The Vibrocore technology in the Spank Spike 800 bar is supposed to reduce chatter and arm pump but does it work?
If this review focused purely on the shape, width and weight of the Spank Spike 800 handlebar, one line would do it: with an ideal four-degree upsweep and eight-degree backsweep it has good stiffness, plenty of width for trimming and is comparable to other aluminium bars on the scales.
However, lurking inside the Super-6 tubing is a unique Vibrocore treatment that transforms this bar from the mundane to the must-have.
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The bar is filled with low-density foam that claims to reduce the frequency, amplitude and duration of energy waves coming up from the ground through the front wheel and forks.
It works by refracting, or reflecting, the vibrations that are usually transmitted to your hands and arms. This combats both fatigue and arm-pump, two issues that really impact on performance when riding downhill for a sustained period.
Using Vibrocore allows Spank to focus on optimum bar stiffness rather than building in unwanted flexibility — the usual method of reducing trail buzz.
I tested the Vibrocore Race Bar back-to-back against the leading carbon and aluminium handlebars in the Pyrenees and the Lake District, on extended rocky descents, and found the differences between the three noticeable.
In terms of stiffness, the Spike is solid and steers precisely, but there’s a distinctly deadened, dull sensation that’s similar, yet somehow different, to the feeling you get from the best-damped carbon bars.
High frequency trail chatter was noticeably more muted, leaving my hands fresher and less sore at the bottom of tough descents.
Whether or not this makes you ride any faster is debatable, but it’s more comfortable, and in this respect I’m sold on the concept.
The shape and feel of Spank’s continuously tapering bars is excellent, but with Vibrocore it now also offers an advantage that isn’t found with any other handlebar on the market.
The fact that this innovative feature only adds a 25g to the weight, and very little to the overall cost, is even more remarkable.