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Ritchey's WCS Carbon Streem Handlebar is a stiff bar with an aero top section that offers loads of comfort thanks to a 4.7-degree sweep on the tops and a short 126mm drop on this 42cm version. The aero section and internal routing make for a very smart-looking bar.
We've already reviewed the alloy version of the WCS Streem, and while to the naked eye they might look similar, there are some key changes that the carbon version brings.
There's slightly more of a backwards sweep from the clamp area at 4.7 degrees. This brings the hoods closer to you, offering more comfort when you're not in the drops. As this is the place where I spend most of my time during general riding, it's a feature that I really liked.
The aero top section is 43.5mm deep and rather skinny at just 16mm. It creates a shape that Ritchey says cuts through the wind. While I can't test its aero claims, I can confirm that resting your hands on the tops is very comfortable.
One of the issues that aero bars can have is limited space either side of the stem to attach computer mounts and lights. No such problem with the Ritchey bar – I had enough space for a front light and a K-Edge computer mount, making it easier to live with for general riding.
The drops feature a traditional bend and flare out by just one degree, highlighting the aggressive aero position that Ritchey was aiming to create with what was designed as a road racer's bar. I think it's balanced the aggressive drop position with the more relaxed hood and tops position really well.
Comfort is further improved by the lack of road buzz transferred to the hands. I found the bar comfortable to ride with thin tape and no gloves, despite the surface-dressed roads near me.
The hard efforts of some early season circuit races have shown the bar to be plenty stiff enough when I pulled hard on the drops in sprints. It's equally at home on the climbs, though the 248g for this 42cm size isn't the lightest. Pro's Vibe Aero is around the same weight, 261g for the same size, but you get the full Di2 internal routing (more on that below). Easton's EC70 SL bar is 219g, though it doesn't have the aero profile that we have here.
Thanks to the internal cable tunnel, you can leave quite a bit of the top section exposed. Routing mechanical brake and gear cables through the tunnel was quick and easy thanks to the tidy finish around the entry and exit points.
While I like the tidy look that the tunnel gives, it's a shame that Ritchey hasn't included a hole for a Di2 cable near the shifter clamp area. To run a Di2 cable between the two shifters to take full advantage of the bar-end junction box, it's going to be exposed, which doesn't make for the cleanest finish. The WCS Carbon Streem isn't the only bar with this problem; the Easton EC70 has the same issue.
Ritchey uses a 'no-slip grit' in the clamp areas to stop any unwanted movement. I popped the WCS Carbon Streem on my cyclo-cross bike to really test the security. Despite some big hits thanks to my 'bucking broncho' barrier hopping technique, the bar stayed put, even when mounted with a carbon stem. I installed this using a small amount of carbon gripper paste.
Even though it costs £270, this isn't the most expensive bar we've tested on road.cc. Pro's Vibe Aero bar, which I mentioned earlier, is £299 and would be my pick for a Di2 setup as you have the full internal Di2 cable routing. Prime's Primavera bar is a great 'budget' option at £149.99.
Overall, the Ritchey WCS Streem carbon performs brilliantly with a great combination of stiffness and comfort. I really liked the shape created by the backwards sweep into the shifter area while the traditional drops offered a solid platform for racing.
Stiff, comfortable bar combining an aero top section and traditional drops
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Ritchey WCS Carbon Streem 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?
The Carbon Streem features an extremely aggressive wing-shaped top section that saves watts while performing an incredibly comfortable hand position for cruising uphill. The drops feature a traditional bend-the choice of many Ritchey-sponsored pro riders.
UCI compliant 43.5x16mm wing-shaped top section cuts through the wind
Gentle sweep to tops and broad platform-great for seated climbing
Internal cable groove-no need to tape all the way to the stem
No-slip grit at stem and brake lever clamp areas
Drilled at bar end for Shimano Di2 EW-RS910 junction box routing
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Available in 40/42/44cm widths
Compatible w/ Shimano EW-RS910 junction box/end plug + internal routing
Measured center-to-center where the levers mount
31.8mm center section
40cm = 124/70mm
42cm = 126/70mm
44cm = 128/70mm
Matte UD carbon finish
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Really well. I found many comfortable hand positions while also being able to tuck down in the drops. There's plenty of stiffness too.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The balance of comfortable hand positions with the aggressive traditional design of the drops is really good for combining racing with general riding.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The lack of Di2 ports by the shifter clamp area means you can't fully hide Di2 cables.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Prime's Primavera Carbon aero bar does a very similar job at a significantly lower price (£149.99). Pro's Vibe Aero Carbon is more expensive at £299.99, but it's a better option for Di2 users.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes, super-comfortable.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes for a mechanical setup or SRAM eTap. Not for a Di2 setup.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Depends on what gearing they're using.
Use this box to explain your overall score
The bar is stiff and comfortable with a great shape. There are plenty of comfortable hand positions, but the lack of full Di2 routing is a shame, and there are much cheaper options available.
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!