PNW Range Loam NSMB AndrewM (1).JPG
REVIEW

PNW Loam Grips & 10° Range Handlebar

Words Andrew Major
Photos Andrew Major
Date Dec 23, 2019

PNW Components

At this point, Emily & Aaron Kerson's component brand may not need much introduction. PNW started with the mission to deliver the best customer experience while producing thoughtful products at a reasonable price. Their customer service and communication have a reputation that most companies in the bike industry could learn from, and my experience with their Bachelor Dropper Post & Loam Lever was excellent, so I'd say they're on target.

I've been riding two of their newest products. The first is their lock-on 25a-rubber Loam Grips, which made my 2019 Christmas list and their 10° back sweep Range handlebar which aims to balance ergonomics, experience, and bike fit.

PNW Bachelor Dropper NSMB AndrewM (6).JPG

My previous PNW experience was with their top-end Bachelor dropper post which delivers a heck of a lot of quality and performance for 239 USD sans remote.

PNW Bachelor Dropper NSMB AndrewM (4).JPG

The Bachelor is 299 USD with their excellent Loam Lever included. I've used the Loam Lever with a half-dozen different posts now and it still works as new.

Range Bar

For the purpose of this review, a 'normal' mountain bike handlebar has somewhere between 7° & 9° of backsweep. A true trail-worthy 'alternate' handlebar has at least 16° of backsweep and in the middle, there is a range (pun intended) of bars imbued with their manufacturers' best blend of what riders know and may need.

With their KW-Edition Range bar, PNW delivers their take on the sweet spot between something that feels normal, works with long modern bikes and super-short stems, and plays nicely with wrists and shoulders in a wider format (780mm) where most wide bars are based on geo from when bars were a lot narrower, Reach numbers shorter, and stems longer.

The bar is made from 2014 aluminum, is 780mm wide, and has 10° backsweep, 5° upsweep, and a 30mm rise. It sells for 69 USD and the KW stands for Kyle Warner, a PNW sponsored athlete whose signature translates to 5% from every bar sold being donated to NICA. The Range bar also carries a 3-Year warranty.

PNW Loam Grips Range Bar NSMB AndrewM (7).JPG

In terms of compliance, the 2014-aluminum 780mm PNW bar is as 'comfortable' as any aluminum bar I've ridden. I'd compare it favourably with Renthal.

PNW Loam Grips Range Bar NSMB AndrewM (8).JPG

The 10° backsweep & 5° upsweep work really well on my full suspension bike. It's only available in a 30mm rise which likely works for 80-90% of riders on bikes with modern Reach & Stack numbers.

PNW Loam Grips Range Bar NSMB AndrewM (6).JPG

The Range bar is available in black with four different subtle graphic colours: Really Red (shown), Seafoam Teal, Safety Orange, and Cement Grey.

I'm a big believer in test ride and then decide, and I think it's unfortunate that there aren't any local shops with a lending library of bars and saddles to help riders sort out their needs. Check out BikeBike in Alberta for a sustainable way to operate such a program out of a for-profit business.

That said, if you're generally happy with a bar in the 7-9° range, this PNW is going to work for you. In addition to a little extra backsweep, the 2014 aluminum bar is claimed to deliver more compliance than 7075, at a lighter weight than 6061, and I'd believe that as it's as forgiving as any 31.8 aluminum bar I've ridden.

PNW Loam Grips Range Bar NSMB AndrewM (11).JPG

I love that new 31.8mm clamp bars continue to be released. Is there a company that claims there's any reason for 35mm bars beyond cosmetics?

I normally choose more sweep for my bikes - 12° to 16° depending on the application - but with seat angles getting steeper and steeper, the huge jumps between most companies large and XL frame sizes, and reduced fork offsets limiting sizing adjustment by stem, the difference between the 10° Range and my 12° SQLab was really noticeable on my size large Marin Alpine Trail mixed with a 40mm stem. At the same time, my wrists find it more comfortable than the bar I was using as a place holder while I sorted out my fit.

