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Review: Handlebar Comparison – Shimano PRO Vibe 7S vs. 3T Ergonova Pro

To some, like me, choosing bike components on a new ride can be a laborious task. Picking out handlebars for myself is no exception to this, and I find is actually one of the harder components to choose from. When taking into consideration your comfort while on the bike, as well as positioning while trying to remain somewhat aero, it’s easy see why this can be such a hard decision.

Two handlebars over the past several months have caught my attention, and I’ve had the chance to test both out to see if they live up to all the hype. Although they are two very different styled handlebars, they are both used for the same function which means its basically all out on the table.

First, is Shimano’s PRO branded Vibe 7S handlebars. These bars utilize a 7050 grade aluminum to have maximum rigidity and stiffness. On top of the material choice, the entire bar is oversized, not just at the portion where the stem clamps to like most handlebars. What this means is that you’re getting an incredibly stiff bar that maintains a respectable weight of 285g, not bad for an aluminum handlebar. To give you an idea of the level of stiffness, this bar was the choice of world-class sprinter Mark Cavendish for some time before he released his own version of the bars (same bar, different name). The bar is available in anatomical, compact, and traditional bends. Because it is what I was used to, I went for the anatomical bend. After using the bars for sprinting, climbing, you name it, I fell in love! They felt amazing under power and I quickly grew to prefer the oversized portion on along the top to hold onto when doing longer rides and climbing. The issue I found was that some bar end plugs wouldn’t fit perfectly because of the oversized tubing. Unless you have expanding plugs, you may find yourself having to wrap some extra electrical tape around the bar end before inserting it in the tube.

Next on the list was the 3T Ergonova Pro Aluminum handlebar. I have to admit that I was much more skeptical when purchasing this bar. I’ve never been a huge fan of the “winged” top handlebars, but I thought I’d give it a shot. Another feature of the bars that I was a bit unsure about was the fact that it has a flare. Handlebar flare is when the hoods are actually more narrow than the drops. Normally I ride a 42cm c-c bar, so I wasn’t sure if I should go wider to have the same width on the hoods. In the end, I decided to stick with a 42cm width meaning that the hoods measured about 40cm c-c. The main reason that these bars appealed to me so much is because they have both a shorter reach and drop than most handlebars. The reach is about 77mm and the drop is around 123mm, making it a little easier for those of us that can sometimes have a sore back. The final difference between this and the Vibe 7S is that the Ergonova has a compact bend. Compact bends generally make it much easier to get in and stay in the drops, and give you much more available hand positions while riding in the drops. Overall, I found that I was a lot more comfortable while using these bars. Once I got used to the wider winged top and compact drops, I couldn’t imagine riding anything else! There is without question a noticeable difference and increase in comfort when riding in the drops with the Ergonova bars. As an added bonus these bars come in a little bit lighter than the Vibe 7S, weighing around 260g.

Although the PRO Vibe 7S may be stiffer and have a little bit more “coolness” factor (personal preference), had I the choice to purchase another set of bars I would go with the 3T Ergonova’s. One thing to note is that the Vibe 7S is available in a compact bend, but the reach and drop is still higher than its competitor, meaning it may not be quite as comfortable (as least for me), leaning the odds again in favor of the 3T.

You may have noticed that I chose not to get the carbon version of either of these bars. Although at the time I had the option to get the carbon version of these, I now always stick with aluminum. Unless you just love the looks or want to be a weight weenie, I would seriously consider going the aluminum route. In a wreck with carbon, they may not always break, but you never know what tiny cracks could develop into an eventually break when you hit a nasty pothole going down a hill. To me adding a few extra grams is well worth avoiding the risk of injury.

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2 Responses

  1. I’ve read time and time again how everyone is worried about carbon bars catastrophically failing after a crash. Most claim that if crashed, the handlebars need replacing in case of microscopic fractures. Why would this only apply to the bars? If carbon is so prone to brittle fracture, shouldn’t the entire frame and forks be suspect?

    • It definitely does not only apply to the handlebars! That was my main focus simply because of the topic of review. I was simply stating how in my experiences, I have been unfortunate to have broken a handlebar or two in crashes. After any wreck, except if it was very minor, I always have my frame completely checked over for any problems. A lot of the time the steerer tube can be an issue if it is carbon as well. Most of the time, but depending on the situation, the handlebars are the first thing to hit the ground which is why they break so often. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they “need” to be replaced though. Carbon truly is a very strong material, but when it breaks, it breaks. There’s no bending or denting as with the other materials. Frames do fail, do a quick google search or check http://www.bustedcarbon.com!

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