Better living through riding!

2012-10-14

Balancing act: Chromag Fubar OSX bars & Ranger stem and ODI Rogue grips on Specialized Enduro

Handlebar width and stem length are some of key parameters for control and feel of your bike's steering. Generally speaking, wider bars bring more control and increased stability. It also makes the steering more sluggish if the increased bar width is not compensated by a shorter stem. The optimal combination of handlebar width and stem length depends on several factors like discipline (XC, AM, DH), terrain and, of course, personal preferences.

Our 2012 S-Works Enduro came with 720mm bars and a 75mm stem from the factory. Aware of potential benefits, we wanted to test our Enduro with wider bars, hopefully getting an even more controlled and balanced ride.

Chromag Fubar OSX handlebar
Looking into a number of different alternatives, we finally decided to go for Chromag Fubar OSX bars that have received many positive reviews.

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Specifications
  • 25mm / 1” rise
  • 780mm / 30.8" wide
  • Weight 310g
  • 5° upsweep, 8° bend
  • 31.8 clamp size
OSX bars are available in three different great looking finishes (chrome, paint and ano) and a total of around dozen colours.

They are 780mm wide as standard and as such unnecessarily wide for most AM and trail riding. We decided to cut them cautiously down to 760mm for some initial testing. Cutting the handlebar was very easy due to painted guides.

Chromag Ranger Stem
Increasing handlebar width by 40mm calls for a shorter stem in order to avoid too slow steering. Our choice was Chromag Ranger - an incredibly cool looking stem that nicely accompanies the OSX bar. Like Fubars, Ranger stem has received many favourable user reviews.

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Specifications
  • CNC machined from 7075 T6 billet aluminum
  • Weight from 140g
  • 0 degree rise
  • Available in 40, 50, 70, 80 and 90mm lengths and several colours
Because optimal stem length can only be found by testing, the best we could do was to reckon that something in a range of 40-50mm could likely be a good starting point for further testing. Because availability of the 50mm version was very limited at that time, we set for the 40mm Ranger.

ODI Rogue grips
While we didn't have any complaints about the feel of original Specialized grips of S-Works Enduro, we still wanted to take an opportunity to test slightly more substantial grips. We ended up with ODI Rogue that comes has soft grooved thread, promising great grip and comfort. Rogue is somewhat softer and looks also thicker than its sibling Ruffian.

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From the very beginning it was clear that ODI Rogues are an example of exceptionally well engineered piece of kit. At their both ends, grips lock with two heavy-duty jaw clamps tightened by one 2.5mm bolt in each clamp. This setup not only provides a tight and secure fit but also makes is possible to slide the grips away from bars without having to remove any plastic end caps found in many other grips (including original Enduro grips) on the outer edge of the grip.

Grip and control
We were right away blown away by the feel of our Enduro after installing the new setup. It greatly increased control of the bike without making steering slow. For our trail riding and (gravity) enduro racing, we are can not wish much more in terms of the front end control and the sheer feeling of the steering. While it certainly would be possible to further fine-tune the steering, for example by cutting handlebars from our current 760mm to 750mm or by playing with 5mm shorter or longer stem, we were so happy with the new setup that we rather wanted to go riding, sparing possible further adjustments to a later stage.

Mission accomplished
We have been riding this setup for most of the 2012 season with no issues. All three components are heavy duty and of great quality. The only thing we note is that those who like to keep brake and shift levers loose enough for letting them slip in a crash may expect the finish of painted Fubars to suffer as the paint eventually begins to come away in contact areas. Ano and chrome series Fubars may be more resistant for this type of wear and tear.

Altogether, experimenting with bars and stems in order to find the optimal setup for your own bike and driving style is warmly recommended. For owners of 2012 Specialized Enduro (Large), increasing bars to 760mm and shortening the stem to 50mm may well represent a good starting point for further experiments.