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Gravity Light stem and CSI flat carbon bar review

09:20 22nd August 2012 by David Arthur @davearthur
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Gravity Light’s CSI flat carbon fibre bar and matching aluminium stem make a stylish, great-handling  pairing for the rider seeking a contemporary wide bar/short stem combination that can cope with some tough riding.

You can’t see it, but there’s a double butted aluminium core inside the Gravity Light CSI flat bar. 

FSA is a well respected manufacturer of road and cross-country handlebars and stems, among other parts. Gravity is FSA’s line of burlier gear for downhilling and the more recently introduced Gravity Light line is downhill-tough gear made from lightweight materials, which means it crosses the streams between full-bore thrashing and the more enthusiastic end of technical trail riding.

The OS Flat bar here bridges the gap between cross-country and gravity/downhill/call it what you want quite nicely. At 740mm it’s wide enough for those wanting to expand their horizons with the benefits (better handling, cornering) wider bars offer. Cut marks let you easily trim the ends if their width scares you. But if you’re scared of wide bars you wouldn’t have read this far anyway.

The stem and bars as you’ll see them, from above. The matte stem contrasts with the gloss bar finish.

On the scales it’s an impressive 240g. While not featherweight, it’s light for this style of bar. It compares favourably with Easton’s Havoc downhill carbon bar at 235g. It’s clearly carrying a bit more weight than pure cross-country bars, but none in that camp come in this width.

And nor would we be comfortable embracing the riding the Gravity Light CSI allows with anything much lighter. The construction process sees a thin double butted aluminium hollow core  wrapped with an outer layer of carbon fibre, so you get the reinforcing strength of the aluminium core with the weight savings of the carbon outer. Compared to an all-carbon bar it really does feel stiffer, with less flex when reaching the limits.

Bar width debates will fill forums for years to come, there is no right or wrong. We’ve become converts in the last year and find it hard going back to narrow bars. The improved handling, particularly in cornering, has enhanced our riding no end. Wide bars really have untapped latent potential.

The bars are a good shape. There’s 4° of upsweep, with 9° of back sweep. This means it’s comfortable to hold on and feels really good in the hands.

Opposing steerer bolts. We’d prefer they were all on the same side to make it quicker to fit the stem.

FSA recommends its bars and stems be used together, so we paired the Gravity Light CSI bar with the matching Gravity Light stem. The latest version has smoother lines than previously. It’s first 3D forged from a lump of 2014 aluminium before being CNC machined to its final shape. It’s not quite as nice looking as the handlebar but is a smart and simple stem. The matching graphics tie the two together nicely.

If you go to a wider bar, you need a shorter stem to give the handling benefits, and keep the reach in balance. Our 60mm stem combined with the wide bars to give sharp and accurate steering; 45, 75 and 90mm lengths are also available.  This a stiff stem, with no perceptible flex, and that gives the front of the bike a very planted feeling. It boosts your confidence and you find yourself taking big lunges into corners.

The stem takes up 40mm of your steerer and is held in place with two bolts, while the 2014 aluminium faceplate is secured with four. Weight on our scales was 160g.

Verdict

Tough and light bars and stem, a great choice for harder hitting riders. Robust and great shape bar

Pros

Great looks
740mm width
Aluminium/carbon construction
Robust
Stiffness

Con

Not the lightest

Prices: Gravity Light CSI flat bar £89.96; Gravity Light stem £54.95
Weights:
UK supplier: Windwave
Full information: Gravity Light CSI bar; Gravity Light stem

What FSA/Gravity says about the Gravity Light bar and stem

Gravity Light bar

CSI process wide flat bar for DH, Freeride and All Mountain riding
CSI process joins carbon and alloy to achieve high strength and light weight
9°Backsweepx 4°Upsweep; 31.8 x 0mm rise
UD Carbon Finish with clear coat; Color graphics
240 grams

Gravity Light stem

3D Forged and CNC AL2014
4 bolt AL2014 faceplate
+6° x L45, 60, 75, 90mm
31.8mm handlebar clamp
40mm fork clamp stack height
2-tone anodized
CNC surfaces
New color graphics
145 g (L45mm)


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