The PNW Range bar is available in black with four different graphic colours for 69 USD. If you are seeking out a different bar shape for your wrists, elbows, or shoulders you may be well served by the PNW. It could also be the perfect answer to delivering a small reduction in effective-reach on a just-too-long nouveau-geo frame with no stem length adjustment left.

PNW Loam Grips Range Bar NSMB AndrewM (9).JPG

The grip pattern combines excellent traction for my fingers while the raised palm areas had a degree of comfort.

PNW Loam Grips Range Bar NSMB AndrewM (10).JPG

The single clamps tighten down with a 3mm hex key. Zero issue with the grips slipping on a PNW Range bar or SQLab 30X bar.

I went years without giving a shake about which way the bolts on my lock-on grips pointed until Cam McRae ruined things for me forever by pointing out grips made by companies that didn't bother making mirrored clamps. And how hard is it really to have them pointing in the same direction?

These are the kinds of little details that the folks at PNW fuss over so these single clamp grips definitely meet the McRae test for cosmetics. They also come in five different colours which can match up nicely with the Range bars and at least two of them, Safety Orange and Seafoam Teal, scream 'Yeti' loudly.

PNW Loam Grips Range Bar NSMB AndrewM (15).JPG

The Cam McRae approved mirrored-clamp orientation signals a focus on the little details.

PNW Loam Grips Range Bar NSMB AndrewM (14).JPG

I'm surprised that PNW doesn't offer a second version of the Loam with a 33mm or 34mm width.

As rubber goes, PNW's 25a material is soft to the touch and grips well when wet whether I'm wearing gloves or not. It's proven durable thus far with a few solid diggers. I don't generally ride without gloves except climbing in the summer, but there are only a few grips I've tried that are stickier (the Renthal Ultra-Tacky is an example) so I'd be surprised if those rocking bare hands year-round don't love them.

The single-clamp 133.5mm width should work for everyone but I am surprised that these are only offered in one average 30mm width. A second 'Big Loam' model with a 33mm or 34mm average width and the same pattern would likely be very popular.

PNW Range Loam NSMB AndrewM (2).JPG

If you don't have a favourite lock-on grip, and a 30mm width works for you, then give the 19 USD Loam a try.

The Range bar is a product that will likely appeal first and foremost to folks that are seeking out something different either for bike fit or ergonomic comfort reasons. I think it's as nice - from a ride and materials perspective - as any aluminum bar I've ridden so if 10° backsweep and 5° upsweep sounds like it might be your sweet spot in a 780mm wide (or narrower) bar, then I recommend it without reservations at 69 USD.

The Loam grips, on the other hand, I'll recommend to anyone looking for a fresh pair of lock-on grips in a width around 30mm. They are the perfect combination (not blend) of traction in all conditions and extra comfort specifically where most folks need it in the palm of their hand. These are easily my new favourite lock-on grip; and 19 USD is a steal.

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Comments

kos
+2 grcgrc Andrew Major
Kos  - Dec. 23, 2019, 6:13 a.m.

Wallet ready for a set of "Sasquatch Big Loam 34s".

Reply

AndrewMajor
+6 grcgrc Kos Andy Eunson JVP Cr4w Shinook
Andrew Major  - Dec. 23, 2019, 9:28 a.m.

I’ve confirmed today that there will be a thicker option at some point in the new year!

Reply

cyclotoine
+1 Andrew Major
cyclotoine  - Dec. 23, 2019, 10:09 a.m.

Fantastic, they will be my next grip, though I'm pretty happy with the Burgtec Bartender Pro Minnaar editions I'm currently running on the Range handlebar.

Reply

andy-eunson
+1 twk
Andy Eunson  - Dec. 23, 2019, 3:04 p.m.

Excellent. I can’t ride with toddler dimensioned grips. Might do the bar in the spring but I’ll need a new stem to match as I have the 35 that came with my bike. I have never noticed any difference between 35, 31.8 or even bar materials probably because I’m light. But I do wish that a size was picked and that all manufacturers used one size.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+4 grcgrc Andy Eunson AJ Barlas twk
Andrew Major  - Dec. 23, 2019, 9:53 p.m.

I know a few folks who say they don’t notice a difference - maybe they run softer suspension or tires? I don’t know. 

