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PNW Components Range: handlebar, stem and Loam grip review

PNW components has now added a complete cockpit set up to its extensive range of excellent dropper posts. Bike Perfect has been getting to grips with them

PNW
(Image: © Guy Kesteven)

Our Verdict

PNW is only pushing a limited size range and they’re built strong rather than light. The company's tactile yet accurate and colourful cockpit equipment sits right in the sweet spot of control and comfort for trail and enduro riders

PNW (Pacific North West Components) started as a basement side project for an experienced bike industry couple two years ago. A seat post range that has reset the benchmarks for performance and price has made it one of the fastest-growing independent private companies in the US. The Range bar, stem and grips follow all the same reliability-focused, smart-featured ethos as the posts but sizing is currently ‘sweet spot’ only.

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PNW Range stem

Mount uses a three-prong action camera style mount for wider compatibility (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)
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PNW Range stem

The PMW Range stem is neatly machined but only available in 31.8mm clamp size (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

PNW Range Stem

Solid stem with neat face-plate for camera or light-mounting options

Weight: 176g (40mm with GoPro mount) | Price: $76.80 / €65 / £59

Rock-solid clamping
Neat GoPro/light mount
Excellent price
3-year warranty
 31.8mm only

Sitting front and centre in the cockpit collection is the extensively detailed Range stem. Using a broad forged and smoothly machined body with a broad slotted faceplate and ‘no gap’ closure on the top two stem bolts this is a seriously stiff and stout bar holder. Twin opposed steerer bolts and a healthy depth mean you’re going to have to slam hard to knock it out of line too. As well as doing its main job really well PNW has added an adjustable ‘GoPro’ mount that clamps into the faceplate bars to hold a camera or compatible front light.

All the clamp edges are radiused to reduce stress risers, all bolt torque ratings are clearly marked and the triangular graphics match the Range bars without looking weird if you don’t use them. PNW has stuck with an ‘old skool’ 31.8mm clamp size to keep the bar comfortable and the stem currently only comes in 40mm and 50mm lengths, but there is the Coast stem in 60-100mm options.

Weight is slightly high but it comes with a three-year warranty and pricing is very good for the level of detailing and bonus face plate mount.

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PNW Range handlebars

PNW Range KW handlebars are 780mm width and weigh 336g (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)
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PNW Range handlebars

Compliance from the 31.8mm clamp sizes and 10-degrees sweep adds comfort (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

PNW Range KW bars

Comfortable bars that don't sacrifice any control or precision

Weight: 336g | Price: $82.80 / €70 / £64

Comfortable without being flappy
3-year warranty
5% US school racing kickback
Currently 31.8/780mm only
Slightly heavy

Built from 2014-T73 alloy (lighter than 6061 and more ductile than 7075 according to PNW) with a gradual taper through the 30mm rise. The bar is only offered in 31.8mm for more compliance, and the result is a noticeably smoother, more forgiving ride on longer or more seismic descents. The 10-degree back sweep gives a fractionally more relaxed wrist position which we found really comfortable on tougher missions, particularly on longer reach bikes. It also makes the 40mm stem feel a few mm shorter in terms of lightness and leverage. While the bar is relatively flexible, it never strays the wrong side of flap/bounce even when hitting stuff hard. The stiffness of the stem means the overall combination is a perfect blend of precise feedback and surface communication without numbness and arm pump when you’re charging hard.

There are five different colour options for the logos, with grip-increasing ‘helical wrap’ details and cut marks on the 780mm width. At 336g and £64 before you add delivery it’s slightly heavier on bike and wallet than some competition. You get a three-year warranty though and thanks to PNW athlete Kyle Warner who helped develop the bar there’s a five per cent donation to the US NICA high school race program included in the cost.

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PNW Loam grips

Thick ribs mean the grips wear well although don't absorb vibrations as well (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)
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PNW Loam grips

The soft compound is more likely to tear in the event of a crash (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

PNW Loam grips

Soft compound gives excellent wet and dry bar grip

Weight: 90g (pair) | Price: $22.80 / €20 / £18

Excellent wet or dry grip
Super soft compound
Rich feedback
9 different colours
Good value
Relatively firm
Tear easily

The cockpit is completed with the Range grips which come in a massive selection of nine different colours to match the ‘Loam lever’ remote dropper post paddles. The tapered sleeve taps into place securely then you lock them into place with the bar friendly, rounded edge, inboard clamp. There’s a slight flare against the clamp with a thin wavy grip pattern inboard, broad bar centrally and then a fatter zig-zag pattern on the outboard top. The ultra tacky 25a Duro ‘Happy Camper’ compound adds extra stiction for excellent grip even when you’ve stuck your bars/gloves (or both) in a bog. The thicker, deeper ribs also add more support when you’re rallying hard and stop the grips tearing up as easily. That does mean they feel firmer than a fully mushroom style grip when it comes to long rides and impacts though. The soft compound inevitably splits/tears quite easily if you bin the bike or hit a tree, but otherwise, they’re wearing well after several months of hard use. 

Verdict

The stem and grips are definitely the highlight of PNW’s cockpit in terms of stand out performance and price, but as an overall package the bars sync really well to soften up their stiffness. The old skool 31.8mm diameter and single bar width/rise/sweep option won’t suit everyone, but as a full front end with a really tactile yet accurate trail or enduro feel and tons of colour options PNW are right up there.