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Santa Cruz Bicycles Carbon 800 Riser Review

The Santa Cruz Carbon Riser is a high quality carbon handlebar that has an ideal blend of lightweight, stiffness/compliance, and control for all types of riding.
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $170 List | $170.00 at Competitive Cyclist
Pros:  Lightweight, stiff, great control characteristics
Cons:  Limited style and rise options, expensive
Manufacturer:   Santa Cruz Bicycles
By Dillon Osleger ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 14, 2019
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86
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 8
  • Stiffness & Compliance - 30% 9
  • Control - 30% 9
  • Weight - 20% 9
  • Style & Design - 20% 7

Our Verdict

The Santa Cruz Carbon 800 Riser Bar came out a top finisher, just off the top step of the podium. One of the main reasons it fell behind is due to the lack of style and rise options compared to the competition. Some people may prefer a brand with component recognition over a frame manufacturer's components; however, Santa Cruz's recent success in the carbon wheels department should be enough to convince you that they are producing top quality carbon items beyond just frames. The Carbon 800 Riser is the ideal blend of stiffness, control, weight and compliance mixed into a sleek black handlebar made to conquer a huge spectrum of trails and riding disciplines.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award  Top Pick Award  
Price $170.00 at Competitive Cyclist$152.99 at Competitive Cyclist$144.49 at Competitive Cyclist$170 List$170.00 at Competitive Cyclist
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Star Rating
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Pros Lightweight, stiff, great control characteristicsLightweight, great control, vibration dampening, stylishLightweight, good control, designed for rough terrainAdjustable width, lightweight, comfortable feelLightweight, stiff, made in the USA
Cons Limited style and rise options, expensiveNot the lightest, expensiveLimited selection, expensiveless stiff than others, 31.8mm clamp onlyStiff, may be too stiff for some, causes hand fatigue
Bottom Line The Santa Cruz Carbon Riser is a high quality carbon handlebar that has an ideal blend of lightweight, stiffness/compliance, and control for all types of riding.The Deity Speedway checked all of our boxes and takes home our Editor's Choice Award.The Race Face Next R handlebar is a lightweight carbon fiber model and one of our top rated favorites.The Ibis Adjustable is an innovative carbon model that allows the user to repeatedly adjust the width of their handlebars.The M7 is a super stiff carbon handlebar that is made in the USA by ENVE.
Rating Categories Carbon 800 Riser Speedway 35 Carbon Riser Race Face Next R 35 Carbon Ibis Carbon Adjustable Width ENVE M7
Stiffness & Compliance (30%)
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
7
Control (30%)
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
7
Weight (20%)
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
10
10
0
8
10
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9
Style & Design (20%)
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
7
Specs Carbon 800 Riser Speedway 35 Carbon... Race Face Next R... Ibis Carbon... ENVE M7
Weight 227g 245g 215g 254g with inserts / 236g without inserts 241g
Clamp Diameter 35mm 35mm 35mm 31.8mm 35mm
Material carbon fiber uni-directional carbon unidirectional carbon carbon fiber carbon fiber
Width 800mm 810mm 800mm Adjustable from 750mm to 800mm, 800mm
Rise tested 20mm 30mm 20mm 30mm 25mm
Upsweep (degrees) 7 5 5 5 4
Backsweep (degrees) 9 9 8 9 8
Available Widths (mm) 760/800mm 810mm 800mm 750/800mm 800mm
Avaialable Clamp Diameters (mm) 35mm 35mm 35mm 31.8mm 35mm
Rise Options 10mm, 20mm, 35mm 10mm, 30mm 10mm, 25mm, 40mm

Our Analysis and Test Results

Traditionally, the appearance of a frame manufacturer's logo on a component aside from the frame itself is indicative of a lower quality stock part. The above couldn't be further from the truth regarding Santa Cruz Bicycles foray into handlebar manufacturing with their Santa Cruz Carbon 800 Riser. Taking what they learned from producing some of the finest frames in the world, then manufacturing some of the most reliable carbon wheels, Santa Cruz used all the power behind their R&D department to craft the ideal handlebar.

Performance Comparison



When you're charging around on your trail bike  the last thing you want to be thinking about is your handlebar. The Carbon Riser is one such handlebar that goes unnoticed  and that's a great thing.
When you're charging around on your trail bike, the last thing you want to be thinking about is your handlebar. The Carbon Riser is one such handlebar that goes unnoticed, and that's a great thing.

Stiffness and Compliance


The Carbon Riser was designed with intention to create a handlebar with ideal characteristics for all trail scenarios. Based on the well-balanced stiffness and compliance of this bar on the trail, it would seem that Santa Cruz put the time in to perfect this bar to meet the same standards they impose on their frames and wheels.


The Carbon Riser bar has 35mm bore, which is in line with the modern trend of turning to 35mm for increased stiffness qualities in the handlebar/stem interface. This bar is stiff and responsive, on par with the Deity Speedway and the ENVE M7. Unlike the M7, however, the Santa Cruz bar isn't harsh. They've managed to create a handlebar that dampens vibration quite well without sacrificing anything in terms of handling.

