. Price dictates that this isn’t a bar for a leisure machine, but if you want your race bike to come alive, and can sacrifice comfort, bolt this on.

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

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