A handful of bike brands hew close to the European cycling tradition. Many are Italian, and almost all from the boot have singsong names like Deda Elementi. The pronunciation alone evokes images of the sport’s golden era, like the toe straps, cycling caps, spare tire bandoleers, the … wait a minute. These are mountain bike bars. They’re 750mm wide. They have a gargantuan 35mm clamp interface.
So much for feeling nostalgic.
We’ve come to know Deda as a company with a deep road tradition. It was a bit of a surprise to receive a bar/stem combination that is right at home on an aggressive all-mountain bike. Appropriately wide and swept back, the XDR bars immediately feel good, and the 60mm, 8-degree Reverso stem sports a reassuringly simple four-bolt faceplate clamp. Those seeking an even more aggressive position and stiffer stem might consider Deda’s Box 35, but the XDR/Reverso combination seemed just right for our test bike, a Trek Slash.
With both bars and stem sporting tried and true ergonomics, the 35mm bar clamp diameter steals the show. Not many other manufacturers have ventured in this direction; only Easton offers a 35mm option, with its Havoc bar and stem. Like Deda, Easton makes both carbon and alloy bar options, with the latter weighing the same as the XDR — 300 grams — albeit with an extra 50mm of length.
Easton bills the Havoc as downhill componentry, so the 800mm width is understandable, as is the single stem length option. While Easton only offers a 50mm stem with a 35mm clamp, Deda’s options range from 45-80mm.
On the trail
We set about riding the XDR and Reverso on everything from smooth, rolling XC rides to some of the most technical trails in Fruita, Colorado. Overall, the stiffness difference between the 35mm interface and the more common 31.8mm clamp size was not significant. That being said, the bars have a shape and width that is spot on, and there was no discernable flex when cranking bermed corners or dropping into steep, rocky descents.
Paired with the right bike, these bars won’t let you down in terms of handling precision. It must be said that, from a purely psychological standpoint, it is inspiring to look down at a massive handlebar.
The 3.2mm difference
Are 35mm bars the next big thing? Hard to say. We put the XDR’s road sibling through its paces in November and the results were also inconclusive. For someone building a new bike and looking for a burly and unique setup, the XDR and Reverso might be the ticket, especially when the price is considered. They beat the Easton Havoc in that regard, at $80 for the stem and $75 for the bars, versus the Easton’s $100 and $90 pricing.
One thing is certain: it’s nice to see a traditional brand known for road componentry expand its offerings and come up with an innovative part that is both affordable and functional.
Pros: Proven size and angles for most trail bikes, stiff.
Cons: Rare clamp diameter means that other stem or bar options are limited.
The Lowdown: This combo is a great option for a mountain biker who likes to get rad but isn’t ready to give up his or her ristretto for a Red Bull.