Low speeds  high speeds  blurry fast  the Carbon Riser is responsive and handling is precise without being harsh.
Low speeds, high speeds, blurry fast, the Carbon Riser is responsive and handling is precise without being harsh.

Control


Once again at the highest end of the spectrum, the Carbon Riser provides a very high degree of control and razor-sharp handling. This bar offers ample leverage, a stout clamp interface, and a stiff feel while dampening high-frequency vibration to keep your hands feeling fresh. There wasn't a single section of trail where the Carbon Riser felt out of place, suggesting the engineers in Santa Cruz did their job and the test riders gave quality feedback.


The Carbon Riser comes in an 800mm width with is on par with today's wider-is-better trend. The 35mm bore size also makes for a sturdy clamp interface with the stem. The combination of the width and bore size, along with the stiffness of this bar provide adequate leverage for ultra-responsive handling on the front of trail, all-mountain, and enduro bikes. Whether steering through low-speed tech, tipping the bike into a high-speed berm, or pulling up on the front end for rock drops, the Carbon Riser responded immediately to rider input. The rider's control is further enhanced by the fact that this bar dampens vibration well, reducing hand fatigue compared to some of the brutally stiff competition so you can actually feel your hands at the end of a long descent.

To match this bar with each rider's size and preferences, the Carbon Riser can easily be trimmed down to the perfect width for maximum control. Cutting down the Santa Cruz bar beyond 760mm isn't recommended, however, as characteristics integral to control such as flex and leverage were designed with widths between 760 and 800 in mind.

This handlebar is lightweight and it will reduce the overall weight of your ride for those long fire road slogs.
This handlebar is lightweight and it will reduce the overall weight of your ride for those long fire road slogs.

Weight


One of the lightest bars in this test at a measured weight of 227g, the Carbon Riser is at the very least guaranteed to reduce the weight of the front end of your bicycle. Beyond weight alone, the durability has been fantastic over multiple crashes, indicating that the shaved weight did not trade off for toughness.


The overall weight is very respectable, in fact, this is the second lightest model we tested. Only the Race Face Next R handlebar tipped the scales at a lighter weight. This is definitely a good option for gram counters and will easily shave 50 grams off the overall weight of your bicycles compared to the lightest aluminum options.

It's all printed on the bar  including the hash marks on the right to aid in the trimming process.
It's all printed on the bar, including the hash marks on the right to aid in the trimming process.

Style & Design


This metric is heavily biased towards innovation and the overall quality of a product but we also take the looks into account. Unfortunately, Santa Cruz takes a hit here due to some conscious decisions by the manufacturer. The Carbon Riser is very limited in color options. In fact, there is only one color option which is the carbon/black we tested. While this subtle and somewhat stealthy color scheme is relatively subdued, it may not be everyone's cup of tea, especially those looking to bling out their bike. This isn't to say the finish does not ring quality, but rather that it is not up to snuff with the design and finish of Deity's Speedway. If your frame isn't manufactured by Santa Cruz, the large logo on the front of the bar may clash with your dream build ideals, but at least it is a subtle black on black color scheme that isn't too bold or in your face.


The Carbon Riser only comes in a 35mm clamp diameter and is only offered with a 20mm rise in 760mm or 800mm widths. Given the ability to trim the bars down, these width options should suit the vast majority of rider's width preferences. Beyond that, the quality of craftsmanship appears to be impeccable as we've come to expect from Santa Cruz. It is clear that lots of time was spent on the design and testing of these bars based on their impressive handling characteristics and vibration dampening. Santa Cruz has also made sure to include trim markings on the bar's ends to assist with the trimming process.

When compared to some of the other options on the market  the Carbon Riser (bottom) has very subtle styling that should suit a wide range of tastes.
When compared to some of the other options on the market, the Carbon Riser (bottom) has very subtle styling that should suit a wide range of tastes.

Value


The Carbon Riser is the same price as all of the other carbon fiber models we tested. Due to this bar's high scores across the board, we feel that it is a relatively solid value to anyone who can justify the expense. This bar provides excellent handling, a great blend of stiffness and vibration dampening, and is very lightweight. This is a surefire way to upgrade your cockpit, handling, comfort, and reduce the overall weight of your mountain bike. Not to mention the fact that all Santa Cruz carbon handlebars are backed by a five-year warranty.

The Carbon Riser takes the edge off vibration while providing responsive handling in a very lightweight package.
The Carbon Riser takes the edge off vibration while providing responsive handling in a very lightweight package.

Conclusion


Simply put, the Carbon Riser is at the top end of our spectrum of bar choices for any discipline of mountain biking. If it wasn't for the limited choices of graphics or rise options, this bar would have bested the Deity Speedway, but consistency is king in choosing an Editor's Choice. Despite not taking the overall victory in this test, this handlebar took a close second and is a great option for any bike or style of riding.


Dillon Osleger