It’s hard to miss the plethora of gravel-specific bars available right now, which usually feature a shallower drop and some degree of sweep with the promise of more stability and control on rougher terrain.
My test Spank Flare 25 Vibrocore handlebar has a hood-to-hood length of 440mm, and generous 25 degrees of flare, making it 582mm end to end.
That’s 59mm more than the Zipp Service Course SL70 XPLR handlebar that I also had on test and it emphasises transitions from the hoods to drops.
Coming from a mountain biking background, I found that extra width very comfortable. It put my wrists and elbows in a naturally shock-absorbing position and made for more confident handling from the drops on sketchy descents.
Combined with the shorter reach (65mm) and shallower drop (110mm) common to gravel bars, the drop position and its handling were my favourite features of the bar. Riding on the hoods was less successful: it’s not comfortable with the raked-out angle of the brakes.
The weight of this alloy bar is a sturdy 351g, thanks to the Vibrocore foam designed to suck up shock. It’s a feature borrowed from mountain biking, but it’s hard to tell if it works here because it doesn’t feel more forgiving.
The bar is available in hood to hood sizes of 420, 440, 460, 480, 500 and 520mm (562, 582, 602, 622, 642 and 662mm end to end) and in black only.
Overall, I liked the confident handling this bar inspires, but was it enough to overcome the brake position and the extra weight? Probably not.