There are enough handlebar shapes and sizes to cover about anyone’s preferences. However, there remain a few characteristics of great drop bars that are common (at least for me) across all of them. Zipp has revised the shapes of their entire lineup with the last ones being the Service Course SL-70 Ergo. After months of gravel testing, they are the best alloy bars money can buy.
2018+ Zipp Service Course SL-70 Ergo Bars Features:
- Short, 70mm reach and 128mm drop
- Variable-radius drop shape
- Ergonomic tops for added comfort
- 4-degrees of flare
- 3-degrees of backsweep
- Di2 endcap plug-ready design
- AL-7050 alloy construction
- Weight: 260g. (actual 42cm)
- MSRP: $110
Easy-fitting for gravel or road bikes
When Zipp began launching bars with just 70mm reach, it seemed like they would have a tough time winning over traditionalists. As it turns out, that short porch truly does allow greater flexibility in bike fitting and has led the industry with some of the most fitter-friendly bar shapes available today. Coupled with today’s extended hood designs, a 70mm reach still allows you to go “deep in the hoods” for a comfortable riding position.
I’ve been riding the 42cm width Service Course SL-70 Ergo bars aboard the Niner RLT 9 alloy all-road bike. With their introduction, Zipp has stated that these are intended to service the growing all-road market and gravel, specifically. The SL-70 Ergo’s check all the boxes in that regard, but only feature 4-degrees of flare in the drops — a little more would make them an even better choice for gravel domination.
Though a little more drop flare would be nice, the winning shape of the Service Course SL-70 Ergo’s can’t be overlooked. I’d take the 3-degrees of backsweep over drop flare any day. That added comfort in the tops makes for a solid perch when cruising at speed on gravel or pavement.
Dancing around these bars is easy as I could switch hand positions naturally from tops to hoods and into the drops. With the SRAM Rival 1x hoods, everything flowed seamlessly.
The bar shape is outstanding, but I’ll also add that the shape lends itself to overall comfort as well. They are not carbon, but for alloy bars, these are some of the most comfortable I’ve tested. Much of that comfort is due to the winning shape, but chatter reduction is superb for alloy. And, at $110, they are easy on the wallet and offer a significant upgrade in cockpit feel from the cheap bars often found on price point road bikes at your local retailer.
After riding the 42cm on the Niner RLT 9, I outfitted the Open UPPER with the 44cm SL70’s and have loved them. It amazes me how comfortable these bars are — especially for alloy.
Note: These are the updated 2018+ model that differs in shape and profile from the previous model. To get the latest version, look for the angled ZIPP logos instead of just the “Z” on either side of the clamping area. Many retailers seem to still be selling through their existing stock of pre-2018 bars, so do your homework to make sure you’re getting the latest model — or have your LBS order them specifically.
- Updated shape adds real comfort on the bike
- 3-degrees of backsweep puts hands in a natural position
- Supports use of Di2 end plug
- Short reach allows for longer stems
- Could use more flare in the drops
The Bottom Line: Zipp Service Course SL-70 Ergo
As upgrade material or as a part of a calculated custom build, the Service Course SL-70 Ergo’s offer solid comfort and fit for today’s road, all-road or gravel bikes. A touch more flare would make these even more adventure-worthy.
More Info: Visit Zipp.com
Hi thanks for the review. Can you confirm if the reach is measured from centre of the bars (stem clamp area) or from the outside of the flats? Obviously with the 3deg backsweep this could make a fair difference. I have SL-70 without the sweep back at the moment, looking for something with a touch less reach when on the hoods. Many thanks.
That’s a good question. I’m measuring them in detail right now and I’m having a tough time figuring out where the 70mm reach is measured from. It appears to be from the front of the bar tops at the stem to the center of the front curvature of the drops. It’s really difficult to measure it accurately, but that seems about right.
Many thanks, apologies the delay I only just saw your response. Looks like the 70mm reach is same from stem to forward most part of the bars as it is on the non-ergo model (but with some extra sweep)
Have you tried the SL-70 XPLR? I just got an Open UP and want to replace the Cowchipper handlebar that’s currently on it with something closer to a road shape. Most of my riding is road with a some gravel. The SL-70 Ergo looks nice with a little flare and the XPLR appears to add a little more.
Yes… I’m working on a review. In short: I love them. Great bars with just a touch of flare, but otherwise they feel just like a traditional road bar.
I personally find super flared drops to be really self-defeating. The angle that my wrist gets forced into make it very difficult to control turn-in, because my wrist and forearm are preloaded inward, when I actually want to turn the bar outward to carve into a turn. Loose surfaces makes this even more problematic for me. I’ve been running these on my gravel bike and they are awesome for long days on bumpy twisty terrain.