Pro Vibe handlebar and PLT Carbon stem - Road Cycling UK

Expert road bike reviews and the latest road bike news, features and advice. Find rides & events, training articles and participate in our forums

Share

Gear

Pro Vibe handlebar and PLT Carbon stem


Bigger drop please

Roughened surface plus 4 bolt fixing equals no slip

Superb finish…

….is good enough for the pros

Pro Vibe handlebar £150.00, Pro PLT carbon stem £69.95

The Shimano-owned bicycle accessory brand Pro has become a huge success for its parent company and now ranks as one of the key suppliers to the market for accessories and ‘finishing kit’. Today its components are endorsed and used with huge effect by several of the top Continental professional cycling teams, including T-Mobile and Gerolsteiner.

On test here are Pro’s Vibe monocoque carbon handlebars and the Pro PLT Carbon Stem. Unfortunately they are not being tested to the same level or limits that might occur whilst ridden in the Continental one day classics, but instead over the course of a respectable 1,000km tour from Blighty to southern France in a little more than one day!

Statistics first: the stem weighs 125 grams for the 11cm version and is made using a combination of carbon fibre for stiffness wrapped over a shell of 7075 aluminium alloy , which provides a location for the clamp thread fixings. The design and graphics allow for reversible use with the stem attaching to the steerer at an angle of either 10 or 80 degrees. The bars weigh in at 215 grams, the width being 410mm centre to centre and the drop 130mm. The centre bulge is a chunky, oversized 31.4mm diameter. A single cable recess for the brake cable runs along the underside of the bar; as this is a Pro product it lacks the double recesses that would make it really Campagnolo friendly.

As both items were fitted together for this test, it’s difficult to separate their individual qualities entirely, and in any case to buy one without the other would ruin the pleasing aesthetics of the combination of these two components.

The initial impression of both bar and stem was one of superb quality of finish and graphics; so much so that when comparing directly with a basic pair of alloy bars and stem, you realise how far forward companies like Pro have pushed the standards of manufacture and indeed how much more sophisticated these products look today. With their chunky shapes and layers of carbon moulded into forms that have not only reduced weight dramatically but have increased their inherent strength and stiffness, Pro have designed a top of the range package good enough to complement any class leading frameset of your choice.

However, whilst their mechanical properties are clearly documented and their style and appearance without doubt appealing to the eye, inevitably personal tastes and preference will form one’s final purchasing decision.

Thus, whilst recommending the stem, the only criticism would be that retro fitting it to an older-style bike with smaller diameter frame tubing gives a slightly top-heavy overall appearance. As the bars are designed to complement the stem, this further accentuates the effect.

The bars themselves initially felt almost too rigid, although this disappeared with use, but the main bone of contention was the simple fact that they weren’t especially comfortable for this tester, due in part to the shape of curvature along the top of the bar. If you’ve got big hands, [like shovels – ed.] there doesn’t seem anywhere straight or flat enough to grip, whether holding on to the hoods or riding roadman style near the centre.

Finally, the drops aren’t that deep and the ‘throw’ forward simply isn’t long enough, being perhaps better suited to looking good on a track or ‘cross bike. The length of the stem may be dictated by your physique whereas the choice of one’s bar shape is more driven by personal preference, but either way, the words ‘anatomic shape’ do not necessarily mean comfort.

  • www.pro-bikegear.com
  • www.ultimatepursuits.co.uk

    Verdict

    Fine build quality, good looks, top-level technology, questionable bar shape


    good Weight, looks, finish

    bad Bar curve a bit small for big hands

    performance 8

    value 6

    overall 7

  • Share

    Newsletter Terms & Conditions

    Please enter your email so we can keep you updated with news, features and the latest offers. If you are not interested you can unsubscribe at any time. We will never sell your data and you'll only get messages from us and our partners whose products and services we think you'll enjoy.

    Read our full Privacy Policy as well as Terms & Conditions.

    production