Fasst Flexx Enduro Handlebar

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Fasst Flexx Enduro Handlebar
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Gimmick or the Real Deal? Fasst Flexx Enduro Bar Long-Term Review

We've spent over a year on Flexx bars and where do we stand? Without question, these wild-looking handlebars reduce jarring terrain feedback and enhance bike control.

Rating: Vital Review
Gimmick or the Real Deal? Fasst Flexx Enduro Bar Long-Term Review

Because the sports are similar in many ways, off-road dirt biking is a popular crossover for mountain bikers. It's my favorite hobby, by far. Still high on adrenaline and a sense of accomplishment, I equated my first off-road moto racing experience to riding two hours non-stop on a downhill bike. With terrain coming at you that fast for that long, it's an absolute two-wheeled rush. Not only did it feel similar to riding DH, but the demands on my body were comparable. Two hours of rock and whoop smashing can put a toll on you physically, and for many it can be downright difficult to just hang on to the bars for that long. As a result of some old injuries, my wrists are often sore and my grip strength suffers as races progress. One product designed to help in this situation is the Flexx moto bar – something widely known and used by off-road moto riders. Having proven the concept with over a decade of high-level professional race wins and experience to back it up, Fasst looked to bring the same benefits to mountain bikers when they introduced the Flexx Enduro bar. Moto guys like to ride mountain bikes, too.

As the name suggests, the handlebars are designed to flex. They pivot to direct forces into four tunable elastomers contained inside the bar – two for compression and two for rebound – allowing the bars to provide some give in a similar direction to the fork while remaining precise in the steering direction. How can flex like this be a good thing? Let's dig in.

Strengths

Weaknesses

  • Improves overall bike control
  • Takes the sting off a variety of hits from small chop to big/sudden impacts (incredible in really rough, jagged terrain)
  • Tames oh-shit moments and odd deflections
  • Masks imperfections in suspension performance
  • Can drastically reduce fatigue and pain in wrists, hands, elbows, and shoulders
  • Able to tune bar stiffness during both compression and rebound
  • Potential for pivot bolts to loosen and more bolts to torque regularly
  • Changing elastomers can be awkward without a second pair of hands
  • Not ideal for those who thrive off ultra-precise front end feedback or always ride smooth trails
  • Brake levers may spin at suggested torque specs
  • Adds 100-200g to your bike
  • No width markings
  • Elastomers firm up in cold weather
  • Elastomer firmness level doesn't follow an intuitive color order
  • Expensive

Fasst Flexx Enduro Bar Highlights

  • 800mm (31.5-inches) wide
  • 25mm (1-inch) rise
  • 5° upsweep
  • 8° back sweep
  • 31.8mm clamp diameter
  • American-made UD carbon handles, 7075 aluminum center, and Ti-6Al-4V pins/hardware
  • Ultra-soft (blue), soft (red), medium (yellow), and firm (orange) compression and rebound elastomers included
  • Weight: 440g (0.97-pounds)
  • MSRP: $424.99 USD // Optional $19.99 custom laser engraving

Flexx bars are made in the USA using carbon fiber handles, a 7075 aluminum center, and titanium hardware. IGUS-style bushings are used at the two pivot points.

Soft (red) and firm (orange) elastomers. The larger elastomers are for compression and the smaller for rebound. A new ultra-soft (blue) elastomer set is also included with the bars.
Long carbon bits to push on with a big stress riser? A scary thought, no doubt. THICK carbon tubes provide reassurance.

Swapping out the elastomers allows you to tune the bars to your preference. With the bolt bottomed out in the nut the bar will have 5° of upsweep.

On The Trail

While you can hold the bike steady, wrench on the end of the bar, and see it move a few millimeters, don't expect the parking lot test to reveal much. You need to get on the trail to experience Flexx bars at work.