Guaranteed if you ride a janky trail on a PNW Range 31.8 VS a Chromag BZA Carbon 35 you’ll notice the difference (for better or worse) even on a 6” 29’er. Lots of options at and then between either extreme.

Reply

Timer
+2 grcgrc twk
Timer  - Dec. 25, 2019, 2:02 p.m.

With bar flex all the rage now, is there anyone who makes rider weight specific bars?

People talk about flex and stiffness without ever mentioning their weight which doesn't make sense to me. Anything will feel compliant for a 130kg giant and everything will be stiff to a 50kg grom.

Reply

Zapp
0
Zapp  - Dec. 23, 2019, 8:11 a.m.

This is a good option. The available choices for different sweep values in 35mm clamp bars is pretty lacking at this point. I would pick one up if I wasn't a gorilla who was hellbent on 800mm+ bars.

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AndrewMajor
+4 grcgrc twk Heinous Zapp
Andrew Major  - Dec. 23, 2019, 9:56 a.m.

I’d hazard that all the bars focused on ergonomics are 31.8mm because the ride quality is innately better. 

Renthal put a lot of effort into getting their 35mm bars to feel As Good as their 31.8mm option strictly for cosmetic reasons and that hardly seems worth the effort vs just sticking with 31.8.

These Range bars have a really nice ride quality (aside from the geometry).

If you don’t mind a bit of weight, Oddity will do you any width/bend/rise you want in any colour and you can either run them 22.2 or shim them to 31.8 or 35mm. I’ve seen some 830mm or so bars with 15-degree backsweep that looked monstrous.

Reply

Zapp
+1 twk
Zapp  - Dec. 23, 2019, 10:30 a.m.

At this point I certainly agree with 31.8 being more comfortable, but, when you've already bought a complete bike with a 35mm stem (and they seem to be more and more prevalent in the OEM space), it would be nice to have the option of just buying a bar that fits what you need, instead of having to buy a new stem or deal with shims. Anyways, I'm just getting a bit ornery in my old age over quibbles. I'm pretty sure I've got enough spare parts in the shed to do what I want, but there should be options damnit!

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 twk
Andrew Major  - Dec. 23, 2019, 11:56 a.m.

I hear that, in my extended household we swap everything to 31.8 from new. 

Test bikes I run stock or it’s a bar and stem swap.

Reply

tashi
0
tashi  - Dec. 23, 2019, 8:45 a.m.

Are the grips 30mm diameter?

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Dec. 23, 2019, 9:58 a.m.

Average outer diameter / width / thickness is 30mm. They aren’t completely uniform with the palm padding.

Reply

Shinook
+3 twk Andrew Major AJ Barlas
Shinook  - Dec. 23, 2019, 8:49 a.m.

I ran the Range KW edition bars for a while and found them really nice. They have a great feel to them, the compliance is great, and I found the sweep angle to be really good. I ran them after the OneUp carbon bars and found the feel on the Range KW bars to be an improvement. I have a lot of hand issues esp. with the Ulnar nerve in my left hand, I found the bars provided great relief by allowing me to loosen my grip on the bars a bit and relax my wrists more. It feels a bit different at first, but it was an all around improvement for me once I got adjusted to them. 

It is worth pointing out that the sweep angle will reduce reach somewhat, so a longer stem may be needed to get the same feel out of a 7-8 degree bar that seems industry standard. 

I think the entire industry needs to re-think bar geometry and how we interface with our bars. It seems almost universal that hand pain is experienced by all riders at some point, I think solutions like the Fasst Flexx bars are a good move in the right direction (esp. for those with specific issues), but re-thinking bar geometry across the board would be a good start also. There is a lot of room for innovation in this area right now, the move to 35mm seems to have hindered some of it more than it helped. 

The only issue I had with the bars was the tape-like material they use on the outer portion of the bar clamping surface (the reflective material you can see). Over time, it became brittle and flaked off easily. All that reflective surface eventually fell off esp. after installing/removing things mounted to the bars, it would come off in large clumps. I'd like to see something else there, because it seems kindof cheap looking once it starts to fall off.

