RENTHAL APEX STEM AND FATBAR CARBON TEST
RENTHAL APEX STEM AND FATBAR CARBON
Now Available in 35mm
Renthal has been a trusted name in mountain biking for the past seven years. Renthal’s cockpits have been the choice for some of the fastest athletes, including World Cup champion Aaron Gwin and world champion Danny Hart. Renthal parts have been used to win six mountain bike world championships in only the first few years the company has been making cycling parts. Those cockpits were built with expertise gained over many years of building parts for motorcycles. In fact, Renthal components have been bolted to winning bikes for a total of 170 world championships and 176 U.S. titles over the years. When Renthal invited us to test its latest bar and stem combo, the one that’s the current choice of many of the fastest riders in the world, we jumped at the chance.
The Fatbar and Apex stem have been in the Renthal lineup for several years and have appeared on many MBA test bikes. This newest generation comes to the table with a larger-diameter 35-millimeter clamp for improved stiffness and steering control.
The Fatbar Carbon uses a unidirectional carbon layup that’s ride-tuned to deliver specific flex characteristics—or, in layman’s terms, strength and stiffness where you need them and forgiveness where you don’t. The bar is a full 800-millimeters wide with a 7-degree upsweep and 5-degree backsweep. It’s available with four rise options from 15 to 40 millimeters. The bar meets the most stringent strength standards available. Renthal also offers its FatbarLite for those looking for a smaller and lighter setup, and the aluminum Fatbar for those who don’t fancy carbon. Our 20-millimeter rise bar tipped the scales at 210 grams uncut and retails for $165.
The Apex stem is designed to be light enough for even a cross-country bike but also stiff and durable enough for any enduro bike. The CNC-machined aluminum stem uses an oversized center bore to reduce material weight and a wide clamp area to handle the demands of aggressive riders and modern, wide handlebars. The stem uses a 240-degree clamping surface with zero-gap clamps to offer better support and more precise bolt torque. The Apex is available in four sizes, from 33 to 60 millimeters, with 6 degrees of rise, which can be run either up or down to adjust handlebar height. Our 50-millimeter stem weighed 120 grams and sells for $110. All Renthal products can be ordered through your local bike shop or direct from Renthal’s website.
On the Trails:
Renthal has built quality mountain bike handlebars for years. We’ve known that since the first-generation bar and stem came out over five years ago and earned a perfect five-star rating. This newest-generation Apex and Fatbar take Renthal’s tried-and-true dimensions and add the latest technology in materials and production techniques to improve on what is already the leading cockpit choice for trail and enduro riders.
We installed the Renthal 35-millimeter bar and stem combo on our Pivot Firebird test bike. The installation proved slightly more delicate than a standard bar and stem combo, thanks to the 240-degree clamping surface. The gold “faceplate” clamps can’t simply be bolted on, because they can severely mar the finish. The clamps must be carefully slid onto the bar, taking extra care not to ding the decals in the process. Once in place, the zero-gap stem clamping system, which bottoms out the bottom faceplate bolts all the way, makes tightening the bolts evenly to the right torque easier than with a standard four-bolt stem. Once on the bike, we hit the trails.
The Renthal 35-millimeter setup feels very similar to the previous generations, with dimensions that are right at home on any trail or enduro bike. If you need something narrower, Renthal also makes the Fatbar Lite, which is smaller and lighter. If carbon is not your thing, Renthal makes its standard aluminum Fatbar. Bottom line: if you can’t find a bar in here that suits your needs, you’re too picky. Renthal delivers a cockpit that we can’t poke a hole in once it’s installed.
• Excellent ergonomics that all test riders liked
• Stiff, but not too stiff
• Exceptionally lightweight
• Difficult to install without marring graphics
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