Enve Carbon DH Riser Bar Review

November 2012 Reviewed by: Daniel

There was a time not that long ago that the thought of a carbon fiber downhill bar was scoffed at. Enve changed all that with this handlebar. Designed for and tested on the crushingly brutal World Cup DH circuit, the Enve Carbon DH Riser bar didn’t just meet the challenge it was given; it surpassed it. Downhill legends Steve Peat and Greg Minaar have proven this bar can perform and win at the World Championship level.

With XC weight and DH toughness, the Enve DH riser bar is a joy to ride. While it was never tested on a downhill race bike, the Enve DH bar is a perfect fit for my 5.5” travel Specialized Stumpy EVO all-mountain bike that is punished on extremely rocky trails and on jump lines where downhill bikes are often found in our neck of the woods. Cut down from the stock 800mm width to 780mm, the Enve DH bars never felt out of place or overkill for this bike out on our local trails. They are remarkably tough as well and survived a yearlong testing period relatively unscathed. While the Enve DH riser bar is labeled for downhill use, all-mountain riders or singlespeeders looking for some extra torque without a weight penalty should put this bar at the top of their list for consideration as their next handlebar.

Weight: 10

The Enve DH bar is quite light for a 800mm handlebar at 241g. For comparison the Easton Havoc Carbon 31.8 is 253g at 750mm wide. The Easton Havoc 35 Carbon is 220g at 800mm wide (but requires a slightly heavier 35mm diameter stem). Race Face SixC Carbon is 237g at 785mm wide.

Fit and Finish: 10

The matte finish is unique and absolutely beautiful. The outer wall of the bar is smooth and free of ripples and paint. This is as close to a bare carbon finish as you can get, which says “Built for racing at the highest level with nothing to hide.” The graphics are no nonsense and understated. Convenient hash marks at the ends of the bars eliminate the need to measure and mark the bars before cutting. While this is a small thing, it is a nice touch and shows that Enve is paying attention to the details. Lastly, the roughed up finish on the clamping area allowed me to comfortably use lower torque values for stem faceplate bolts as they never once slipped during the test with bolts torqued to 5nm.

Stiffness: 7

When Enve set out to design this bar the performance goal was never to produce the stiffest bar possible. Enve’s philosophy is to engineer handlebars that provide a tuned flex profile that will feel as natural and comfortable as possible. With that said, the Enve DH bars felt plenty stiff enough to get the job done without any loss of precision or control. Stiffness felt similar to 300+ gram alloy bars I have tried in the past. The key difference exhibited by the Enve bars is the lack of buzz this well designed carbon bar provides.

Comfort: 9

That lack of buzz I mentioned is a key component of what makes these bars so comfortable. The other, more important factor is the dialed ergonomics that place your wrists in a comfortable position for a bar this wide.

Ergonomics: 10

Once bars get beyond 710-740mm, the need for more backsweep and upsweep become critical for comfort. All things being equal, the farther apart your hands are the more your wrists have to bend to properly to grip the bar. To see how this works, put both hands on the handrail, balcony or staircase and see how your wrists must adjust relative to how far apart you place your hands on that handrail. Enve has smartly taken this ergonomic reality into consideration and has adjusted the bend on its handlebars up and back to account for it. With 9 degrees of backsweep and 5 degrees of upsweep, Enve has one degree more upsweep than most bars, but it feels like more than that. Rotating the bars back will translate that upsweep to increased backsweep so you can dial in the feel of the bars to best fit your body.

The other adjustment on offer is width. I cut 10mm off each end of the bar to achieve a 780mm width that suits my 6’2” frame perfectly. The hash marks go down to 720 but you can go even shorter. The 23mm rise of this bar worked perfectly for me as well and gave me just enough rise that I was able to run a zero degree rise stem and mount it close to the headset for race bike looks and improved stiffness.

Durability: 7

I have used these bars for over a year and they are still going strong. Minor crashes and time on bike racks has produced more than a few scratches on the finish but nothing deep enough to remove a layer of carbon. That is a pretty good record for a year of hard riding on a carbon bar that will always have a more delicate finish than an alloy bar. I have complete confidence in the structure of the bar based on how resilient the carbon is to impacts. The handlebar clamping area shows no damage after being clamped by four different stems, a testament to the quality of the engineering in this area. Should you ever crash and damage the bar severely, Enve has a lifetime crash replacement program for the original owner at 50% off of MSRP.

Bottom Line

This is a serious contender for the title of the best mountain riser bar on the market. While it isn’t the stiffest, it has the best ergonomics and a level of comfort for a bar in this category that can’t be beat. Quality is unparalleled, as is the gorgeous looks of this serious racing component. There is no way this bar can disappoint on any level. It is that good.

Review Summary

The Pros

Lightweight, gorgeous, perfect ergonomics and as wide as you could ever want.

The Cons

A little pricey.

The Verdict

Riser bars don’t come any better than this.

The Scores

Weight 10
Fit and Finish 10
Stiffness 7
Comfort 9
Ergonomics 10
Durability 7
Overall Score 8.8/10

Writer's Profile

Daniel Slusser
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 175 lbs.
Preferred Discipline: Mountain & Cyclocross

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