November 18, 2009

In 2009 Zipp released three new road handlebars. The SL is the lightest of the three at 160-grams in a 42-centimeter width. Then there is the Zipp Contour SL that is designed to be more comfortable on longer rides by using an aero-shaped top section and weighs 185-grams. Finally there is the SLC2, a beefed up version of the SL with a on oversized top section and specially designed carbon laminate structure to meet the demands of powerful sprinters or cyclocross riders.

The Zipp SLC2 keep are designed to be extra stiff. To achieve this, and increase durability, Zipp keeps more than 60-percent of the bar width at the same 31.8-millimeter diameter as the clamp area. This also allows for the use of Zipp VukaClip low-pro bars for time trials or triathlons. The bars also features Zipp's vibration absorbing VCLC technology, which is designed to mute road shock and provide a smoother ride. The SLC2 has dual cable grooves, a tapered top section and a choice of three bends – ergo, traditional and shallow. It comes in 40, 42, 44 and 46-centimeter widths and weighs 190-grams in a 42-centimeter width.

Out of the box, the first thing we noticed was the weight. Zipp claims a weight of 190-grams and ours came in at 191-grams, an impressive feat for a bar designed for sprinters and cyclocross riding. Installing the bars was easy and was aided by textured sections at the stem clamp and brake/shifter mounting areas. These areas also feature position markers that help get everything equal and level. Little touches such as these are welcome additions. On the road the Zipp SLC2 bars are definitely stiff. Our test riders could produce little, if any flex in the bars. Even during hard out of the saddle efforts the bars remained solid. Cornering, sprinting and out of the saddle climbing are all enhanced due the bars performance. Despite the increased stiffness the SLC2 did a good job of dampening road shock, feeling much like a conventional, non-oversized, set of carbon bars. While bend type is a personal choice the traditional bend, with 130-millimeters of drop and 87.5-millimeters of reach, felt great and put our hands in a comfortable and natural position for shifting and breaking.

The increased stiffness does come at a price. The biggest complaint about the Zipp SLC2s was the oversized top section. Most testers felt that the diameter of the top section was too big to comfortably hold for long periods of time. This was amplified by the bar tapering from the 31.8-millimeter clamp diameter toward the drops. This tapering occurs where most people hold the top section of the bars and made it feel as if each of the riders hands were angled upwards toward the center of the bar at about 10-degrees as apposed to flat. Even though we didn't take a liking to the oversized top section, it should be noted that the SLC2 are not intended for lightweight climbers who spend a lot of time on the tops of the bars. They are intended for elbow-to-elbow runs to the line and that is where they excel. The Zipp SLC2 has quickly become some of our favorite bars. The traditional bend combined with the increased stiffness and low weight is hard to beat.

PRICE: $325.00
WEIGHT: 191-grams
BONUS POINTS: Weight, stiffness and traditional bend

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