Review: Zipp SL-70 XPLR Handlebars

As the style of riding changes, the components, the gear, wheels and bike have to change too. Riders are chasing mixed-terrain adventures on drop bars more than ever. The new flared shapes of handlebars are designed for mixed-terrain riding—whether that’s gravel, mud or singletrack. The flare opens out your arm span. On loose gravel and steep descents, the extra bar width creates extra control, increasing stability at higher speeds. Zipp’s been out in-the-field at gravel events state side prototyping and developing these bars – they’ve designed their bars for the hoods-dominant position, which most riders do these days.

So, what’s the diff from this handlebar compared to Zipp’s existing offerings? Well, it has outsweep, a shallower drop and slightly more flare. Most of Zipp’s popular road handlebars, already have 4° of drop flare, Zipp adds 1° more flare on its new 70 XPLR bars and then adds 11° of “outsweep,” an outward bend starting below the hood clamp. Zipp’s goal of this design is to keep the hoods relatively vertical, while adding a wider perch in the drops for technical riding. The drop of the Service Course 70 XPLR is at just 115mm, they have a 3° backsweep, and it has an also 70mm reach.

I’ve had these handlebars on a Santa Cruz Stigmata for a while now. This rig is ridden quite a lot and is capable (not the rider sometimes) at riding any terrain thrown in front of it. So, a good test for the 70 XPLR bars. Over the time I’ve had them, they’ve been super-comfy, and I really rate the shallow drop. As does my wife, who rides this bike quite a lot. She’s smaller than me and doesn’t rate the width, flare and drop of some of the gravel handlebars on the market. This means, when riding bikes with these bars, she doesn’t get into the drops, which makes riding rough terrain quite hard. As her hands get sore from being on the hoods. I’ve noticed her getting