It was recently announced that the S&M brand is back with Elite Cycle Imports and back at full steam in the BMX race scene in Australia. It’s exciting news for Aussie BMXers as access to the products has been extremely limited. A lot has changed with rider demands and the product range in the past 4 years. The most notable changes are that bars are lighter and bigger than ever. There was once a time that the S&M Slam bar was the number 1 selling bar in BMX, that’s despite the fact they were a little on the heavy side and “only” 28″ wide and 8″ tall. Those days are gone. Bars that are 29″ wide and 8.25-8.5″ tall seems to be the norm now. S&M have been keeping up with the growth of handlebars, in fact you could say they are probably paving the way when it comes to bigger bars with their crazy big Elevenz.
Let’s jump back to about 2010, for most cruiser racers S&M 5.75″ race bars were the go to bar of choice, the problem with them is they were only 27″ wide, which is fine for the average sized BMXer, but we don’t all fall in that category. There are a lot of guys, like me, that have a bigger wing span and need more leverage to get good drive while accelerating and better control in the air. About that same time S&M had produced the 29ER bar in limited batches, which was awesome, I have been all over that gear ever since.
Back to 2014 and the 29ER is now a usual suspect in the massive S&M bar line up and the 5.75″ is no longer available in 27″ wide, only the cruiser slam bar comes in that spec. Not only in the 29ER available but it had a big brother. The 6.5″ rise Bruiser Bar.
The Bruiser Bar caught my eye because I’ve been raising my bar height on the 20″ but not been able to do it on the cruiser. Sure, I could have put 3/4″ in spacers under my stem and saved myself some cash, but the more spacers you use the greater the load on the fork steerer tube, the greater the flex, and raising the stem on the fork has the potential to place the stem above the end of the steerer tube which is all kinds of wrong. So as far as I’m concerned a taller bar is the safer alternative, the only serious option, especially when we are talking over 120kgs swinging off those things.
Now the only difference between the bruiser bar and the 29er is the height? Right, but when you dig a little further you will find it’s also lighter.
The feel from the bruiser bars is exactly what I’d hoped for, I’m not bent over the front end of the bike as much. Because of this the bike handles a whole lot different than it did with lower bars. Manualling and jumping felt easier and more controlled, come to think of it the front end of the bike felt lighter, not necessarily in a weight sense, but in the way that it’s easier to throw around.
The 8 degree back sweep and 4 degree up sweep is very comfortable, but it probably helps it’s exactly the same as the 29er bars that I’d been using the past 4 years.
Bruiser bars aren’t for everyone, given their size, but it’s a perfect option for someone looking for a bigger cruiser bar.
- Butted 4130 CrMo, 4Q Baked Post-Weld Heat Treat
- Made in the USA
- Available in black, white or chrome
For a big cruiser bar the 6.5″ Bruiser bar is the lightest that S&M offers…go figure.
|6.5″ Bruiser Bars||29||6.5||8||4||1.5 lb (.68 kg)|
|5.75″ 29ER Race Bar||29||5.75||8||4||1.6 lb (.73 kg)|
|5.75″ Cruiser Slam Bar||27||5.75||10||2.5||1.9 lb (.86 kg)|
|5″ Race bar||29||5||8||4||1.6 lb (.73 kg)|
|Value for money:||5/5|
- S&M aren’t the cheapest bar on the market, but when you buy S&M you know you will get value for money, a bar built stiff, a bar built strong, a bar that’s built to last.
- At 1.5 lb or .68 kg it leaves me scratching my head that these are S&M’s biggest cruiser bar but still the lightest.
- Stiff, light, comfortable and strong, what more could you ask for in a handlebar?
- The bruiser bar is a great looking bar no matter what colour you go for. The finish is flawless and the welds are clean. Big is beautiful!
ECI are the Australia distributor for S&M. For more information about S&M check out www.sandmbikes.com.
review by Shane Jenkins/4 December 2014