Comfort for me is a mixture of low vibrations level and good ergonomics of the bike. Up to this point, my reviews were focusing on the vibrations, so now I think it is a good time to talk more also about the ergonomics. Let’s start with the handlebar that I bought for testing.
Spank Industries offerings are rather unique on the bike market. They make bike parts like rims and handlebars with special Vibrocore foam that should help with lowering the overall fatigue. The handlebar I tested: a Spank Vibrocore 12 has this Vibrocore foam but also (like the name suggests) a 12-degree flare at the drops and flatten tops for better aerodynamics and ergonomics.
The vibration damping core, according to Spank, reduces transmission of harmful frequencies of vibration and this reduces hand numbness and fatigue especially on longer rides. Does it work? I think that too many of you who already are familiar with my testing methodology, there will be no surprise when I will tell that I simply don’t know. Why? Because my measurements focus on more detectable, bigger vibrations and I can’t really measure vibrations that are potentially reduced by the Vibrocore damping foam.
Subjectively I also can’t’ tell if there is an improvement because it’s like comparing apples to oranges. My previous handlebar (Specialized Hover Bar) had a 15 mm rise and a circular shape. Spank handlebar has no rise and a very flat top section of the bar. So there is a strong probability that potential differences in comfort will be influenced simply by the different shapes of the handlebar.
But this shape brings me to the more important and the main topic of this review: the ergonomics. The Spank Vibrocore 12 handlebar has a very short reach (70 mm) which is, in my opinion, a good thing and works well for me. It also has a shallow drop (110 mm) that I prefer. And finally, it has a flattened tops that I was seeking in a new handlebar because I wanted to relief my palms from too much pressure that a classic circular handlebar can create. But this flattened section is the thing that for me makes this handlebar practically unusable in the first place. The problem is not with the size of the flattened section (which is huge, but I like it) but with the angle that Spank created between the flattened tops and the drops. Just see the picture below to get the notion about what I am talking about.
The flat section of the tops to work best should be parallel to the ground. This allows your wrist to sit freely on the handlebar without any additional pressure on nerves etc. But to achieve this position on Spank Vibrocore 12 handlebar you have to rotate the handlebar quite badly to the point that drops are pointed upwards and become completely unusable. If you will try to point the drops slightly downwards (like they should) it will make tops unusable because of a significant and unnatural bend of the hand wrists. Rotating the handlebar to achieve the most possible flat top section also shortens the effective reach quite badly which also messes with our bike position and you don’t want that. Of course, you can find a middle ground between unusable tops and unusable drops but is this the point of this handlebar? To be in the constant ergonomic compromise?
This was my feeling preceded by long hours of testing different positions and multiple rewrapping sessions of the bar tape. But I did not want to leave it there so I did a professional bike fitting session at Veloart and I found out that I was right. There is simply no way of achieving a comfortable position on both tops and drops with this particular handlebar. Which is a very odd thing, to be honest, and should not be present in a handlebar costing nearly 100 euro.
I was very interested in this handlebar. I had a high expectations towards it that is why I bought it in the first place (and because Spank did not respond to my request of a sample bar for testing). So you have to understand my disappointment. In the end, I simply don’t get this handlebar and who should / want to use it. But I am very interested in what you think. Please share your opinions on my FB profile.