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AndrewMajor
+2 twk MTBrent
Andrew Major  - Dec. 23, 2019, 12:58 p.m.

Haven’t seen any wear/damage to the textured surface yet but I’ll keep an eye on it. Any special circumstances in terms of storage or lots of crashes? I’ve run a couple pairs of grips and put ‘er down a few times but no real surface damage yet - only a matter of time based on the appearance of my other bars.

Totally agree that I’d love to see more options. I’d like to ride a 20-degree bar for a while to try it (love 16-degree). The issue I have (where 10-degree is ideal) is that short offset forks limit stem length adjustment (only feel right with 30-45mm stem?) so to run more bar sweep (reduces effective Reach at hands) I need to consciously size up a frame - like with my new custom hardtail.

Reply

alexdi
+2 Andy Eunson Timer
Alex D  - Dec. 24, 2019, 3:59 p.m.

>  short offset forks limit stem length adjustment (only feel right with 30-45mm stem?) 

Provided your hands end up in the same place relative to steering axis, there won't be any difference in handling. Some high-sweep bars angle forward first so the sweep doesn't effectively shorten the stem. For bars that don't angle forward, a longer stem compensates.

Reply

skyler
+2 grcgrc Andrew Major
Skyler  - Dec. 23, 2019, 10:58 a.m.

I'm curious to hear more discussion on how fork offset and stem length play together. 

I just installed Works -1* headset in my full-suspension bike, and bumped up to an unfashionably long 60mm stem to compensate for the loss of reach and the further forward optimal weight balance. My Rocky Instinct BC really comes alive when I get my weight forward, and this forward riding position is instantly rewarded with amazing cornering. So, making this forward position more comfortable with a longer stem (the bike already felt a tad short to me), and less terrifying, with a slacker head angle, is something I'm really looking forward to trying. 

Geometry has evolved a lot in the last few years, and it seems to me like the next frontier is to start thinking more about weight balance, grip position relative to the steering axis, and all that bar/stem/fork offset jazz. I hadn't really thought about how offset and stem length play together though...so I'm very curious to learn more!

Reply

AndrewMajor
+2 twk MTBrent
Andrew Major  - Dec. 23, 2019, 12:07 p.m.

I feel like I ‘know’ less now than two years ago. Rear center and wheelbase (#wheelbaseisthenewheadangle) play a huge roll as well. 

My new Walt with a 31mm stem, 64-HTA, and 16-degree SQLab puts my hands behind the steering axis (by design) and the handling is awesome climbing steep technical trails or railing descents. The 450mm+ stays and 1250mm+ WB are big contributors.

On this bike (Marin Alpine Trail) I’m running a 44mm offset fork and the bike just doesn’t feel right (steering) with a 50mm or 60mm stem which has been my general experience with short offset forks. I’m running a 40mm stem with the 10-degree PNW bar and handling is great (65-HTA). 

I’ll be installing a -2 Angleset in the new year and playing a bit more. Without going longer on the fork that actually extends Reach (and lowers stacks) but I will be bumping up the fork at the same time as I need to get hours on it at 180mm.

Anyways, lots of interesting on going notes. If I was designing this FS bike it would be 2cm longer in the rear center. I could see my next FS bike being ~100-120mm travel with a 1250mm+ wheelbase and 65-HTA but with a 51mm offset fork and 60mm stem for sure.

Reply

UFO
+1 Andrew Major
UFO  - Dec. 23, 2019, 3:34 p.m.

With your anti conformity to the marketing machine,  I'm expecting you to revert back to a fixed seatpost and rim brakes in 2020

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 twk
Andrew Major  - Dec. 23, 2019, 10:02 p.m.

True story, I was a very early adopter of disc brakes and never looked back even though my first set were sh*t (Coda). It’s the one product where I can say I was on the bleeding edge (maybe also riding SS on the Shore?).

They were so f***ing awful my local shop / Cannondale replaced them with gen-2 Coda brakes in short order and those were even worse pieces of sh*t so then they replaced them with gen-1 Hayes (still running Coda 4-bolt rotors) which I had on bikes for years & years after. 

