Costing a mighty £340, the new Enve G Series Gravel handlebar is a serious investment, but it's very light with more bump compliance than most other carbon handlebars, and a flared shape that suits adventurous riding. I love the feel and shape of this bar and it's certainly well suited to the new breed of gravel and adventure bikes.
- Pros: Flared drop, buzz damping, lightweight
- Cons: Price
The new handlebar is part of the US company's increased push into this market, along with its recent G Series 700C and 650B wheels. But what is a gravel bar? It's all about flare, and not the 70s kind: the flare of the drop.
Flare drop handlebars have been getting popular with the rise of adventure and gravel riding. The simple idea is to provide a wider effective handlebar when you're in the drops, for more control when riding the rough stuff, whether loose gravel tracks or technical descents.
The degree of flare varies from brand to brand. Enve says it looked at every bar on the market and through its own testing settled on this shape. The bar measures 12cm wider in the drops than the hood centre-to-centre measurement. This is a 42cm handlebar on test and it measures 48cm in the drops. There are 44, 46 and 48cm (measured hoods centre-to-centre) as well.
Elsewhere, the tops are shaped for comfort with a slightly ovalised form, while the drops have regular round tubes for control and better grip. Other details include internal routing for electronic shifters, grippy material at the stem and brake hood areas, and a wider clamp area for lights and other gravel accessories, even clip-on extensions for the bikepackers.
Comfort is very good. I've been using this handlebar on my own Fairlight Cycles Secan for the past few months, where it replaced a regular road carbon Bontrager bar, and have ridden hundreds of miles of road and off-road trails, a mix of bridleways, byways and dirt tracks in all weathers and conditions.
Enve has worked its magic and expertise to produce a bar that, thanks to the layup of the carbon fibres, provides some vibration damping, tuned to the handlebar size to suit taller and smaller riders, and you do notice it when bashing along rough tracks. It's noticeably smoother feeling than the handlebar it replaced, superb for just helping to remove the tingly buzz on high-frequency bumps. Riding in the drops exaggerates the feeling, compared to gripping the hoods.
It's not like sticking a suspension fork on your bike, but it's comparable to dropping your tyre pressure a bit and is nice to have, especially on longer rides where fatigue can be a real issue.
The full carbon fibre construction also ensures the weight is low: ours came in at 246g on our scales.
Although there's no lack of stiffness when giving it the beans, it's not waywardly flexy at all, it's not really for your 1,000-watt sprints – that's not in its design brief.
I'll admit I've been sceptical of flared drop handlebars, until now. Over this extended test period I've grown to like the shape of the Enve. It works well on the road and off-road, and it's easy to find a comfortable position in the drops.
On the road, the angled hoods shouldn't work, but they do enable you to flatten your arms and anchor your hands against the hoods for a reasonably aero position, great for bashing out the power on a transition stage between two sections of gravel or off-road.
Off-road is where it gets really tasty. You definitely have more control when sailing down fast descents, with the extra width producing slightly slower and calmer steering responses. There also feels to be a good amount of damping against bigger impacts as well, but thankfully it never feels unduly flexy.
The long drops also provide two hand positions, one at the end of the bar and the other pushed into the elbow of the bend. This is useful compared to the single position of most drops. I found the former good when riding steep tracks, and the latter ideal on flat and fast sections of trail or road.
The 80mm reach and 120mm drop are familiar numbers that lots of handlebar makers are using, and for good reason. It's a comfortable reach from the tops to the hoods and the drops aren't so far away that you're going to put your back out stretching for them.
The only drawback is the price, but it is Enve so perhaps nobody should be that surprised. It's not the most expensive handlebar road.cc has ever tested, that honour goes to the Ritchey MonoCurve Carbon integrated handlebar at £425, and it's closely followed by the PRO Vibe Aero Carbon handlebar at £300.
If you like the idea of a flared drop handlebar but want a cheaper option, the recently reviewed Ritchey Comp ErgoMax handlebar costs just £52 and weighs 313g. You're not going to get the buzz damping of the Enve, and the shape isn't identical, but it goes some way to achieving the same results for a lot less lolly.
Not cheap but very fine handlebar with comfortable, versatile shape and buzz damping for adventure riding
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Enve G Series Gravel Handlebar
Size tested: 42cm
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?
What It Is
A purpose built carbon drop bar specifically designed to improve the off-road drop bar ride experience.
Who's It For
Whether it's descending the steep and technical grades at the Crusher in the Tushar, finding more comfortable hand positions during the 200 mile slog across Kansas at the Dirty Kanza, or adventure riding in your own backyard, this full carbon handlebar provides performance driven gravel riders with the options, comfort, and control they need to grind gravel with confidence.
Why We Made It
Similar to our gravel wheels – we saw a need in the gravel world for a carbon gravel handlebar that didn't exist. We know from our experience riding and racing gravel that the right amount of flare in the drops can provide more control and confidence in nearly every situation where riding in the drops is preferred. From our experience riding mountain bikes we know that wide handlebars also improve control and confidence. For this reason, the G Series Handlebar is available in widths ranging from 42cm to 48cm measured center to center in the hoods. Our experience riding road bikes and developing road handlebars for world tour road racers has helped us create a gravel handlebar that is ergonomically comfortable for long hours in the saddle. Our experience designing carbon fiber laminates has allowed us to refine the G Series Handlebar to absorb and damp inputs from the trail, minimizing upper body fatigue. The G Series Handlebar was made because we ride, and as riders, we know what makes for a better gravel ride experience.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Material Carbon Fiber
Weight 246g, 261g, 271g, 281g
Width C to C in Hoods 42 cm, 44 cm, 46 cm, 48 cm
Width C to C in Drops 54 cm, 56 cm, 58 cm, 60 cm
Clamp Diameter 31.8mm
Torque Spec: Face Plate 5.5Nm
Torque Spec: Controls 6Nm-8Nm
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Great performance for adventure riders wanting more comfort and control.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Vibration damping and flared drops for extra control.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's not the cheapest nor is it the most expensive, but it's a solid investment and if you're gunning for the ultimate bike build it could be for you.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? When I get a payrise...
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
It scores highly on performance but it's impossible to ignore the price, and there are handlebars of similar, but not identical, shape that cost much, much less.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, mountain biking
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.