Equipped with the stock medium (yellow) elastomers, my first ride was telling. On a familiar after work loop that I had ridden the same day, I noted being able to mash on the pedals harder over a rocky section of trail into a natural lip and finally make a trail gap that had been taunting me. Usually, I'll get bounced offline during the short, rocky run-up, but this time things simply clicked and the gap felt natural. From this first ride, it was evident that the bars made a noticeable improvement in smoothing out small chunk and reducing random deflections. Things did feel a little odd when pulling back didn't lift the front end as quickly I'm accustomed, however. Moving to the firm (orange) rebound elastomers for subsequent rides improved bike response during maneuvers that require pulling on the bars, like manuals, picking up for a hop or huck, etc.

These bars drastically reduce jarring terrain feedback, tame oh-shit moments, lessen rider fatigue, and improve control of your bike. While they may weigh a bit more than your standard set of bars, in our eyes they're worth every gram.

In the months that followed I rode with the bars in a huge variety of terrain. Surviving seven straight days of Whistler's endless braking bumps, rocks, and roots aboard a 160mm travel enduro bike is no easy task. With the Fasst Flexx bars though... no worries. At the very end of Crankworx when the trails were at their worst I was still jonesing for another hot lap. Wrist fatigue and arm pump are a thing of the past.

Rough trails have not only become more enjoyable but also more manageable thanks to the bars. Big impacts and holes transmit much fewer jarring sensations to my upper body. When you're leaned over in a turn and you hit a rock at an angle that would typically knock you offline, it's less likely to happen. They truly do help tame those oh shit moments. As a result, I find myself focusing further down the trail and maintaining more momentum with Flexx bars installed. Especially on a smaller bike, I've been impressed by the improvement to handling through rough sections and often feel a bit bad for my wheels and tires. Even on the climbs, the bar is quietly working to lessen jarring impacts.

Interestingly, the addition of the Flexx bar has lead me to some suspension adjustments as well. Many riders set up their forks a bit soft in search of comfort at the bar, when in actuality they're not using the ideal amount of compression damping to keep the chassis stable. Flexx bars smooth the transition between hitting a bump and actually feeling it, allowing you to be comfortable and run proper compression. This results in an altogether more dialed bike. Compared to a traditional setup, I've cranked in 4-7 clicks of fork compression on every bike paired with Flexx bars. Even with added damping, the Flexx bar's ability to smooth out the front end can make the rear end of your bike feel as though it isn't keeping up.

Fasst Co rider Lorin Whitaker

Much like suspension, there's not really a set-and-forget combination of elastomers that is always ideal. What feels perfect in one location may not feel perfect everywhere. In general, when a trail calls for a drastic change to firm up your suspension for added support, consider also firming up the compression elastomers. In Moab, for example, I prefer the dual firm (orange) setup. The same is true on super smooth terrain. My go-to setting for most terrain is medium (yellow) compression and firm (orange) rebound. This combo has served me well on three different trail/enduro bikes.

What about front end feel and knowing what your tire is up to? If you can actually feel the bars move, you need to install firmer elastomers. If you're getting beat up, go lighter. It really is that simple. When tuned properly you only notice beneficial perceptible differences compared to a traditional handlebar setup.

To address the elephant in the room, this is NOT a Girvin FlexStem. The bars do not rotate as they compress. If you're old enough to remember or have experienced that atrocity and call these bars into question, there is no doubt in my mind that your body also has enough miles on it to benefit from the fatigue reduction the Flexx Enduro bar offers.

Things That Could Be Improved

A quick glance at the weaknesses list above will tell you that these bars aren't perfect. Chief among my complaints is that the pivot bolts tend to loosen after a few weeks of hard riding, even with clean threads and blue Loctite. Fasst claims a new Loctite compound may solve this. Routinely checking bolt torque must be something you're willing to do if you own these bars.

At 440g (0.97-pound), the bars are also undeniably heavy. In a Vital MTB poll conducted in 2018, we asked, "How much weight are you willing to add to your bike to gain a major performance benefit?" Of close to 800 responses, 75% were willing to add more than 250g and 82.5% were willing to add more than 100g. Compared to a traditional carbon or aluminum bar, expect to add 100-200g to your bike.

