While lapping the bike park or pedalling the trails around Whistler, B.C. it doesn’t take long to notice that nearly everyone in town is riding a Chromag handlebar! It seems that the company’s chosen sweep strikes a chord with most riders, I’ve never heard a bad word about their quality or reliability, and there’s also the cool factor – Chromag holds a special status with the locals as one of Whistler’s top-tier hometown brands.
I’ve ridden aluminum Chromag handlebars before, but was offered the chance to try out their carbon fiber Cutlass bars this summer. They’ve been on my all-mountain bike since April, and since day one I’ve been appreciating the damped ride provided by this fairly flexy bar. The Cutlass proved to be an ideal upgrade for my bike, as its degree of compliance felt great for my weight and helps smooth out rough trails on the ups and the downs…
Designed for anything from XC to enduro riding, the Cutlass carbon bars come in one dimension only- 780mm wide with a 20mm rise and 31.8mm clamp diameter. Chromag’s signature ‘sweet spot for most’ sweep is 5 degrees up, 8 degrees back. The Cutlass bars are made from unidirectional carbon fiber, and my scale shows them weighing in at 235g- roughly 120g lighter than my OEM aluminum bar.
I like the Cutlass’ graphics, they’re not too splashy but there are a few accents to entertain the eyes including Chromag’s signature snarling bears. Personally I love how you can see glimpses of the raw carbon through the matte finish.
As far as shape and dimensions, I was comfortable right away with the Cutlass. I have ridden Chromag bars before (at the same width) so the feel was immediately familiar. I also matched the rise to my previous handlebar, so I got cozy with the Cutlass bars very quickly.
Switching from aluminum to a carbon bar, I knew to expect some damping and vibration reduction. I couldn’t wait to point it down a rough descent, and I didn’t expect to notice much difference on the way up…. However, the Cutlass bar showed its compliance as soon as I started climbing. Anytime I was pulling on the grips around corners or on steep bursts, the bars seemed to give in fairly easily. To my delight, this forgiving flex made ascents feel a bit easier on my hands and arms.
This bar is definitely on the flexier side of the spectrum. A shop-experienced friend of mine put some muscle against his Easton Havoc bar, then did the same to the Cutlass- The Havoc flexed a little, but the Cutlass proved way softer by comparison. I am a lightweight guy at 145 lbs, so I had no concerns about this, and the folks at Chromag assured me the bars are strength tested to a higher standard than others in it’s class. On downhill sections, the benefit of the carbon’s damping was quite noticeable but under my weight I never felt they were too light-duty.
To me the Cutlass’ compliance felt perfect, the Chromag sweep agrees with me and as expected the bars presented no mechanical issues whatsoever. My one caveat about these handlebars is that they might feel a bit soft under heavier riders- But that said, some people like more flex, some prefer more stiffness. The Cutlass bars are available with white, yellow or orange graphics and retail for $156 USD.