Prime's Primavera Carbon Handlebar offers a great aero upgrade for users of both mechanical and electronic shifting. Setting it up is seriously simple and the feel on the road is very comfortable. It looks the business and costs a lot less than some rivals.
If we consider a bar upgrade as a weight saving measure then bars are a luxury – not much weight can be saved over a mid-range alloy bar – but a lot of comfort can be added. Getting a decent carbon bar is an easy way to improve comfort, and you can also get an aero profile from carbon, so, as the bar hits the wind first, it's a good thing to make slippery.
With a carbon construction and an aero top section, the Primavera is probably going to be installed on most people's nice bike. To test this, I popped it on my Cannondale Supersix, replacing my trusty Zipp SL 88 bar.
As Prime's first step into components, it sensibly went down the open-mould route and ended up picking Control Tech's Cougar bar. It's not a choice that it made in five minutes. Professional riders from the Vitus Pro Cycling team were involved in testing several options before they decided that the Control Tech design gave them the ideal combination of comfort, performance and design. It's a sensible way to start.
This carbon bar comes in 38, 40, 42 and 44cm widths and I have the 40cm version here. There is a flare from the stem clamp to the shifter clamp which apparently makes it more aerodynamic without adding weight.
The end of the drop is also flared, with a 4-degree angle adding a little extra comfort. That drop is slightly shallower than I'm used to at 125mm; that's 5mm higher than my SL-88 bar, which doesn't sound like much but it certainly feels different. Regardless, the drops on the Primavera are a comfy place to be.
The Primavera features some subtle shapes that might go unnoticed thanks to the flat aero tops. The curved section of the drop is shaped like an egg with the leading edge slightly narrower than the trailing edge. It results in the drop feeling thinner in your hand but it's still comfortable.
Weight stands at an impressive 238g for this 40cm option. That's a touch lighter than the Pro Vibe Aero Carbon bar that Stu had on test last year which was 261g (42cm), although weight isn't the holy grail that it once was.
Having previously set up an internally routed handlebar, I was prepared for the worst – small holes, awkward exit placements and no internal guides – but I'm happy to say that the Primavera is very straightforward to install.
The entry and exit holes are big, which allowed me to hook the cable out with a small pick easily. For the brakes, the housing goes through first and is easy to fish out. Electronic cables need a tool for installation, but you can make one with a brake ferrule and spare cable inner.
There is plenty of space for routing mechanical shifting too – in fact, I think the holes could be a little smaller – but once installed, everything is hidden anyway. With a hole at the back of the stem clamp area, it offers users of electronic shifting the option of where to mount the junction A box. I chose inside the stem for a cheap way to hide everything. The bar is compatible with Shimano's Bar End Junction A box which makes changing and gear adjustments easier.
Next up is wrapping the bar. I found it pretty easy to wrap. There are no weird bends to contend with, but once you reach the start of the aero section it's a little trickier than usual. Achieving a nice clean finish is possible, but you'll need to cut carefully.
The stem clamp area is very wide, which allowed me to attach my K-Edge Garmin mount and an Exposure Strada SB light with room to spare. That should make the Primavera very user-friendly for general riding.
Out on the road and the first thing that I noticed compared with my SL-88 bar was the complete lack of road buzz reaching my hands. It's a weird sensation, similar to running wide, supple tyres at very low pressures. Being impressed, I sought out Mendip Council's finest (worst) surface dressed roads. It's only on the really bad stuff that anything gets through.
Pointing the bike up steep climbs, I wasn't able to get any noticeable movement from the front end. It's really nice how this bar combines the stiffness needed for racing with the comfort that would genuinely make a difference to my longer rides.
It's a bit annoying that there's no data to prove any aero gains (we asked), and though it certainly looks aero there isn't any tangible benefit like an aero wheelset.
Money is also an area where the Primavera does well. At £149.99, this is much better value than PRO's Vibe Aero Carbon bar (£299.99). Stu really loved the PRO and if you have the cash you'd be very happy with it, but my money would be going to Prime at half the price.
Overall, while I'm not sure how aero the Primavera bar is, it's certainly extremely comfortable, easy to set up and looks the business. Is this bar worth the upgrade money? Yes, I think it really is.
Very comfortable, looks great and easy to set up, at a fraction of the price of rivals
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Prime Primavera Carbon Handlebar
Size tested: 40cm
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?
From Wiggle: "In the pursuit of marginal gains, the Prime Primavera Carbon Handlebar is the perfect companion for your Aero road bike, thanks to its unique shape, electronic integration and light weight."
Any marginal gain will be very marginal, but the comfort gain is really noticeable.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Wiggle lists these features:
Material: Carbon Fibre
Flared design along the tops improves aerodynamics without adding weight
125mm drop and 78mm reach increases comfort
Compatible with Shimano's new Di2 junction box for a tidier, more aerodynamic finish
Triancular drop design provides a better connection between your hands and the handlebars
Internal cable routing
Bar Diameter: 31.8mm
Bar Bend: 4 degree (outward bend)
Width measured hood to hood
Weight: 235g (420mm)
Time Trial: Yes
Rate the product for quality of construction:
Everything is finished nicely with no sharp carbon edges. It's nice when you go fishing for a cable and your fingers remain uncut...
This is easily stiff enough to handle sprints but it doesn't beat you up. It's a great combination.
This bar has stood up to a few position changes but it's not been treated roughly.
Weight is good for the aero profile. You can go lighter without the aero profile, and save money if you choose alloy.
Fabulous. You really have to find the worst road surface to get road buzz in the hands.
This is still an expensive cycling component and would be an indulgent purchase for many. But it is much cheaper than other options and it delivers on performance.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
For aero gains, any difference isn't tangible; the comfort increase over good alloy bars, though, is great.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The increase in comfort compared to my Zipp SL-88 is really noticeable. On a longer ride, comfort can really help performance.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing. There are two minor tweaks I'd make, but they're not proper issues.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's very good. Half of the price of Pro's Vibe Aero and £40 cheaper than the ITM X-One that Stu tested in 2016. You can spend less. Selcof does a bar sold through Planet X for £89 but it's not the prettiest.
Did you enjoy using the product? Loved it.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes. For the comfort alone.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
I'd say two things need to happen for this to get a magic 10. Firstly, some data proving the aero gains; it doesn't matter if it's only 2 watts faster, aero parts need to back up claims with data. Secondly, the cable ports could do with being slightly smaller for a cleaner look.
About the tester
I usually ride: Cannondale Supersix Di2 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, club rides, general fitness riding, I specialise in the Cafe Ride!
Son of a Marathon runner, Nephew of a National 24hr Champion, the racing genetics have completely passed him by. After joining the road.cc staff in 2016 as a reviewer, Liam quickly started writing feature articles and news pieces. After a little time living in Canada, where he spent most of his time eating poutine, Liam returned with the launch of DealClincher, taking over the Editor role at the start of 2018. At the weekend, Liam can be found racing on the road both in the UK and abroad, though he prefers the muddy fields of cyclocross. To date, his biggest race win is to the front of the cafe queue.