Answer has made a resurgence into the mountain bike industry as of late. Their Pro Taper bars have long been a favourite amongst many riders, but the company seemed more occupied with their MX division. This has changed.
Learn more inside,
Answer Products is part of the Hayes Bicycle Group along with Hayes Brakes, Manitou, Sun Ringle and Wheelsmith and is jumping back in to mountain biking and taking no prisoners. I spoke with Tom Porter, Product Manager for Answer Products. His goal is to produce 20 components under $100. That’s a pretty refreshing outlook in today’s economy where the “spare money” is at a minimum.
We’re going to have a look at the DH/Freeride component group this time, but rest assured Answer isn’t ignoring the more lightweight market. There’s a new line of AM component due to be unleashed on the public this summer.
I’ll start with the Pro Taper DH bar. Mike Levy previously introduced this bar and the direct mount stem so I’ll spare you the technical details. What I’d like to point out is that it’s designed to be able to be cut down to whatever size you prefer. This seems to be a common misconception among the wide bar trend critics, that a wide bar is a wide bar. I look at a 780mm bar as a starting point. If you like it that wide…great, but I choose a bar for its angles and comfort, then cut it down to a width that suits me.
The bar/hand interface is one of the most important parts of your bike’s cockpit. If it doesn’t feel right, it will bother you the entire time you’re on your bike. Answer has 2 styles of grips to offer. The XC grip has thick rubber and the DH is thin. This choice is pretty much a personal preference, I’ve always favoured thinner grips, but I tried the thicker XC ones and found them to be quite comfortable. The ends are colour matched to the rest of the components. These grips are like gluing your hands to the bars, no matter how disgusting the conditions are you don’t have to worry about your hands slipping on the grips. Combine them with Answer’s gloves and you’re good to go in all conditions.
Next up is the Rove DJ stem. This is a burly machined piece of 7075 series alloy. It’s available in 35mm or 50mm lengths and 4 colours to match the Protaper bars (red, white, gold and black.) The stem weighs in at 240 grams. I’ve taken multiple off trail excursions (some people call them cartwheels) and this stem has not budged. It’s nicely machined and has a wide clamping surface.
The stem was made to be bombproof and comes with a 10mm starnut and stem cap so you can route your brake cable through it.
Last, but not least, pedals.
I find that my pedals can make or break the ride. If you’re feet are slipping around and you’re always having to break your concentration to move your foot back into place, you’re not able to focus on what you need to be doing…shredding the crap out of the trail in front of you. I could easily sum up this pedal review with the following conversation, but I’ll give you guys more because this pedal deserves more praise. The first ride on these pedals was on a local DH training run on a muddy day. After a few runs, my buddy asked me how the new pedals were. I looked down, looked back at him and said “I didn’t even notice them.” I think those 5 words speak volumes. I’ve been riding these for a month now and have nothing but good things to say about them. The bearings are smooth, the grip is good and the finish is quality. They tip the scales at 460 grams.
This is my first experience using Answer components and I have to say I’m impressed. The fit and finish is top quality and the ergonomics of the components matches that. If I had to give one critique of the stem is the weight. I’d like to see the stem in the 165-180g range, word has it there’s something in the works that will fill that requirement though. There are lighter pedals out there these days, but for a part that commonly comes into contact with rocks and such, I don’t mind a little extra beef there.