Spank Spike 800 Vibrocore Bar
Words & Photos by Chili Dog
The concept of foam filled bars isn’t new. Moto guys have been doing it for years to combat engine vibration and hand fatigue, but the idea hasn’t trickled into the mainstream MTB world. Spank however, has seen the light and has developed their Vibrocore line of components. Going beyond just bars, Spank is also putting foam in their Vibrocore wheels, citing vibration reduction and increased comfort. We’ve been riding these bars on our trail, dirt jump and downhill bikes for the past year to see if we really notice a difference on the trail.
The idea behind foam insertion is that the material reduces high frequency vibrations, which aluminum bars are known to transmit. Tap a screwdriver on your bar without grips and you’ll feel exactly what Spank is aiming to eliminate with their foam core.
Carbon bars do a great job at vibration reduction, but the steep price tag is more than a lot of riders can stomach. Not to mention the increased hand fatigue that carbon bars can create as a side affect of their increased stiffness. At $99, Spank’s Spike Vibrocore bars provide a damped, comfortable feel at a much lower price point. At just 340 grams, the weight penalty is slim to none.
Here’s the better part, Spank actually claims a 30% reduction in transmitted vibration compared to carbon, which is a notable improvement. According to Spank, achieving this isn’t as simple as just shooting foam into the bars. The foam density is carefully chosen, and Spank sources a specific open cell foam to use in their bars. Another vital component are the end caps that help keep the crud and water from building up inside the bars and compromising the foam.
The Spike Vibrocore bars utilize Spank’s proprietary taper tube technology. Like many other bars on the market, it strategically places thinner and thicker sections of material in stress points or low-fatigue zones for tuned ride dynamics and weight optimization.
We ran the Spike bar in the 800mm wide and 15mm rise flavor. They have four degrees of upsweep and eight degrees of backsweep, which we instantly found comfortable. We chose to run them uncut as our SoCal test area doesn’t have many trails that weave between large trees.
While the improvement in ride compared to a traditional aluminum bar isn’t earth shattering, it is absolutely noticeable if the same trail is ridden back to back. The difference is more notable when compared to 35mm bars, which are notoriously harsh. Try to do the same back-to-back comparison with a carbon bar and the 30% difference is hardly perceptible at all. While it’s probably still there, it isn’t appreciable with the naked hand like the switch from aluminum to Vibrocore is.
That said, the real market for these bars is with riders that don’t want to drop the cash for a carbon bar but want the ride benefits. In that case, there is a definite reason to choose the Vibrocores over a traditional aluminum or carbon alternative. They’re cheaper than carbon, more durable and have little to no weight penalty. We like the sound of that.
Long rocky descents or bike parks filled with braking bumps weren’t suddenly transformed into velvety paths, but arm pump and fatigue were reduced. It wasn’t something that was apparent during runs, but instead noted at the end of a long day riding. Our hands and forearms were less sore than they would be on days spent with traditional bars.
After mounting the Spike Vibrocore bars on three bikes, the area where we noticed the largest difference outside the bike park DH steed was actually on the dirt jump/slope bike. Riding street is not exactly low impact, with almost every landing being to flat concrete with stiff suspension. In that environment, the difference Vibrocore makes is profound. Especially during 180’s down stair sets where it’s easy to land front heavy with your arms bearing the brunt of the smack, Vibrocore takes the edge off every time.
Pump tracks were smoother, and stairway hucks or wallrides were far more pleasant. We also had more peace of mind running a set of aluminum bars on a bike that frequently hits the ground.
The Wolf’s Last Word
For riders pinching pennies or wanting the durability of aluminum with the ride of carbon, the Spank Spike Vibrocore bars are a perfect choice. They blend vibration reduction with a comfortable, light platform. Spank went the distance to offer a highly durable product that performs. Yes, bars are a simple component that usually don’t warrant much thought aside from basic rise and width preference, but Vibrocores prove there are better options. If we were shopping for our own bikes and couldn’t swing for carbon, these bars would be at the top of list.
Weight: 340 grams as tested