What’s better than Answer Protaper Carbon Bars? That would have to be the Answer Protaper Carbon SL series that takes the bars you know and love, and makes them SL-er. Mountain bike handlebars are at an interesting transition point currently – everyone wants lighter and wider so manufacturers are choosing between the new 35mm diameter or sticking with the tried and true 31.8. Answer has chosen the latter and instead managed to produce a series of carbon bars that are substantially wider while keeping the weight to a minimum.
Along with the bars Answer also introduced a true, full carbon SL seat post. Even though dropper posts are still popping up right and left, some riders still prefer the simplicity of a rigid seat post not to mention the huge weight savings. If rigid posts are your thing, the Answer Carbon SL post is definitely worth a look.
Start your taper, next…
Just how do you make carbon bars up to 780mm with weights under 220g? The Answer is a continuous layup process that uses one continuous piece of fiber to make the layers as dense and consistent as possible. That ensures that the wall thickness is uniform and lacks any big voids which allows the overall wall thickness to be thinner. With that said, the wall thickness is still thick where it needs to be which results in increased total strength while 15% lighter than previous carbon Answer bars.
Most carbon bar manufacturers include a grit finish to the stem clamp area, but Answer takes it a step further and adds their Grit Grip to the bar ends as well. Applied in 145mm segments, the Grit Grip will ensure your lock ons stay locked without having to over-torque the small bolts. Depending on your grip and shift/brake lever set up you may get some grip for the shift/brake clamp, but mine were outside the 145mm zone.
SL bars are available in 4 widths – 660, 720, 750, and 780. The narrowest bar is a flat bar only, the 720 is offered in flat, .5″ and 1″ rise, and the 750 and 780mm bars are offered in 12.7 and 25.4mm rises. All bars except the flat bars use the 4 degree upsweep and 8 degree backsweep that we have come to know and love from Protapers.
As for the post, when they say carbon they mean carbon. All three main parts of the saddle are composed of carbon fiber with only the hardware bringing metal into the equation. Using a micro adjust two bolt design, the bolts are in line front to back and recessed into the seatpost body. Each bolt threads into its own threaded nut that sits in the carbon top plate, and offers easy, quick adjustment compared to most two bolt posts. Thanks to the design the post is compatible with standard round and oversized oval carbon rails – perfect for the lightweight crowd.
Carbon SL posts are sold in 27.2, 30.9, and 31.6mm diameters in 350 or 400mm lengths, and with 0 or 20mm setbacks.
At the weigh in, the post with all the hardware in 30.9/400mm/20mm offset is 202g. There are lighter posts out there, but the SL post is built for some serious abuse. In spite of being 30mm wider than the last carbon Answer bars we used, the Protaper Carbon SL bars are still 10g lighter for a 750mm, 12.7mm rise.
Light, strong, and cheap, pick two right? Answer’s Protaper SL parts definitely quality for light and strong, so that leaves a price tag of $229.99 for any of the bars, and $206.99 for the post.