Skip to main content

Specialized Traverse SL handlebar review

Specialized’s new ‘premier’ handlebar promises shredding strength at a super low weight but is it worth the expensive investment?

Specialized Traverse SL handlebar
(Image: © Guy Kesteven)

Our Verdict

Light, tough, well-shaped trail/enduro bar with a great ride feel but seriously expensive

For

  • Light
  • Precise
  • Comfortable enough
  • Classic sweep shapes
  • Subtle branding

Against

  • Very expensive
  • 30mm rise only

Bike Perfect Verdict

Light, tough, well-shaped trail/enduro bar with a great ride feel but seriously expensive

Pros

  • +

    Light

  • +

    Precise

  • +

    Comfortable enough

  • +

    Classic sweep shapes

  • +

    Subtle branding

Cons

  • -

    Very expensive

  • -

    30mm rise only

Specialized have had top-end S-Works flat and riser bars in their range for a while but the new Traverse SL bars are their first 35mm diameter pieces. They’re a great lightweight, heavy-duty bar too, but very expensive.

At just under 230g the Traverse SL’s are competitive on weight with other premium Enduro/Trail bars and the 780 or 800mm options mean most riders probably won’t have to trim. Very subtle graphics mean they’ll slip under the brand clash radar whatever bike you ride too. Specialized has added a textured stem clamp area to help avoid any slipping when everything is tightened up.

While some 35mm bars can feel harsh, Specialized have balanced the Traverse feel well between precise enough for rich tire and trail feel but without numbing your hands when you’re hammering baked hard or rocky trails. The shape is good too with similar (6º upsweep, 8º backsweep) numbers to most bars available. 

They only currently come in a 30mm rise though which won’t fit with everyone. The price is also well above normal and comparable with US handmade options from ENVE. 

Image 1 of 2

Specialized Traverse SL handlebar

The bars have very subtle logos there is no brand clashing (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)
Image 2 of 2

Specialized Traverse SL handlebar

The stem clamp zone is textured for grip (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

Verdict

Specialized’s new Traverse SL is bang on the weight and shape for an aggressive trail/enduro bar and it’s got a great ride feel too. It only comes in one rise currently though and while it’s a premium construction piece you’re paying hand-made prices for a mass-produced bar.

Tech Specs: Specialized Traverse SL

  • Price: £170.00
  • Weight: 228g (780mm)
  • Sizes:780 or 800 x 35mm
Guy Kesteven

Guy Kesteven is Bike Perfect and Cyclingnews’ contributing tech editor. Hatched in Yorkshire he's been hardened by riding round it in all weathers since he was a kid. He got an archaeology degree out of Exeter University, spent a few years digging about in medieval cattle markets, working in bike shops and warehouses before starting writing and testing for bike mags in 1996. Since then he’s written several million words about several thousand test bikes and a ridiculous amount of riding gear. To make sure he rarely sleeps and to fund his custom tandem habit he’s also coughed out a handful of bike-related books and talks to a GoPro for YouTube, too. We trust Guy's opinion and think you should, too.


Rides: Pace RC295, Cotic FlareMax, Specialized Chisel Ltd MTBs, Vielo V+1 gravel bike, Cannondale Supersix Evo Dura-Ace Di2 Disc road bike, Nicolai FS Enduro, Landescape custom gravel tandem

Height: 180cm

Weight: 69kg