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Wrenched and Ridden: Thick-diameter Deda bars offer added stiffness and broad contact points

  • By Emily Zinn
  • Published Nov. 16, 2012

The lowdown: The world’s only 35mm-diameter road handlebar
Pros: A stiffer bar without added weight that still dampens well
Cons: Poses challenges with internal routing; very different feel than standard drop bars; they get extremely thick with a standard tape job

The addition of the strawberry red Deda Trentacinque cockpit to my lime green cyclocross bike has provoked its share of heckles from those that think the effect is too loud. But when you’re in love, you tend to assume critics just don’t see what you see.

Deda has produced an exceptionally comfortable and uniquely beautiful bar and stem set in the Trentacinque M35. I was highly skeptical of the thick bars before my first ride, but for the most part they’ve surpassed expectations.

The Technology

Deda Elementi allowed handlebars to take on an entirely new personality and shape with the design of the Trentacinque M35 drop bars. The only handlebar to boast a whopping 35mm diameter (which inspired the name Trentacinque — Italian for 35), Deda claims that in the carbon fiber bar it achieved added stiffness without sacrificing dampening or weight. The bars are cast from a single-piece carbon fiber monocoque, with thicker walls in the locations that take the most force. According to Deda, the thicker diameter itself gives the bars a high tensile strength, reducing out-of-the-saddle power loss due to bar flex.

The drops use the Deda RHM shape, an acronym for Rapid Hand Movement. The sharp bend is designed to allow quick and convenient movement of a rider’s hands to different positions on the bars.

Deda debuted the ultra-light version, the Superleggera 35, at Eurobike, with the 42cm version weighing 180 grams. The bars on test here are the heavier M35 Carbon.

The Ride

The bars are clearly designed for sprinters that throw bar-snapping power into their final pedal strokes, like Andre Greipel, who uses them on his Ridley Noah Fast. Needless to say, I don’t fit into that category of rider. Honestly, I’m sure that lost power to handlebar flex is comically negligible in my performance on my bike, but I love the way they ride, nonetheless.

“The Gorilla” tapes his Trentacinque like a regular drop bar, which makes for a huge diameter to wrap his hands around. To limit that bulk, I only taped the drops, leaving the tops and the bend around the lever free.

Using the bars for ’cross, I anticipated a whole list of complaints about the bars, including (but not limited to) too much vibration and slippery grip on the untaped areas and too much strain in the crease of my thumb because of the shape. I also expected that my hands would be too small to comfortably ride on the tops of the bars.

I won’t say that they didn’t take some getting used to, but I took the M35 on two consecutive 100-mile days, and experienced a range of conditions including dirt descents and rain. Throughout, my hands were more comfortable than they sometimes are on shorter rides. I didn’t feel like my hands slipped too much or that the vibrations were too strong, even without tape.

My hands may be my most sensitive contact point and can go numb very quickly when I’m riding, so uncomfortable bars ruin a ride quickly for me. I did have some discomfort on the Trentacinque, but compared to the Truvative Team handlebars that I often ride (and like), my hands were comfortable for longer than I am used to.

Actually, once I got used to the Trentacinque, the Team bars began to feel more skinny, whereas the Trentacinque bars feel bulky. The wide, round tops feel more like a mountain bike bar in my hands, which suits me well.

I would welcome a little bit of shaping, though, and a less continuous shape would probably make small hands feel like they have a better grip on the bars. Regardless, the bigger diameter gives me a more dispersive contact point and keeps my hands comfortable for longer than some more ergonomically-shaped, but skinnier handlebars.

I am not entirely sure that I buy into the concept behind the RHM, or that the shape of the drops dramatically changes my ability to navigate quickly around the bars, but the shape of the drops is very comfortable and I found myself in that position more often than when I ride other bars, including my Team bars, as a result of that comfort. My wrists — where I often feel a lot of strain — bent at a comfortable angle in the drops of the Trentacinque. More importantly, the curve of the drops allows for a variety of hand positions, all with a large area of contact, which keeps my hands comfortable in the drops.

Leaving the tops untaped hasn’t bothered me, and I love the look of the untaped bars with the strawberry red and the slick racing graphics. Curious about how well the untaped bars dampened vibration, I installed the Trentacinque and Team bars on two identical bikes and compared the feel of the vibrations side-by-side. The untaped bar does not dampen nearly as well as the taped Team on dirt roads. Since I didn’t tape them, I wore long-fingered gloves so that my hands wouldn’t get slippery on the painted surface.

I also attempted a side-by-side comparison of the two bars for stiffness, but couldn’t discern a difference just by feel.

Some of my peers are less enamored with these bars than I am, former VeloNews tech editor Nick Legan included. They definitely don’t feel like standard drop bars, and Legan never really came to enjoy the feeling of the fat bars, which he wrapped fully, like Greipel.

We both had problems with the internal routing as well. I have a sealed cable system for cyclocross and wasn’t able to route my thick Kevlar housing through the Trentacinque’s internal routing system. Legan’s brake lever position didn’t line up with the internal routing, so he, too, didn’t thread his cables through the bars.

If you use clip-on bar accessories, like lights, don’t expect the clips to be able to wrap around the massive diameter of the bars either.

Besides strawberry red, the bars are available in white or in raw carbon fiber. Deda claims they weigh 210g. They are available in 42cm, 44cm and 46cm options, measured from outer edge to outer edge (most bars are measured for width from center to center).

Needless to say, the M35 requires a Trentacinque stem to fit the 35mm clamp diameter. Deda’s Attacco 35 stem also has a 35mm clamp diameter and comes in 90mm, 100mm, 110mm, 120mm and 130mm lengths. It has an 82-degree angle and comes in red, white and black matte.

Price

MSRP for the carbon bar is $270. The alloy option is just $80. With a $130 stem, it’s still no cheap date.

The Bottom Line

My guess is that the Trentacinque will win over plenty of riders. But for many, the thicker bars will feel too different from most drop bars to win over traditionalists. Deda advertises that the Trentacinque offers “an entirely different and completely new feel while riding,” of which there is no doubt, but not everyone will appreciate the change.

www.dedaelementi.com

FILED UNDER: Bikes and Tech / Wrenched and Ridden TAGS:

Emily Zinn

Emily Zinn

Emily Zinn spent her infancy in the back of a women's team van while the team built wheels around her. She spent part of her pre-teen years in Europe following the major European mountain, road and gravity races and touring cycling product factories. College was the first time she lived in a home without a frame building shop in her garage or basement. Her favorite style of riding is getting lost in singletrack trail networks and taking her time finding her way back.

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