Initial Review: Enve’s Ultra Wide Carbon DH Handlebar

A handlebar is a handlebar is a handlebar, but only in theory. In practice, choosing a handlebar is a highly personal choice and all the different options can be overwhelming. Trends change but the perfect bar will always be the one that feels comfortable.

If your personal preference sways towards wide, low, and light, then the Enve Carbon DH Bar should be on your short list. How did we like it?

Weight

While more wide DH rated carbon bars are appearing on the market, the Enve DH bars where one of the first to hit shelves at a full 800 mm wide. The company claims their bars weigh 245 gm grams, but ours squeaked in at 233 grams, or 12 less than advertised.

Installation

The Enve handlbear has a wide roughened clamping surface  to eliminate slipping.

The Enve DH Carbon bar is wide. Really, really wide. At 800mm (31.5″) the width is perfect for big guys or big bikes.  Most modern downhill bikes have an 83 mm BB and that wider stance  makes handlebars, which would normally be wide enough on my trail bike, feel too narrow.

Since the bars arrived at the start of winter –  just as the lifts closed and the rain began to pour, they had to be cut down before being mounted onto the trail bike.

In order to simplify the trimming process the bars have cut mark graphics integrated. Don’t trust them. The old adage “measure twice, cut once” has never rung more true. The marks where slightly off and my bars ended up being marginally narrower than expected. The difference is minimal, but once you’re used to something as particular as cockpit setup, even the slightest change is noticeable.

Impressions

The Enve DH handlebars are a thing of beauty. Their smooth black velvety finish is perfectly offset by the subdued graphics. These sleek bars will make any build look faster and they’ve seen hours of abuse, even a few crashes, but have survived remarkably unscathed. The finish, as you can see pictured above, is still as attractive as when brand new.

The ergonomics where also spot on. The 5° rise and 9° back sweep is fairly common amongst manufacturers of wider aluminum offerings and the shape translates well to carbon. All our testers fell the bars had a very natural feeling sweep and rise.

These handlebars are technically rated for DH usage, but with winter approaching when they arrived, the handlebars where forced into a less glorious role on the trail bike.At 233 grams, roughly a 1/4 lb lighter than most aluminum offerings, the DH bars are still light enough for all purpose riding.  While there are numerous places where weight savings would be more noticeable or economical (wheels, tires, cassette, etc…) the advantages of a carbon handlebar can be measured in more than grams.

The main benefit, which is a truth universally acknowledged across the interwebs, is that carbon dampins high frequency vibrations better than aluminum. Is it true? At first, running a back to back comparison between my preferred aluminum bars and the DH carbon bars, the difference in dampining was barely noticeable. But as the miles begun to accumulate, the subtle benefits became more discernible. For my local terrain, the dampining effect doesn’t make a huge difference, but the lack of fatigue in my hands became really noticeable when climbing and descending through rough terrain.

The blessing of this wonder material is that all this comfort doesn’t come at the cost of stiffness. The bars feel similar in stiffness to the best aluminum bars I’ve ridden, while offering precious dampining. Of course, all this beauty and refinement does come at a price price. A big one. At $180 USD, the Enve DH handlebar is not a cheap upgrade, but it is comparably priced to other high end offerings and can be found for less online. Just make sure to install using a torque wrench.

Make no mistake, these handlebars are pure bling and will make your bike at least 15% faster. They’re also light, stiff, and comfortable. What’s not to like?

Whats Hot
-Weight
-Width
-Comfort
-Subdued Graphics
- 5 yr Warranty/Lifetime Crash Replacement

Whats Not
- Only available in one rise.

Comments

satisFACTORYrider - 02/11/13 - 10:38am

the sweep specs sound comfy. if i ever kill my renthals i would like to try these.

norcom - 02/11/13 - 10:45am

800? Too short, I’m waiting for 1m bars.

norcom - 02/11/13 - 10:49am

http://www.singletracks.com/blog/mtb-gear/ritchey-syncros-1000mm-bars-fric-stem-and-carbon-29er-fork/

My comment is no longer funny, to me.

gino - 02/11/13 - 11:10am

First, I’m going to apologize for being the grammar police, but it’s damping not dampening. Your handlebar isn’t making anything wetter. Unless you’re really excited about them.

