Cross country riding is changing – the bikes are more capable than ever, the trail choices and courses are getting rougher and rowdier, and riders are continuing to progress and push the boundaries. XC/trail bikes typically lean towards higher efficiency, which can lead to a trade-off in suspension and rider comfort. Hand and arm fatigue have increasingly become a factor that impacts many of these riders, ranging from annoyance to limiting performance that might cut your day short.
The Next SL Carbon Handlebar
Race Face developed the new Next SL carbon bar to focus on reducing rider fatigue without compromising handling. Our design allows good vertical flex for extra comfort while additional carbon added to the front and back of the bar eliminates bad horizontal flex for improved steering precision. And at 167g, it’s the lightest in its category, thanks in part to a 35mm bar diameter, which helps reduce weight while maintaining strength.
Next SL FAQ
If you don't already know, 35 in our bars denotes the diameter of a mountain bike handlebar at the clamp. We believe that 35mm diameter bars give us a good strength to weight ratio, which is why we choose them for the Next SL. We can produce bars that surpass our rigorous testing standards while still maintaining a competitive edge in the weight category. In this case, we pretty much set the benchmark for weight, with actual production bars coming in at the posted weight of 167g.
Lightest in What Category Now?
This bar is lightest in category for 35mm xc/trail bars. The Next SL is the lightest production 35 bar we've ever made, and we couldn’t find any lighter 35 bars on the market. But this wasn't our primary focus with this project. We were focused on making the most comfortable and best riding bar in the xc/trail segment. We wanted to offer riders a true performance benefit over all other alternatives. We easily could have made the bar lighter, some of our early samples were quite a bit lighter but they were too compliant and steering precision and rider confidence was compromised.
A Different Layup
Such a dramatic asymmetric layup that's focused on directional flex is something new for Race Face and from our multi-axial testing of other bars in the market, it appears to be novel design approach in the market as well! Fun!
A 740mm Width? Get Outta Here!
Our decision to go 740mm wide definitely drew a lot of questions internally as well. In talking with our athletes, many female XC racers are running around and even just under 700mm bars and we wanted to accommodate their needs.
All Race Face bars are engineered with the maximum cut of 25mm per end for a total of 50mm in total width reduction. Within that range, the intended ride and flex characteristics are maintained.
From our testing, having a larger maximum cut range really isn’t authentic to the rider as a 800mm bar cut down to 730mm really doesn't ride the same since a 730mm bar is going to be substantially stiffer. 740mm is likely narrow for a portion of trail riders but we do have the Next bar at 760mm and the Next R bar at 800mm for those riders wanting to go wider and charge a little harder. Making the Next SL bar 740mm wide allows us to cover as large a span possible of the desired bar widths for all cross country and trail riders.
Interested in the Next SL bar but wish it was a bit wider?
All slide-on single lock-on grips with an enclosed end add usable length to any bar. Our Getta Grips add 7mm per end which would make the 740mm Next SL bar an effective 754mm bar.