Saturday, February 27, 2021

Focus Paralane: Brand X Carbon Handlebar and Stem Selection

As I am building this Focus Paralane to replace my Fabike C3, I could actually transfer many of the components over. However, this time, I wanted to minimize the weight of this new bike. Therefore, I decided not to reuse the aluminium PRO PLT road handlebar due to weight.

Another reason was that I needed to minimize the transition time needed between the Fabike C3 and the Focus Paralane. As I am using this bike almost daily for commuting, I needed to make sure that I can swap over the components as quickly as possible, with minimum downtime. Some parts are unavoidable, such as the Ultegra Di2 hydraulic road shifters, as I need to transfer them over. As for the other parts, I tried to get another set so that I don't need to remove and reinstall them in a rush.

Therefore, I decided to get a new carbon handlebar, mainly to save weight. I used to have the lightweight FSA K-Force compact handlebar, but I no longer have them after I sold the previous bikes. This time, I decided to try a Brand X carbon road handlebar from ChainReactionCycles. It only costs about SGD 100 (Sep 2020), and seems to be quite lightweight as well. Although it is CRC's own in-house brand, I think it should be OK since CRC is an established brand. 

Brand X carbon road handlebar from CRC

40 cm wide, with a clamp diameter of 31.8 mm. Very standard spec.

Simple graphics and printed lines for easy alignment with the stem.

Handlebar specifications printed clearly as well.

There is a slight backsweep on the handlebar, which is actually quite comfortable. Similar to what I had on the Kinetix bullhorn bars.

Flat area just behind the hoods of the shifter, which I guess is for more comfort.

There is also a flat section on the drops, which I presume is for comfort as well.

Underside of the handlebar has grooves where you can route the outer casing/hydraulic hose/Di2 wires. This keeps them neat and avoids bulging after wrapping bar tape.

Handlebar weighs 222 grams. Not as light as the FSA handlebar I previously had, but still pretty lightweight. Definitely acceptable given the competitive price.

This is the stock BBB stem that came with the bike, a bit heavy at 131 grams.

This stem is 90 mm long, with 7 degrees of tilt.

I also have a PRO PLT stem, which is a bit lighter at 118 grams.

This stem is slightly shorter at 80 mm long, with 10 degrees of tilt.

This PRO PLT stem (118 grams) is lighter than the higher grade PRO Vibe stem (134 grams), even though both are 80 mm long. Maybe the PRO Vibe stem is stiffer, but what I learnt is that for stems, higher grade is not necessarily more lightweight.

I will be choosing one of these stems to use, depending on the reach of the handlebar.

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