WHAT: Bontrager Big Earl Bar & Stem WHERE: www.bontrager.com HOW MUCH: $60 (stem); $80 (bar)
Oversized exudes that feeling of confidence and strength the way only oversized can. Like Paola Pezzo's quads, Pamela Anderson's boobs, a Dodge Power Wagon's hemi engine…oversized is good, especially when rocking the oversized airs and gnarl of the world. Bontrager's Big Earl bars and stem–part of their system of components that includes a wheel set, bolt on grips, seat post, and seat—has taken the oversized goodness of the world to heart. Thankfully, though, it's oversized without extra weight.
The stem especially looks like it might weigh more than a small child. Pick it up, and at only 250 grams, the thick, robust aluminum feels reasonably light. The 295 gram military green anodized bar is also fairly light for its noticeable bigness. The bar is made using custom-butted 7050-T6 aluminum with hard anodized coating. The clamp section inflates to 31.8mm for increased beef, with a 50mm rise measured at the grip section. Retail: $79.99
The 4-Bolt faceplate stem is made using forged and CNC machined 6061-T6 aluminum. It features an optimal 10 degree rise and is available in either 1-1/8 inch or 1-1/2 inch steer clamp and in 50mm and 70mm lengths. Retail: $59.99.
Having ridden the bar/stem combo for the past month or so, with no headset loosening issues or notable critiques (it hasn't broken yet, and I doubt it will in the next century), what I will say is the combo, due to its oversized, beefy profile, instills great confidence without the sacrifice of excessive weight. And that, in an age where catastrophic part failure equates to catastrophic physical consequences, is a big deal.