The Race Face Next R sits right at the top end of our list of handlebars we would personally own and recommend. This handlebar came in with a score just below our highest rated award-winning bars, relegating it to not having a ribbon of its own, but still garnering it major appreciation. If you are after the lightest handlebar, still designed to handle the rigors of enduro, trail riding, and XC racing, this bar should be at the top of your list. Clean looks and great handling characteristics have this bar as the centerpiece to the cockpit on our personal trail bikes.
Race Face Next R 35 Carbon Review
Cons: Limited selection, expensive
Manufacturer: Race Face
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Our Analysis and Test Results
As one of the most common brand logos (including its sister company Easton) aboard race bikes worldwide, RaceFace has been vetted across disciplines as a reliable and innovative manufacturer. In the past, RaceFace has made a specific line of bars and cranksets for DH and XC uses. Moving along with industry trends, thay have blended these lines to accommodate the Enduro market with its "R" line of components, including the Next R handlebar. The Next R is in line with the control and handling of the other top-ranked bars in this test, and especially shines in the weight category, making it one of our highest rated models.
Stiffness and Compliance
Stiff but not too stiff would be the best way to describe the feel of the Next R Handlebar. Relying primarily on influence from the SixC line of DH components, RaceFace designed a 35mm handlebar that stays stiff under pressure, yet provides some forgiveness in rough sections of trail, more akin to their SL line of XC components.
The Next R bar has a bore size of 35mm, helping to stiffen things up with the beefy bar/stem interface. This is in line with the manufacturer's trend of turning to 35mm for increased stiffness qualities. This bar has a great balanced feel, not too stiff or too compliant, making it feel right at home over multiple trail disciplines. Unlike some bars that are brutally stiff and even harsh, the Next R bars help to reduce high-frequency vibration for comfortable hands on any length of ride or descent. As seen from its high score in this metric, the Next R is on par with the Ibis Adjustable bar and just above the other bars such as Enve M7 and the Spank Oozy.
Sitting at the top of the list in this category, the Next R has a modern 800mm width and a 35mm bore size. These factors combine to provide ample leverage for sharp handling on any kind of bike in any situation. This carbon bar is plenty stiff without being punishing, and it has good vibration dampening qualities for happier hands.
Like all of the carbon bars in our test, the Next R offers impressive control characteristics. Whether muscling your bike through a steep technical rock garden, pulling up for a high-speed manual, or slamming it hard into a corner, these bars offer rock-solid and responsive handling. Rider input is direct thanks to the stiffness and leverage offered by the 35mm bore size and the 800mm width. Unlike the ENVE M7 which is stiff to the point of being too stiff for many riders, the Next R takes the edge off of trail chatter for calmer feel over small to mid-sized chop. It reduces the high-frequency feedback to the hands, and having fresh feeling hands does wonders for your control.
Coming in as the lightest bars in this test at just 215 grams, the Next R is guaranteed to reduce the weight of the front end of your bicycle. Beyond weight alone, the weight is well distributed, allowing for great feel characteristics noted in the stiffness and compliance section.
The feather weight of this bar makes it as appropriate for an XC build as for any enduro racing rig. Since lighter is generally better, we feel that reducing the weight of the front end of any bike should enhance its performance and generally make it easier to control.
Style & Design
The reason for receiving a fairly average score in this section is due to the lack of imagination and thought towards finish and design with these bars. From a style standpoint, the Next R handlebar is relatively subdued, offered in only one subtle color option. Other Next handlebars (non-R) are offered in multiple colorways, but may not be the finishing touch some consumers are looking for.
As far as design is concerned, the Next R checks most of the boxes of modern carbon handlebars. The uni-directional carbon bar has a stout 35mm bore and comes in an 800mm width. Sweep measurements, both up and back, fall into average territory at 8-degrees back and 5-degrees up. It's also offered in 10mm, 20mm (tested), and 35mm rise options to suit a range of tastes. What's truly impressive to us is the fact that they've created a handlebar this well-rounded and this lightweight.
With a price the same as many of the other carbon handlebars in our test, this bar shines with regards to a weight saved to money spent value. If you desire a bike that is as light as possible without giving up durability and handling characteristics, there isn't a bar available with a higher value in our test. The Next R bars are also backed by a 2-year warranty.
No matter the custom bike you are building, if you are looking to go fast uphill and down, this bar should adorn your bike's cockpit. There's a reason many of the world's top enduro riders spec this bar, and it is that it gets the job done. With a solid warranty, clean yet simple looks, and all-around great performance, you can ignore the lack of award ribbons and consider this bar one of our favorites.
— Dillon Osleger