Let me start this with saying I'm a big guy, 6' and 225#, and as much as I like a light bike I have to temper that with durability and cost. I'd love to have a 150g 650mm carbon bar but can't swing $150+ for a great one and don't feel comfortable buying a $65 fleabay special even though it likely comes from the same sweatshop as the $150 bars. So I wanted to find lightweight aluminum bar that had to be virtually flat, about 680mm in width, under 200g, and less than $100. So I picked up a Crank Brothers Cobalt 3 680mm flat bar this week along with a pair of the new Specialized XC Lightweight grips for my Camber expert. The bar is 185g and the grips were 11g. Removing the stock Specialized Enduro low rise bar and lock on grips for the new parts took almost 140g off the bike and the new stuff looks super nice.
I got the Iron colored bar and black grips which complimented the colors of my Camber Expert nicely. The Iron color matches the charcoal color of the frame so well it looks like a stock component.
The finish on the bar is beautiful, its the most attractive handlebar I've seen in person. The finish can only be achieved by using several steps in manufacturing to get a mix of super slick high polish, aggressive texturing at the stem and grips, and machine marks for position and logoing. It mounted with ease, as you'd expect, and everywhere you would have something attaching to it has an abrasive effect to insure that once you got your parts locked down that they aren't moving.
As for the grips, I had been waiting on these since I heard about them from a guy at my LBS that peeped them at Sea Otter. I have been a big fan of foam grips since experimenting with different grips and finding that the foam with a thin palmed glove was perfect for me. The grips were the smaller size, they come in 2 different widths, and are light, 12g for the pair, thats nuts. The stock lock-ons were 85g and I wasn't really pleased with the feel, I had forgotten how much I dislike the patterened rubber grips. The grips mounted fine, used the trick of spraying some windex on the bar and in the grip before sliding on, once it dries overnight its set.
As for the ride I took it out on one of my normal rides, 9 miles total, about 1.5 through the neighborhood there, 6.1 on the trails, and 1.5 back home. Having ridden ESI Chunky's for the last year they felt no different than the old grips. Honestly I was expecting them to be less comfortable simply because of the weight and the price but was pleasantly surprised, we'll see how they hold up though. The bar feels great, the handposition was more comfortable than what it replaced and there was no noticeable flex in the bar, plenty rigid. Since there was a dynamic change in cockpit geometry, going from a low rise bar to a flat and a slight change in handposition. These changes sound miniscule when you talk about them but can cause some unexpected changes in steering behavior and your body positioning that you need to get used to your first couple of rides. I had a couple of flicks through some quick switchbacks where due to my front being almost an inch lower than before caused me to be a little twitchy. Once I got used to it I was loving it, and realized at the end of the ride that I hadn't even thought about them, not because they were crap, but because it worked so well it gave me no reason to think about them. No numb hands, no slipping grip, no hand movt when making allot of gear changes, nothing, no drama, perfect.
The Cobalt 3 bar was $80 and the grips were $10, thats remarkably affordable for something with as nice of a fit and finish as these come with and no penalty in weight.
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