TS Epic Prep: Ritchey WCS Carbon Trail Cockpit & SQlabs Ergonomic Grips
In addition to the Rolf Prima wheels and Schwalbe tires, another group of parts that went on bike and ridden for the first time in Stage One of the 2013 TranSylvania Epic mountain bike race is Ritchey’s WCS Trail cockpit group.
Consisting of handlebars, stems and seatposts, the lineup was introduced last summer with alloy and carbon options, and word is they’ve got Trail wheels and saddles queued up for this summer. I’m testing the flattish WCS Carbon 2X Trail Bar, WCS Trail stem and WCS Carbon Trail seatpost. Between them and my hands are SQlabs’ ergonomic grips, courtesy of Kenny at Radsport USA.
Click through for actual weights on multiple sizes of the parts and tech details…
The bar comes in at 183g (180g claimed) at 710mm wide with a +/- 5mm rise thanks to a flat topside (or bottom side, depending on how you run it). Sweep is 9º.
We received two different lengths to test, letting us put them on a more enduro-oriented bike after the race. The 70mm stem is 130g and the 90mm is 138g.
Two posts, for the same reason. Both are 400mm long. The 30.9 is 198g and the 31.6 is 200g.
The handlebar is pretty straightforward. The +/- 5mm rise comes by keeping one side of the bar flush with the OS 31.8 stem clamp section. The other side brings double the taper to meet it, creating a total of 5mm difference at the hands. The UD matte carbon finish matches up well with current bikes.
The stem uses a modified version of their C260 road clamp. With a 220º overwrap, it should provide a solid grasp on the bar and prevent total disaster if both bolts on top or bottom suddenly came loose. They brought it back to 220º from 260º so that you could put the narrower section on most riser bars in and slide it to center without having to remove shifters, levers or grips. It was a wee bit snug on initial installation, but not as tight as the road group I reviewed.
Obviously, Ritchey would like to see their cockpit parts pair, and the roughened center section on the handlebar and guidelines match up perfectly to the width of the stem face. Bolts for the faceplate thread in from behind, a design used to keep from having to put threaded inserts on the carbon stems, but carried over to this alloy model.
The steerer clamps are offset and bolts come in from opposite sides. They do stick out a bit, but I haven’t stacked a kneecap on them yet.
The seatpost uses a full carbon monocoque construction, top to bottom. Only the clamps and bolts are metal. Shown above was an early model clamp, the current version shipping comes with an extended lower platform (shown below) to provide more support for the saddle rails.
The entire clamp assembly is six pieces, with a shaped, nested “Washer” doubling as the lower clamp for the curved carbon beam. The bolts thread direction into the upper saddle rail clamp. The two pieces clamp down on the carbon beam to hold the saddle in position, sandwiching the lower rail clamp between them. It doesn’t provide the same fine-tuning adjustments of a fore/aft two bolt design like Thomson posts, but it will let you get any angle you want so long as you loosen the bolts enough. The downside is that it’s a bit difficult to hold the saddle perfectly in position while turning the bolts. It took me a few tries to get it set right.
A nice feature is the built in flex. Called FlexLogic, the post provides a bit of backward flex to take the edge off. Hardtail riders will appreciate it more, but even on my Niner Jet9, I can watch it work on small hits. Every little bit counts, especially when you’re in the saddle for up to five hours a day, seven days in a row.
SQlabs is a German brand making ergonomic saddles, grips, pedals and a handlebar. Above are the 711 grips at 73g each.
The profile of the grip seems to follow the profile of my hand’s joints, with the rounded front mimicking my knuckles more closely than grips with a flatter edge. I’ve long been a fan of Ergon’s extended palm platforms on the outside edges. These use a similar if less-wide hump. It provides a nice perch, but the rubber is a bit firmer and that hump a bit thicker, meaning it doesn’t flex under the hand as much as Ergon’s grips. The bolt uses a larger allen wrench, though, which is nice…I’ve stripped more than one Ergon grip bolt in my day, and that seems less likely to happen here.
The plastic clamp knuckle makes for a decent little bump to rest hands on for short periods without having to go to bar ends. Note the bump in the middle, which fills in the rounded shape of the hand when fingers are curled. Makes sense, and my first few rides on it are pretty good, though I was still longing for a bit of palm padding by the end of Stage Two’s 4:44:00 of riding.
The shadows are hiding it, but the bottom front of the grips has slight curved indents where your fingers go.
Five more days of racing to go…