Thomson Elite 35mm Aluminium handlebar review


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Oct 12, 2023

Thomson Elite 35mm Aluminium handlebar review

The Thomson Elite 35mm Aluminium handlebars are butted and tapered in multiple

The Thomson Elite 35mm Aluminium handlebars are butted and tapered in multiple steps (as opposed to just two differing thicknesses) this should result in greatly improved fatigue life.

This product was selected for our Editors’ Choice Awards 2022, as published in Singletrack Magazine Issue 146. Below is an updated version of our review from 2021.

Benji: "Made from 7050 aluminium with a 9° back sweep, 5° up sweep and 800mm wide. A bar's a bar, right? Wrong. Coming back to these bars on my main bike, after being on various test bikes with all kinds of seemingly very similar-to-this bars fitted, feels like pulling on a pair of favourite jeans. The sweeps suit me. The 35mm rise puts my grips at the right height when paired with 160mm fork underneath. But it's the ride feel that is the best thing. They are significantly comfier than other bars. I think we’re almost at the point where a lot of riders are de-stiffing their bikes, not purely for old-age pensioner comfort reasons, but because a bit of flex actually improves the handling of the bike. Great to see the venerable old marque of Thomson back up front leading the way, literally."

Thomson makes its handlebars by using hydraulic press forming which results in a smooth appearance in the bends and tapered sections on the outside, and close tolerance-control over the wall thickness on the inside (1.6mm to 1.4mm walls).

A long straight section in the middle reduces stress concentrations and come in 800mm width. The relatively long (50mm) clamping area is useful for behaving well with differing stem clamp designs, and for attaching lights easily and Thomson also claims that it enables a "different bend profile for a more compliant ride". The compliance claim has certainly been borne out in our testing.

35mm diameter handlebars sometimes have a bad rep for being overly stiff. Because most of the time, they are (in my opinion at least). These Thomson 35 bars are not like that. They feel pretty much just like a nice 31.8mm handlebar.

Why not just get a 31.8mm bar then? Good question. And indeed, you can just do that. I often do. But the 35mm clamp standard is no longer ‘new’. It's a decade old now and it's not going to go away. People are now too used to the aesthetic of it.

Clinging on to 31.8mm, whilst admirable, does lead to a mismatch of standards that can bite you on the arse when it comes to fitting new lights and shopping for stems and so on. Kpee 31.8mm if you want. 31.8mm is great. But if you’re building up a new bike, or just want a new cockpit, then I do think it's now wise to go 35mm. Sorry.

These Thomson bars look good (in a banal black sort of way), work well with any stem or light or bell that you’re likely to pair it with and the ride feel is spot-on. No stings. No harshness. No over-twang. Stealthy. JFDI. At £110 they are at the premium end for a metal handlebar but they are also at the premium end of performance, so there you go.

In the Editors’ Choice Awards we highlight our standout bikes and products from the past year. These are the bikes that we’d like to have in our sheds. These are the components and clothing that we still use long after the nominal test period has expired. Only 15 products and six bikes made the grade this year. This is the good stuff.

To make the cut, each thing must have proven itself out on the trails. They’ve got to have been reliable and ride-enhancing. We don't do technology for technology's sake. Nor are we overly swayed by showy, high price tags and bling materials. That said, we don't prioritise anything solely because it's cheaper than its rivals. Nor do we penalise a genuinely great product if it is conspicuously expensive. Performance is what matters in Editor's Choice.

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Cotic RocketMAXer. Schwalbe Magic Mary Purple Addix front. Maxxis DHR II 3C MaxxTerra rear. Coil fan.I have been a writer for nigh on 20 years, a photographer for 25 years and a mountain biker for 30 years. I have written countless magazine and website features and route guides for the UK mountain bike press, most notably for the esteemed and highly regarded Singletrackworld.Although I am a Lancastrian, I freely admit that West Yorkshire is my favourite place to ride. Rarely a week goes by without me riding and exploring the South Pennines.

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They are significantly comfier than other bars

Any comments of comparison to the Spank 35 Vibrocores also reviewed by this site?

I’ve only ridden 31.8 Vibrocore bars IIRC and yep, very similar niceness. I never could quite get on with the shape/sweeps of Spank bars though, so that was the overriding aspect for me! These Thomson also remind me of 31.8 Renthal alloy bars. All good feeling bars. Pick whichever diameter/sweeps/colour suits you 👍

Thanks very much, really appreciate being able to ask things here and get a reply.

Interesting about the sweep. I’ve just got the Vibro 35s (8deg backsweep), they seem less comfortable than my original RaceFace Aeffect R 35 (9deg backsweep). I’ll have to test them back to back.

9° up 5° back ?

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Price From Width Sweep Rises Weight