SPANK Flare 25 Vibrocore™ Drop Bar: Getting Rolling – by Guitar Ted
Part of the “DNA”, if you will, of a gravel bike’s make-up is a flared drop bar. Traditional styled drop bars are used on many gravel/all-road bikes, certainly, but it is the flared drop bar that you will see most often. These types of drop bars were once rare, and not many people were aware of them until Salsa Cycles started producing them for their seminal bike, the Fargo.
Now several companies offer flared drop bars as original equipment, and also as an aftermarket choice, so they seem quite commonplace now. With all the various choices in flared drop bars, one of the most intriguing offerings we’ve seen at Riding Gravel of late is the SPANK Flare 25 Vibrocore™ Drop Bar. We saw it at Sea Otter and requested a sample for test and review. Let’s take a closer look at this unique offering.
What It Is: SPANK has hung its hat on what is called Vibrocore™ technology. It is a biodegradable specially formulated foam injected into handle bars and some rims sold by SPANK. The main idea is that the Vibrocore foam, and the way the components is designed that it is injected into, is supposedly going to inhibit injurious vibrations from reaching the rider. You can read more about Vibrocore on SPANK’s site.
Needless to say, this sort of technology seems to be right up a gravel/all-road rider’s alley. Most bikes being used in this genre are rigid fork bicycles and transmission of vibrations from rough roads is of concern. How many times have we heard, read about, or experienced ourselves, the numbness that comes from riding hours upon hours of rough gravel? Too many to count. Can the SPANK Flare 25 Drop Bar help in this regard? That is what we aim to find out.
But what about the rest of this bar? Well, the name gives part of the story away here. The Flare 25 has, as you may have surmised by now, 25° of “flare”. (Please see our “Drop Bar Terms Defined” article for definitions of these terms) It also has something fairly different in that the bar clamp diameter of 31.8mm extends all the way across the bar “top”. Other features of this bar can be seen in the chart below, courtesy of SPANK.
The Flare 25 we received was weighed at 360 grams which is a hair over what was claimed. That compares to a Salsa Cycles Woodchipper Bar I have which weighs 330 grams. You can purchase a SPANK Vibrocore™ Flare 25 Drop bar for MSRP $109.99.
First Impressions: The first thing I noted about the Flare 25 was the 31.8mm bar top section and the flare, which both reminded me of the near mythical Ragley “Luxy Bar”, which has a strong cult following amongst dirt drop bar aficionados. (Admittedly, I am chief amongst those rare folks). Of course, the Vibrocore™ feature also was intriguing.
The test sample we requested is in the 46cm width and with the overall width being 602cm, it approaches the width of narrow mountain biking bars. Since I prefer wide bars, I like the width, but shorter riders using these in rougher terrain may also opt for a wider bar with a shorter stem, much like what is recommended on several newer designs for gravel bikes. The bar is finished well with sharp graphics and easy to use gradations etched into the outside of each drop section which insures even lever placement.
The reach and drop numbers are right in the pocket for a flared drop bar, but I did notice that the way the “Ramps” are done along with the radius of the drop, has made for an extension which will have a slight angle downward when it is set up with “level hoods” positioning on the bars. This can be an issue for some, and a boon for others. This is something we will take a closer look at in our next update.
But what about that vibration damping bit? Well, as a few of us who got a hold of the bar did almost immediately, we started banging the bar on things and comparing it to “regular” drop bars. That said, this is the wrong way to evaluate the vibration damping claims. What SPANK is saying is that the Vibrocore™ technology changes the vibrations from potentially damaging ones to mostly harmless ones. So, as you can imagine, the bar still vibrates when you tap it on something and this tells us nothing. Only in the riding will we really learn anything. That’s exactly what we plan to do and report on in our next update.
The bar installed on the Raleigh Tamland Two test mule with no issues and a standard roll of bar tape was more than enough to wrap the bar up right, so that 31.8mm diameter across the tops shouldn’t be an issue for most bar tape rolls. The nice thing about the Flare 25’s straight gauge top is that there is no tapered section, which means you have a bit more real estate for accessories.
Next we will get into the vibration damping claims and show you all the way the bar set up and looks on the Tamland two. Stay tuned for the “Checkpoint” post coming in a couple of weeks.
Note- SPANK sent over the Flare 25 Vibrocore™ Drop Bar to Riding Gravel for test and review at no charge. We are not being bribed nor paid for this review and we will always strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.