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Stems

FSA stem and bars

There’s not much you need to ask of a bar and stem really, but they’re still prime areas for upgrading, particularly as they’re most visible. Full Speed Ahead (FSA) have a good reputation for producing high quality parts, and looking at their catalogue they clearly have something for everyone’s taste and, equally, wallets. We picked a K-Force Riser bar and OS-150 Color Graphics stem to finish our Project Pipedream recently.

K-Force is the name applied to all of FSA’s top-end carbon components, and with the K-Force Riser weighing just 170g, is certainly light. It’s made from a mixture of carbon and Kevlar to cope with the demands a handlebar gets put through. The area where the stem clamps in place is reinforced, with a textured finish at the stem and lever clamping areas, to prevent everything rotating when you’re dropping into that steep bombhole. Available in either 25.4 or 31.8 and 630mm (24.8in) wide, clearly targets the XC riders.

Holding the bar in place is a OS-150 Color Graphics stem. There’re plenty of sizes to suit, from 90, 100, 110, 120 to 130mm, but you’ll have to make do with a 31.8mm clamp and 6° rise. Thankfully the 100mm item suited our requirements just right. The main shaft of the stem is 3D forged then CNC machined from 6061-T6 aluminium, with a sizeable chunk removed from between the steerer clamp bolts, and fronted with a carbon front plate. Four bolts keeping it in place and the all up weight is 160g.

With both items in place, they certainly look the part. There’s little to ask a stem and handlebar to do other than not flex unduly, and happily we detected no flex in either components. Our Pipedream is very much XC orientated, so the narrow bars suited the ride we were after just right – if you want a wider bar you’ll have to look at one of FSA’s non-carbon models. We found the width of the bar comfortable for fast XC action with lots of tight flicky singletrack, and the back sweep was thoroughly agreeable. The carbon front plate doesn’t really save much weight over the non-carbon version, but if you’ve got to have carbon… Finally, finishing was excellent on both parts, with no rough edges inside the stem.

Ups and downs

Positives: Light, loads of choice, look good

Negatives: Pricey

Verdict

FSA produce a vast array of stem and handlebars so finding something to suit both your bike and wallet isn’t a problem. The products here clearly sit at the lighter end of the spectrum, and performed brilliantly. Both are light, enhance ride quality and above all look great, making a great upgrade to any bike.

Ratings

Performance: 5/5
Value: 4/5
Overall: 4/5

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