We take a look at the new Easton Havoc 35mm bar/stem combo, the latest industry standard?
From Dirt Issue 124 – June 2012
Words by Ed H. Photo by Easton.I bet there’s already a load of you letting out a whole pile of expletives about the introduction of yet another new ‘standard’, but take a breather and calm yourselves for a second because I (someone who’s normally one of the first to rant about new standards) reckon Easton could be onto something here, and crucially it’s not going to screw anyone over compatibility wise.
To cut to the point, this new Havoc 35 range is simply some bars and stems that use a 35mm bar clamp, rather than a 31.8mm (or even a 25.4mm). The reasoning behind it is also pretty simple; bars have got considerably wider ever since the introduction of the 31.8mm bar clamp, and as we go wider the forces involved are greater. Previous to this new Easton Havoc 35 kit, their widest bar came in at 750mm, which some riders didn’t feel was wide enough. Easton obviously didn’t want to lose out on sales to other brands that had wider offerings so they set about making some 800mm ones to keep everyone happy (you can of course always cut them down a bit). Their designers quickly realised though that to make a bar to their exacting standards in terms of strength and stiffness they’d have to make one that was far heavier than they wanted. Time then to bring in a simple engineering solution…if you increase the diameter of a part you can make it stronger, stiffer, and lighter. We’re already used to seeing this with the likes of frame tubes, steerer tubes and fork legs, so why not bars? Even the roadies already have 35mm bars.
The results of going down this route kind of speak for themselves. Despite being 50mm wider than its 31.8mm predecessor the new 35mm bar is 21% stiffer, 15% stronger in a drop test, lasts 10% longer in fatigue tests, yet is also 10% lighter. When we first broke the news of this new product on the Dirt website there were a number of haters, but I don’t really get why. Us mountain bikers are always crying out for things to be lighter and stronger, and that’s exactly what Easton seem to have delivered. The carbon version of the bar weighs just 220g which they claim is the lightest DH bar on the market, and the strongest. Even the aluminium one only weighs 300g. The other criticisms seemed to be that nobody needs a bar this wide, and they might be right, but as I said before, you can always cut it down and then it’d be even lighter, and effectively even stronger. What’s wrong with that I ask, and surely it’s better that they make a bar wide enough for your tastes than if they don’t. If this idea takes off then hopefully in the future we will see the introduction of narrower bars with a 35mm clamp that are even lighter again.
Of course to take advantage of this new bar size you also need an equivalent stem, but that’s where any compatibility issues begin and end. You either adopt the new size or you don’t, simple as that. There are also still plenty of 25.4mm bars and stems on the market despite the introduction of the 31.8mm size years ago, so I can’t really see obsolescence being a problem, which is the thing that I hate about so many other new standards. To start with Easton are keeping their Havoc 35mm stem offerings simple; there’s one conventional 1 1/8” version and one direct mount stem. The first just comes in a 50mm reach and the later is adjustable between 45 or 50mm. With our tastes we have no issues with that minimal offering, but this bar clamp size will be open to any other company so we wouldn’t be surprised if before too long we see a whole load of other companies offering 35mm products.
Personally I reckon Easton have taken a step forward with this new bar size. Yes it might not be a massive step, but it’s still a step in the right direction and it’s when you add all the little steps like this up that you really notice the difference in a bike. And yes it might seem a little perverse to be bolting a bar to a steerer tube with a smaller diameter (1 1/8” = 28.6mm), but steerer tubes are made so strong that it’s kind of irrelevant…or maybe we should have embraced 1.5” steerer tubes?
UK prices are still to be announced for the new range, but judging by US pricing it should be very similar to the current Havoc products. If that is the case then surely this new standard should be embraced, not hated.Extra UK 01933 672 170