Hope Technology Carbon Handlebar

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Tested: Hope Technology Carbon Handlebar and AM Stem

Hope's fresh new carbon handlebar talks the talk, and walks the walk.

Rating: Vital Review
Tested: Hope Technology Carbon Handlebar and AM Stem

Best known for producing intricately CNCed aluminum parts, UK-based Hope Technology has more recently been getting into carbon manufacturing as well. Starting off with a simple seatpost, the Barnoldswick crew has been steadily ramping up its in-house carbon design and manufacturing capabilities to the point of being able to make their very own bike, the impressive HB160. In this flurry of resin radness, a carbon handlebar was also brought to life, and we’ve been putting it to the test over the last few months to see how it performs on the trail. Read on to find out.

Strengths

Weaknesses

  • Comfortable shape and angles
  • High quality
  • Exemplary finish
  • Non-slippery surface on the carbon bar
  • The stem produces a very solid grip without excessive bolt torque
  • Only one rise option for the bar

Best known for producing intricately CNCed aluminum parts, UK-based Hope Technology has more recently been getting into carbon manufacturing as well. Starting off with a simple seatpost, the Barnoldswick crew has been steadily ramping up its in-house carbon design and manufacturing capabilities to the point of being able to make their very own bike, the impressive HB160. In this flurry of resin radness, a carbon handlebar was also brought to life, and we’ve been putting it to the test over the last few months to see how it performs on the trail. Read on to find out.

Strengths

Weaknesses

  • Comfortable shape and angles
  • High quality
  • Exemplary finish
  • Non-slippery surface on the carbon bar
  • The stem produces a very solid grip without excessive bolt torque
  • Only one rise option for the bar
  • No 35mm diameter version of the bar (yet)
  • The handlebar is expensive

Hope Technology Carbon Handlebar Highlights

  • Recommended use: Trail / All Mountain
  • Width: 780mm
  • Diameter: 31.8mm
  • Rise: 20mm
  • Upsweep: 5 degrees
  • Backsweep: 7 degrees
  • Color: black/carbon weave
  • Weight: 227 grams (verified)
  • MSRP: GBP 160 / EUR 200

Hope Technology AM Stem Highlights

  • CNC machined from 2014 T6 aluminum
  • Designed for 31.8mm bars
  • 35, 50 and 70mm length (31.8mm dia.) / 35, 50mm length (35mm dia.)
  • 31.8mm dia. Version is available in two rises - 0 or 20 degree ( 20 degree rise option only available with 50 and 70mm stems) / 35mm dia. version only in 0 rise
  • Opposing steerer clamp bolts to give exceptionally rigid steering characteristics
  • Optimum machining to give lightest weight without compromising stiffness
  • Colors: black, silver, red, blue, purple and orange
  • Weight: 158 grams (31.8mm, 50mm, 0 degree rise, verified)
  • MSRP: GBP 85

Initial Impressions

Pulling the new handlebar from its box revealed a product of seemingly very high quality with an exemplary finish. The understated black color is given a bit of extra life from the carbon weave showing through, while the white graphics are suitably sober yet punchy as well. A design choice that makes it easy to pair this handlebar with any color you might have going on for your build. The overall shape of the handlebar is somewhat unusual, with protruding bulges at the main taper reminiscent of Truvativ’s BooBar. Hope says the shape allows them to optimize the carbon layup for strength in the areas where it’s most needed. The bar is only available with 20mm rise, and so far only in 31.8mm diameter (soon to be joined by a 35mm version we hear). It weighs in at a competitive 227 grams.

Hope’s AM stem has little to prove, having long been a staple in the arsenal of people looking for a quality component for this part of the cockpit – or those looking to spice it up with a bit of color, since the stem like all Hope alloy parts is available in any one of six ano finishes, from discrete black to popping purple. Heavily machined from a single block of aluminum, the AM stem has a distinctly burly look while tipping the scales at a very reasonable weight. The machining and anodizing work is top notch, and the hardware supplied of similarly good quality. We tested the 31.8mm version that matches the handlebar of course, but there is a 35mm version available as well should you be rocking a more new-school bar diameter.

