As you know Jon rides a 2010 KTM 320 XCW which he has described as quite “buzzy”. Blend the buzzy bike and the brutally bumpy Big Bear ride, and all aptly applied alliterations aside, Jon was wondering if his fingers fell off following a frantic 140 miles.
Numb hands can be more than just an inconvenience when you can’t manipulate your controls. Safety, while third on the list, is still of a concern. Jon turned to Fasst Company for a set of their Flexx Bars as a means to combat this problem.
Flexx bars as you might have guessed by the name are designed to move a bit in order to reduce some of the vibration from the trail. They do so by using the combination of a pivot pin and some proprietary bushings that allow the bars to absorb much of the vibration before it gets to your hands and wrists. FasstCo includes bushings with varying elasticity which provides adjustment to the amount of flex(x) on both the preload and rebound side of the pivot point.
We see you back there, the aging rider rubbing their wrists and popping ibuprofen just thinking about a ride like Big Bear. We see you wondering why you don’t have a set of these on your bike already. Before you whip out your credit card, keep reading as they may not be for everyone.
Jon initially bought the standard enduro bars and quickly realized that they were not going to work with his riding style. He likes to have his controls tipped forward enough so that when he is standing up in attack mode his wrists are straight. Due to how the pivot pin and corresponding damping bushings mount, the ability to adjust the controls forward is drastically limited as the clutch and brake lines want to occupy the same space as the pins.
Instead of giving up Jon remembered the words of Enduro racer Anthony Johnson, who, like Jon, once had his controls very far forward. Anthony however has since moved them into more of a “normal” angle as he has found himself farther back on the bike. Why? He is just plain faster than he used to be, and needless to say, also quite a bit faster than Jon. As Anthony’s speed progressed his need to be upright and over the bars went away, and with it the controls moved farther back.
So as to push himself to be faster (and to not end a review of a product without actually using it) Jon soldiered on and wrote off the fact that he was going to be able to mimic the Pro Taper setup that he was replacing.
He did want a little more of a forward angle than what he had, so he exchanged the “standard enduro” bars for the “ADV” version, the difference being about an additional inch of width on the new ones. Like most handlebars, you can get them in a variety of heights (3) and degrees of bend (4). He was also made aware of an alternate shorter pin setup that used a much thinner bushing on the rebound side. The hope was that by using the shorter pin on wider bars Jon could still rotate his controls forward.
It almost worked.
The extra quarter inch or so of space savings allowed for the brake line to swing past the shorter pin, but the clutch line was another story. For whatever reason the clutch line did not have the same bend coming off the master cylinder as the brake line, and due to this the clutch lever could not be rolled as far forward as the brake. Sure this could be solved with some custom brake lines, or, you can just go faster like Anthony Johnson suggested.
Jon opted for the tallest bar option and discovered that this setup might just work after all. While standing on the pegs the bars were at the perfect height allowing him to grip the bars without being hunched over granting some mercy to his aging back. He was able to pitch the controls forward a little, and while not ideal they were (in theory) rideable.
Once you determine what your bushing setup is going to be, it is important to tighten the self locking nuts evenly. The “stock” setting is two threads showing at the end of the bolt. It might not seem like a lot of room for abuse given the purpose of the bars is to reduce massive amounts of vibration, but like George Michael said, you gotta have faith.
Now would be a good time to mention that this setup is going to require more maintenance, what with the pivot points and bushings. These are two additional points of wear that need to be inspected and potentially replaced. If your riding buddies are constantly giving you shit for how dry your chain is, they might not be for you.
How were the Flexx Bars out on the trail though?
Jon’s shakedown ride of about 100 miles of “jitter bumps” left him torn. The setup wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t as vibration free as he expected. Vibrations were reduced by about 40% which isn’t a small amount in the grand scheme of things, but Jon wanted more.
Fortunately for him FasstCo makes threaded bar end vibration damping inserts that will likely aid in his quest, and they are already on order. Also in his shopping cart are mounts that will allow him to use his Cycra wrap-around brush guards with the new bar setup, and lurking in his wish list are some Mako anti-vibration bar mounts to hopefully reduce the bar buzz to below a noticeable level.
This is the one time in his life that Jon is actively looking for a buzzkill, and the only time that we support it.