Cascade Racing Designs has been making carbon mountain bike rims for about 3 years now. Based in Bellingham Washington, Russ and Trudy Shriver have since added carbon handlebars and aluminum stems to the catalog. With over 20 years industry experience, I was stoked to see how CRD approached a crowded market of carbon bars. With companies marketing various advantages such as compliance and weight savings, you might be getting lost on what to look for. With 3 different variants, I chose the Stooge 803, so let’s dive in to see what might set them apart.
Cascade Racing Designs Stooge 803 Handlebar - Rider Review
The Stooge 803 is an easy to remember, 803 mm in width. Utilizing a 35 mm bar clamp diameter, it also has 25 mm of rise. (Also available with 15 mm of rise) With a 9 degree sweep, and 5 degree upsweep, this bar is comfortable on the wrists, with a shape that is similar to most other bars. The other 2 Stooge options share the same sweep dimensions as the 803, but come in 813 mm wide (30 mm rise) and 790 mm wide (25 mm rise) options. The latter, Stooge 790, uses a 31.8 mm bar clamp diameter, in case you are running that size stem.
Weight of the Stooge 803 comes in at 225 grams. The other 2 most recent bars I’ve used, RaceFace Next R & OneUp, came in at 215 grams and 225 grams respectively. So the CRD bar is right there with the rest of them — but with that extra 3 mm of width.
Some nice features of the Stooge bars include, textured finishes for the bar ends and where the stem clamps on. It’s still advisable to use fiber paste when installing you grips and stem, but this is a nice, thoughtful touch. I also appreciate the bar clamp and rise of the bar labeled on the end — just in case you forget, or receive them as a gift or second hand.
How Does It Ride?
Quoting CRD’s website, the Stooge is designed to be precise yet forgiving, and strong yet supple. I would say in terms of compliance, the CRD bar falls in between the RaceFace and OneUp models. With OneUp being the most “compliant”. When carbon handlebars first became mainstream for mountain bikes, the goal was weight savings. It’s not until recent years that we all hear the compliance buzz word. So what does that actually translate to on the trail? If you live in an area where rock gardens are the norm, you’ll immediately feel less vibration and harsh feedback through your hands. Translating to longer rides due to less fatigue. We can all agree that is a welcome advantage.
I rode the Stooge bars on my local rocky single track, bike parks, and jump lines. Every terrain I hit, the bars responded amazingly. Having them be slightly more stiff than the OneUp bars made picking up the front end of my bike for a technical climb, or boosting off a kicker that much easier and immediate. I think CRD has nailed the stiffness characteristics with this bar.
"Precise yet forgiving, and strong yet supple"
I love the glossy finish of these bars, since most others on the market have a matte finish. But having the CRD graphics under or apart of the finish, means you can’t remove them, or color match to your bike. They could satisfy us who like to accessorize by adding options for colored decals to be placed on the bar after the fact. It would also be a nice addition to add lines on the bar ends to indicate measurements if you want to cut down the bars to a smaller size. Purely cosmetic criticisms, but those features can be found with competing brands.
With a price of $140 USD, the Stooge with its 4 possible configurations is very competitive and offers unique riding characteristics. Especially if you are a taller rider, and can take advantage of the 803 & 813 mm wide options. Without having a large distribution presence online, odds are this is the first time learning about the Stooge. If I were you, I’d seriously consider these as your next upgrade — and support a PNW company dead-set on making quality parts that stand behind the product with crash replacement assistance. Oh, and if you are intrigued by that shiny raw aluminum stem in the photos, CRD’s Vagrant stem will have it’s own review posted shortly!
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