Review by Joel Harwood // Photos by AJ Barlas
Getting comfortable on a bike is a tricky one. It can easily be argued that one of, if not the most important factors is cockpit setup. Stem and bar combinations are just about limitless when one considers length, rise, width, and sweep. Recent advancements in carbon fiber technology and as of late, an increase in handlebar diameter have made the choices that much more convoluted. The general trend in the mountain bike industry is shorter stems and wider bars, but the 31.8mm clamp diameter is less than ideal according to some manufacturers. The creation of 35mm diameter handlebars has not only allowed for bar widths to increase, but for stiffness, weight, and compliance to be refined further too. Easton has always been at the sharp end of the pack when it comes to product development and recently overhauled their all-mountain Haven lineup with a 35mm clamp. Is it worth the upgrade or just another standard? Read on to get our impressions.
Haven 35 Stem Highlights
- Finish: black
- Weight: 138-g (50-mm)
- Rise: 0⁰
- Clamp diameter: 35-mm
- Steerer: 1 1/8”
- Available lengths (mm): 32, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90
- Material: CNC machined aluminum
- MSRP: $100 USD
Haven 35 Carbon Bar Highlights
- Finish: matte UD carbon
- Weight: 188-g
- Width: 750-mm
- Bend: 9⁰, 5⁰ upsweep
- Rise (mm): 20 or 40
- Clamp diameter: 35-mm
- Material: EC90 carbon
- MSRP: $160 USD
At Vital we get to geek out on bikes just about every day of the year. One of the biggest disappointments is when a bike arrives with a long stem and narrow bars. Thankfully, Easton has answered the call. Haven stems begin at just 32mm in length and while the Haven bar is only 750mm wide, its bigger brother the Havoc comes in at a full 800mm.
Hot damn is it light. The Haven 35 cockpit weighs in at 326 grams for bar and stem. With the use of the 35mm clamp, Easton has not only dropped a few grams from the setup, but they’ve also increased strength. Good news considering the amount of force going through the front end of a mountain bike.
Aesthetics are no doubt subjective. The matte carbon finish of the Haven 35 bar is easy on the eyes. Likewise with the gloss finish on the stem. Both the bar and stem have subtle Easton branding. Whether you’re after stealth or flashy, the new Haven lineup has you covered. Four colors are available.
It's important to note that the faceplate is directional. When installing, tighten the top bolts first to torque, which will bottom the stem and faceplate out. This makes it easier to install and also makes the stem stronger, something Easton calls Top-Lock Technology. (Note: There should be no gap between top of the faceplate and stem as shown in the photos above.)
The Haven 35 carbon bar ends are labeled for riders looking to trim them down. There is plenty of room for controls to be run well inside of the grips, even if the bar has been cut. The bend and sweep on the handlebar aren’t a departure from what Easton has done in the past, but we’re happy about that. We feel that the Haven 35 has bend, upsweep and rise nailed.
On The Trail
Since we ran the Haven 35 primarily on a wagon-wheeler, we opted for the 20-mm rise option to keep the front end low. The stem had identical dimensions to the one it replaced at 50-mm, while the bars were slightly narrower. We’re pretty fussy about bike setup and worried about bar width at first, but we forgot about it quickly and we were up to our usual shenanigans within a few pedal strokes.
Stems are one of those components that we like to set and forget. Once we had our stack height where it needed to be and the bolts torqued appropriately, we didn’t need to address the stem once. The Haven 35 stem is much the same as the previous version, which is just fine with us. It was plenty stiff, creak free, and looked good. Full points.
The real difference with the new 35mm Haven series is with the handlebars. They feature Easton’s trademarked TaperWall technology, which allows them to add material in some areas for stiffness and use less material where compliance is the goal. Sure it’s light, but we are more concerned with ride quality and the Haven 35 carbon was a noticeable improvement in back to back testing versus a 31.8mm carbon bar. The bar is stiff enough that we felt no flex, yet compliant enough that perceived trail chatter was reduced. The improved performance was most obvious in off-camber sections. The Haven 35 carbon handlebars were much the same as the stem. Set and forget.
Easton was also kind enough to toss in a pair of their carbon friendly lock-on grips. It’s worth noting that Easton uniquely covered the screws and flanges with rubber which improves grip for riders who overlap the edges of their bars. They provided plenty of grip both wet and dry, even when we chose to ride without gloves.
At the end of the day, we admit that unless you’re testing products back to back for the sake of comparison, it’s pretty tough to tell the difference between 31.8-mm and 35-mm setups. No question that in the lab there is a clear winner and given the choice we would go 35-mm, but we see the wider diameter as a refinement rather than a revolution.
Things That Could Be Improved
Even though the Haven lineup is geared towards the trail riding crowd we were a little bit disappointed that the Haven 35 bar is only 750-mm wide. We mentioned that the loss of width didn’t put us off, but we’d go wider given the option. If the bar is strong enough, why not make it a full 800-mm and let the consumer decide where to trim it? Even though it’s a minor difference and still an increase over the previous Haven bar, it could be a deal breaker for prospective buyers. We suspect Easton went this route since they have the Havoc 35 carbon too.
Long Term Durability
Easton’s impact and fatigue testing videos look far more abusive than anything that we’ve managed to do throughout the test. Nevertheless we did our best to use and abuse Easton’s Haven 35 cockpit, but we had zero success. We are certain that we’ll break ourselves long before we break this particular cockpit.
What's The Bottom Line?
No doubt that $260 USD for a bar and stem is a pretty penny, but when many trail bikes are north of $5K why shouldn’t they come with ‘the perfect handlebar’? The new Haven 35 cockpit is nearly flawless, especially if you preferred bar width is 750-mm or less. It is a definite improvement over the previous generation of Haven products and over 31.8-mm in general. Beyond our little gripe about width, the Haven 35 front end performed soundly, weighed shockingly little, and looked great.
More information at: www.eastoncycling.com.
About The Reviewer
Joel Harwood has been playing in the Coast Mountains of British Columbia for the last 9 years. He spends his summer months coaching DH race groms in the Whistler Bike Park, and guiding XC riders all over BC. He dabbles in all types of racing, but is happiest while blasting his trail bike down trails that include rock slabs, natural doubles, and west coast tech. On the big bike he tends to look for little transitions and manuals that allow him to keep things pointed downhill, rather than swapping from line to line. Attention to detail, time in the saddle, and an aggressive riding style make Joel a rider that demands the most from his products. Joel's ramblings can also be found at www.straightshotblog.com.