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Zipp’s  high-end carbon bar, the SL 80 Race, is designed for new SRAM RED AXS, from placement of Wireless Blips to ergonomic innovations that will keep you fast and efficient in every hand position. Get all the details of this jointly developed bar with Zipp Product Manager Nathan Schickel. Full podcast link and excerpts below:


The Zippcast · Zipp SL 80 Race designed for new RED AXS
What is the SL 80 Race carbon handlebar?

The SL 80 Race handlebar came out of a desire to create a handle specific to drivetrain controls. The RED AXS control team and the Zipp handlebar team worked together on the SL 80 Race to create a handlebar that gives the rider the best experience possible while riding with that drivetrain control: Maximizing the comfort of riding in the hoods, maximizing the comfort while riding in the drops, creating a handlebar that is aerodynamic. We also looked at our sizing and how we shaped that handlebar.


Crafted just for RED AXS and you
So, this is the first road bar that Zipp designed specifically for a road groupset ( SRAM RED AXS)? 

That is correct. With the development of SRAM RED AXS, we knew it was going to be wireless, so we designed around Wireless Blips if you wanted satellite shifters. We wanted to be able to build those into the bar where they were unobtrusive.  We wanted aeras where the Wireless Blips fit in nice, so once it’s taped you don’t know it’s there until your thumb hits the button. That becomes intuitive. In the drops, you can find the place where your thumb rests above or below the button, you can then rock your finger and actuate a shift, but you’re never in a position where you’re mistakenly actuating a shift.

With the bar top, we collected data from our race teams on how they were using Wireless Blips. We found that a lot of riders are using their index finger and wrapping it under the bar. So, what we did was place the Blip under the bar, right where the tape terminates. 

Could you go through the bar from top to bottom?
The top – aero and comfortable for climbs

We focused on that riding on the tops position of the bar. For a lot of people, it’s a secondary or tertiary position, but it’s still important. If you’re doing climbing or relaxing between intervals, you need to have a comfortable position. As you look at the wing shape of the top, it tapers as it moves out to the first bend. It simulates a back sweep you’ll see in some of our aluminum handlebars. That keeps the hand in a more natural position.

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The bend (middle) – comfort on the hoods, and you can switch bars without rebleeding brakes

As we move around to the first bend we have that widening. It’s an externally routed bar. In the world of hydraulic disc brakes, if you have to change handlebars and unrouted your brake hoses, that costs time and (if you take it to a shop) money. It’s what we call external but hidden brake hosing.

You can be deep in the hoods and have that one-finger braking there for you. Or, your hands can be behind that. That is part of the reason why we made the bar a little wide at that first bend. If you’re sitting behind the hood a little bit you’ve have an area that is comfortable.

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The drop

We added some flare and some outsweep. Flare is where the whope drop is flared outward, and outsweep is where just the bottom of the drop is moved outward. When you look at how road cyclists are riding these days, they want to be narrow on the hoods, where they are trying to be as aero as possible, and they want to be a little wider in the drops; that’s your control position, that’s your sprinting position.

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The SL 80 Race is the first handlebar where we’ve offered a 36cm center-to-center width?

Over the last couple of years, I’ve watched size tends with handlebars, 42cm remains the primary bar size. But 40cm overtook 44 about three years ago, and it continues to grow. We are seeing 38 starting to grow. 36cm is stable, but it’s a decent piece of the business.

Photos by Caleb Kerr Photo