MB - 02/11/13 - 12:33pm

Wider bars due to 10-15mm wider Q-factor at the cranks? Hogwash.
By that logic the fatbike crowd must need the 1m bars mentioned above.

Wide bars lower your center of gravity and put more weight over the front wheel, which helps with control and traction, especially at high speeds. I run 740mm on my 29er for those reasons as well as having wide shoulders. Has ZERO to do with wider Q-factor.

captain derp - 02/11/13 - 12:35pm

since when does a wider q-factor mandate wider bars? bunch of nonsense.

83mm bottom brackets came about out of necessity to maintain a good chainline with 150mm spaced hubs. Not because a wider q-factor is better (its actually worse). It stuck because it provides slightly more clearance for chainguides and swingarm pivots (which, if designed properly, can help reduce some flex from the swingarm), in addition to being necessary for 150mm hubs.

wider bars are more ergonomic for larger riders, who tend to have wider shoulders. They’ve become commonplace with DH racers because of the handling benefits resulting from the extra leverage gained with the extra width.

Mindless - 02/11/13 - 1:12pm

Wider stance requires a wider bar? Wut?

Saris - 02/11/13 - 4:57pm

@Gino Updated.

Everyone,

In my experience riding a variety of 6/7″ bikes with single crown forks and full on downhill rigs, I’ve noticed that my preferred 745mm bar just doesn’t feel the same on bikes with a wider BB. This is particularly noticeable on bikes with similar travels and geometries but wider BB/Hubs e.g. a Transition TR250 versus a Specialized SX Trail. I can run the same bar on both bikes and it will feel perfect on one but a little narrow on the other.

Another example, while an 800mm wide handlebar feels freakishly wide mounted to my trail bike, the stock 810mm bars on my dirt bike feel great. While there are a lot of other variables that need to be factored into that comparison (particularly leverage), ultimately that works for me, and the handlebar width argument always boils down to personal preference. This is what I’ve found works for me.

- Saris

Mindless - 02/11/13 - 6:05pm

@Saris. 10mm wider Q-factor has nothing to do with it. Steering geometry and reach does. You can easily simulate that by just keeping your feet 5mm out on pedals.

isaac - 02/11/13 - 10:04pm

Bar width comfort has more to do someones anatomy than component spec and bb width. a person with narrower shoulders or (bolts to repair a broken wrist) would do better with a narrower bar regardless of bb size. Anyone considering a new handlebar should consult a fit tech.
Saris, it’s a dick move to tell people to buy their high end parts on the internet instead of buying and having it installed from a professional mechanic, especially when you reference a warranty that DOESN’T cover “I broke it because I didn’t install it correctly”.

Bog - 02/12/13 - 12:16am

@Gino, both damping and dampening are correct. You can dampen and damp vibrations an technically speaking, in engineering school and work you talk about dampening vibrations.

gino - 02/12/13 - 11:13am

@Bog, yeah that is true. I guess I prefer the more pure(?) or original(?) damp than dampen which does have its dual meanings. The rising use of dampen shows how interesting language is as it’s always evolving.

On the article topic, I guess I need to try DH because every time I get a hand on bars this wide I always think “WTF? How does anyone ride these?” Maybe my trails have too many trees.

MissedThePoint - 02/15/13 - 4:01pm

A big plus on comfort. Got mine on sale and totally worth it over Easton carbon bars and Race Face carbon. The difference is huge between Race Face and Enve as far as comfort goes–RaceFace SixC feels really stiff and metal-like and transmits a lot of feedback and Easton Haven is in between in terms of feel, but too narrow.

I opted to have mine chopped down to about 740mm. I found some flaking going on inside of it. I called up Enve and they basically said it was the left over bits from a “sacrificial layer”. It looked different from carbon, more hard brittle and shiny. Some secret engineering going on there.

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