Beyond the wheelset, the next best upgrade is a good set of bars. Zipp has long been a leader in wheelsets, but their full spectrum of cockpit bits has the swagger of a World Heavyweight Champion. I’ve had a set of Zipp Contour SL bars for a month now and I might say they are nice.
Zipp Contour SL Bar Features:
- Available in Short and Shallow (tested) or Traditional Bend
- Sizes: 40, 42, 44 and 46cm (measured center-to-center)
- Weight: 190 grams (42 SS)
- MSRP: $295
Zipp Contour SL Bar Review
Tired hands. Numb hands. Fatigued hands. We’ve all had them. While aluminum bars are much more economical, they tend to transfer much of the road chatter directly to your hands and arms. Enter a good set of carbon bars. But, in my opinion, I prefer a set of bars that feature extra ergonomics for good measure. I’ve been riding the 46cm short and shallow bend version of the Contour SL. I much prefer the SS version over a traditional bend due to the ergonomic drops and shorter reach. These bars have been the perfect match for the amazingly-fast Felt F1 I’ve had.
When comparing bars, we sure to keep your eye on one thing — how they measure widths. Zipp is one of a few manufacturers that measures out-to-out as opposed to center-to-center. So, don’t automatically go for the 42 or 44, go out and measure your current bars out-to-out and go with that measurement. For the most part, I’d recommend going up to the next whole size, unless you have a specific fit you’re going for. Again, the type of drop/reach and width is personal preference.
The Contour SL features ovalized tops with cable grooves. The result is a nice platform for long rides and improved blood flow. As I’ve moved around these bars over the course of my rides, I’ve appreciated the flat tops and the ease of moving from hoods to drops and back. The short reach makes that process much easier. Additionally, the curve of the short and shallow drops feels comfortable in-hand and provides a great perch for high-speed descents.
I will say that there are bars on the market that will certainly provide a more comfortable ride (Easton EC90 Aero, ControlTech Carbon Comp or Bontrager Race Lite X), but the Carbon SL’s do a great job of cutting out a fair amount of road chatter without any gimmicks — just finely-tuned carbon fiber. With that finely-tuned carbon fiber, you get an ultra-stiff bar for responsive handling in and out of the saddle. Again, they do take the edge off large and small bumps in the road, but these are tuned to be responsive like a race car.
Good Contour SL
- Stiff and responsive when pushed hard out of the saddle
- Flat tops provide more surface area on the tops
- Noticeable reduction in overall road chatter without any gimmicks
- Great for the racer who demands precise handling
Bad Contour SL
- Center-to-center measurement could cause confusion
- Could be too stiff for recreational riders looking for extra comfort
Bottom Line: Zipp Contour SL Bars
The Contour SL’s are built for long days in the saddle for those who value the ride characteristics of carbon fiber but still want a responsive bar.
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