The FSA Gradient riser handlebar is billed as light enough for XC trail riding and strong enough for freeriding. Triple butted and tapered from Al7050/T6 alloy materials, the shot-peened aluminum is aimed at riders seeking durability for bike park riding and shuttle trails that still pedal up mountains. Available with 25 and 40mm of rise, the 25mm iteration tested is available in 800mm and 760mm widths.
Features & Specs
Full Speed Ahead Gradient Stem
- Material: 3D forged and CNC AL2014
- 4 bolt AL2014 faceplate
- Chromoly hardware
- Bead blasted anodized black
- Length: 45mm and 60mm (45mm tested)
- Listed weight: 145 g
- Rise: 6º
- MSRP: $64
Full Speed Ahead Gradient Riser 25mm Handle Bar
- Material: Triple butted and tapered AL7050/T6 Alloy
- Width: 800mm width
- Rise: 25mm & 40mm (25mm tested)
- Sweep: 9º/6º
- Diameter: 31.8mm clamp
- MSRP: $89
Though I don’t have a gram scale (on the list, post will be updated with weights) and have been unable to find a listed weight for it, the heft wasn’t much heavier than the carbon bar it replaced. More importantly, it comes in at a very reasonable $85, half of what the carbon equivalent would set me back. I also elected to add the FSA Gradient Stem included as the matching graphics and texture look sweet on my murdered out Nomad. It’s decently light and with a sticker price of $64 is a solid value.
Installation was quick and easy with nothing unexpected or out of the ordinary. The stem includes steel bolts with deep 4 mm heads; rounding out or breaking bolts will not be a problem. Torque specs are printed on the stem as well. The bar is printed with lines which eases setup and facilitates dialing in desired sweep.
On the trail
The stem grips the bar solidly and the combination makes for a stiff, confidence assuring cockpit. During a recent weekend in Oakridge I experienced a series of get-offs that left the bars completely unscathed, even after deflecting off a tree. Any weekend where I eat that much dirt and keep riding with a smile on my face and parts undamaged is a good one.
Riding in the PNW is different from the riding in the Bay Area, and my bike setup has evolved to match the terrain and trails we’re riding. Not only have I switched to more durable tires, but my component choices have been beefed up considerably. I’ve also been raising the height of the bars on my long travel rig. (a Santa Cruz Nomad) The 25mm rise of the Gradient was just the ticket to dialing in my new riding position.
In the last season my Nomad has transitioned to a 27 lb. light weight all mountain whip, to a ride with a focus on durability. While she’s portly in comparison to builds I’ve run previously, I’ve piloted her on rides ranging from 25+ epics in the mountains to shuttle laps at the local DH trails without hesitation. Shuttling bikes can be hard on light components, and a lot of the locals choose alloy rigs and components across the board as bikes accumulate scratches and scuffs as part of their daily use.
Already running heavy treads, attempting to save weight on the cockpit seemed silly this point. The sweet spot of strength, weight, stiffness and price offered by the Gradient components is spot on.
I wouldn’t run this bar for XC or my short travel trail rig, but for anything short of competition, its a solid option. The stem is listed at respectable 145 g and being forged and peened, is arguably stronger than the machined stem it replaced. Considering the abuse this bike has been getting, a little extra reassurance goes a long ways and these components serve well in their intended purpose. Given the reasonable price points, the Gradient bar and stem are well worth checking out if you need new gear that won’t break the budget.