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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey guys -

So I recently picked up a Santa Cruz Highball which I'm turning into a bit of a weight weenie project. I want to upgrade the handlebars to carbon - I'm looking at the Santa Cruz branded ones because they fit the look and I like their warranty.

They have two options:
31.8 Flat XC Bar - 202g
35 20mm Riser - 182g

My current set up is a RaceFace Aeffect stem/bar combo in the 35mm variety with a 60mm stem. The current bars have a 10mm rise.

Would I be best served going down to 31.8 and the flat bars? Or will the 20mm risers be ok? This bike is purely meant for going fast uphill, so that is my focus.

If I do go down to 31.8, are there any good, light, XC style stems that you would recommend?

Thanks!
 

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My 2cents…

0mm rise bars are for XC and to bring your weight forward. You will notice most XC racers will have slammed stems and even negative angled stems to push the handle bar further and lower. But this is when climbing is the priority and seconds matter.

If you’re ok with the aggressive riding position, then 0mm rise / 31.8 bar would be ‘better’. But there are also things like handle bar sweep and length to consider.

20mm rise would be more comfortable and improve descending position/control.


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Regarding stems, here is a good start on some options. Stems are not really a good place to save weight, the price/weight ratio is high.


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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
My 2cents…

0mm rise bars are for XC and to bring your weight forward. You will notice most XC racers will have slammed stems and even negative angled stems to push the handle bar further and lower. But this is when climbing is the priority and seconds matter.

If you're ok with the aggressive riding position, then 0mm rise / 31.8 bar would be 'better'. But there are also things like handle bar sweep and length to consider.

20mm rise would be more comfortable and improve descending position/control.

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Thanks for the reply! Yeah that makes sense - I do still want the bike to be comfortable, but trying to shed weight at the same time. I'm a little confused because there is a discrepancy on the Santa Cruz website as to the true weight of their bars, so I'm trying to get that figured out (waiting to hear back from them) and then I also need to figure out what my current bar is. The RaceFace website says it is only sold as a 20mm rise, but I thought I saw 10mm rise when I last took the bars off.
 

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Thanks for the reply! Yeah that makes sense - I do still want the bike to be comfortable, but trying to shed weight at the same time. I'm a little confused because there is a discrepancy on the Santa Cruz website as to the true weight of their bars, so I'm trying to get that figured out (waiting to hear back from them) and then I also need to figure out what my current bar is. The RaceFace website says it is only sold as a 20mm rise, but I thought I saw 10mm rise when I last took the bars off.
Yep, so it comes down to how aggressive of a stance your body can handle and how serious you are about racing.

Ultimately, you might be better suited for a professional fitting. Since rise of handle bars is only one item to consider where your hands are relative to the rest of the bike.

Other factors for consideration:

Stem length /angle
Frame Stack height
Frame Reach
Headset angle
# of headset spacers
Bar width, rise and sweep
Saddle position (height / setback)
Pedal length
Mobility / Age

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Wren and Mt Zoom make a series of very light 31.8mm stems with +-6 and +-17 deg angles (though the 17s don't come in as wide a range of lengths as the 6s). I run a 80/17 Wren on my bike and it weighs about 88g. Not all that expensive for a weight weenie part either (about $90 list and you can usually find them for more like $70). I think the Mt Zoom ones are even a bit cheaper, but similar in weight. You can find a bit lighter weight with some super-exotic parts that cost 5 times as much, but these two brands seem like the sweet spot in price/weight for stems.
 

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I have the RaceFace Aeffect stem 35. I changed my handlebars to oneupcomponents. I no longer have pain in my hands and in my shoulders.

 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I have the RaceFace Aeffect stem 35. I changed my handlebars to oneupcomponents. I no longer have pain in my hands and in my shoulders.

Are you on an XC bike?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Wren and Mt Zoom make a series of very light 31.8mm stems with +-6 and +-17 deg angles (though the 17s don't come in as wide a range of lengths as the 6s). I run a 80/17 Wren on my bike and it weighs about 88g. Not all that expensive for a weight weenie part either (about $90 list and you can usually find them for more like $70). I think the Mt Zoom ones are even a bit cheaper, but similar in weight. You can find a bit lighter weight with some super-exotic parts that cost 5 times as much, but these two brands seem like the sweet spot in price/weight for stems.
Awesome, I'll check those out! Are they relatively reputable as brands?
 

