Deity Components has been a player in the aftermarket game for years, and for 2017 they've revamped their line from pedals to grips. As riders, we have only a few points of contact with our bikes, so setups needs to be both functional and ergonomically friendly. This season I've been running Deity cockpit bits on my downhill machine, including the Blacklabel 800 handlebar, Intake DH stem, Knuckleduster grips and Sidetrack saddle mounted to the Retina seatpost.
Blacklabel 800 Handlebar & Intake Direct-Mount Stem
As the name suggests, the custom-butted aluminum Blacklabel 800 is 800-millimeters wide, and designed for downhill and aggressive all-mountain riding. The Blacklabel is available in 15-, 25- and 38-millimeter rise options. I went for the 25-millimeter version (345g). I'm 5-foot-9, so an 800-millimeter-wide bar is beyond the range of usable leverage. Sizing down the bar was made easy with the included incremental cut marks. I opted for 770 millimeters, 10 millimeters wider than the handlebar on my trail bike.
Handlebar rise and sweep are very much personal preferences, and the Blacklabel 800 features a 9-degree backsweep and a 5-degree upsweep. Most of the people I ride with prefer a lot of backsweep and noticeably roll their handlebars toward them. I personally lean toward less, as I feel it helps me keep my weight over the front of the bike. I was able to find my Blacklabel sweet spot by rolling them a tiny bit farther forward than I do on other brands, slightly countering the pronounced backsweep. The Blacklabel 800 bar does a nice job of providing precise steering, and a comfortable fit, yet didn't feel overly rigid or harsh at speed.
The Intake stem (146g) is offered in both 31.8-millimeter and 35-millimeter clamp sizes, and like the Blacklabel handlebar, is available in a variety of colorways. Made from a three-piece, CNC-machined alloy design, the Intake features a 50-millimeter reach with a zero-degree rise. Front-end rigidity is crucial for maintaining control on challenging terrain, and Deity employs a 69-millimeter clamping platform that securely mounts the handlebar in place. The Intake stem and Blacklabel 800 configuration provide a stylish, responsive and stout front end ideal for control on demanding downhill terrain.
I tend to look at grips like riding shoes. There are dozens of capable options out there, which I'll give a go anytime but, when I have my choice, I'll lean toward a couple of trusty go-tos. Over the last few years, my primary grips were the Sip Grip from Specialized, which featured a grippy half-waffle design or the Sensus Lite grips, which use a softer, ribbed surface. Coincidentally, Deity's Knucklebuster grip is nearly a perfect amalgamation of the two. Featuring a single-clamp design, the Knucklebusters are 132 millimeters long, have a tapered inner sleeve for a snug, no-slip fit on the bar and are available in black, stealth (dark gray), red, green, blue and orange colorways. The Knucklebusters are extremely comfortable, yet provide plenty of traction for aggressive riding. The soft, ribbed upper feels supple for vibration damping, while the grippy, half-waffle underside comes into play when navigating white-knuckle terrain. For as comfortable as the Knucklebusters are, it's worth mentioning they have a noticeably thicker outer diameter (32 millimeters) than many other popular grips.
Sidetrack Saddle & Retina Seatpost
It wasn't long ago when brands offered downhill saddles that more closely resembled loaves of bread than performance-oriented apparatuses designed to support a mountain biker's backside. Thankfully, times have changed and downhill bikes have shifted from mutant huck wagons to mountain biking's Formula One equivalent. Deity's performance-oriented downhill saddle, the Sidetrack, is based around SDG's proven I-Beam platform, which is strong, simple, user-friendly and lightweight. Good luck finding a seatpost that's easier to dial-in than SDG's I-Beam design. Simply loosen the saddle's clamping mechanism, slide to the desired position on the I-Beam rails, tighten down, go shred. Deity's Sidetrack features durable Kevlar material on the sides that prevent abrasions, plus EVA foam padding for kicking it in the lift line. Since downhillers run their saddles low, the rear-end of the Sidetrack has a cut out for tire clearance. Rounded and padded edges help prevent the saddle edges from snagging on one's trousers. Although an I-Beam saddle probably wouldn't be my choice for all-day rides, in the downhill application it's a perfect fit.