05/12/2012 | 9 comments
After years of making arguably the finest stems on the market Thomson are now finally making some equally high quality bars to go with them.
Interestingly Thomson’s new range of bars (they’re also making carbon and titanium XC bars) are the first products that they haven’t made in their factory in Macon. They are keen to point out though that just because these products aren’t made in-house in the USA doesn’t mean that they’re not up to the usual Thomson standards. They simply couldn’t justify the expense of investing in the necessary equipment and space to make these in-house, especially when they knew that they could get them made to their exacting standards elsewhere. These are not simply bars out of a catalogue either, Thomson have designed them themselves and they own all the tooling required to make them.
So what do Thomson reckon makes them so special? Well the main thing is that the bars are bent using an advanced CNC bending machine so as to avoid the need for hand grinding afterwards (to remove any bulges). They reckon that almost all other bars are manually bent and then ground to appear smooth. In comparison to this technique the Thomson way ensures consistant wall thickness and close tolerances, especially in the tapered sections. That obviously results in a stronger and lighter bar. Thomson have also put a lot of work into the butting and tapering of this bar to ensure the best possible fatigue life. They’ve even increased the wall thickness of the bars from 1.4 to 1.6mm at the ends to help ward off any crash damage, and they reckon the 90mm wide centre section helps reduce stress concentrations, particularly if you’re using a wide direct mount stem.
Shape wise they’ve taken what’s possibly described as a brave move and gone for 6° of backsweep and 4° of upsweep. That upsweep is fairly similar to what others are doing, but 6° back is 3° less than what has almost become standard. It’s definitely noticeable too, and basically you’ll probably either love or hate the shape. Width wise they’ve got it covered for everyone at 780mm, and although there is currently only a 12mm rise version Thomson might release more options in the future.
Overall these bars definitely live up to the classy nature that we’ve come to expect from Thomson. At 301g they’re also pretty light for an aluminium bar of this width, yet if there’s one company that we trust to make strong products it’s Thomson. We’re just not sure how many folk are going to be willing to shell out so much on an aluminium bar, no matter how good it may be.
These direct mount stems aren’t as new as the bars but it’s the first time we’ve had any and with the bars they make the perfect pairing. Currently there are two options, one with 50mm reach and a 10mm drop, and the other with a 40mm reach and a 30° rise. By the sounds of it a 50mm 30° rise version is in the pipeline too. The design is a very simple four-piece affair and as with any Thomson product the finish is classy and understated. Weights are 182g for the 50mm and 169g for the 40mm, and that includes all bolts. Not the lightest out there, but then again Thomson have never been about just making stuff light, they also make sure everything is super strong. In their own tests they found these to be three times stronger than the fork crowns which they attach too. That should have things covered.