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Awesome, I'll check those out! Are they relatively reputable as brands?
Yeah, oneup is relatively new, and I'm pretty sure this is their first handlebar, but they are offering designed in 'flex' into the bars to alleviate any induced vibrations to minimize hand/arm strain. So, they are doing something different than most offerings…whether it's just all marketing or real benefits, hard to know until you try for yourself.

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Awesome, I'll check those out! Are they relatively reputable as brands?
Both Wren and Mt Zoom have been around for a while and have pretty good reps. Wren stems have been out for several years and I haven't heard any dire tales of their stems failing. They ARE lightweight XC stems though, and probably not the best choice if you're doing a lot of punishing enduro riding. I've had mine for about a year and haven't had any problems so far. Mt Zoom has been making lightweight components for the XC racing community for years also - their carbon bars have been particularly popular - but only started offering stems about a year or two ago. I'm not sure if there are enough Mt Zoom stems in use yet for much of a reputation to have developed either way, but I've been happy enough with their other stuff that I would have had no reluctance to try one of their stems if I hadn't come across a Wren first.
 

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The (Kalloy) Uno Advance Project stems are probably the best known, durable/reputable, inexpensive ($28) lightweight stems. They can also be found rebranded (Hylix for one) with different finishes, and sometimes ti bolts. I don't know for sure, but I'd guess that Wrens are manufactured by Kalloy to Wren's specs, seeing that they are made of the same 7050 aluminum, and that Wren works with partners/doesn't manufacture anything themselves.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Yeah, oneup is relatively new, and I'm pretty sure this is their first handlebar, but they are offering designed in 'flex' into the bars to alleviate any induced vibrations to minimize hand/arm strain. So, they are doing something different than most offerings…whether it's just all marketing or real benefits, hard to know until you try for yourself.

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Awesome! And the weight is great too! Now I just need to figure out whether I want these, the Santa Cruz carbon ones, or the RaceFace Next SLs...
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
The (Kalloy) Uno Advance Project stems are probably the best known, durable/reputable, inexpensive ($28) lightweight stems. They can also be found rebranded (Hylix for one) with different finishes, and sometimes ti bolts. I don't know for sure, but I'd guess that Wrens are manufactured by Kalloy to Wren's specs, seeing that they are made of the same 7050 aluminum, and that Wren works with partners/doesn't manufacture anything themselves.
Nice - I'll have to look into this. I have a Kalloy UNO on my road bike and its been on there since 2014 with no issues whatsoever. Seems like a good option to try different stem lengths to figure out what works best for me since they are cheap.
 

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Bar rise is a fit metric. Its to get your hands where you want them to be. I'm using a flat bar on my 29r and a riser on my 27.5. My hand position is pretty close to being in the same spot relative to the saddle on both bikes.
 

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Grip/bar level should be relative to your seat height and level of comfort: I ride XL frames, and even with a little rise my bars are always a couple of inches below the seat. Lower than about 3" below the seat my aging neck isn't very happy. A friend I used to race with used Small frames, he'd slam the stem 'upside down' and use flat bars, and the grips would still be about level with the seat. I seem to climb and descend pretty similar within a several inch range of bar height: I think so long as your bars are level with the seat (Medium or Small) or lower up to about 4" lower (admittedly a big generalization), you'll be in a pretty good 'sweet spot' range, and probably not much faster or slower within that range, adjust to taste.

+1 on the Kalloy Uno: good, cheap and light.

With a fork without a whole lot of small bump compliance, I'd probably go with the 31.8 hoping for a little bit less stiffness. I've had bars that are too stiff, which gave me knuckle pain after a bit more than an hour or riding. The oneup bars mentioned above sound interesting, I've got one of their oval chainrings on my A bike, they seem to make nice stuff, I think I would trust them.
 

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Yeah, oneup is relatively new, and I'm pretty sure this is their first handlebar, but they are offering designed in 'flex' into the bars to alleviate any induced vibrations to minimize hand/arm strain. So, they are doing something different than most offerings…whether it's just all marketing or real benefits, hard to know until you try for yourself.

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Yes, it is marketing, actually false advertising. In the sense that all Carbon bars flex and One Up is certainly not the first to offer "flex" to reduce "vibration" and alleviate "high frequency" chatter. Whatever those means, you'll never know without some lab measurements, more compliance is what a carbon bar offered from the beginning with respect to an aluminum one.
 
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