The new Ritchey WCS Streem III handlebar has a tweaked design over the previous model to give it a more traditional shape. With plenty of angles going on and a wing section for comfort, it offers a large choice of hand positions and it manages to nail the whole stiffness versus comfort balance perfectly.
The Streem III is a really usable bar shape, no matter what riding you do. The main changes to this new model over the Streem II is to the drops, the III's being much shallower and with a much more traditional curve than the anatomical shape of its predecessor.
The upper section still has the wing shape to it, which provides a large platform for you to rest your hands on rather than wrapping them around a truly round bar. It's a very comfortable shape and great if you spend a lot of your time on the tops tapping out the miles or climbing.
From the centre of the bar to the top of the drops, the Streem sweeps back by 4.5 degrees, which brings it a little closer to you compared with straight bars, creating a slightly more relaxed position without sacrificing performance riding on the hoods or in the drops.
Looking from the top, the drops also kick out a little with a two degree flare front to rear.
The central section of the bar is 100mm long, which does limit the amount of real estate for clamping on your gadgets once you take the stem into account. There is enough room to fit a light one side and, say, a computer mount on the other.
Although the matt finish and the overall feel of the bar gave me a few seconds of 'are they or aren't they carbon?', I soon found that it is made from 7050 aluminium alloy. Ritchey has gone for triple butting (three different wall thicknesses) to place stiffness where it is needed and flex elsewhere for some comfort. It works well, as this bar doesn't feel as though it flexes when really sprinting hard but when you're sat wide on the tops or hoods there is just enough movement to take out high-frequency road buzz.
It really feels like a lot of the expensive carbon fibre handlebars I've ridden in the past.
The Streem III is available in five widths, measured from the centre of one drop to the other. You can go for a 38cm, 40cm, 42cm, 44cm or 46cm, with each having a drop of 128mm and a reach of 73mm, so it's great for those with small hands.
There are plenty of alignment marks for the stem and it has a sandpaper-style effect there for grip and where your shifter hoods mount. It is also drilled underneath the right-hand drop to accommodate the wire coming from the new Shimano EW-RS910 Di2 junction box, which inserts into the bar like an end plug.
Overall, the finish and build quality is great, definitely worthy of Ritchey's top flight WCS branding. There are no rough edges anywhere and the channels underneath the tops are easily big enough to swallow both brake and gear cables.
At £94 it's pretty expensive for an alloy bar, but I'd happily make the investment for the overall quality and comfort offered by the Streem III.
The weight is impressive too: this 42cm bar tipped the scales at 278g which is just 17g heavier than the £299.99 PRO Vibe Aero Carbon handlebar.
Overall, I think the WCS Streem III has a lot to offer with its carbon fibre-like ride, excellent stiffness where it's needed, and plenty of comfortable hand positions.
Lightweight alloy handlebar that offers loads of hand positions and great stiffness
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Ritchey WCS Streem handlebar
Size tested: 42cm width
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Ritchey says, "The deep heritage of success and performance of Ritchey handlebars continues with this latest version of the Streem. Built for speed, the Streem III now features the same, more traditional drop shape as the legendary Ritchey Curve bar and retains its aggressive, UCI-approved 38 x 22.5mm wing-shaped top section. The result is a handlebar that cuts through the wind, offers a broad platform for your hands while climbing and employs familiar feel and control when in the drops."
I like the new shape and am impressed with the performance.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Ritchey lists these features:
Triple-butted 7050 alloy
38, 40, 42, 44 and 46cm widths
Drop Flare: 0-degrees
Flare Out: 2-degrees
Compatible w/ Shimano EW-RS910 junction box/end plug
Color: Blatte finish
Technical drawing is here.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The handlebar offers lots of hand positions for all types of riding.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Great comfort and shape.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The clamping area could limit fitting lots of brackets, if you need various gadgets.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
You can get alloy bars much cheaper but this has a great balance of stiffness and comfort, making it feel like a very good carbon bar – which can cost twice the price.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
The Streem handlebar offers a really good package of performance, quality and comfort for the money.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!