By Zack Vestal
In just a few years on the US market, Shimano’s PRO component line has already achieved good visibility. Lately prominent on the bikes of Columbia-HTC riders and of course those of Skil-Shimano, PRO bars, stems, and other parts appear destined for reasonably broad acceptance.
Stylish road components are always popular, and PRO delivers with the Stealth Evo bar/stem combination. Far from the first of its kind, the Stealth Evo is a more recently available entry in the integrated bar/stem category, and it happens to be the first of its kind that I’ve tried. I’ve always been wary of the lack of bar tilt/angle adjustment, but as it turns out, the Stealth Evo seems to have found a great combination of shape, angle, and dimension. In addition to being very stiff for its weight class, it is also very comfortable to ride.
The Stealth Evo comes in ten sizes and two colors. Stem lengths are available from 90mm to 130mm, in 10mm increments, and the bar is available in either 42cm or 44cm width. Nude carbon (black) and gloss-white painted are the available colors, and both have slick graphics across the bar top and stem.
The bar top has a flattened aero shape that is deeper toward the stem, and slightly shallower at the bends toward the outside. It is about 45mm deep at the stem, and 33mm at the bend. Under this aero bar top is a single cable groove with two tubes, one for brake and one for shifter housing.
The drop or hook portion of the bar is “ergo” styled, with tight bends and a flat section (rather than curved) in the drop. I measured the drop at 125mm from bar top center to drop center. The reach from the center of the bar top to the center of the hook is 75mm. Both measurements are subject to minor debate, because the exact center of the aero bar top is hard to determine precisely.
The stem has a standard 2-bolt clamp, and on the underside of the stem extension, another two bolts provide an attachment point for an accessory computer mount, available from PRO. The attachment point can also be used for a clip-on aerobar extension, called the “Stealth Evo clip-on Simon Whitfield.” This molded monocoque carbon clip-on is specific to the Stealth Evo road bar, and includes elbow pads and “twist lock” adjustable S-bend extensions.
Installation of the bar/stem is straightforward. There’s a textured portion on the hook for secure fitment of the brake levers. It’s meant to be wrapped with bar tape only to the outer edge of the bar top.
My first impression of the Stealth Evo was stiffness. It had been a while since I rode something so stiff, and it makes a difference when climbing or sprinting — you simply feel more efficient.
But fortunately the stiffness does not necessarily come at the price of discomfort. I’ve done multiple five-hour rides, and two nine-plus hour rides, including some rough graveled roads, with no problem. I wouldn’t call the bar shock absorbent, but I wouldn’t say it’s harsh. It feels solid, firm, and comfortable.
Lately I’ve been a fan of curved drops, particularly the Bontrager VR curve. But the angle of the ergo drop on the Stealth Evo seems just right, and it feels good to me. Plus, it’s got a relatively short reach and shallow drop, both of which I vastly prefer. I was pleasantly surprised to find the shape of the drops perfectly rideable.
Likewise, I wasn’t sure I would like the aero bar top, but I do. I might prefer to wrap it a little farther in with bar tape, because on hot days the clearcoated black carbon can be both hot and slippery when riding without gloves. Aside from that, the deep aero shape turns out to be super-comfortable for me. I felt like I could get a really solid grip for climbing, and a broad platform for my hands when just cruising.
At 400 grams for a 110 stem with 44cm bar, it’s not the lightest bar and stem combo you could purchase. Light alloy stems run around 140 grams, and light carbon bars, less than 200 grams.
But for the extra 50 or so grams of weight, you get a massive increase in stiffness, and arguably, style as well. Plus, it’s comfortable to ride and easy to install. Despite my weight weenie tendency, this component is going to find a permanent home on one of my bikes.
If you’re looking to integrate, consider the PRO Stealth Evo bar and stem.