I know the WC XC courses are much more technical now but the fact Alison Sydor was training on the Shore and winning on those Coda brakes deserves mad respect.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Dec. 23, 2019, 10:06 p.m.

Also, I know you’re poking fun, but I could give up dropper posts riding clipped in on my hardtail almost anywhere. I could probably also give them up riding short travel FS bikes (clipped in) on the Shore. 

I often miss the durability, fit + finish, and solid feeling of a classic Thomson Elite post - shimmed down to 27.2 of course (Of Course!).

Reply

kekoa
0
kekoa  - Dec. 23, 2019, 11:55 p.m.

Titanium Syncros my friend...that's the magic stuff!

Reply

twk
0
twk  - Dec. 24, 2019, 12:46 p.m.

I mean... I'll be reverting my singlespeed hardtail to a fixed post with a Hope QR clamp as soon as the FS gets built up again and claims my dropper. I don't see that being a big issue most of the time, and I get to do even less maintenance on that bike. If anything I'll ride more standing up, which can only be good for my fitness... or something.

Reply

UFO
+3 grcgrc twk Andrew Major
UFO  - Dec. 26, 2019, 5:11 p.m.

Well you've already given up suspension, gears, and a 'flickable' rear end ;P

I was a very late adopter to dropper posts,  so obviously I made do for a long time without. But it's one of those overly complicated pieces that does something so simple with a resulting convenience that has made riding more enjoyable for sure. But back to the top about suspension, gears and short rear ends...

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Dec. 26, 2019, 7:31 p.m.

HAHAHAHAHAHAhahahahahaha. Guilty. So, before dropper posts, I could never figure out why all bikes didn't have 27.2 seat posts. It just makes more sense in terms of seat comfort on a bike. Ride anyone's 31.6 shaft and then ride a 27.2 Thomson Masterpiece and you'll agree with me - especially on mountain bikes, which have more exposed seat post. 

Anyways, I've dabbled with rigid posts on and off using a 27.2 post with a shim, which is how I'd run a post on my current hardtail, AND!!! It just so happens that Thomson is making this Titanium beauty in 27.2 x 410mm: https://www.bikethomson.com/product/titanium-seatpost/

Lots of money, but if I was going back to rigid I'd love to try one. It's on a bike I mostly ride by myself anyways. 

MTBrent
+1 twk
MTBrent  - Dec. 24, 2019, 4:57 a.m.

Something magical happens when stem length equals fork offset.

Also, I feel like I could ditch the dropper and be just as happy on most rides, too.  I've considered going back to a rigid post on the SS since there's rarely any sitting down.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 Nouseforaname
Andrew Major  - Dec. 24, 2019, 11:27 a.m.

I hear this sentiment quite often and it’s one of my least favourites.

I mean, within a tight set of variables, say: 65-66 HTA, short stays, modern Reach, then I think it’s fair to say a 40-ish HTA and 40-ish-mm Stem OR 50-ish HTA and 50-ish-mm stem are optimal but is anyone advocating for 70mm offset with 70mm stems or 90mm offset with 90mm stems?

It’s sort of like sizing a bike based solely on Reach. It may work out but there are a lot of factors to consider.

Reply

andy-eunson
+1 Metacomet
Andy Eunson  - Dec. 23, 2019, 3:06 p.m.

What would be neat is a grip that had an off centre hole so that one could change the angle of the grip which would effectively change the sweep. Kind of like an angle set of the grip world.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Dec. 23, 2019, 9:51 p.m.

Within a couple degrees effective MAYBE without making the grip too weirdly shaped. Wish it was that simple but not getting from 7-degrees to 16-degrees with grips.

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ackshunW
+1 Andy Eunson
ackshunW  - Dec. 24, 2019, 8:04 a.m.

These exist! 

https://production-privee.com/en/product/grips/

I have not tried them, but agreed—-intriguing idea. 

Eric

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Dec. 24, 2019, 11:34 a.m.

They’re only +/- 1° so arguably you get more out of playing with bar roll. When differentiating offsets I’m thinking more like 8° vs 10° vs 12° vs 16°.

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