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Gravity Grid Bar and Stem

Noah Bodman reviews the Gravity Grid bar and stem for Blister Gear Review.

Gravity Grid Bar

Size: 800mm

Clamp Size: 35mm

Blister’s Measured Weight: 316 grams

Price: $59.99

Features:

  • Double butted and tapered AL6061/T6
  • 8°Back Sweep x 5° Up Sweep
  • Ø35 x 20mm rise x 760mm, 800mm width
  • Sandblasted black anodized
  • Color graphics

Gravity Grid Stem

Length: 35mm

Clamp Size: 35mm

Blister’s Measured Weight: 132 grams

Price: $69.99

Features:

Noah Bodman reviews the Gravity Grid bar and stem for Blister Gear Review.

Gravity Grid Stem

  • +6°x L35, 50mm
  • 3D Forged then CNC machined
  • 4-bolt AL6061 faceplate
  • +6°x L35, 50mm
  • Ø35mm handlebar clamp
  • 40mm fork clamp stack height
  • Sandblasted black anodized
  • CNC surfaces

Mounted to: Devinci Spartan

Reviewer: 5’9” 155 lbs

Duration of Test: 2 weeks

Test Location: Whitefish, Montana

Gravity has entered the growing field of 35mm bar and stem combos with the introduction of their new Grid lineup. As wide handlebars become increasingly popular, the relatively new 35mm clamp diameter has been catching on – it’s increasingly common to see longer travel bikes spec’d with the oversized bars.

And there’s good reason for this – as bars get wider, there’s more leverage on them. That makes it harder and harder to keep a bar stiff. The introduction of the 35mm clamp diameter increases the bar’s stiffness, and does so without a weight penalty (and in some cases, it even results in weight savings).

Gravity Grid Low Rise Handlebar

The Grid Low Rise bar is only offered in the new 35mm clamp diameter. It does however come in both 760 and 800mm versions – I opted for the 800mm version, but trimmed it down to 780mm. Unlike some other bars out there, Gravity doesn’t limit how much you can cut them down, so theoretically, you could trim the 800mm bars to be quite a bit narrower.

Both the 760 and 800mm versions have 20mm of rise, 8° back sweep, and 5° up sweep. Uncut, the 800mm bar weighed 316g, and cutting it to 780mm took off about 5g.

The Grid bar is made out of butted and tapered 6061 T6 aluminum, which is a pretty common material for handlebars in the bike industry. Some bars, including others made by Gravity, are made out of a 7000 series aluminum that can result in a bit of weight savings, but that often comes at a higher cost.

Gravity Grid Stem

If you’re going to bump up to a 35mm handlebar, you’ll need a stem to match. The Grid stem will hold on to any 35mm bar, and it comes in both 35mm and 50mm lengths. There’s no lengthier options available, so it’s clear this stem is intended for modern frames that have a longer reach and are designed to run a short stem. Both the 35mm and 50mm versions have 6° rise and 40mm stack height.

Noah Bodman reviews the Gravity Grid bar and stem for Blister Gear Review.

Noah Bodman on the Gravity Grid bar and stem, Whitefish, MT.

The fasteners on the stem are all M5 bolts, which means a 4mm wrench will get both the steerer and bar mount tightened up. The Grid adopts the new style of faceplate, where you bottom out the top two bolts and then torque the bottom two to spec. Conveniently, this is all printed on the stem.

Like most stems, the Grid is forged and then machined; the forging process gives the stem its rough form and helps to strengthen the metal, while the machining process brings everything into tolerance, trims off excess metal, and makes it look pretty. The stem is finished off with bead blasting and an anodized finished. While there were some leftover tool marks on the inside of the stem, the outside of the stem looks nice and clean.

The Ride

I’ve spent a fair amount of time on 35mm bars this spring—of both the aluminum and carbon varieties—and I’ve come to one universal conclusion: they’re really stiff. I find the difference in stiffness between the 35mm clamp and a 31.8 clamp to be pretty apparent, and this manifests itself in three forms.

The first is that the bike goes where I tell it to; it’s easier to muscle the bike through diagonal roots or rocks that are haphazardly strewn across the trail. When I’m going in the wrong direction and need to rip the front wheel back into line, it’s easier. Now, plenty of this just comes as a result of the bars simply being wide, but compared to an equivalently wide 31.8mm bar, the extra stiffness is noticeable.

The second thing I notice is that everything on the front end feels a bit more precise, and I feel like I’m a little more in touch with what’s going on with the front end of the bike. I get a better “trail feel” through the cockpit.

The third thing is less fantastic: my hands have been taking a beating. All that extra stiffness is pretty noticeable on long descents, and my hands are just thrashed by the bottom of the trail,  more so than usual.

This isn’t to say that I never got sore hands or arm pump with 31.8mm bars, but I get it more, and I get it more quickly on the 35mm bars. Especially early season when my hand strength wasn’t quite up to mid-summer levels, this kinda sucked.

That said, I don’t see myself switching back to 31.8 bars just to avoid this fatigue, because of the benefit I discuss in this review, and because it’s primarily just a problem early in the season when my hands aren’t primed for long descents

Noah Bodman reviews the Gravity Grid bar and stem for Blister Gear Review.

Noah Bodman on the Gravity Grid bar and stem, Whitefish, MT.

The Grid bar was right in line with every other 35mm bar I tried, including the Raceface Atlas 35 and the Easton Havoc Carbon. The aluminum Grid feels a bit different than the carbon bars – the carbon bars are bit more muted in the higher frequency vibrations, but the Grid rode very similarly to the other aluminum bars I rode. Like the other 35mm bars, the Grid is noticeably stiffer than even something like a Renthal Fatbar, which is one of the stiffer 31.8mm bars on the market.

On the carbon vs aluminum debate, I haven’t come to any decisive conclusions aside from the obvious: carbon is lighter, more expensive, and I have a semi-irrational distrust of it.

Aluminum is cheaper, heavier, and metal. In terms of ride quality, while they’re different, I can’t say that I’ve found one to be decidedly better.

Durability and (non) Issues

I haven’t been on the Grid for long enough for any issues to develop, and aside from smashing the ends of the bars through a few trees, I haven’t had any crashes or impacts that I’d expect to cause an issue. I would be very, very surprised if the Grid showed any signs of fatigue in the near future; it feels stout.

The only super nitpicky issue I can come up with is the graphics. When sitting on the bike and looking down, they’re not symmetrical around the stem, and it looks weird to me. I fully admit that this is basically the definition of a non-issue, but OCD riders should take note.

I should also note that the alignment markings were fine, and made it perfectly easy to get the bar centered in the stem.

Bottom Line

While the Gravity Grid bar and stem aren’t the first 35mm cockpit accoutrements to hit the market, they are some of the most reasonably priced. The Grid bar and stem aren’t the absolute lightest parts on the market, but they’re not overly heavy either, and again—they’re better than most of the competition in terms of price.

The Grid cockpit rides every bit as well as some of the higher priced options, so if you’re looking to gain some stiffness in the front end of your bike for a pretty reasonable price, I can attest that the Gravity Grid bar and stem combo is a solid choice.

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