Renthal Fatbar Carbon 35 Handlebar

Vital Rating: (Spectacular)
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Fatbar Carbon 35 (20)
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Tested: Renthal Fatbar Carbon 35 Handlebars

Rating: Vital Review

by Fred Robinson

The Renthal Fatbar very well could be the most popular handlebar on the market, if not the most highly regarded. How did the Fatbar get so popular when Renthal has only been in the bicycle industry since 2010? The UK brand pays attention to every detail, uses high-quality construction and embraces their moto and ATV heritage which dates back to 1969. Renthal recently updated both the Fatbar and the Fatbar Carbon, as well as their Integra stem, to the new 35mm clamp standard. Many will argue the new standard is just another way for the bike industry to sell us stuff, and it’s hard not to agree, but the numbers don’t lie. Renthal was able to shave roughly 55g off their aluminum Fatbar bar while still adding 20mm of width, bringing the bar to a full 800mm. While that weight

by Fred Robinson

The Renthal Fatbar very well could be the most popular handlebar on the market, if not the most highly regarded. How did the Fatbar get so popular when Renthal has only been in the bicycle industry since 2010? The UK brand pays attention to every detail, uses high-quality construction and embraces their moto and ATV heritage which dates back to 1969. Renthal recently updated both the Fatbar and the Fatbar Carbon, as well as their Integra stem, to the new 35mm clamp standard. Many will argue the new standard is just another way for the bike industry to sell us stuff, and it’s hard not to agree, but the numbers don’t lie. Renthal was able to shave roughly 55g off their aluminum Fatbar bar while still adding 20mm of width, bringing the bar to a full 800mm. While that weight saving does transfer over to the Fatbar Carbon 35, the savings aren't quite as drastic. With the added 20mm of width, the weight of the carbon bar actually stayed the same compared to the 780mm 31.8mm version. We gave the new 35mm carbon bars a spin over the past few months, so see what we found out.

Renthal Fatbar Carbon 35 Features

  • Carbon construction
  • 800mm width
  • 225g weight
  • 7-degree backsweep
  • 5-degree upsweep
  • 35mm clamping diameter
  • Available rises: 10mm, 20mm, 30mm, 40mm
  • MSRP: $164.95 USD

Initial Impressions

Renthal hasn't been known for making the lightest downhill bar on the market, but the Fatbar Carbon 35 is right up there as one of the lightest downhill-specific bars available. Sliding the bars out of the package and just holding them was actually a little frightening knowing what kind of abuse a downhill bar sees. But, Renthal has made extremely strong and durable bars in the past and keeping that in mind helped push that fear of carbon aside.

Renthal went with a matte black finish and their signature “gold” highlights in the clamping and control area, which can be used to aid in lining up levers. The graphics and layout of the bar pretty much remain unchanged from their original Fatbar Carbon, with the only discernible difference being a “35” graphic added to the Fatbar logo. Width indicator lines still adorn the bar ends, allowing you to trim them down evenly all the way to 700mm should you choose.

Renthal also sent us out their new Integra 35mm stem to run with the bars. We went with the 50mm / zero-rise option for our setup. Laser etched graphics for the logos and alignment guide, which line up nicely with the handlebar’s rotation indicators, as well as some fine machine work, all make for a great looking stem. After finding our ideal bar roll and dialing in the controls, we headed out to the Whistler Bike Park and our local trails to see if these "plastic" bars could take some of the sting out of the well-abused, brake-bump and hole-riddled trails we're used to.

On The Trail

Handlebars are a tough thing to test. Every rider has their own preferences for bend, sweep, rise, and width. Fortunately, most bars come in multiple rises and can be cut to width. Our tester has broad shoulders and a long torso, so running the 30mm rise bars at their full 800mm length was ideal. Bend and sweep, however, is usually only offered by whatever the brand feels is best, and varies from brand to brand. Lucky for us, we instantly felt right at home with the Fatbar Carbon 35’s 7-degree backsweep and 5-degree upsweep.

We’ve heard murmurs from riders, even athletes, complaining that the original alloy Fatbar is just a bit too stiff, resulting in prematurely fatigued hands. And, as we mentioned above, we started our test at the Whistler Bike Park during their busiest week of the year, Crankworx. As you might have guessed, the trails get HAMMERED during this event due to the increased traffic. The massive holes in corners and braking bumps everywhere can easily turn your hands into aching claws in just a few runs. While the carbon bar didn’t alleviate hand fatigue completely, it did take some initial sting off slamming through all the holes, which was definitely an improvement over the alloy Fatbars they replaced. Does that extra bit of compliance translate to a flexy bar? Not at all. We found the Fatbar Carbon 35’s to be just as responsive and sturdy as their alloy counterpart, offering great feel, control, and comfort.

Things That Could Be Improved

We don’t have anything to say about improving these bars, as they tick all the boxes for us. Pricing, at $164.95, is right in-line with the competition. The numbers are good and we felt instantly comfortable with them. Thanks to Renthal’s textured clamping area and a torque wrench, we’ve experienced no slipping or shifting over the past two months we've been testing them. And, at 225g, we’ve only found a few bars that are lighter at a similar width and rise. 5 to 20 grams isn’t going to make much of a difference on a downhill bike in our opinion.

Long Term Durability

Durability has always been the hot topic surrounding carbon bars. How long should you run them before swapping them out? Should you replace them after a crash? Renthal’s Marketing Manager, Ian Collins, recently reported this in an MTBR interview: “Speaking only for Renthal handlebars, if the product is used as intended, there is no reason why it should be periodically changed unless it has been damaged in a crash or some other abuse. This is the same for aluminum or carbon fiber handlebars.

We have no doubt these bars are just as safe as an alloy bar and we have no question regarding their durability for normal use. Even so, we will replace them should we crash and see any damage at all.

What’s The Bottom Line?

Carbon bars, especially on a DH bike, are somewhat of a luxury item. At $165 for a part we’d likely replace after a crash or two, we’d reserve these bars for a race bike application. We are well aware, however, that not everyone thinks this way and a vast number of downhillers will have no problem ponying up the skrilla for these sweet bars. If you’re that type of rider, we can say the Renthal Fatbar Carbon 35 is one of the best carbon bars to ever grace our bikes. We’ll continue to run these until we hit the dirt, and until then, we’ll be stoked on their superb handling and great geometry, along with the added bonus of a more forgiving bar that shaves grams off its alloy brother. If carbon bars aren't your thing, the alloy Fatboy 35 bars share the same angles, rises, and width at only $84.95.

For more information, visit www.renthal.com


About The Reviewer

Fred Robinson - Age: 32 // Years Riding MTB: 14 // Height: 6'1" (1.85m) // Weight: 240-pounds (108.9kg)

"Drop my heels and go." Fred has been on two wheels since he was two-years-old, is deceptively quick for a bigger guy, and likes steep, fast trails where he can hang it off the back of the bike. Several years of shop experience means he's not afraid to tinker. He's very particular when it comes to a bike's suspension performance and stiffness traits.

Specifications

Product Renthal Fatbar Carbon 35 Handlebar
Riding Type Freeride / Bike Park, Downhill
Material Carbon Fiber
Material Details
Clamp Diameter 35mm
Width 800mm
Rise 10mm, 20mm, 30mm, 40mm
Upsweep
Backsweep
Colors Matte Black with Gold Graphics
Weight 0 lb 7.9 oz (225 g)
Miscellaneous
Price $164.95
More Info

www.renthal.com

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