Joystick 8-Bit Integrated Stem

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Joystick 8-Bit Integrated Stem
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Tested: Joystick 8-Bit Alloy Handlebar and Stem

Rating: Vital Review

Review by Johan Hjord // Photos by Tal Rozow and Johan Hjord

Joystick started up in BC in late 2011 as a small initiative focused on making quality components. Almost 3 years later, the company has a fairly impressive line of bars, stems, saddles and grips available, all developed with the input from a number of high-profile riders who ride for and with the brand. We were able to lay our hands on some of the newest 35-mm standard bars and stems they make, and we wasted little time putting them to the test to see how they stack up out on the trail. First up, the 8-bit alloy DH stem and bars.

Joystick 8-Bit Alloy Handlebar Highlights

  • Bar Width: 800mm
  • Rise: 20mm or 38mm
  • Bend: 9
  • Upsweep: 6
  • Weight: 308 g
  • Material: 8-Bit Alloy
  • MSRP: $89 USD

Joystick 8-Bit Integrated Stem Highlights

  • Fully CNC

Review by Johan Hjord // Photos by Tal Rozow and Johan Hjord

Joystick started up in BC in late 2011 as a small initiative focused on making quality components. Almost 3 years later, the company has a fairly impressive line of bars, stems, saddles and grips available, all developed with the input from a number of high-profile riders who ride for and with the brand. We were able to lay our hands on some of the newest 35-mm standard bars and stems they make, and we wasted little time putting them to the test to see how they stack up out on the trail. First up, the 8-bit alloy DH stem and bars.

Joystick 8-Bit Alloy Handlebar Highlights

  • Bar Width: 800mm
  • Rise: 20mm or 38mm
  • Bend: 9°
  • Upsweep: 6°
  • Weight: 308 g
  • Material: 8-Bit Alloy
  • MSRP: $89 USD

Joystick 8-Bit Integrated Stem Highlights

  • Fully CNC machined
  • Controlled clamping system reduces stress risers and eliminates added hardware
  • Two length settings (45mm and 50mm)
  • Compatible with all current triple clamp fork standards
  • Weight: 120 g
  • MSRP: $120 USD

Initial Impressions

Out of the box, the bar and stem both give an impression of quality. Material, machining, and graphics all seem to be the result of attention to detail and proper workmanship. The handlebar is soberly understated and discrete in stealthy black (it is also available in a somewhat more colorful gunmetal finish). The stem is a sleek job that nevertheless appears strong in all the right places. It is also innovative in that it uses one pair of the baseplate bolts to secure the top plate as well, thus reducing the number of bolts typically found in a direct mount stem. This top plate design is also meant to provide a larger clamping area that helps distribute pressure on the handlebar more evenly, and takes the guesswork out of set-up.

The handlebar features a number of markings to help you install and align your controls, as well as cut lines at the ends should you want less than the full 800-mm on offer. Trimming the bars to our standard 780-mm was uneventful.

Installation was smooth with everything fitting together nicely. The hardware supplied felt solid under the wrenches, and the mounting holes of the stem aligned perfectly with the top crown of the fork. The mounting holes were also a perfect match for the diameter of the bolts supplied, and once torqued down, there was absolutely no undue movement or slop present in the cockpit. The stem also really looks the business, if we may slip that somewhat personal observation in here.

The 8-Bit Alloy bar features a 9 degrees back and 6 degrees up sweep, and we were curious to see what this would translate to on the trail. Handlebar fit is a highly personal thing, and what feels good for one rider might not suit the next – all we had to do to find out for ourselves was grab the bike and go ride!

On The Trail

Finding a comfortable angle for the 8-Bit bar was easy. 9 and 6 is a fairly common combo, and although we can sometimes find 6 degrees upsweep on some bars to be too much, the Joystick bar was instantly comfortable. We ran the stem in the 45mm setting which together with the 20-mm rise bars had our grips exactly where we wanted them.

The 8-bit bar is designed with a certain amount of flex to ensure it remains comfortable for long days out. Not harsh but definitely not mushy, it was easy on our hands and always left us feeling in control. Bigger trail features were handled with ease, and we always felt properly connected to the bike with the Joystick cockpit. The 35-mm standard is a bit of a curious one, after testing multiple bars with the bigger clamp diameter, we can’t say we’ve noticed a real effect on how they feel – but we have also yet to find any real drawbacks (beyond having to replace your stem to run one).

We never had any issues with slippage. The Joystick bar and stem combo remained tight for the duration of the test (the better part of two months of intensive riding), and grips, brakes, and shifters all sat exactly where we wanted them too. The cockpit has so far been completely free of creaks and cracks, testament to fine tolerances and good design. We are fans of the way Joystick designed the integrated top plate, it really is very easy to install and on the evidence, works extremely well to hold your bars without having to go nuts on the bolts. Nuts and bolts, nuts and bolts…

Things That Could Be Improved

Looking long and hard at the 8-Bit Alloy bars and stem, there is not a lot to complain about here. The graphics on the bars are perhaps a bit bland, and a couple more color options are always nice, especially to cater to the after-market crowd. Having said that, if your jam is stealth, these should be right up your alley.

In regards to pricing, $90 for the bars and $120 for the stem is not the cheapest aluminum option out there – but in terms of value for money, we definitely think you get what you pay for here.

Long Term Durability

We’ve seen nothing to suggest this bar and stem combo won’t go the distance. The graphics have held up really well to abuse (better than some), and the reassuring absence of slippage or creaks tells us the overall design is working as it should. With the amount of heavy hitters on Joystick’s pro rider roster, we’re pretty sure any shortcomings would have come to the fore in the nastiest of ways possible, had they not done their homework…

What’s The Bottom Line?

Your bar and stem may seem like boring parts of your bike compared to say suspension and gears, but it’s one of those things you absolutely need to get right. The cockpit provides one of the most important contact points between the rider and the bike, and additionally, any failure here could easily have catastrophic consequences. Joystick scores highly on both fronts with the 8-Bit Alloy bar and stem – comfortable and secure, this combo feels good on the bike and should go the distance too. If it’s color you want you’ll have to look elsewhere, but if stealthy black or gunmetal will do it for you, then put these two parts on your cockpit shopping list.

More information at www.ridejoystick.com.


About The Reviewer

Johan Hjord 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.

Specifications

Product Joystick 8-Bit Integrated Stem
Riding Type Downhill
Material Fully CNC Machined 6061-T6 Aluminum
Clamp Diameter 31.8mm or 35mm
Length 45mm and 50mm
Rise
Steer Diameter Compatible with all Current Triple Clamp Fork Standards
Colors Black
Weight 0 lb 4.2 oz (120 g)
Miscellaneous Carbon and Alloy Friendly DH Bar/Stem Interface
Price $120
More Info

Joystick Website

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