Way back in my Florida days, there was this bike shop owner for whom I was equal turns amazed and appalled. It was like a century of women’s liberation had totally passed him by; the man was a wellspring of sleeze. The last time I ever stepped foot into that shop, one of female friends was running errands with me. The owner looked at us and asked in his thick old world accent, “So, what kind of bike do you ride?” I told him I had a Bianchi, and he turned to my friend Becca and asked,”And what do you ride? Hopefully him….heheheheh.” I’m not fucking kidding in the least bit. Becca and I turned heel and walked out without even saying a word.
A friend of mine related another story about this owner: A guy walks into the shop looking for mtn bikes, and the owner starts showing him long-travel options. The customer asks why he would need a long-travel bike for Florida, to which the owner said,”Because it’s the extra inch that the women need….heheheheh.” These stories are much better when I tell them in person, because in print I don’t think I’m conveying how comically sleezy his laugh was.
Somehow that bike shop owner comes to mind when I see the new Deda Elementi 35mm handlebars….maybe because I can hear his voice when I read the advert slogans. “No handlebar in the world has such a diameter. The diameter is the main factor of magnitude in the moment of inertia of the section of the handlebar. The moment of inertia is what defines the rigidity of your handlebars. What all riders are looking for, as insufficient stiffness causes dissipation of your precious energy….hehehehe.”
Deda Elementi has a separate webpage address for the 35mm bars and stems (http://www.trentacinque.net/) to explain the revolutionary innovation of creating inconvenient standards. Deda throws around some finite element computer modeling to show how a bar that is 35mm all the way across the top is 50% stiffer than the 31.8mm bar that typically tapers down to 24mm on either side of the stem. My question is, why not just make the smaller bar 31.8 all the way across the top? I don’t have the computer tools to run the FEM simulations, but I would guess that such a bar could be 15-30% stiffer than a tapered 31.8. If so, that would be valid gains that wouldn’t need a special stem with a 35mm bar clamp. Note that Shimano’s subsidiary brand PRO already makes such a bar (the excellent Vibe series) in both alloy and carbon with 3 different bend styles to boot. Why would I want the hassle of a 35mm handlebar and stem?
“Because it’s the extra thickness that the women need…..hehehehe”
Don’t get me wrong, I think the Trentacinque (that means thirty-five in Italian) is an interesting novelty, that is to say it would look rad on some of the more bulbous carbon road frame on the market now. But the 35mm seems like a step away from optimal engineering. Sure, if you thin the walls of the bar down enough, the stiffness-to-weight ration would be killer but the trade-off would likely be impact resistance. This is assuming carbon construction, because I doubt you could make alloy tube walls thin enough to achieve a good stiffness-weight ratio at 35mm (aluminium is a denser material than carbon composite) without extremely negative effects on fatigue and maximum load.