COEFFICIENT WAVE HANDLEBARS
218g 44cm (as tested) £299 plus taxes
The Coefficient Wave Handlebar is an extreme looking but extremely practical, ergonomic model, designed to offer a more natural, fatigue reducing stance. Carbon fibre is an obvious material, given its properties and several hundred miles in, I’m convinced they live up to their hype and would like to see a 6061 aluminium alloy version, for everyday riding.
Pros: Extremely comfortable, compliant but not whippy.
Cons: Price, incompatible with Tri bars.
The Wave has been 8 years in the making. Don Sheff, the company’s founder started with prototypes fashioned from aluminium alloy, by a local automotive machine shop. Ten years later, with several revisions en route, they developed a series of four alpha prototypes with “subtle” differences in the top angles and “proportional sizing”. A control group, comprising of men, women, professional and recreational riders tested and outlined their preferences.
Now, proportional sizing is hardly a new concept, but in common with “ergonomic” it’s a word that can mean a multitude of things. In this instance, the narrower the bar width, the smaller the top’s grip size. Anthropometric data is used to determine incremental changes in dimensions, to reflect and compliment the ergonomic needs of different riders.
The bars are a proprietary mix of Toray T800 and T700 Carbon fibre, with a matt black epoxy finish. Bladder moulding is a complex process enabling complex shapes to be produced. Directional flex is employed so they remain compliant over rough surfaces and bumps but stiff when under loads; climbing and sprinting being the most obvious examples.
Now, the Wave are marketed for road and gravel use, so reassuring to discover they’re are tested to ISO 4210, the standard demanded of mountain biking. Apparently, every production run is tested twice. In house, and at an independent accredited testing facility. A two-year limited warranty adds further reassurance.
The tops are very accommodating of lighting and other accessories, in much the same way, as Genetic D-Riser 16 bars . They’re swept back by 12 degrees and slope down by 15 degrees, for a more natural, dare I say intuitive, resting point for the wrists. The drops have a slight flare - 1.5 degree, which theoretically affords better control over rougher conditions.
Though definitely radical in the riser-drop lovechild sense, there remain fundamental similarities, with the traditional drop. Look side on, at the bend and you’ll note 120mm drop and 77mm reach. I wasn’t surprised to find a 31.8 clamp diameter and Di2 compliant internal cable routing. Otherwise, you can route them, as I have to the outside, in a very conventional manner. Talking of stem clamps, don’t forget your torque wrench, bolts mustn’t be wound tighter than 6nm.
My Holdsworth is based around a plain gauge 1955 531 frame, with carbon forks. Deep section aero rims and large flange hubs make for a very responsive ride but despite the gentle compliance of frame and fork blades, with oversized 6061 bars, the ride quality can feel a little harsh, hence its designation as my fast-blast, sunny days TT build. To be frank, I wouldn’t put a carbon fibre bar of the Coefficient’s calibre on a daily driver, or more conventional training bike.
Flatter sections and sensible bulges ensured easy tenure for compact lights, computers/GPS and action cameras, while still leaving oodles of useable space for hands. Talking of space, leave a little more length in control cables (if routing internally), ditto bar tape, it’s easy to prune things that fraction too short.
I dressed ours in Silicone, which is an obvious choice given grip and damping narrative. Silicone’s tacky nature means it’s easy to unwrap and correct. However, whatever your preference, the bar’s pattern and shape consume more tape, than a more conventional drop, so start with less generous overlap. Coming from the Soma Condor and Genetic D Riser 16 Bar, I was expecting the Wave’s deeper drop to be more apparent, although in practice, everything remained extremely intuitive and the gentle rise at the tops made a big difference to cruising comfort.
Overall, and as I’d hoped, the Wave has delivered on the design brief and has proven itself the most comfortable bar I’ve used to date. On any machine. Gripping the tops, the sloping shape and flat sections genuinely put the wrists and palms at a more intuitive angle. Being broad shouldered, I opted for the widest (44cm) versions, which was also absolutely bang on.
Given the test bike’s designation and a relatively tall, 81inch gear, the width also opens the chest cavity, making longer climbs more efficient. Aside, of course, from offering more control, should I port them across to my cyclo-cross and fixed gear winter/trainers. Aside from moving the brake lever down by a few millimetres, I’ve made no subsequent corrections/adjustments in 500 miles.
Compared with double butted 6061 fare, there was some discernible zing, when powering away. However, the design’s lateral stiffness kept everything on track. This was particularly welcome on rides over 50 miles, where fatigue can otherwise creep in around the shoulders and wrists.
Though never problematic, the modern carbon fork has impacted on the bike’s overall geometry, giving a twitchier feel up front, one which adds to the responsive and willing ride but can require greater concentration, especially when tired.
Again, the Wave’s pattern and width has compensated for this, making a big difference when weariness has hit after 70 miles. Holes and other hazards were more readily swept around. The deeper drop also makes it easier to hunker down and subvert headwinds. Hammering along some local 1in7s at 35mph plus, minute movements were all I needed to keep everything on track and those sneaky little bumps were gently tamed.
Whichever way we look at it £299 is a substantial investment for a set of bars, so I’d be doing careful research before parting with my money. To be frank, I’d go for a full bike-fit consultation first, to ensure everything else was spot on. Nonetheless, it reflects the quality of materials, research and development. It’s not outlandish compared with designs, such as Specialized S Works Aerofly II (£240) and Ritchey Logic WCS Carbon Streem II (£270). Besides, as Coefficient would point out, these are more conventional designs.
Ultimately, the Coefficient Wave Handlebars are a genuinely different design that could bring comfort to a new level. They’ve impressed me, in every respect. Arguably an obvious upgrade for gravel, adventure and mile munching Audax bikes, I’d love to see a 6061 version for working bikes, tourers and winter/trainers.