By Seb Kemp
The BlackBox program started nearly two decades ago with the original RockShox BoXXer. The goal was to provide completely personalized support to a special group of riders, giving team riders a clear performance advantage in World Cup competition, and to win races.
As the sport evolved, the BlackBox program extended beyond RockShox and across the SRAM brand family. When their athletes asked for a different kind of handlebar, TRUVATIV answered with the BooBar, a bar designed to meet the demands of World Cup downhilling. However, not every man is built the same and a bar is extremely personal. This eventually led to different specifications of bars to suit different riders.
This year some of the results of the BlackBox program are being put in the hands of average riders, starting with a range of signature series Truvativ BlackBox bars.
DANNY HART BLACKBOX BAR
THE RIGHT ANGLE.
Danny Hart. He rides fast and loose. He turns the impossible into the ride of a lifetime. Danny spends countless hours working with his trainers and coaches to get more traction, power, and speed — and how to build the bike that'll get him there. In the past, Danny used a 5mm space under his direct mount stem combined with a 20mm rise Boobar to lift him to the exact height he wanted, but that setup wasn't seamless.
"So the spec for these bars came from a lot of winter testing on rougher terrain and harder tracks than I usually ride in preparation for the 2013 race season. First, Dave Garland (Danny's mechanic) and I decided that my weight needed to moved more to the centre of the bike. In 2011, I used a straighter bar, so my weight was too far forward."
Designed by Danny himself, the new TRUVATIV Danny Hart BlackBox bar delivers the 25mm rise that he needs — with no spacers and less weight. Truvativ also added two more degrees of back sweep for a total 9 degrees, which moves his weight back, putting more pressure on the rear wheel. That keeps him exactly where he wants to be — on the trail, smashing turns.
"We took a few different bars from the Truvativ range, with different up sweeps, back sweeps and rises. After a lot of tests we came to a conclusion on which sweep and bend I prefer. The taper of the bar was decided by SRAM’s Chris Hilton to optimize the bar. Then I chose the width I needed and had some bar end caps made. I found what I wanted and the rest is history!"
7050 Al Alloy
STEVIE SMITH BLACKBOX BAR
RAISING THE BAR.
Stevie Smith. He rides the gnarliest terrain extremely fast. He's a brute, strong, powerful and pointed straight down the mountain. Stevie lives in a place where the trees can swallow you whole so his style requires a heads-up approach.
We teamed up with Stevie to create a bar that is high and out in front, giving him ultimate control. His signature 780mm downhill bar features a 30mm rise, keeping his hands forward, his head up, and his eyes focused. It's the strength, stiffness, and quality you've come to expect from the TRUVATIV Boobar— but with some Stevie Smith baked in.
7050 Al Alloy
Really, what can you say about handlebars? They break or, well, they don’t. And, thankfully, bars just don’t break that often under normal riding. Handlebars are extremely personal–everyone has a different take on the perfect width, amount of rise and backsweep, so what I like might not be what you need or want. What Truvativ’s Athlete Series has going for it, is that it offers you some more choices to find the bar that offers the best fit and feel for you.
So, disclaimer about bars being a subjective thing aside….
I rode with the Stevie bar for a month mainly because it was black and went with the paint scheme of the bike I was testing. I did use Danny’s bar for a while on a test bike that had a very low stack height and long front centre. It helped. These days, I’m back to using my personal bars because I am so used to them and they seem to fit me. You see–it’s that subjective thing again.
Would I recommend giving the Truvativ bars a shot? Absolutely. The finish is good and the Black Box series offers a pretty wide range of fit.