by Kevin Shiramizu
KORE has been around for a long time and to be honest, I haven’t given them much thought since I was last shopping for a 120mm cross-country stem and some kinked bar ends, which was like two years ago. No wait, 12 years ago. But then these spiffy new bars, stem, and grips showed up for review and I realized, I should pay more attention to KORE because someone woke up something good inside those company walls. KORE looks to be back in a big way for 2013.
OCD Handlebar Highlights
- AL7050-T6 Triple Butted
- 31.8mm Bar Clamp Diameter
- 5 Degree Upsweep, 7 Degree Backsweep
- Zero, 20mm, 35mm Rise Options
- 800mm Wide
- HRT graphics
- Bead Blast Black, White Powder Coat, Polished Ano Red, Grey and Silver Color Options
- Weight: 285g / 20mm Rise
Repute Stem Highlights
- AL6061 T6 3D Forged with Post CNC
- CNC Center Bore to Reduce Weight
- Cross Clamp Steerer Bolts
- Zero Degree Rise
- 35mm and 50mm Extensions
- 31.8mm Bar Bore, 1 1/8-inch Steerer Clamp, 35mm Stack Height
- High Polish Black
- Laser Logos
- Weights: 126g / 35mm, 163g / 50mm
Rivera Lock-On Grip Highlights
- Super-Soft Pruven Kraton Single Density Rubber
- Alloy Lock-On Rings with 1-Piece Alloy End Caps
- Angled Mushroom Design
- Medium Profile
- 130mm Length
- Black with Choice of Red, Blue or Gold Ends
- Weight: 112g (Pair)
My first look at the bars was, "Dang, this has a wide booty. I like." And the stem has smooth edges that don’t look like they want to slice your knees open. Both feel light and the finish quality is good. The graphics on the bar are classy and clean.
Initial negatives are minor. The stem specs are printed on the inside of the bar clamp which is better than not having them at all, but you’ll have to remove the bars all the way to get to the torque specs unless you have a fabulous memory (6nm by the way). Oh, and you’ll want to use a torque wrench on these shaved down bolts because they are not going to take your ham fisted, ogre mechanic-ing. The other worry was how are these graphics going to hold up to crusty old tie-down hooks?
Grips are so subjective and personal that it’s hard to review them. For me, I don’t really like metal end caps (which are integrated into the outboard clamp on these) because after the first crash, they'll likely scratch badly, whereas plastic caps have less of this and are cheap to replace. These grips also have two different bolt sizes (2.5mm and 3mm), which is a peeve of mine. For reference, they do have a fit and feel very similar to ODI Cross Trainers, which are my normal choice of grip.
On The Trail
WIDE LOAD. Remember a decade ago when trail bikes had like 26-inch bars? Those days are gone and not missed. At 31.5-inches wide (800mm), these bars are going to give some users trail clearance issues if run uncut, so watch your pinkies on trees if you’re coming from narrower bars. These bars are probably 10mm wider than your current set up on each end and guess how wide your pinkies are? Yeah, about 10mm. All that width also adds a mighty amount of leverage on the bars, so some flex is noticeable in the parking lot. Down the trail, you’re not really going to notice this in a bad way. A little deflection like this is going to help you from getting jack-hammer-hands, which I appreciate.
People question whether or not there is such a thing as "too wide" when it comes to bars. Well, yes. There is. And these probably are too wide for most people, so give them a try and then snip a little bit off the ends until you are happy. Not everyone is Steve Peat sized so you probably don’t need these to be full length. To aid the process, KORE has nifty little markings indicating where to cut the bar.
The stem has a pretty wide clamp area, which likely helps keep stuff strong and stiff. A skip in my chain proved that the softly rounded edges on the stem are about as knee friendly as smashing your patella into a chunk of metal are going to get.
The grips didn’t slip and I could see getting used to them, which is a high compliment from me about grips since one bad contact point on a bike can ruin the whole ride. Having the same size bolt on both clamps would assuage the nit picky though.
Long Term Durability
Use a torque wrench and re-plasti-dip your tie down hooks and you will absolutely be happy with these new goodies from KORE. They're solid.
What's The Bottom Line?
So this is just another pair of bars and a stem, who cares? Well, considering there is no good way to break a set of bars, you should care. There are a jillion choices out there for bars and stems, but once you rule out all the rebranded catalog junk, you don’t have that many options left. My policy on bars is the same as underpants: throw them out after you crash them or annually, whichever comes first. I cherish my face since it’s how I make my comically ample piles of money, so I’m not going to gamble on a bars and stem. With that being said, I have no reservations about the KORE OCD Bars, Repute Stem, and Rivera Lock-On Grips making up the cockpit on my bike.
For tech specs and more, visit www.kore-usa.com.