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The Black Inc Integrated Aero Barstem is the cockpit of choice for Israel – Premier Tech pro riders, though it's designed for road and gravel use. It's available in a range of sizes, has a comfortable shape, is beautifully finished, and has a cleanly integrated mount to create the ultimate contact point.
If integration isn't for you, check out our guide to the best road bike handlebars.
Integrated bars and stems are probably a source of nightmares for bike mechanics, but the clean look and potential aero benefits will put such a setup on many riders' wish lists.
This Black Inc Barstem is designed to suit bikes with internal cabling, and only those with disc brakes and electronic groupsets – the routing requires some tight bends that wouldn't suit mechanical cabling. It comes with cable guides installed, to help with the internal cabling.
The bar area features a cable port under the flat tops, near the bend, and there's another under the stem near the clamp area for cables to pass through into the frame. Black Inc doesn't list any specific designs that it supports, but it doesn't require a bike where the cabling goes inside the headset. The bike I fitted it to – a Cannondale Systemsix with Shimano Di2 groupset and Shimano brakes – has a small port in the head tube, ahead of the headset.
The cable ports in the Barstem are a reasonable size, though not huge, but the angle where the cables run from the stem area through into the bar is tight.
The exit port is in a good location, but with the brake cable routed first, getting the Di2 cable routed was time-consuming. For anyone with the ability and suitable tools – and enough time – it is a job that can be done at home, but it might be less stressful to go through a shop.
The Integrated Aero Barstem is available in four widths, from 36cm to 42cm, the narrower options being in line with the current trend for decreasing the frontal area and improving aerodynamics. It also comes in seven lengths – effectively the stem length, measured from the centre of the flat top section to the centre of the steerer tube clamps – from 80mm to 140mm. That gives a huge range of options, 28 in total, and should mean there is a size to suit almost everyone.
As an aerodynamic component, it's no surprise to see its geometry is similar to race-orientated setups, with a 120mm drop, 80mm reach, and 7-degree flare. Black Inc suggests it is suitable for road and gravel bikes, but that's likely to be gravel racing, as non-competitive gravel riders are likely to prefer a wider option, and more flare.
The arrow-shaped one-piece design highlights the three degrees of backsweep of the bar area, the top section remaining flat and wide for the full width to the hoods. Here, the bar shape changes dramatically, turning over 90 degrees, and transitioning to a standard round shape very quickly.
The stem section has a short 39mm stack on all sizes; if you're replacing an existing setup, this is the amount of steerer tube that needs to be available.
Black Inc provides a top cap, but it's not a traditional round one, it has a slightly dropped shape, which means the steerer tube will need to be cut to the exact length required for it to work. Black Inc doesn't provide any spacers to use above the stem. You can use standard round spacers and top cap should you wish to – I chose to do this initially to ensure I was happy with the fit, before cutting a small amount off the steerer tube. Cutting the steerer tube to the correct height, with the top cap in place, does give a much nicer, smoother look.
If you want to run spacers under the stem, you can – the integrated Barstem doesn't restrict that.
Black Inc includes a V10 mount with the Barstem, which is compatible with Garmin and Wahoo computers, and a GoPro (or other item that works with the same mount). There's an option for just running a single computer, or with the GoPro-compatible mount underneath.
This does sit quite far back, which can limit your choice of light if you want to use it for that instead of a camera.
The angle of the computer mount can be adjusted, and will support the current largest units from both, the Roam V2 and Edge 1000.
Titanium bolts are used to attach the Barstem, which is a nice touch, even if low weight is not a key priority. The bolts are all high quality too, with close tolerances and a good depth for hex keys for secure attachment.
One area that integrated handlebars and stems are known for is stiffness, and that is no different here. I was sceptical that I'd notice a difference between the carbon bar and aluminum stem combination previously fitted, but it is very evident. The stiffness can be felt both in the drops when sprinting, and from the hoods when climbing and pushing hard.
With such a stiff setup, comfort can be compromised, but there is a surprising amount of vibration damping here, reducing feedback from the roads.
I found the shape very comfortable, allowing plenty of hand positions. The width is great for climbing or times when you would rather be sat up, while the wide flat section creates a place to rest your forearms when in a more aero position, holding on to the hoods, providing support to make it comfortable for longer periods.
While the seven-degree flare might not be as much as some would like for off-road use, on the road it gave a useful little extra width for descents. The flare doesn't start until after the location of the hood clamp, which allows the hoods to be angled inwards without the levers kicking off too much, as can happen on some more gravel/off-road-orientated bar shapes.
Our 38cm/100mm size Barstem tested weighed 383g, not including the V10 mount, which is comparable to other high-end integrated options.
The Deda Elementi Alanera Integrated Handlebar that Stu tested in 2018 weighed a little less at 356g, but has gone up to £799.99.
A 420x110 Vision Metron 6D, as reviewed by Simon in 2020, weighed 427g, and it's gone up to £639.95 (though currently discounted to £511.96).
But if weight is a real concern, a separate bar and stem can make for a much lighter setup – as little as 300g with careful choice. The Black Inc replaced an Enve SES Aero V2 bar and alloy stem setup with a total weight of 377g.
If you're looking to buy an integrated cockpit it's extremely important to make sure you know the size suits you, but if you are confident that the Barstem will work for you, it offers comfort and performance that exceeded my expectations.
I think it looks fantastic, with a minimalist design and a shape that not only stands out but works. The ride quality, the vibration damping, and the number of different hand positions it offers all add up to a combination that is very comfortable. We'll have to take Black Inc's word on the aero benefits, it isn't something we can test, but it certainly looks fast.
Comfortable and beautifully finished integrated aero cockpit at a high price
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Black INC Integrated Aero Barstem
Size tested: n/a
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?
Black Inc says:
The Integrated Aero Barstem is the new benchmark aero barstem for road and gravel, combining leading aerodynamics with refined ergonomics and a feathery weight. Its progressive shape, with drops flared by 30mm, boosts control and slashes the drag of the combined bike and rider, while increasing wrist clearance and comfort.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Black Inc lists:
Weight 398 g (42 cm x 110 mm)
Material Carbon Fiber
Drop 120 mm
Reach 80 mm
Stack 39 mm
Flare (drop section) 7°
Backsweep (top section) 3°
Steerer diameter 1-1/8"
Finish UD matte and glossy
Internal Cable Routing Electronic and Disc Brake systems only
External Cable Routing n/a
Accessories included Black Inc Computer Mount (V10)
If you wanted to attach anything heavier, the V10 mount would be the only concern.
If weight is a priority, a separate bar and stem can be quite a bit lighter, and there are some integrated options that are lighter, too.
Excellent, with good vibration damping and a shape that gives multiple hand positions for all-day riding.
Not exactly cheap, but cheaper than some rivals.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It was very comfortable, and the shape provides multiple hand positions.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The shape, especially the flat drop and tight bend to the hoods.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Setting up the internal cable routing.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Deda Elementi's Alanera costs £799.99, but weighs a little less (356g). The Vision Metron 6D we tested in 2020 weighed 427g and has gone up to £639.95.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, for anyone looking for a high-quality integrated bar and stem.
Use this box to explain your overall score
The Black Inc Integrated Aero gives more than just speed. The shape is great, and it was also surprisingly comfortable, despite having no noticeable flex.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is: Cannondale SystemSix
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: road racing, cyclo cross, sportives, mtb, Lots of gravel style riding
Matt is an endurance nut who loves big rides and big events. He's a former full-time racer and 24hr event specialist, but now is also happy riding off-road on gravel bikes or XC mountain bikes and exploring the mountains and hills of Mid Wales.