Full carbon handlebar from Shimano's component brand. Light enough for racing, strong enough for general trail duties
The PRO Tharsis XC UD carbon handlebar is, as its name suggests, aimed at the cross country market (there’s a wider, heavier duty Trail version too). With the recent trend for a slightly narrower handlebar, this 15mm rise Tharsis XC comes in a totally on-trend 740mm width, which means I could see it appealing to lighter weight enduro riders looking to shave a little width and heft off their bars, without losing strength.
Plenty of options
The Tharsis XC is available in a 700mm width flat bar, 720mm with 5mm of rise, or this 15mm rise, 740mm width version. Being as PRO are Shimano’s component subsidiary, the bar is also available in Di2 (Shimano’s electronic shifting) compatible versions.
The 740mm version boasts 9 degree backsweep and 4 degree upsweep as well as the aforementioned 15mm of rise – figures which provide a bar that remains fairly neutral over a range of bar rotation. The backsweep places the hands and wrists in an excellent position for climbing and typical XC-style body positions. All of PRO’s Tharsis XC carbon bars are made of uni-directional T700 carbon fibres. Although featherweight compared to most alloy bars, at 177g there are lighter bars for real weight weenies.
Coming back to the original use of the PRO Tharsis XC, our test bar was installed on a very racy Trek Top Fuel 9. It replaced the frankly diminutive 690mm flat alloy bar that came as stock. PRO has been very careful to produce a handlebar that balances stiffness with the inherent buzz-reducing forgiveness of carbon. In fact, when choosing a handlebar to use on a bike with minimal suspension, a bar that isn’t overly stiff is almost a prerequisite.
The good news is the Tharsis XC manages to deliver a fair dose of vibration dampening, doing a good job of reducing hand fatigue. This does come at the expense of some stiffness though. Over rockier or rooty tracks, the bar would end up feeling a little twangy and rapid direction changes on techier trails can feel a tad soft. However for most XC environments, especially longer marathon type events, the additional comfort far outweighs the occasional woolly response.
The only significant issue I found with this carbon bar concerned clamping torques when fitting. The finish is semi-gloss and even though I tightened the stem bolts to the recommended torque I still encountered slippage. PRO provides a sachet of anti-slip paste in the packaging, and once applied I had no issues.
The PRO Tharsis XC is a solid option if you are looking to go carbon for your XC or trail bike. At 740mm, the extra width improves stability and handling compared to a typical XC oriented handlebar.