Race Face Next SL Handlebar

FIRST RIDE REPORT

RACE FACE NEXT SL HANDLEBAR

Words & Photos by Nic Hall

Even though I am a full eMTB convert, I cannot shake my roots of riding short travel XC machines at any opportunity. This year, I have suffered up many climbs aboard the Specialized Epic Evo and the BMC FourStroke. One thing I have noticed on both bikes is that they sacrificed cockpit comfort for pure speed and weight reduction. While modern XC bars are a far cry from the 600mm set ups of years past, they still could use some help.

RaceFace saw this oversight and put out an ultra-lightweight 35mm bar, the Next SL. With a 167g claimed weight, 10mm rise, and 740mm width, we were looking forward to getting the new RaceFace Next SL bars on our XC sleds. RaceFace claims that they laid up the carbon to increase vertical flex while limiting horizontal flex to increase steering control. The promise of a snappy handling bar that improves hand comfort and reduces fatigue and arm pump is one we couldn’t wait to test out.

Race Face Next SL Handlebar

THE DIRT
The Race Face Next SL is very reminiscent of its big brother, the Next R, just much lighter and a bit narrower. Graphics are a nicely subdued silver/white and the bar has cut markings in case you think 740mm is just too wild for your lycra covered body. Once we got the bar mounted, the 35mm diameter dwarfs the previous bars and increases clamping force around the bar, hopefully limiting any issues with slipping.

There is a noticeable reduction in chatter feedback to the hands while riding the Next SL. Whatever carbon magic RaceFace is using, does seem to work. With the shorter travel forks on these bikes, hand feedback is a real issue and can end my day early, especially when taking these bikes into terrain a little gnarlier than they were designed for. While 740mm is a bit narrower than I prefer, it does the job and doesn’t feel too narrow when coupled with short travel bikes. So far, there has been no reduction in steering precision or issues with unwanted flex.

Race Face Next SL Handlebar

THE WOLF’S FIRST IMPRESSION

If you still like to go for short travel acoustic rides or are looking for the ultimate lightweight build, the Next SL is the bar for you. It hits the sweet spot of weight, flex, and strength in a fairly affordable package. We are looking forward to getting it out for several more rides.

Price: $179.99
Weight: 296 grams (Bar and Stem Combo)
Website: Raceface.com

RACE FACE

ALL THE GOOD FLEX, NONE OF THE BAD

THE NEW NEXT SL BAR

Cross country riding is changing – the bikes are more capable than ever, the trail choices and courses are getting rougher and rowdier, and riders are continuing to progress and push the boundaries. XC/trail bikes typically lean towards higher efficiency, which can lead to a trade-off in suspension and rider comfort. Hand and arm fatigue have increasingly become a factor that impacts many of these riders, ranging from annoyance to limiting performance that might cut your day short.

Race Face has developed the new Next SL carbon bar to focus on reducing rider fatigue without compromising handling. Our design allows good vertical flex for extra comfort while additional carbon added to the front and back of the bar eliminates bad horizontal flex for improved steering precision. And at 167g, it’s the lightest in its category, thanks in part to a 35mm bar diameter, which helps reduce weight while maintaining strength.

Next SL Handlebar

  • Optimized vertical compliance improves rider comfort and reduces hand fatigue
  • Asymmetric carbon layup with reinforced fore-aft material for steering precision and vertical compliance
  • 35mm clamp reduces weight and increases strength
  • 740mm wide with 10mm rise based on rider feedback
  • 167 grams – lightest in category

Price: $179.99 USD / $219.99 CAD
Website: Raceface.com