Spank Spike 800 Vibrocore Bar
Size: 800 mm x 15 mm
Clamp Size: 31.8 mm
Blister’s Measured Weight: 341 grams
- Vibrocore™, Dual XGT, CNC Bending
- MGR Super 6 Alloy
- Rise (mm): 15 / 30 / 50
- Length (mm): 800 (adjustable to 760)
- 4° up x 8° back
- Shotpeen anodized, decal logos
Reviewer: 5’9” 155 lbs
Test Duration: 1 month
Test Locations: Whitefish, Montana; Whistler, BC
For a lot of people, handlebars don’t warrant a ton of thought; figure out your width, decide whether or not you want to shell out for carbon, and figure out what clamp diameter you need. But all bars are not created equal, and especially with the new 35 mm clamp diameter becoming increasingly common, a lot of bars on the market are really stiff.
To be sure, a stiff bar is nice for steering response and giving positive feedback from the front end of the bike. But those stiff bars can also beat the snot out of your hands, and on long descents, they can be downright painful.
Given that, the best bars walk a fine line of being stiff, but also minimizing the abuse that your hands take on rough trails. And the Spank Spike Vibrocore bars are designed to do just that.
What’s Going on in There?
[editor’s note – this section was corrected on 8/6/16]
For those unfamiliar, the vibrocore bars have foam injected into the inside of the bar. Poking my finger into the end of the bar, there’s some dense but squishy foam, however Spank has clarified that the squishy foam is not actually the vibrocore material – it’s just a cap to keep moisture out. The vibrocore foam in the center of the bar is much lower density, which is designed to do a better job of damping high frequency vibrations. Spank also says that the transition from the high density metal walls of the bar to the low density foam effectively refracts small vibrations and helps prevent them from building into larger vibrations that actually matter. Injecting some foam into the bar seems simple at first glance, but there’s a bit more going on there than is initially apparent, and to the best of my knowledge, no one else is offering anything similar.
The Spike 800 is available in three rises: 15 mm, 30 mm, and 50 mm. As the name implies, it comes stock at an 800 mm width, and Spank says it can be cut to 760 mm. If you’re looking for something narrower, check out the Oozy Trail Vibrocore bar which comes at 760 mm, but can be cut down to 730 mm. The Spike 800 has a 4° up, 8° back sweep, which is pretty common.
Construction and Features
The Spike 800 bar is made in house by Spank using what they call “Dual XGT” technology. That means the wall thickness of the bar is tapered to be thicker near the clamp where it matters most, thinner under the grips to save some weight, and thicker again at the ends of the bar to help it hold up to impacts. Spank is also using a CNC machine to bend their bars, which is supposed to minimize stress points that can occur in the bending process. There’s plenty of bars on the market that aren’t doing any elaborate tapering or bending like that, and the Spike 800 should be stronger and lighter as a result.
Even with the addition of the vibrocore foam, the Spike 800 comes in at a respectable weight, especially for a bar with a 31.8 mm clamp. At 341 grams, it’s maybe a touch heavier than some other comparable bars, but it’s in the right ballpark.
Riding the Spike 800, it’s pretty immediately clear that it’s a very stiff bar. I’d put it right up there with the stiffest bars I’ve ridden, which is especially impressive since it has a 31.8 mm clamp — most of the other truly stiff bars I’ve ridden recently have been built around the larger 35 mm clamps. The Spike 800 is stiffer than either Raceface Atlas 35 and the Raceface Sixc 35, and I’d say it’s in the same ballpark as the Easton Havoc 35 Carbon, which is the stiffest bar I’ve been on in recent memory.
The real question with the vibrocore bar is, of course, does it make any difference? Well, to be honest, that’s a tricky question because there’s no way to really make an apples-to-apples comparison. I haven’t had the chance to ride the non-vibrocore version of the Spike 800, but I spoke with Blister reviewer, Tom Collier, who has tried both the “regular” and vibrocore versions, and he said that the non-vibrocore version of the Spike 800 isn’t as stiff, so a direct comparison doesn’t really work. But comparing the Spike 800 vibrocore to other bars I’ve ridden, the vibrocore seemed to help a little bit, but it isn’t a night and day difference.
At the end of the day on the Spike 800, my hands were definitely more tired than they were on either of the Raceface bars, but those bars definitely aren’t as stiff. I think the Spike 800 did better than the Easton Havoc Carbon 35 for hand fatigue, while being comparable for stiffness. I also had a friend swap out his Renthal Fat Bar for the Spike 800, and his impression was similar — he said that hand fatigue was about on par with the Renthal, but that the Spike 800 was stiffer.
The Spike 800 is a really stiff bar, and you definitely get all of the steering precision that comes with that stiffness. In terms of hand fatigue, the vibrocore seems to make it more comfortable, like a slightly less stiff bar, but that’s still pretty dang stiff.
If you’re looking for some magical unicorn that’s going to produce a super stiff bar while also gently caressing your hands on long descents, you might be disappointed. But if you’re looking for an aluminum bar that’s really well made, can take some abuse, is plenty stiff, and has some dampening foam that falls into “helps a little bit” territory, the Spike 800 is a great option.