- Ike Carbon riser bar
Carbon fibre bars are definitely somewhat in vogue at the moment. Improvements in materials technology and, perhaps more importantly, quality control mean that the splintertastic carbon bar failures of the first generation are things of the past and carbon bars are now generally trustworthy items.
There’re some good reasons to use carbon fibre in bars. It’s got a crazy strength-to-weight ratio which, ironically, is part of the reason that early bars failed – the designers got a bit carried away with the possibilities and started making 95g handlebars before they really knew what they were doing. Common sense has prevailed these days, though – these Ike Carbon bars are a light-but-sensible 170g.
Because of the way carbon bars are made, the material makes a lot of sense for riser bars in particular. To make an aluminium riser you actually need to bend the tube which inevitably introduces weaknesses into the structure. Obviously the manufacturers allow for that but the upshot is that they need to add more material somewhere. With carbon, which is basically made on a mould, it doesn’t really matter what shape it is. Ike has gone further and designed a shape with large-radius bends in it to reduce stresses at the corners. The consequence of this is that most of the rise is made up by sweeping the straight ends upwards rather than putting the rise in to the bends in the middle, which we actually rather like. We’ve come across some bars that have loads of rise but the bits you hold are effectively flat – all the sweep is backwards – which means you end up rotating the whole lot forwards to get comfy and effectively sacrifice some rearwards sweep for upwards. The Ike design has plenty of both.
This one’s got a choice of widths, either 610 or 670mm (24 or 26.5in). Reinforcing plugs in the ends make cutting them down ill-advised at best, so pick a width you like first. We’ve been scooting around on the 670mm ones and find the combination of width and sweep to be pretty much spot on for our taste. Carbon fibre’s supposed to have various magical vibration-damping properties too, which ought to be valuable in a handlebar, but we’re not going to pretend that we can feel a difference through a couple of inches of air in the tyre, 100mm of spring in the forks and a couple of mill in the grips. There’s also a version available with an oversized 31.8mm centre bulge for an extra tenner and 20g.
Construction quality appears to be excellent, with a lovely matt weave finish and a cunning coarse bit for extra grip where the stem clamp goes. As for quality control, Ike is a house brand of Merida, which is one of the biggest manufacturers in the world (mostly for other people) – it knows its stuff and we wouldn’t expect any problems. Obviously it’s a “trail riding” bar rather than a hucking tool, and you should observe standard handlebar precautions – keep inspecting them for damage or cracks and if in doubt, replace. Clearly at the asking price replacement is a bit less painful than with some of the carbon bars out there.
Positives: Good price for a carbon bar, excellent finish, comfy shape
Negatives: A good alu bar is still cheaper, Ike has yet to build the reputation of some rival brandsVerdict:
You’re either a carbon bar fan or you’re not. A lot of them are big money, so the reasonable price tag on the Ikes is certainly an attraction. For many people the long-standing reputation of a better-known brand is worth paying the extra for but we really can’t think of anything wrong with these bars except that you can still get an excellent aluminium bar from a well-respected brand for less money.