I brought these in to review because I thought they looked cool. Their slightly curved, steadily tapering single black line is a handlebar’s purest form. It is the essential and nothing more. It’s something you can only get with flat bars, and the Funn Kingpin bars are definitely flat. They’ve got 7 millimeters of rise, just 5 degrees of backsweep and 2 degrees of upsweep. 2 degrees. That’s barely more ergonomic than a broom handle, or so I thought.
I rode the Kingpins on a 27.5-inch wheel enduro bike and a uniquely aggressive 29-inch trail bike. Both had relatively high stack measurements, so the Kingpin’s low rise made sense. And both bikes were meant for wide-open trails and to be ridden with wide-open throttles, so the bar’s 810-millimeter width made sense too. If you have ever broken a modern handlebar, their 31.8-millimeter clamped diameter probably does not make sense. I have not, [knocking on wood] so I’ve been trading the strength of my 35-millimeter bars for something with more give and extra comfort [knocking again].
That extra comfort is noticeable. Maybe it’s the Kingpin’s straight, uninterrupted shape or maybe it’s simply the clamp diameter. It’s not like adding fork travel or even dropping tire pressure, but after riding the Kingpins back to back with the stock bars, I had less arm pump at the end of a run. It was subtle, but my other takeaway after my month on the bars was not.
A bar with such shallow upsweep and backsweep has to be ridden differently than a traditional bar. On my first ride, I just couldn’t get the grips to sit properly in my hands. I kept angling my wrists to get better contact against my palms, but it didn’t work. So I got more aggressive in my posture. I put my elbows further out and my torso lower. Eureka. That’s the subtle genius of the Kingpin’s drastic shape. When your upper body is in a proper racing position, it changes the angle at which your forearms meet your bars. On my too-often too-dry and too-slippery trails, my stance is sometimes too timid. Riding the Kingpin bars forced me back into a more positive position.
But it doesn’t make sense in every application. On top of the low rise, your body’s low angle means you need a lofty front end to keep it comfy. It’s perfect for aggressive enduro bikes or long-travel 29ers, but not quite bomber enough for DH. The Kingpin bar goes for $75 and weighs in at 290 grams.