Answer Carbon 720 Enduro 20/20 Handlebar Review

Components

In the world of 29ers and single speed, the alternative or alt bars are more common place, and these type of bars tend to have large back sweeps and rise/drop for hand comfort. The Answer Enduro 20/20 handlebars are an excellent set of alt carbon bars, that are light, strong, with a wonderful resiliency and feel, and have an optimal width, rise and sweep. The idea behind the 20/20 is to reduce strain and increase comfort during ultra long rides. It was created in collaboration with Single Speed champion Evan Plews, and was part of their Hayes Test Program (HTP), and was meant for epic endurance racers and those who spend long days in the saddle. The geometry of the 20/20 is a combination of the classic Bullmoose and Mustache handlebar designs, and is definitely unique, but shares some commonality with the other alt bars on the market.

The Answer Carbon 720 Enduro 20/20 handlebars have a 20º back sweep and 20mm rise and 720mm width, a 31.8mm clamping diameter, and are made from unidirectional Carbon Fiber with a 12 outer layer construction. The bars use their ProTaper technology, which adds material at the clamp and riser for strength and stiffness (the stress areas), and decreases it elsewhere for lightness, and it uses internal and external tapered walls to accomplish those goals. The stem clamp section has a trick “Grip Grit” taped layer for anti slippage. It comes in a basic black color with white/silver graphics, and weighs 220 grams and retails for $180.

Impressions
Many moons ago Tom Ritchey designed the wild Bullmoose handlebars, which were a one-piece bar and stem system. The large back sweep of the bars mimicked our own wrist geometry, and nowadays quite a few titanium bike component manufacturers are creating some interesting blends of this same Bullmoose design. You can get an appreciation of how are wrists are naturally canted, by just grabbing a pen or pencil in each hand, and bending over slightly and reaching forward (like on a bike), and the objects will point downward and outward at a prominent angle. The 20/20 design matches up with this body and wrist geometry, which helps lessen the hand and arm strain and fatigue, and increase comfort along with lowering mass to keep the body centered over the wheels. The vogue of going back to bars with a larger sweep came from the desires of the single-speed community, who we all know is a bunch of diehard, voracious, interesting, and idiosyncratic set of riders. I still recall the silly skinny 0º sweep of my old school bars that made your hands fall asleep. Although the current 5º to 8º sweep standard is much better, I still prefer at least 12º for better comfort and ergonomics.

On first usage, the bars felt odd, since my brain wasn’t used to the layout, but that was very short lived, and I became quickly became accustomed to them. The 20/20 bars are very comfortable, and the sweep and rise just feel right while riding. Once you place your hands on the grips and settle into the cockpit, the ergonomics feels like it was tailor-made for your hands and arms. Everything drops into place like a comfy chair. “Bring out… The Comfy Chair!” The ergonomics is especially noticeable on long rides and on vicious climbs, where the bars allow a great deal of leverage and power to be applied to the bike. The synergy of the bar’s design saves energy, lessens fatigue and makes for a more enjoyable riding experience. The bars work excellently on the flats, and excel on climbs since they place you into a power position. They function just fine on the typical downhills that are usually encountered, but they are awkward and disconcerting when tossed into heinously steep terrain. When it comes down to it, these are XC bars that are meant for comfort and epic days in the saddle, not full-on AM riding, although I did my fair share of that with the bars. The bar’s 720mm width was ideal, as it was enough to apply leverage while cornering and climbing, but it wasn’t unwieldy, or difficult to squeeze between tight trees. They are stiff and tough, with a perfect amount of carbon resiliency, which helps take the rough edges off the terrain.

