Fasst Company FlexX Suspension Handlebars Review
From: The USA!
Sweep: 8deg or 12deg back, 5deg up
Width: 800mm - 810mm.
Buy it here: Fasst Company
At the time of writing this review, Cyclorise/we had no agreement in place to import and represent Fasst Company in the UK. At time of publishing, an agreement was in place and the first stock was in production.
From Utah in the USA, Fasst Company are a well established handlebar, peg and accessory manufacturer for the motorcycle and ATV market. First devising their Flexx suspension handlebar for those sports, they have seen great success for almost two decades and have proven the concept of a suspended handlebar. The team behind Fasst Co are also mountain bikers and set to designing a lighter weight version for mountain biking.
About eight months ago I spotted an Instagram post of a Pivot Firebird 29 (my main bike now) fitted out with a set of these. I just had to try them, partly to satisfy my craving for unusual MTB kit, but partly also owing to an ongoing shoulder issue I've been suffering. Here at Cyclorise, we import Revgrips which do a tremendous job at smoothing out small vibrations and making your hands and forearms way more comfortable. But when landing big drop-offs, hitting big square-edged trail features etc then it's your shoulders and neck that take the brunt of the impact, in addition to your hands.
Fasst Company Flexx Handlebars are designed primarily to help you absorb the harsh initial, repetitive hits associated with DH and Enduro-style riding. Though with both 8 degree and 12 degree back sweep options, Fasst Co have clearly identified that there is also a need for those seeking the ultimate in ergonomics and comfort for regular trail riding. Now, I never make my mind up on equipment before trying it myself. So here's how I've got on with the bars over the last 8 months.
The long and slim box arrived in fair time with plenty of import duties and VAT to pay. Included was a set of fully assembled handlebars well protected and a packet of elastomers. Some soft and some firm. The bars are fitted with medium as standard. There are four elastomers installed, two each side. One controls the compression and the other controls the rebound. You can mix and match to tune the feel of the bars.
As the bars are set up as standard in a medium setting, the fitting stage is fairly straight forward. You must have a removable face-plate stem, which sounds obvious, but we all assume you can slide handlebars through stem face plates. With the large pivot 'knuckles' on the bars it is unlikely to be possible using this method, so an open-fronted stem is required.
I first tried the recommended medium setting but later mix and matched the elastomers. Swapping them out takes about ten minutes (though I got quicker after the first couple of times) and requires torx keys to undo the titanium hardware underneath the bar. A bit of effort 'snaps' the bolt apart, proving that the bolts use a loctite to ensure they stay in place. The bolts are beefy and would be highly unlikely to fail. If they did, the bar can't simply fall apart. At this point the handlebar end you've undone will lift towards the sky [suddenly I thought of this as an effective storage method if the process could be done tool-free] and elastomers can then easily be accessed. It would be a good idea to reapply Loctite during reassembly, however as I had planned to repeat these adjustments several times I neglected to do so until I settled on medium compression and firm rebound (i'll explain more on that later).
Fasst Co recommend ensuring you pay attention to the rider vs direction of travel. Don't roll them too far forward or rearward. You should ensure the direction of travel of the bars suits the direction your body travels in while in the 'attack' position. This was a normal position for me anyway, but those of you who have your bars rolled really far forward should observe this carefully.
One point to note, is to be gentle and careful when sliding your controls over the carbon parts of the bar. I found this easily scored a little with my dropper remote so ensured I took more care thereafter. The texture and look of the carbon section is really nice, so I'm glad they're not painted and lacquered too heavily.
The first thing i'd like to say is that I like unusual products. I like that companies are out there trying to solve problems that some people suffer while riding bikes. Which means unlike some who might instantly assume these bars would make their bike feel vague or unresponsive, I assumed this engineering company with a successful line of product have developed, tested and brought to market a finished product that works. How well it worked was what I wanted to find out. So let's get into it.
