Artisans take extreme pride in their craft. For cycling, artisan materials are historically steel or titanium, but carbon fiber wizardry is something that some have mastered. I’d put the Germany-based Schmolke Carbon right at the top of that list. For over 25 years Stefan Schmolke and his team have made carbon fiber handlebars using the strongest and lightest material available and I’ve had the Schmolke Carbon Evo TLO bars on test this spring.
Schmolke Carbon Oversize Evo TLO Road Bar Features:
- Custom layup for my weight and use (road and gravel)
- Available Di2 compatibility for bar end junction box
- Compact shape with 78mm reach and 128mm drop
- Available in UD or carbon weave
- Ergonomic tops for added comfort
- Measured out-out
- Weight: 160 grams (44cm, actual)
- MSRP: €495 (~$557 USD)
Custom-tailored carbon bars, for a price
When dropping weight is your passion, there are a handful of carbon artisans who come to mind and Schmolke is at the top of that list. Case-in-point are the Schmolke Oversize Carbon Evo TLO bars at a mere 160 grams — that’s for a 44cm width too. But, if safety and durability are important, sometimes that race to the bottom may not be all it’s cracked up to be.
In that regard, Schmolke spends considerable effort ensuring their handlebars are not only light, but able to withstand the rigors of their intended use. A few years ago, Schmolke’s TLO bars ranked just below their custom Full On bars in independent stiffness-to-weight ratios (read report). Additionally, they are built to exceed DIN EN 14781 (road) and 14766 (mountain bike) standards. Mine were rated for road and gravel riding, and all testing was performed on the Trek Emonda SLR Disc.
The shape of the Oversize Evo TLO bars are on par with some of my favorites, with a compact reach/drop and ovalized tops. With hot pink Marque Diamond tape, but will change that out for something a little thinner. Equipped with optional ports, these bars are able to accept the new bar-end Di2 junction box.
On the road, the stiffness of the Schmolke Evo TLO’s can’t be overstated. These are stiff and responsive bars, without question — especially compared to the ENVE Compact Road Bar, which is what these replaced. At the outset, I thought that would make for an uncomfortable or harsh ride, but that’s definitely not the case.
All that stiffness makes for extra-responsive steering and actually changed the handling of the Emonda for the better. With the ENVE’s, I felt like steering lagged just a touch, but with the Evo TLO’s, the Emonda came to life in every way. Cornering was more precise and the fun-factor increased.
As I stated, they are noticeably stiffer than the ENVE bar they replaced, but I didn’t notice any reduction in comfort as the miles went by. I appreciated their shape as it’s always easy to dance around the bars. On long climbs, the ovalized tops made for comfortable hand placements as well. Comparing the lateral stiffness of these against other bar/stem combos I’ve got, these definitely are the stiffest.
Kudos to Schmolke for using cable grooves instead of internal cable routing. With hydraulic lines, swapping out internal cables is not something I do on a whim. While these were built with Di2 accommodations, I ran them exclusively with SRAM Red eTap HRD.
Keep in mind that Schmolke measures out-out on their bars, so while these are 44cm, they are really comparable to most 42cm bars. Additionally, they offer very little flare in the drops, but I didn’t have any issues with wrist clearance while powering or sprinting in the drops. That said, a little flare would be nice. Also, these are custom-made for your rider weight, so expect a 2-4 week manufacturing timeframe, plus shipping to the States (~$15).
- Great compact shape
- Ovalized tops for added comfort
- Customized layup based on rider weight and terrain
- Cable grooves instead of internal brake routing
- Better chatter reduction than anticipated
- This kind of craftsmanship will cost you
- Out-out measurements makes them narrower than typical 44cm’s
- A little flare would be nice
The Bottom Line: Schmolke Evo TLO Road Bars
If you’re in search of the ultimate in lightweight performance, the Schmolke Oversize Evo TLR bars will check off all the boxes — so long as you’ve got deep pockets. Expect these to not only lighten up your ride, but also increase handling precision as well.
Buy Now: Available at Schmolke-Carbon.com