PNW Components’ new Loam Carbon Handlebar dropped this week, adding a carbon fiber option to the PNW Components cockpit collection. The new bars are available in two different rise options — 38mm and 25mm — to provide riders with additional fit options. (the alloy Range is available in a single 30mm rise option, though a 35mm diameter option is also now available)
The PNW Components Range bar is currently one of our favorite MTB handlebars, thanks to what they call their “anti-fatigue” geometry. With an upsweep of 5º and a back sweep of 10º, the bars have a tad more back sweep than most. Unlike the extreme sweep featured in many “alternative” handlebars, the PNW bars add a bit of comfort on big rides but don’t compromise on the handling we’re accustomed to. They sell at an appealing price point and look great. The downside is that they haven’t been available in a lighter-weight carbon fiber (or higher-rise) option — until now.
Like the rest of the PNW Components line-up, PNW’s approach to offering a lighter-weight, carbon fiber option is founded on adding a unique value-based option to what’s currently available. PNW dispatched a press release that details the back story of the development of the Loam bars.
“Unsatisfied with the ride quality of carbon bars made with
traditional layup processes, PNW engineers set out to implement a new manufacturing technique.
PNW’s resulting patent pending Compliant Bore Design (CBD) Layup allows engineers to optimize internal wall thickness with a unique internal bore shape. Utilizing EPS molding and FEA Analysis, the team was able to internally tune the bar’s ride characteristics while maintaining an aesthetically pure form. By experimenting with different internal wall shapes, textures, and thicknesses, PNW honed in and found the perfect blend of vertical compliance for a comfortable ride and enough horizontal stiffness for reliable handling. Based on their testing results, PNW is confident that, “unlike questionable gas station CBD
gummies, the PNW CBD Layup actually works.”
That all sounds cool. Personally I just want my bars to hold up, be “light,” and relatively affordable.
- Premium pre-preg UD Carbon
- Rated strong enough for e-bikes and DH riding
- Upsweep: 5° Backsweep: 10°
- Width: 800mm (740mm minimum trim width)
- Rise: 25mm or 38mm
- Clamp Diameter: 35mm only
At the moment, the Loam bar is only available in one clamp diameter: 35mm. Why 35mm? After all, alloy 35mm bars tend to be much stiffer, which can accelerate hand numbness on long days at the bike park. However, the larger diameter makes sense for carbon fiber, as the material can be crafted in a way to provide vertical compliance while also providing torsional stiffness.
A 31.8 mm option is currently in development, but is still a ways out, as the process of developing a carbon bar with the desired ride characteristics and vertical compliance takes time, and is more than just a matter of changing out some specs.
PNW Components Range Stem Gen 3
Prior to the official launch of the bars, PNW sent over a sample for us to try out. As I didn’t have a 35mm stem available to pair with it, (Most of the bars and stems in my personal rotation are 31.8mm which makes it easier to dial in fits in my ever evolving quiver of bikes) PNW also sent over the new 35mm version of the Gen 3 Range Stem.
The Range stem is available in two lengths: 40mm and 50mm. Lately I’ve been using 30mm and 35mm length stems; when I inquired, I was informed a shorter iteration of the Range is also in development.
Features of the PNW Range Stem (Gen 3)
- 0º rise
- 38mm stack height
- Available in 40mm and 50mm lengths
- 31.8mm and 35mm clamp options
- Includes GoPro camera or light mount (easily removable)
This review is meant to focus on the new bars, but the stem is worth a close look if you’re not familiar with it; like the rest of the collection, the Range stem is a well thought out and designed component. It looks good on the bike and is comes in at a respectable weight and price point.
The optional GoPro mount is a really cool feature, and while I did test it by mounting a GoPro on it, I think it’ll best be utilized this winter as a light mount, as I prefer the chesty POV for cameras; the stem is an optimal location for lights though. (I just need to find an adapter for a light to mount there.)
I neglected to put it on the scale, but will update this post after I find some time to unbolt everything to weigh and photograph it.
The PNW Carbon Loam Bar on the trail
I initially mounted up the carbon Loam bar on my Specialized Stumpjumper EVO, which is currently set up as a heavy duty all mountain trail and park ripper. I’m running tires with durable casings (read: heavy) so the weight of the bar is less of a priority for me here than the potential compliance over the alloy bar I swapped out. (plus I’ve stopped running carbon bars on the bikes I shuttle with as vertical bar mounted racks often end up scratching the bars; I put some gaffers tape in the car in the event I end up shuttling) I am probably the most stoked on having another option for a quality carbon bar with 38mm of rise at a reasonable price point. With so many bikes coming with short head tubes, it can be challenging to find an ‘affordable’ light weight bar with a decent rise and sweep.
I have yet to log big days of descending in with the Loam bars, but my first impressions on local trails have been great. With the same sweep of the Range bar, it’s comfortable on those all day long trail missions, but its also rated as strong enough for e-bikes and DH riding and includes a lifetime warranty for manufacturing defects. I’m currently running the Range bar on two of my go-to trail bikes, and a lighter weight iteration with a higher rise is exactly what I’ve been looking for. (I’m looking forward to trying the 31.8mm version when its released)