Top quality carbon bar with a premium ride feel.
Race Face makes some of the best mountain bike handlebars on the market, and if you check out this Next R riser bar on its website, you’ll see there are two other handlebars using this shape but with slightly different builds – the test-winning SixC carbon bar at 235g/820mm and a standard Next at 180g/760mm. The Next R is a riser bar that tracks the middle ground, offering close to the width of the SixC but with less weight, although you can easily cut this one down to save a bit more if you need it. Not that I’d recommend that – just buy the correct width from the range in the first place.
Like its stablemates, the Next R is formed from unidirectional carbon and comes with a 35mm clamp size and Race Face’s excellent bar geometry, which includes 8° back sweep and 5° of up sweep. This puts your hands in a neutral position, but there’s enough leeway so you can roll the bar slightly to tweak the position. The bar has a smooth transition at the rise so you can wiggle a stem on with it scuffing the carbon, and the control centres (that’s the straight sections of bar) are also pretty long, so there is plenty of room for all manner of lever spacing, extra controls and light brackets.
Race Face claims it has optimised the flex in the carbon lay-up for improved small bump compliance, and to be honest it does feel pretty nice. It’s not as plush as the One Up 35mm carbon but it does have a quite a smooth ride. And this is the whole point of carbon fibre handlebars now, especially if you’re planning to fit this bar to a 25kg e-bike, because the weight saving over aluminium is barely 100g and that’s neither here nor there. Ride feel is a subtle concept, but if you back-to-back this bar against the Race Face aluminium Atlas, which I did – because the Atlas was on my bike previously – you can feel the extra flex.
Obviously, you pay more for the composite construction as the Atlas is about half the price, but carbon handlebars are still pretty good value and don’t seem to have been affected by the price hikes of other bike components – carbon bars were this price five years ago.
If you’re looking to finish off a boutique build or want to take the edge off a harsh ride, the Race Face Next R riser is a great way to do that. It also has a fantastic shape, comes in three rises and, best of all, six colour options.