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
About the Schmolke Carbon Evo TLO Road Bar, what is the rider weight limit for this handlebar. Currently weigh about 188 lbs. I’m 5 foot 10.
Would this be a problem?
They custom-make the bar based on your weight and riding style. So, yes, you’d be just fine.
Awesome review as always. I am torn between the Schmolke Carbon EVO TLO and ENVE compact. Which one do you personally like better? I know you wouldn’t but please don’t give me the typical online answer of “they are both good.” =) I would like to kindly ask which one do you prefer better since you tried them both.
You are are the reason why I am enjoying my Reynolds Assault that I got December 2017 until today =). So I really do trust your review. So please if you could please kindly help me with the handlebar now that would be really awesome. Thank you so much in advance.
The Schomoke bars are outstanding and so, so light. They are stiff though, which is to be expected for such a light handlebar. The ENVE Compact bars remain some of my favorites. They have a great shape and are super-comfortable.
If you’re looking for a racy, light weight feel, go with the TLO’s. But, if you want all-day comfort, go with the ENVE’s.
I like to be on the drops all the time. So which one is better, when it comes on that aspect?
The TLO’s don’t have much flare in the drops, but they are more comfortable from a road chatter standpoint in that position. The drops are a touch longer with the ENVE’s and there is a touch of flare. I honestly prefer the ENVE’s for riding in the drops.
But… for ultimate handling precision, the TLO’s are my choice, hands-down. They will turn your bike into a super-responsive handler.
How is the durability of this handlebar? Does it last long? I was about to get one but then I read another review online that even though they used the correct torque the bars still crushed due to the damage around the clamp area?
I have also read a review in RoadCC that steaks are too high with this handlebar, meaning one tiny mistake on installation, it could create a catastrophic results?
I want to buy this but I’m worried now…. 🙁
As always, follow your torque settings on install and it should be fine. I haven’t had any issues, but my test period was only about 500 miles. It is reinforced in the clamping area, but these are ultralight bars, so treat them with care.
Hey, great review. This is the UD right? Not the 1k?
Yup. UD. Such a great bar!
I’m a pretty bad at descending, here in California we have steep descent and sometimes unexpectedly we ran into potholes and rough roads while descending.
Now my concern is how would this handlebar hold up on that type of punishment on the road? I ride at least twice a week, so is it safe to say that this handlebar can be used as your all around, every day use handlebar?
Or is this only good for like a race event?
They can customize the layup based on your needs (weight and riding type). I would contact them directly to find out your options. Mine were built based on my 170 lb. weight and I was told they were great as-is for the rigors of gravel riding. But, for cyclocross, they would have added an additional layer.
Might be best to just contact them to determine how the layup might vary based on your specific demands.
How would you compare this to the Black Inc Integrated bar/stem?
Both are pretty stiff overall and very responsive. While I love the look of integrated bar/stems, they aren’t as easy to live with long-term. I always lean towards a separate bar/stem. As far as this Schmolke goes, you won’t find a lighter bar. It is a comfortable shape, but it is pretty stiff. The Black Inc. unit is a pretty aggressive shape, but the overall package is very light. I wish I could have tried a 44cm there as I think it would have been a little more comfortable for me.