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Specialized S-Works SL Classic road handlebar

Classic shape, modern materials

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Flattened sections along the front edge of the bar do a good job of blending under-bar-routed cables into the shape

Flattened sections along the front edge of the bar do a good job of blending under-bar-routed cables into the shape
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The textured stem clamp area helps prevent unwanted movement

The textured stem clamp area helps prevent unwanted movement
(Image credit: James Huang)
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A textured surface and graduated markings help keep levers in place

A textured surface and graduated markings help keep levers in place
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The traditional bend offers more positioning flexibility than anatomic bars, many of which offer little real difference between riding on the hoods and riding in the drops

The traditional bend offers more positioning flexibility than anatomic bars, many of which offer little real difference between riding on the hoods and riding in the drops
(Image credit: James Huang)

Specialized's S-Works SL Classic mates the positioning versatility of a traditional bend with modern materials to yield a road handlebar weighing just 192g that doesn't sacrifice rigidity like some aluminium equivalents.

Compared to anatomic bends that often offer little real difference between riding on the hoods and in the drops, the SL Classic's bend allows for a longer, more stretched out and aggressive position – something that's important for riders and racers who spend a lot of time there. 

The curve makes for a shorter reach to the brake and shift levers than anatomic-bend bars, too, while still providing good wrist clearance when sprinting.

Conversely, though, the drops' concave upper surface creates more pressure at the edges of your palms, which can be problematic for those with sensitive hands or nerve issues. Sliding back to the unusually long flat section helps but if reducing palm pressure is of prime importance for you, an anatomic bend is still better in that respect.

Apparently well-engineered carbon fibre design and construction yields impressive stiffness when pulling hard, and also a little extra room on the tops owing to the extra-tight bend at the outer edges (something that's not normally possible with aluminium). 

The textured stem clamp area helps prevent unwanted movement.

Unfortunately, that stiffness is in play on rough roads, too – while the SL Classic does a good job of damping road buzz, it's not particularly comfortable on very rough surfaces.

Other details include textured and graduated surfaces for the stem and lever clamp areas for reduced slippage and easier setup, and flattened sections along the front edge to help conceal under-bar cable routing.

Though not exactly cheap, the S-Works SL Classic bar is reasonably priced compared to much of the name-brand competition. Lighter riders may want to look for something a little softer but otherwise this is a good choice.