Ibis Carbon Adjustable Width Review
Cons: less stiff than others, 31.8mm clamp only
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Our Analysis and Test Results
With the Carbon Adjustable Width handlebar, Ibis has taken an innovative approach to creating a truly adjustable handlebar. This ability to add width back onto a bar after cutting it down solves one of the largest issues most consumers have with experimenting between different bar widths or aftermarket bars at all. Ibis provides a simple, foolproof solution that comes in a quality package with modern geometry and quality handling characteristics. If you don't mind the 31.8mm clamp diameter, these bars are a solid choice on all fronts, winning them a Top Pick Award for innovation and frequent travelers.
Stiffness and Compliance
The Ibis Carbon adjustable bar was designed to combine ideal handlebar characteristics with the ability to experiment with width. Based on the well-balanced stiffness and compliance of this bar on the trail, it is obvious that no concessions were made to quality in order to incorporate the aluminum bar ends.
The Ibis Carbon bar has a bore size of 31.8mm, while many manufacturers are turning to 35mm for increased stiffness qualities. Even with this narrower bore, the bar is not to be considered noodly or flexy under most riding conditions, though they aren't quite as stiff as our highest-rated models. While they are plenty stiff for most riding applications, they don't boast the stiffness we'd want for heavy-hitting downhill riding or lapping at the bike park. When compared to a bar like the ENVE M7, the Ibis bars aren't quite as stiff, instead, their compliance and vibration reduction makes them far more forgiving and comfortable. During normal trail riding while testing, we never felt like these bars weren't stiff enough, nor did we ever have to shake out our hands to wake them back up.
Once again towards the upper end of the spectrum, the Ibis Adjustable Bar offers excellent control in most riding situations. The 800mm width provides plenty of leverage for crisp handling while the 31.8mm bore size aids in keeping the bar a little more compliant to help reduce hand fatigue.
Testers found this bar to perform best in XC and everyday trail riding situations. It is worth noting, however, that this bar did not match up to the Santa Cruz Carbon Riser or the Deity Speedway in rowdy enduro or heavier hitting trail conditions. Quite frankly, this bar isn't as stiff as those models, and while the steering and control feels quite direct, it isn't as laser-sharp as the stiffest handlebars. The reduction in stiffness seems quite intentional since carbon handlebar manufacturers have control over their stiffness. It should also be noted that we experienced less hand fatigue during prolonged descents while using this bar as compared to the ultra-stiff competition. Control is reduced when you can't feel your hands, so we feel the Ibis bar is a good middle-ground for most riders.
Even with the addition of the aluminum bar ends, the Ibis Adjustable Bar is competitively lightweight, essentially guaranteeing a reduction in total bike weight as an upgrade from any stock handlebar. We weighed it with and without the aluminum inserts and found that at 800mm it weighed 254 grams. Without the inserts at 750mm, it weighed a svelte 236 grams. It stands to reason that if you trim the inserts down to your desired width it will reduce the overall weight slightly.
While overall weight is respectable and on par with most of the other carbon offerings, the distribution of weight is important in maintaining balance in the bike's cockpit. The Ibis bar tapers nicely and the hollowed-out aluminum ends are finished nicely in order to keep a consistent weight taper across the bar. While not as light as the RaceFace Next R or the Santa Cruz Carbon Riser, the Ibis bar is considerably lighter than the aluminum competition.
Style & Design
This metric is heavily biased towards innovation and the overall quality of a product. It is here that the Ibis bar shines, in pushing the innovation bar ever higher with the concept of a handlebar that can be adjusted in width. All handlebars are adjustable by trimming them to make them narrower, of course, but this bar allows you to narrow and widen them repeatedly.
The bars are 800mm wide with the two aluminum inserts, one on each end, and 750mm with them removed. These aluminum bar inserts are lightweight, strong, and even screw in the opposite of the direction of hand rotation, meaning they will never come loose underneath your grips. The blue inserts can also be trimmed down to any width between 750-800mm. Since the inserts are removable, this is potentially a great option for the racer who may be traveling to races and might want different width bars for different courses. Should you happen to trim the inserts too short, replacements are available for just $15, way less than replacing a carbon handlebar.
Beyond innovation alone, the fit and finish of these bars are incredibly well-executed, as should be expected from a boutique company such as Ibis. While there aren't many choices regarding color or upsweep, the product Ibis designed should fit the bill for the vast majority of XC and trail riders. The only downside in this category is the limitation of only being manufactured in 31.8mm diameter bores, which may ward off some customers as many bikes are now being spec'd stock with 35mm stems. If you can ignore the hype regarding bore size and are looking for an ideal bar to complete your XC, trail, or all-mountain bike as well as experiment with bar width, this is the handlebar for you.
This is one of those rare cases where the retail price of a product may even seem too low for its value. At the same cost as any other carbon handlebar, the Ibis Adjustable Carbon provides all the same benefits while excelling in the innovation department in allowing users to adjust bar width in both directions. This is a huge value in not only determining one's ideal bar width for everyday rides but also allowing for changes to be made for traveling to unique destinations that may require varying leverage or clearance demands. Ibis also backs their carbon handlebars with a seven-year warranty.
Simply put, the Ibis Adjustable Carbon Bar is nearly on par with high-end carbon options from other manufacturers, while providing a unique ability to adjust in size without fear of having to repurchase an entirely new bar. The value is through the roof for XC/trail riders as well as those who might not be sure what bar width is correct for them. Ease of experimentation is as simple as removing the grips and sawing down the aluminum insert (with a saw guide of course) or placing a fresh insert in the shortened one's place. This is our Top Pick award for Innovation and XC/Trail bikes.
— Dillon Osleger