eXotic Full Carbon eXergo Compact handlebar - review

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eXotic Full Carbon eXergo Compact handlebar – review

Light, stiff and relatively affordable carbon fibre handlebar

The eXotic Full Carbon eXergo Compact Bar is an affordable option for riders who wants a full carbon fibre handlebar and it offers plenty of stiffness. It’s relatively light, too, but while the handlebar technically has internal routing, that’s not really the case in the truest sense and the overall aesthetic is a little retro.

Carbon handlebars divide opinion for many people. For some carbon fibre is the be all and end all, and the ultimate material from which to make a handlebar, while for others they are too fragile and the potential for crash damage is too high, especially if there has been a considerable outlay. It’s for that reason – the risk of crash damage – that most professional riders opt for aluminium cockpit components.

This eXotic ‘bar looks to bridge the gap in a sense, by being stiff and reportedly strong (though I’ll come on to that), without breaking the bank. Despite coming in at a relatively svelte 232g for the 42mm width tested, the handlebar offers plenty of stiffness and rigidity, and there’s hardly any detectable give when pulling hard in the drops.

We’d prefer a black option as well as white, and the graphics are a little retro

This level of stiffness normally means that you’re shaken through road buzz, but with these very little is actually felt through the ‘bar, to the extent that I would perhaps like to feel a little more feedback (but that is quite a particular personal preference). It means the handlebar is comfortable to use for long rides, whether it’s a big Sunday ride, a sportive or an audax.

As for strength, eXotic say the handlebar is designed to eliminate all internal stress raisers (areas where stress is concentrated), which reportedly contributes to that comfort and also to the strength of the ‘bar. In reality, there’s not a great deal we can do to test the out-and-out strength of a handlebar in a crash, and carbon always has the potential react differently to aluminium in the event of a big tumble.

Mounting the handlebar proved simple and I also used initially an eXotic stem, though I removed this for the majority of the review period purely because it was slightly too long. Early rides suggested that it match the handlebar’s stiffness and worked just fine.

Fitment did bring to light one of the stranger aspects of the handlebar, though, which is the claimed ‘internal cable routing’. This is actually more like an arch midway between the centre of the ‘bar and the drop through which you run the cables. It actually doesn’t do much to put the cables where they wouldn’t be through just running them under the tape, so seems a little convoluted and a feature which potentially adds weight to the handlebar.

As for aesthetics, the handlebar is only available in white, which in itself isn’t great as it means that that can become grubby pretty quickly, and it’s also a bit of a mismatch if you otherwise have black components on the bike. The decals also look a bit, well, 1990s, although I have managed to cover most of them with tape and an out-front computer mount.

As the name suggests, the handlebar has a compact shape, with a 130mm drop and 75mm reach. They have a slight curve backwards from the centre to the outside of bar, although nothing particularly notable when riding. There is no flare in the drops either. Whether the particular shape works for you comes down to personal preference really, but compact handlebars are popular with riders who are less flexible or don’t want the more aggressive shape of a traditional handlebar.

The handlebar has a central clamping diameter of 31.8mm

The handlebar weighs 232g, which for a set with a £135 RRP is impressive and lighter than other ‘bars you see at considerably higher prices.

Conclusion

I liked these ‘bars from a technical perspective. They are light, rigid and feel strong, which is pretty much everything you want in a handlebar. The only things that let them down are the unnecessary ‘internal cable routing’ and the overall aesthetic.

Pros

– Stiff

– Light

– Little road buzz

Cons

– ‘Internal cable routing’ serves little purpose

– Design and colour a little dated

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