Initial impressions: FUNN Fatboy 35mm
My riding preference is already wide handlebars, so I was comfortable with the 785mm length of the Fatboy 35. The rise and sweep, however, were a relatively unfamiliar experience for me. Initially I had some doubts, as the front steering felt a little too light and I struggled to get the same solid leverage when climbing that flat bars give. But after some time together the Fatboy 35 and I became very good friends.
The Fatboy 35 comes in red, blue, orange and black. The bar I tested was the more subdued black variant. The centre of the bar has a neat sandblasted effect while the ends of the bars are polished. The smooth ends allow for easy fitment of cockpit items like grips, brakes levers and shifters. This two tone style is appealing off the bike but is quickly disguised by grips and clamps once assembled.
Bolting on the bars was a breeze, the centre aligned graphics are simple and make it easy to calibrate the handlebars to my preference. For me, this meant riding the bars slanted slightly backwards. If you’re not comfortable with the width of the Fatboy 35 handlebars, there are clear markings for shortening operations.
FUNN Fatboy 35 specifications:
- MaterialAL-7050 - T73
- Upsweep4 degrees
- Backsweep8 degrees
- Bar clamp diameter35mm
- ColoursBlack, Grey, Red, Blue, and Orange
- PriceRRP R 630.00
Initial impressions: FUNN Stryge 55mm
The 55mm long Stryge stem (with the Fatboy 35) was spot on for my geometry. The 5 degree negative rise is largely unnoticeable, especially when coupling the stem with the rise and upsweep of the Fatboy 35 handlebars.
The stem matched the bar in colouring, black. It looked sleek and, with the larger bar clamp, somewhat aggressive. The stem appeared solid and up to the task of keeping the handlebars attached to the bike.
For those committed to the suck of gravity, FUNN also have direct mount stem compatible with the Fatboy 35 called the RSX 35.
The Stryge bolted onto steerer and handlebar as expected. The open face was hugely helpful in setting the bar position. I've had to use a bit of guess work with the previous stems, as they've tended to cover most of the handlebar markings. Once all bolted on, the stem gave me the firm impression that it wasn't going to allow any slippage.
FUNN Stryge 35mm specifications:
- MaterialAL-6061-T6 Alloy
- Extension55mm, 75mm, or 100mm
- Rise-5 Degrees
- Handlebar clamp35mm
- ColoursBlack, Red, Blue, and Orange
- FinishSandblast with mirror polished
- Claimed weight190g (75mm) & 226g (100mm)
- PriceRRP R 390.00
Why 35mm diameter bars?
The argument is that as handlebars grow longer they become weaker and start to flex more easily. In an attempt to prevent this, manufacturers are forced to use more materials which means heavier bars.
With a larger 35mm diameter, however, manufacturers can build in more stiffness and strength with the use of less materials. Supposedly resulting in a stronger, stiffer, and lighter bar compared to similar length handlebars using a 31.8mm diameter.
On testing, the handlebar was noticeably stiffer than other wides bars I have ridden. So much so that I struggled with shoulder and hand discomfort for the first couple of rides. With the increased stiffness, my neglected fork was made to take more of the impact and it really exposed how inadequately it was performing. Time for an upgrade perhaps.
While I really enjoyed riding this handlebar, I find it impossible to say just how much of my enjoyment stems from the stiffness of the handlebar. In the end, it's going to come down to your own preference.
Review: How does the handlebar and stem combination ride?
In short, the control and confidence I gained by riding this setup made me smile uncontrollably, most notably when descending familiar trails.
Aside from the minor niggles settling into the unfamiliar shape, I felt comfortable and confident (probably overly so) on tricky terrain. The width of the bar and stem length seemed to complemented each other spectacularly, and combined well with the rest of my bike.
The result, accurate steering and the feeling of complete control both up and down the mountain. With these bars, I picked my way through tricky rock gardens effortlessly and when I misjudged my ability, I was confident enough to just hold my line and bank on things turning out well.
The Fatboy 35 and Stryge combination suited my geometry and bike setup better than anything I've ridden previously and this, more than anything, is probably the reason I had such a pleasant experience with these components.
That being said, I did enter a few cross-country marathon type events, where the FUNN handlebar and stem setup provided no noticeable advantage. If punishing your body in endurance racing is where you find your joy, then I’d recommend a more traditional XC configuration.
In the end
Handlebars and stems are all about personal preference and riding style. I found that the Fatboy 35 and Stryge suited me perfectly. This setup excelled on mountainous single track and did an adequate job on all other surfaces. If you’re looking to boost your confidence and ability on technical terrain, then something like the Fatboy 35 and Stryge may be a good consideration for your next cockpit.
The FUNN Fatboy 35 and Stryge are available through Performance Bikes.