The car park test had me bouncing around the car park like an excited kid shouting "look at them flex". But truth be told, the onlooker didn't really notice the movement without carefully looking. Travel of the bars was definitely noticeable, but the actual amount of travel wasn't much. Maybe 2.5cm or so at the end of the 810mm length bars. Of course the amount your hands travel will vary based on placement and if you cut your bars down to length. I left them at 810mm.
As soon as I got off road and starting hitting trails it all became quite obvious. Steering felt totally normal but when trails got really rough, I felt some kind of un-godly sense of invincibility. My already very capable 170mm 29" Fox Factory 36 was suddenly left to performing the job of a suspension fork, while the handlebars were taking the brunt of my body weight. Forks for the ground, handlebars for my body.
I rode the bars on my big travel 29er enduro bike for many months and swapped them to my 650b hardtail with 150mm forks for a portion of that too, allowing me to be reacquainted with regular bars on my big bike while seeing what the benefit might be on the bike I used for regular XC and general Black Mountains technical riding. I rode the bars at Bike Park Wales, Black Mountains Cycle Centre, Cwm Carn, the Brecon Beacons, Trellech, Forest of Dean.All locations I frequent already so I was able to compare the difference the bars made on rocky, rooty, loamy, steep, fast, slow and technical trails.
I also tried the a mixture of medium and firm elastomers. I didn't bother with the soft because I weigh a lot and ride hard so would have bottomed out too easily. After trying firm and finding the benefit was negligeble for me, I settled on medium compression and firm rebound. It's worth noting that the handlebars also have an upward motion and not just downward. Meaning that when bunny hopping or otherwise pulling up, the bars to raise slightly. In theory, I don't like the sound of that but in practical terms, in the same way the bars suspended me on compression, they also softened the 'jerk' of the pull. So even when hucking or jumping up and over obstacles, the bars made the whole process far softer on my aching shoulder.
I was outstanded at how normal the handlebars felt in the steering axis compared to any other handlebar I own (all others are 35mm while Fasst bars are 31.8mm). Though the vertical suspension path was only ever complimentary to the ride. I never longed for more positivity or more stiffness. The important stiffness was there in steering thanks to the huge pivot knuckles and large interface bushes. Having said that, when switching back to normal carbon bars (same sweep and 800mm length), the bike did feel more...responsive is the wrong word...sensitive.I felt every single pebble, ripple, micro-root. It was similar to the sensation of switching to your hardtail after riding a great full sus rig for a while.
While I wouldn't turn away the added comfort these bars bring for any ride, they did prove most effective on long and rough descents. The rockier and rootier the better. I tried the bars with and without Revgrips to ensure I appreciated the benefit each brought. It's true the Revgrips brought all the comfort I needed for hands and arms, but the Fasst Company did a similar job for my shoulders for my general riding and were an all-over godsend at bike parks where combined with Revgrips meant I not only got half way through the day feeling fresh, but made it all the way through the day feeling like I'd just turned up. Ride for longer, in more comfort.
You might prefer the hardtail feel, but there's no escaping the control, speed and comfort full suspension brings you. These handlebars give added comfort in any situation and while I can't prove they're faster, I have come away feeling that they might just be. An extra 200grams is easy to justify. Your deep pockets will have to justify the expense. But to me one thing is for sure, all of my bikes will have to run these bars in the near future because I just can't go back to rigid bars on any bike that I spend decent time on or ride hard.
- Unique, great looking (if you like that sort of thing).
- They absolutely do what they intend.
- No noticeable lack of steering-axis stiffness.
- Happier shoulders.
- Pile-drive rock gardens with control.
What's not great
- They weight about 200g more than a set of typical carbon handlebars.
- Carbon finish on handlebar sections easy to mark if not careful.
- They cost quite a lot. But USA, small-batch manufacture usually does.
- There's no UK distributor.
About this review
Cyclorise imports and distributes the brands you see listed at the top of this website. We sell mostly to bike shops but also to the end consumer.