Fizik have developed a simple online tool that allows riders to determine which of the three pre-determined ‘Spine Concept’ rider types they match depending on their flexibility. If you’re very flexible you’ll be a snake, if you’re somewhat flexible you’ll be a chameleon and if you’re inflexible you’ll be a bull. You then go on to choose where on a sliding scale you place performance in comfort. With all those parameters determined you’ll be presented with the bar, stem, saddle and seatpost option from their range that Fizik feel best fits your needs.
Despite fitting the profile of a snake, I chose to go with the chameleon options for the Cyrano R3 bars as I have intermittent back problems. The major difference between bar options is in the reach and drop. Both snake and chameleon have an 85mm reach compared to the bull’s 80mm and when it comes to drop you get 140mm as a snake, 135mm as a chameleon and 130mm as a bull.
The other choice then comes down to material and, ultimately, price. The 00 level bars are made from hi-modulus carbon and have a claimed weight of just 175g for a 42cm set. Slightly further down the range are the carbon R1 bars which Fizik say weigh in at 205g, and at the bottom are the aluminium R3 bars with a claimed weight of 245g although the test set we have are a lot heavier than that, tipping the scales at 334g.
As soon as I had the bars on the bike I tried them for size and was surprised at the amount of flex when pushing down on the tip of the drops. With a 31.8mm diameter in the central section they should, in theory, be rather more flex resistant than 25.4mm bars. But any fears that might have instilled disappeared once I got out and actually rode with them.
That flex isn’t noticeable on the road even when sprinting or out of the saddle. Not that in situations like that I’m usually concentrating on what my bars are doing. What was apparent, though, was the lack of vibrations being transferred through the bars. The bike I put them on is built around a very stiff carbon frame that generally gives a slightly rougher ride to the point where I actively switch to wider tyres to gain comfort on longer rides. And it’s here that the flexibility of the bars really pays off. I felt far fewer vibrations through the bars than I did through the saddle or cranks, as I rode these bars with and without gloves and had the same sensation of heightened comfort each time.
The shape of the bars is an interesting one. They can’t be described as traditional, nor are they really an ergonomic design. Fizik have created a shape that sits between those two conventions and, for me, it really works. I’ve always preferred to use ergo bars in the past but have struggled with the transition to the hooks [aka the bend in the drops – Ed]. Not any more. In fact, since I’ve been using the Cyrano R3s I’ve been spending more time riding in both the drops and the hooks which can only be a good thing for a reformed mountain biker used to riding on the hoods.
Being the sort of cyclist that likes to coordinate kit, I fitted the bars to a matching Cyrano stem. Unlike the bars, the only option for the stem is Ergal aluminium (and in fact there’s only one stem full stop), but thanks to the use of a heavily machined face plate and titanium bolts it weights in at just 128g for a 100mm/7 degree version I tested.
Just like the bars the stem finish is two-tone black and there are a series of indicator marks around the edge of the bar clamp to help you align your bars. Max torque suggestion is 5Nm. It’s also worth noting that you’ll need a T25 torx key to tighten all the bolts correctly.
With a combination of comfort and a lovely reach/drop combination, Fizik’s R3 bars in their Chameleon guise could have wide spread appeal, especially at the £80 price tag. But if you’re concerned about ride weight, you’ll probably want to look elsewhere.
– Drops find a pleasing compromise between traditional and ergonomic bends
– They smooth out the front of the ride very well
– Quite a lot heavier than the claimed weight