How much input does a pro rider have in new products? Professional mountain biker Olly Wilkins explains what goes into the process – with the upcoming release of the brand new O’Dub Bars from his long-time sponsor DMR Bikes
This piece first appeared in the February edition of BikeBiz magazine – get your free subscription here
What do you look for in a good set of handlebars?
Bars are super super important to me. They’re the fastest way to make a bike feel right, especially when paired with the right contact points. Get those dialled and you can instantly transform how something rides with very little hassle. The shape of these bars is one which I’ve been riding for over 10 years now – five-degrees up and eight- degrees back. I’ve tried other shapes and they feel weird, even after a bit of bike time.
The next feature is super important too: the fact that the bars are made from heat treated 7075 and not carbon is essential to me. Of all the places on a bike where I want to save weight, the bars is not one of them. My bikes get thrown around and used. I’m not interested in using a material which requires exact torques when tightening levers or one where a scratch in the van can mean a snap on the trail.
What features have you brought to the DMR O’Dub handlebars?
The bars are the result of over a decade spent developing the predecessor: the Wing Bar. Beyond the actual shape and material we’ve also added a new spiral butting process. We’ve created a bar which is super durable and manufactured in a manner that means there are no sharp edges, even under a microscope.
No sharp edges means no weak points and that’s super confidence-inspiring after seeing so many carbon bars snap out on the trail. I ride a lot of different bikes so having a range of rides and sizes was mega important to me. There’s nothing more annoying than not being able to make a product fit your needs.
I like running the same bar in different rises on each of my bikes so that you instantly feel at home regardless of whether you’re riding dirt jumps or on a massive mission on your enduro bike. The bars also have minimal packaging and the barcode laser etched because I don’t like landfill.
How long have you been testing these new bars?
I’ve spent my life behind bars and I can safely say I’ve never snapped or bent a set of DMR bars in over ten years of riding and testing. The O’Dub bar might be the longest tested product I’ve ever worked on! I think that’s important if you’re putting your name on something.
When will they be in bike shops?
They’ll be in stores this spring and are currently available in any colour as long as it’s satin black. It’s the only bar colour I wanna run, but let’s see what we come up with in future! They’re available in two clamp sizes: 31.8mm and 35mm. They’re also available in three different rises: 20mm, 35mm or 50mm.
I run the 20/35 on my trail and enduro bikes and the 50mm on my jump bike. The 35 clamp comes in at 800mm wide and I cut my enduro bike down to 770mm and 750mm on my jump bike. The 31.8 comes in at 780 wide. All bars have cutting guides too. It’s very cool to look down and see my dream bar on all of my bikes. They’re the best.