I’ve been riding an Easton Havoc 31.8 Carbon Low Rise bar with a Syntace Megaforce 2 stem for about a year, and I like the setup. I’ve never felt that the bar wasn’t stiff enough; the width and sweep are perfect for offering me both comfort and control; it cuts out some vibration over an aluminum bar; and is a pretty light package, largely due to the extremely light stem with titanium bolts.
On my scale I had a package weighing 344g. Not bad.
The Haven 35 bar and stem package weighed just 318g. A 26g drop in weight isn’t huge, but the Haven Stem has simple, durable steel bolts, and the package looks so much bigger than my old setup that I was impressed to see that it was appreciably lighter.
I tend to run fairly cushy grips that mute trail noise. Since I wanted to get a really good sense of the difference in trail noise transmission between my old Havoc and the new Haven bar, I swapped the thinner and firmer Easton grips onto my old bar for a couple of days to get a benchmark.
Once I had a feel for that configuration, I installed the Haven setup. It was easy to install, but I would like to see Easton make alignment markings on the stem so riders know what bar rotation they are setting it up with. This helps to consistently achieve the same setting if you ever need to swap bars between bikes, or remove and replace the bar.
Once on the bike, I did my best to super-scientifically flex the bars in the driveway. Results: the Haven doesn’t flex appreciably, while my old Havoc did flex a bit.
I then went for a ride on a fast, bermed, moderately rough trail. My first impression was: “My steering is definitely a bit more precise now, but my hands hurt a little more than usual.”
I had never noticed that my old bar felt imprecise, but this 35mm setup is definitely more precise. But I wasn’t too excited about the increased hand fatigue.
So I dialed back the low speed compression on my fork and decreased the rebound damping, and things started to feel better. After a few rides I went back to my typical cushier grips, and I started to really like the setup.
The Easton grips are a lock-on grip and, like all lock-on grips with an internal sleeve, vibration damping is a bit limited when compared to a non-locking grip of the same diameter. Riders generally either love the added trail feel, or hate the vibration that comes with it. But if you like a thin, firm grip these are a great option.
My only complaint is that the increased diameter of the locking collar means that your hands sit inside the bar ends by 5-10mm on each end. If I knew I were going to be running these grips, I’d use a slightly wider bar than I usually run to accommodate that flange.
Once I had my usual grips on the bars and my fork readjusted, I was happy with the setup. In fact, I’m now happier than I was with my old setup, and I’m relying more on the fork to absorb trail vibration and less on the bar.
With the stiffer bar, my steering is more responsive, and I am able to get a better sense of the effects of any adjustments I make to my fork’s settings. To say it again, I’m better able to control the overall system damping the front end of my bike because there is less uncontrollable flex.
The difference in the vibration transmitted between the Easton 31.8mm combo and the Easton 35mm combo is similar in magnitude to the switch between thin lock-on grips (like the ODI Ruffians) and cushier, slip-on grips (like ODI Longnecks or ESI Racer’s Edge grips). Overall, the Easton Haven 35 Carbon Bar with softer grips yields a more precise feeling than the Havoc 31.8mm bar with firm grips, while only transmitting slightly more vibration.
The Easton Haven 35mm Carbon Bar and Stem are a well put together and polished combo. I found them to be stiffer than the 31.8mm Havoc Carbon bar and Syntace Megaforce 2 stem I ran previously, and that stiffness did make handling more precise while it also transmitted a little more vibration. The result is that suspension setup is more noticeable, and the overall front-end compliance on the bike is more controllable. I’ll be keeping the Haven 35 bar and stem combo on my bike.
The Easton grips are a well thought out lock-on grip that would be a great option for someone looking for just a bit more cushion than an ODI Ruffian grip.