Trusted by many who operate at the extreme limit of the sport, Renthal have been making top quality bars for years, carrying some of the biggest names in the sport to 6 DH World Championships. Masters in aluminium, it was perhaps inevitable but still exciting to see the company switch to the black magic of carbon fibre!
Their new Fatbar Lite Carbon handlebar range not only look stunning but offer a significant weight advantage, weighting in at just 180g! That is an incredibly lightweight bar and we expect to see them on a LOT of enduro bikes in 2014. Some may worry about the lightweight construction but Renthal’s foundations lie in quality handlebars so these will be well up to the task strength wise. Working in carbon fibre Renthal has also been able to engineer in the desired flex and feel. We are looking forward to getting some of these on test!
The Fatbar Lite Carbon is designed for Trail, Enduro and XC riders and racers. This all-new handlebar is a clear market leader in terms of weight, strength, stiffness and most importantly, ‘ride-feel’. An extensive R&D process ensures the Fatbar Lite Carbon feels like a Renthal handlebar, whilst retaining the strength and durability of a Renthal handlebar. We have achieved all of this, but at a super-low, market leading weight of just 180g, with a trail spec 740mm width.
Continuing the Renthal philosophy that rider choice is vital, we offer the bar in 10, 20, 30 and 40mm rise options, allowing you to dial in your position to your bike type, riding style and personal preference.
The Fatbar® Lite Carbon is the ultimate light-weight, trail-proof handlebar.
- UD Carbon construction
- Ride tuned for the ultimate combination of stiffness and shock absorption
- 740mm width
- 7deg backsweep / 5 deg upsweep
- 10, 20, 30, 40mm rise options
- Passes EN BMX drop test standard
- Weight just 180g (all rise options). This is market leading weight, at 740mm width.
For more information check out Renthals site here
If you want to know more about what is involved with bringing a new handlebar to the market, check out what Renthal went through with the development of the bars!
When embarking on this carbon handlebar project, we knew that there were many elements of a carbon handlebar which must be addressed. One of the most important and often most overlooked aspects is the feel of the handlebar. Carbon is a very versatile material and can be used to create very strong and very light products. But we knew that the feel of the bar in the rider’s hands was absolutely key to attaining the very best carbon could offer.
A wide selection of very different handlebars were chosen to be field tested, including both carbon and aluminium handlebars. We invited four riders, of differing riding styles and body size to ride the bars and give feedback. The bars were masked, so the riders were unaware of what they were using. The bars were ridden, back to back, over the same varied loop and scored. The test riders scored the bars for comfort, control and stiffness, in the following riding scenarios; climbing, descending, cornering. This field test yielded a very pleasing result! The majority favourite was our very own Fatbar Lite aluminium handlebar.
We fitted a downhill bike, a trail bike and a hardtail with handlebars which had strain gauges installed. We then used top level, intermediate and beginner riders to test on a number of courses, recording the data in both X and Y planes to give us a complete picture. It’s a nerve wracking experience for the test riders, as they have £10k of data acquisition equipment attached to them and the bike that they are throwing down the hill! This test enabled us to determine the mean and peak loads through the handlebar in a wide range of riding disciplines and with a broad spectrum of abilities. We then used this real world data in our lab, to determine our required flex characteristics for the new carbon handlebar.
Using the real world loads determined in our data acquisition test, the flex characteristics of our Fatbar Lite aluminium handlebar were recorded. This was done using our Instron machine, in our in-house test lab. These characteristics were used as the model for the new Fatbar Lite Carbon.
We are acutely aware that catastrophic failure is a concern of many riders when considering a carbon handlebar. We used our in-house drop test rig to comparatively test our own Fatbar and Fatbar Lite, along with a number of carbon handlebars. As there is no international standard for drop testing mountain bike handlebars, we decided to use the EN BMX standard as the base. However, we set our target considerably above this level.
With all the parameters set for flex characteristics, strength and weight, we started the design process. An extended oversize central section was used to allow better fine tuning of the flex characteristics. For the geometry, we mirrored our extremely popular Fatbar Lite aluminium bar for both sweep and width and also rise options. The relative position of the first and second bends to each other are critically important to ensure the bar remains fairly neutral when rolled either forward or back in the stem. This is something we had already mastered with our aluminium handlebars.
With all the elements in place, the design and parameters were submitted to our carbon fibre manufacturing partner to produce the first prototypes. On receipt of the first prototypes, we completed all tests required within EN14766. Additionally we put the handlebar through our self-imposed drop test. We also measured the flex characteristics in our lab, to ensure they matched our parameters exactly. All tests were passed and the weight was on target, so it was time to ride it.
We assembled a group of four riders and repeated the initial field test, except this time our own Fatbar Lite Carbon was in the mix. Success again, with the majority of the riders preferring the Fatbar Lite Carbon. The results also showed that the bar felt virtually the same as the Fatbar Lite aluminium handlebar. Products that perform to the very highest level don’t come easily. But when the result is a product that ticks all the boxes it’s well worth going the extra distance. The Fatbar Lite Carbon is one of those products.
Words and Photos: Trev Worsey and Renthal PR
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