This article originally appeared on BikeRadar
Shimano's component arm PRO's Vibe series of handlebars and stems has evolved in to these carbon fibre and alloy Vibe LTD range-toppers.
- Highs: Bar shape, stem clamp, overall performance
- Lows: Premium quality means a price premium
- Buy if: You want a decent cockpit upgrade and price isn't a barrier
The bar is all T800 unidirectional (UD) carbon, while the stem combines 7075-T6 alloy with more UD carbon for the best of both materials.
Its compact anatomic bend gives the bar a distinct flat section within the generous 131.5mm drops, which naturally positions your elbows in a tuck and gives even large hands great purchase for sustained use on descents or on the flat.
The bar's top is 31.8mm diameter from bend to bend, with no central bulge, increasing strength while reducing weight. A wide channel inside the forward bend guides both cables to the large, but short internal tunnel beneath the tops, with the cables exiting in an ideal position for onward routing and easy management.
After less than a large hand's width on the taped portion, the tops gently sweep forward before the tight bend to the lever. This feels comfortable when climbing on the tops, provides a little extra wrist support when on the hoods, and keeps the bar well clear of the wrists when on the drops.
As you'd expect, they work superbly with Shimano levers, with a smooth transition on to the hoods and very comfortable reach from the drops.
The Puzzle Clamp is an interlocking mechanical fit between stem and faceplate that spreads load, does away with two titanium bolts and produces a clean look.
The inverted, truncated triangular section stem is incredibly stiff, and together with the bar, impressively resists twisting forces, even when heaving 1000W-plus through them.
My 42cm bar weighed 230g, and the 110mm -10-degree stem 137g. Neither are pushing the limits of lightness, but often super-light can mean excess flex or harshness, whereas the Vibe pair perform extraordinarily well over normally jarring cobbles and erupting tarmac. You're aware of bumps for sure, but there are no sharp kicks or stings from violent impacts, really improving control and relaxing muscles.
I like the subtle new finish, the chunky tops are a delight to hold, and the cockpit's overall performance is faultless. Unfortunately the combined cost is substantial, but that's the only negative: bar: £275, stem: £150.