They were easy to install, and the grip tape section where the stem attaches, made slippage nonexistent. I ended up angling them slightly downward using the grid alignment marks as reference, but that was my preference with my stem, bike and body geometry. The bars are reversible, with one installation direction being dropped and the other risen. On my Ibis Mojo HD, I had a tall headset stack on the steerer along with a big tall fork, so I went droopy to keep me lowered over the front end. Because of the sweep and rise of the bars, you might need to swap out stems and/or alter the stack of the headset spacers to get a proper fit. Since the swoop forward before their rearward sweep creates a neutral offset, they most likely won’t require a stem change. Attaching things to the bars such as lights, GPS computers, phones, and video cameras can be tough since the bars quickly bend back and forth around the stem, and there isn’t much room and straightness to clamp anything onto, so it might take some ingenuity to get them placed properly.

Answer Carbon 720 Enduro 20/20 Handlebar Review Gallery
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Answer Carbon 720 Enduro 20/20 Clamp

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Answer Carbon 720 Enduro 20/20 Handlebars

About the author: Brian Mullin

Brian has been part of the Mtbr team since 2007, where he has become an integral member of the review and test staff, specializing in technical articles. He likes to push the limits in all the sports he obsesses in, whether it's mountain biking, whitewater kayaking, extreme skiing, or sport climbing. He takes those same strengths and a good dose of insanity to his reviewing and writing on mountain biking products, creating technical, in-depth and hyperbolic articles. Whenever he's not on the bike, he might be found watching MotoGP racing, otherwise look for him out on extremely technical singletrack.


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Wordpress Comments:

  • Glenn says:

    Duytan, yep, that is my dream bar configuration. Now to find someone to build it..

  • Francis says:

    Who’s the competition for this? Other options? Cheaper?

  • Menusk says:

    Ii don’t see how this style of bar helps ergonomics. The natural tendency of the wrist is to go inward in the opposite direction of this style bar but to each his own. Check out ergonomic keyboards to see what I mean

    • Brian Mullin says:

      Sorry, I don’t follow you at all? The wrists don’t turn inwards when reaching out like that? Grab a screwdriver in each hand with the end pointing inwards, and reach out and down; what direction is the wrists point them towards?
      This isn’t a keyboard where your hands are in tighter, and I do use a ergo keyboard.

  • Izzy says:

    This is my dream bar! (currently on a very similar Ragley Carnegie’s)

  • David French says:

    Too wide for me and then if you cut them down you don’t need the massive sweep. They look well made though and decent weight.

  • Tim Blabbing says:

    http://forums.mtbr.com/specialized/any-suggestions-682934.html

    I don’t know why the pics I posted are not linked to my mtbr account, but the above link is for a thread where I posted pics of my “alt” bar setup. It may correspond somewhat to what Duytan Vu is talking about.

    My particular setup may practically be a reverse bullhorn setup. Regardless, it gave me massive pulling power and extreme commuting comfort. The whole idea of major backsweep not giving technical control is a tricky issue. I never did super technical riding on this setup, but I think with enough time it could work for me. The biggest problem would be “spearing” myself in a get-off.

  • DJ says:

    Fantastic bar, go buy one so we get more choice’s. Soon all bar’s will have more sweep not just width.

  • Steve says:

    I have recently purchased this bar and have lost the installation/owners manual. I’d appreciate it if someone could provide the torque limits for installation (assumed to be the same value for the stem faceplate as for the brakes and shifters). Thanks.

  • John says:

    It would be nice if some of the users would post their setup information, and/or photos. Just got the bar and if I use the marks to line up, the bar has a notable down sweep. I know it’s a personal preference thing, but I would really like to see what others have found that works.

    thanks

  • Dave says:

    I’ve been using a observed trials bike bar for ages. The Trialtech riser bar has a 10/10 bend which, when angled back a bit, is perfectly in line with my wrists. I noticed that with my old 9/5 bars my hands were resting on the outward portion of the grip and noticed that over time this area of the grip wore out first. The grip is a great indicator of where the pressure of your hands is. Now that I’m riding in a wrist neutral position my grips wear evenly. Trials bars are very strong, come in very wide widths, and most are 10-12 degree bends. Perfect for the single speed!

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