Renthal has an enviable reputation when it comes to their bike components. Its range may be limited to bars, stems, grips and chainrings, but each has been developed and tested at the highest levels.
As trail bikes have developed, wider bars and the new 35mm bar diameter standard have become prevalent though, while Renthal’s Fatbar and Fatbar Lite (along with their corresponding carbon variants) have remained at the 31.8mm standard and 780mm / 740mm widths.
With increasing OE demand and customers seeing 35mm as an ‘upgrade’, Renthal has finally seen fit to expand its range with 35mm versions of the four models, while adding 20mm of width – Fatbars are now 800mm and the Fatbar Lite is 760mm. Correspondingly, Renthal’s Apex and Integra stems now come in 35mm versions.
The new Fatbars are longer than their ancestors
While these updates have taken a little while to come, Renthal’s developers wanted to make sure their products met high expectations by the time they came to market. With its own in-house testing rigs, Renthal claims to have been able to engineer the bars to feel very similar to their 31.8mm predecessors.
In our opinion this is a good move. The Renthal bars of old had great damping characteristics, whereas we’ve often found 35mm bars to be too stiff and harsh, leading to increased hand fatigue. Renthal felt that, if you’ve got it right already, why change it?
With feel and strength maintained and widths widened, it’s great to see that weight hasn’t been impacted upon – in fact, the alloy Fatbar 35 is lighter than its 31.8mm brother.
Corresponding Apex and Integra stems have also been launched
Renthal’s bar range is now pretty expansive, with a total of 32 different options. The new 35mm range has four basic options – Fatbar Carbon, Fatbar, Fatbar Lite Carbon and Fatbar Lite. Each of these is available in 10, 20, 30 and 40mm rises, giving 16 35mm bar options. This is mirrored in the original 31.8mm options (which stick with their 780/740mm widths). Renthal’s traditional five-degree up and seven-degree backsweep is maintained.
To complement the bars are the new Apex 35 and Integra 35 stems. Again, Renthal’s intention was to maintain strength and stiffness while minimising weight gain. The brand’s 240-degree wrap-around clamp also remains.
The Apex 35 is available in 33, 40, 50 and 60mm lengths, with +/- six-degree rise, while the Integra comes in 45 and 50mm lengths, and 0 and 10mm rises.
First ride impressions: fatter yet more forgiving
We rode the 31.8 and 35mm carbon Fatbars back to back to see whether Renthal has achieved its goals. If anything, we found that the 35mm option was actually a little more comfortable than its older sibling, muting trail buzz more than the smaller diameter bar.
We found the 35mm carbon Fatbars more compliant-feeling than their narrower brethren
Without our own test rigs, we can’t be sure whether this is down to the engineering of the bar, or the extra width. However, it’s one of the few 35mm bars that I’d be happy to run on my own bike. I’ve not had a chance to ride the alloy versions yet but am intrigued to see if the relative feel translates, given that our test team have found the metal bar to be a touch harsh in the past.
Shape wise, the extra width is welcome, especially on the Fatbar Lite, where the original 740mm width felt rather narrow on a modern trail bike. At 760mm this is now a fair width, however we reckon the 800mm option is perhaps the one to go for – you can always cut a bar down, but you can’t widen it. There’s a weight penalty of around 35g, but this is relatively marginal.
The five-degree upsweep and seven-degree backsweep isn’t perhaps our favourite – I felt the need to rotate the bars quite far forward to get the sweep feeling right – but that said, if you’re already a Renthal user this shouldn’t be a problem.
The stem’s 240 degree clamp definitely gives a secure hold on the bar, especially when combined with the textured clamping area on the carbon bar. It is though a bit of a pain to fit, and you risk scuffing your new bar while doing so.