Review: ODI Flight Control 750 Handlebars

Overview: The world’s first adjustable-width mountain handlebar lets you find the perfect width without cutting. Constructed of 7075 T6 Aluminum. 25mm rise, 5 by 9 degree sweep. Length adjustable from 750mm to 775mm to 786mm.

Price: MSRP $79.99, Art’s price $69.99.odi2

As handlebar widths have continued getting wider and wider, numbers like 750mm don’t seem that extreme anymore, especially with 1000mm Syncros‘ out there. The benefits of wider handlebars (increased control in turns and greater stability in the rough) have caused gravity riders to enthusiastically embrace the extra alloy. What I was wondering, however, was how would an “extra-wide” set of bars benefit a regular old trail rider like myself? Well, thanks to the ODI Flight Control, I could finally find out, and if I didn’t like the results, go back to my old length without having to buy another set of bars.

I have been using Sunline V1 745mm handlebars for a few years, which some people would consider wide already. After a few guys here went with 780mm-plus handlebars, I needed to give them a try too. I went with the 750mm Flight Control Bars, since that was a width I was used to if I didn’t like the extra bit, and added the 19mm Flight Control Extensions for a total width of 786mm.

odi11My first impressions were positive: sweep and rise felt very comfortable, and similar to the Sunline’s I had been riding. The extra width did feel odd at first when pedaling around the parking lot, and while it eventually felt less wierd, they still feel wide on the steepest climbs. Descending, however is another story… I Immediately felt comfortable with the ODI’s when the trail turned downhill. The extra width increases your leverage on the bars, which results in reduced perceived effort when steering the bike through turns, making it easier to stay on a line, and make corrections if you need to. Straight-line control was noticeably improved also, with the wider bars allowing me to muscle through rocky sections that sent my front wheel skipping and bouncing on my narrower bars.

Unfortunately, when a bike points uphill, the laws of physics still apply. That extra leverage which made my descending so much better now works to lift the front wheel off the ground and amplifies every little bit of steering input I give to the bars. This effect is only slightly detrimental, and only on the extra steep parts. By moving my hands inboard, and by leaning forward a bit more I can mitigate the effects, but I would not recommend 786mm bars to XC racers. That said, bars of this width are obviously intended for riders who get more enjoyment out of descending rather than climbing, and they noticeably boosted my descending enjoyment.

Bottom Line: These bars did everything they were supposed to do — allowed me to experiment with different lengths without fear of ruining a new pair of bars. While I like the extra width, it’s nice to know that I could have gone back to what I was comfortable with. The increased width provides markedly increased control in all types of turns and in rocky situations. A common issue with extra-wide bars is flex, and while these aren’t entirely flex-free, they are pretty darn close. I have also seen lighter bars of this width, but they are about as stiff as a pair of shoe laces.odi3

The only drawback to extra-wide bars like these is felt when climbing. During very steep ascents, the front end feels like it wants to come off the ground, and it takes more effort to keep the bike straight. Moving your hands inboard and/or leaning forward during these situations will get you through them.

I recommend the ODI 750 Flight Control Bars to All-Mountain and trail riders, but pure XC riders who want to experiment will be better served by the 711 width bars.

2010-09-15T12:47:46-08:00