On The Trail

Wrenching on the AM stem is a pure pleasure. Everything fits together perfectly, and there is a nice solid feeling to the bolts that never leaves you guessing as to whether or not you are getting enough torque to hold everything in place. The steer tube bolts work in opposite directions, one from each side, which is said to help distribute the clamping force and increase the overall grip on the steer tube. The faceplate snugs up to the main body of the stem with just a minimal gap left at the bottom. The handlebar is 780mm wide from the factory, with cut marks that are easy to read should you need to chop it down.

On the trail, the angles and shape of the new bar proved to be very comfortable.

The control area of the handlebar also features a set of alignment marks, which aids in making sure your brake levers sit in the same spot on both sides. The handlebar surface is shiny, but it still produces more grip for the stem and the controls than several other bars we have recently tested. Following the torque recommendations never left us with any slippage whatsoever during testing. We ran single-ring lock-on grips throughout, and we never had one move on us, without having to use any carbon assembly paste.

On the trail, the angles and shape of the new bar proved to be very comfortable. Five degrees up and seven degrees back is fairly classic, and we found the bar easy to get along with from day one. This tester prefers a bar with more rise, which he partially remedied by moving a spacer under the stem, nevertheless it would be nice to see Hope come through with at least one taller option in the future to provide a wider range of cockpit set up possibilities.

When asked why they didn’t produce the new bar with a 35mm diameter, Hope answered that they felt that there was not a lot of advantages to be gained by moving up the diameter size – in fact, they expressly wanted to avoid making the new bar too stiff. It’s always hard to judge these aspects of handlebars, but it feels to us like Hope succeeded. The bar feels very solid on the trail and it responds well to rider input, but we did not detect much in the way of any harshness. It will be interesting to see if Hope can manage to maintain this aspect of the bar’s performance if and when they do add a 35mm version to the range. Overall, we are certainly impressed with the fit, finish, and function of the new bar in its current form, so we’ll be keeping an eye on these future developments as well for sure.

Things That Could Be Improved

As we alluded to in the previous section, it would be nice to have a couple of different rise options to choose from for the bar, to allow people with different preferences to dial in their cockpit height. Other than that, we should also point out that the MSRP of the bar is right up there with the most expensive offerings currently on the market, but we do feel that the quality and the finish of this product warrant a premium. How much of a premium is always a personal decision.

Long Term Durability

The finish of both the new handlebar and the stem is excellent, and the bar seems to have been able to shrug off any abuse it has seen so far during our 2.5 months of testing. In particular, the surface is very resistant to scratching, and given that all the graphics are protected by some kind of clear coat, they don’t seem prone to deterioration at all. Even a few harsh encounters with rocks failed to leave any kind of mark at all. Based on our experience so far, we’d expect years of loyal service from this set-up, with the usual caveat regarding potential hidden crash damage in the carbon material – always a risk to be aware of when choosing to run a carbon cockpit.

What’s The Bottom Line?

Hope isn’t the first name that jumps to mind when talking about carbon components, but if they keep up the level of workmanship we’ve seen on their first products, that looks set to change. The new carbon handlebar is a solid piece of equipment that is comfortable and secure in use, with a level of finish that rivals the best. Coupled with the excellent AM stem, it is well worthy of consideration for your next cockpit build.

More information at: www.hopetech.com.


About The Reviewer

Johan Hjord - Age: 45 // Years Riding MTB: 13 // Weight: 190-pounds (86kg) // Height: 6'0" (1.84m)

Johan loves bikes, which strangely doesn’t make him any better at riding them. After many years spent practicing falling off cliffs with his snowboard, he took up mountain biking in 2005. Ever since, he’s mostly been riding bikes with too much suspension travel to cover up his many flaws as a rider. His 200-pound body weight coupled with unique skill for poor line choice and clumsy landings make him an expert on durability - if parts survive Johan, they’re pretty much okay for anybody. Johan rides flat pedals with a riding style that he describes as "none" (when in actuality he rips!). Having found most trail features to be not to his liking, Johan uses much of his spare time building his own. Johan’s other accomplishments include surviving this far and helping keep the Vital Media Machine’s stoke dial firmly on 11.

Photos by Johan Hjord

Specifications

Product Hope Technology Carbon Handlebar
Riding Type Freeride / Bike Park, Trail
Material Carbon Fiber
Material Details Carbon
Clamp Diameter 31.8mm
Width 780mm
Rise 20
Upsweep 5
Backsweep 7
Colors Black
Weight 0 lb 8 oz (227 g)
Miscellaneous MSRP: 160 GBP
Price $210
More Info

​www.hopetech.com

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