Spank Spike Vibrocore Handelbars – Review
If you are looking for a (relatively) inexpensive upgrade to change the way your bike handles then you should be looking at the handlebars, whether that is changing the material (carbon or aluminium) or the width there are a myriad of options.
As part of our holiday to The Alps earlier this summer we tested out Spank Spike Vibrocore. I say we, because as the name suggests the bar is 800mm wide and after a few test runs I found that it was just too wide for me given that I am around 5ft6in. Mr Betty at just over 6ft (he says taller!) was very keen to give it a go and we fitted the super wide bars to his Commencal Meta V4.
I should say that Spank also offer the vibrocore feature on their shorted Oozy Trail 760 handlebar. I currently have the non-vibrocore Oozy trail on my bike, but after riding with the vibrocore I will be looking into an upgrade soon. If you are looking for something to take the sting out of rougher sections, or you have an uplift weekend or longer holiday coming up, then upgrading your bars should be high up the list.
So why is the Vibrocore bar something you should consider? Well the Vibrocore element is essentially a biodegradable foam which is injected into the bars. The aim of this process is to reduce the vibrations and impacts transmitting through the handlebars and into the riders’ hands and arms. Spank set out to reduce the dreaded arm pump and arm numbness that you often feel after extended bouts of descending over rough ground (other wise known as mountain biking).
Given that the vibrocore feature adds only around 30g to the weight of the standard Spank Spike 800, it could well be a worthwhile investment. Additionally the bars are super stiff, you are probably not going to find a stiffer set of alloy bars out there. Spank claim that other handlebar manufacturers build in a level of flex to save riders hands wherever possible, but Spank say that the Vibrocore innovation allows them to create a much stiffer, more stable bar with the minimum level of somewhat disconcerting flex. The Spike 800 Vibrocore also comes with 4 degrees upsweep and 8 degrees backsweep, ideal for downhill, enduro and freeride. The handlebar we were testing out came with 30mm rise, but you could also opt for a 15mm or a whopping 50mm rise if you were so inclined.
There is evidence to suggest that carbon handlebars offer a similar level of protection against arm pump and numbness, with some of the kinetic energy dissipated as a result of the carbon weave. Spank claim that their Vibrocore bars are potential ‘carbon killers’, in part because of the Vibrocore technology but also because Spank claim their bars are going to set you back around half the cost of the average carbon bars.
So the question is do the bars do the job? Well Mr Betty tested them out for a fortnight in The Alps and since then has been riding with them at a number of UK locations including Stainburn, Gisburn, Hamsterley and the ‘Ard Rock Enduro. I think his reaction is probably typical of most of Spank’s customers in that it was almost hard to tell whether they were ‘working’. The difference isn’t immediately obvious, you certainly don’t suddenly stop feeling the trail through your bars, but over time Mr Betty found he wasn’t feeling the effects of days of DH runs as much as he would have previously. Mr Betty would probably agree that historically he has suffered from hand pains after long days riding rough trails but he was pleased to report there really wasn’t any during the fortnight in The Alps. The only time he felt a twinge at the end of the day was when he spent the day riding rental bikes without the Spank Spike Vibrocore bar fitted.
Whether it was a good idea or not Mr Betty felt like he could run his suspension and tyres a little stiffer (and therefore get down the mountain a bit faster) than he would have done when not using the Spank Spike Vibrocore bar. It is difficult to put a finger on exactly how much impact the bars have on, well..impacts, but you can feel the difference when you get off the bike at the end of the day and you can still move your hands in all directions and hold a mug of tea without sharp, shooting pains running through your wrists (writing this I think Mr Betty might have more serious problems!).
If arm pump and numbness are a real issue for you then take a look at the Vibrocore range from Spank. They have managed to create an incredibly stiff alloy bar that feels a lot like carbon but costs half the price.
August 14, 2017