Finally, like many USA-made products, Fasst Flexx bars are flat out expensive. Thanks to a material change from carbon to aluminum at the center of the bar they've come down from $500 to $425 in the last year.

Long Term Durability

With over a year of ride time, Fasst's Flexx Enduro bars continue to deliver consistent performance. There is no play at the pivot, all bonds are secure, and the carbon is in good shape. Obey the hardware torque specs and tighten/loosen using the allens (not the tiny torx) and you'll be good to go.

Riders in tune with their setup can expect to get around a year out of a set of elastomers, and replacement kits run $14. The compression elastomers can also be spun 180-degrees to extend their life. Fasst offers a Factory-Fresh kit involving disassembly, cleaning, pivot service, and reassembly that can be done on your own or by Fasst. The bars are backed by a 30-day guarantee, 5-year warranty, and lifetime crash replacement program.

What's The Bottom Line?

It turns out guys charging harder for longer periods of time know a thing or two about chassis control and fatigue management. Fasst, a brand with years of experience in the moto world, has brought their moto-born technology to mountain bikes. These bars work as intended; extensive ride time and back-to-back tests have proven the company's claims to be true.

The Flexx handlebar is not for the person who rails smooth berms day in and day out. They're pricey as hell and aren't without their flaws. For many, however, the upsides will far outweigh any shortcomings.

Whether it's back-to-back days of endless vert or a big effort in rockier terrain, the fatigue reduction provided by the Flexx Enduro handlebar has allowed me to ride in full control for longer periods of time. For those with previous injuries, these bars will allow you to charge like you used to. No injuries? Still young? Every rider will benefit from improved handling in rough terrain. Though some new ideas in the bar space may challenge the status quo, I can confidently say Flexx bars offer a ride feel that is unparalleled by any traditional carbon bar.

After nine months of testing Vital MTB named the Fasst Flexx Enduro handlebar a podium finisher for the 2018 Component of the Year Shreddy Award, and now, at the fifteen-month mark, my impressions still hold true. With some care and attention, these bars are in it for the long haul. They're applicable to everything from gravel grinders to DH bikes, and in my experience can make short to mid-travel bikes an absolute riot.

Head over to www.fasstmtb.com for more details.


About The Reviewer

Brandon Turman - Age: 32 // Years Riding: 17 // Height: 5'10" (1.78m) // Weight: 170-pounds (77.1kg)

"I like to have fun, pop off the bonus lines on the sides of the trail, get aggressive when I feel in tune with a bike, and really mash on the pedals and open it up when pointed downhill." Formerly a mechanical engineer and Pro downhill racer, Brandon brings a unique perspective to the testing game as Vital MTB's resident product guy. He has on-trail familiarity with nearly every new innovation in our sport from the past several years and a really good feel for what’s what.

Photos by Brandon Turman, Miguel Santana, and Courtney Steen

Specifications

Product Fasst Flexx Enduro Handlebar
Riding Type Downhill, Enduro / All-Mountain, Freeride / Bike Park, Trail
Material Aluminum, Carbon Fiber
Material Details American made UD carbon handles, 7075 aluminum center and pivot points, and Ti-6Al-4V titanium pivot pins
Clamp Diameter 31.8mm
Width 800mm
Rise 25mm
Upsweep
Backsweep
Colors Black/carbon
Weight 0 lb 15.5 oz (440 g)
Miscellaneous Effective suspension travel: 5° (length of bar dictates overall travel)
Elastomer included: soft, medium, and hard compression and rebound
Price $425
More Info

Flexx Handlebars absorb shock and vibration, isolating your upper body from abuse, allowing you to ride longer and charge harder with more control. Tunable to your preferences through different compression and rebound elastomers, you control how soft or stiff the bar is. By restricting flex near the same plane as the suspension, you won’t feel the bar moving. You will feel it complimenting the suspension.

For more info, visit ​fasstmtb.com.

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