Observant readers will note that I have been testing several “alt bars” on 29″ers over the past years and of them all I am most impressed with Ragley Bikes’ Carnegie’s Bar, which I picked as my favorite non-29″er related product of 2009. I have also hinted that a carbon version was in the works, and in fact, I have a pre-production version sample to test. (more on that in a bit)

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The carbon version of the Carnegie’s Bar is shaped like the alloy version, but all similarities stop there. This bar will be made from carbon fiber, of course, but take note of that “phlegm colored” exterior. That is actually an exterior wrap of Kevlar that designer Brant Richards tells me will help prevent scratching of the exterior carbon fiber layers. Brant went on to say, “The thought of using the Kevlar layers on there is to get an extremely durable surface to the bar, that’s not notch sensitive like other carbon bars. We are doing testing involving nicking the surface of the bar, then testing, and finding no decreased strength, because the structural carbon is unaffected.” I was thinking that this is probably a smart idea for a mountain bike bar that is designed for aggressive riding. But that isn’t all.

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The carbon version was extensively tested in the digital realm first using a program that can virtually test the model and adjust the layup schedule for the carbon according to test results to make the bar strong where it needs to be. Then actual bars are made which are physically tested. Not only that, but the carbon Carnegie’s Bar has passed the stringent European CEN tests. This should instill some amount of confidence in this bar for the average mountain biker.

You can expect the Carnegie’s Bar to be available in the new carbon version in about two and a half months. Colors will be available including Gloss White, Gloss Black, and a clear coated version of what you see here, (only Brant tells me it will be a “bit nicer looking” than the one I am testing.) U.S. riders will have to get these from the U.K. through Chain Reaction Cycles. You can expect to pay about $131.00 U.S. for the Carbon Carnegie’s plus shipping. (Alloy Carnegie’s Bars are $55 U.S. plus shipping)

Impressions: The carbon version of the Carnegie’s Bar will be ever so slightly longer than the alloy version which should please some critics of the design. Brant Richards informs me that the ends will be wrapped in a bit of extra carbon fiber to allow for trimming the bars without getting a “hairy Kevlar end”. That means the production versions will likely tip the scales at just over the 200 gram mark. The sample I have here weighs in at 190 grams.

The carbon version of this bar definitely has more “give” than the alloy version. Not to the point of distraction though, just a nice flexibility that mutes the stinging hits a bit. The same 25 degree bend is here, and that still seems to be a great angle for maximum control with the comfort that a swept bar brings. Otherwise the bar still rates as highly as ever, but now with slightly less weight and a bit different ride feel. I would recommend it for a rigid set up in combination with a fat tire set at a lower psi. It still should work for full suspension or hard, aggressive riders too.

Conclusions: Now with the addition of this carbon bar the Carnegie’s is available in two flavors. Same bar shape, and in three colors too. The carbon bar feel is going to appeal to those who want a bit of give rather than the stiff, unforgiving nature of the alloy bar. The testing and design that went into the carbon version should appeal to those who are a bit apprehensive about bolting a carbon bar to their rig. The slightly longer length should appeal to those who complained about the alloy versions perceived lack of room for controls, (although I did not find that to be the case). Is the carbon version better than the alloy one? I would say that it is “different” but still great. Just in its own unique way. Is it for you? It is if you are searching for a more comfortable bar than the traditional riser, but you don’t want to lose the control you get with a traditional riser. It is for you if you’ve tried other “alt bars” but they didn’t hold up to your standard aggressive, hard charging riding style. If you still can not stomach a carbon bar, the Ragley Carnegie’s bar in alloy should deserve a look. The Carnegie’s Bar gets a big thumbs up from me.

Note: This product was provided to Twenty Nine Inches at no charge. I am not being bribed or paid for this review. I will strive to give my honest thoughts and opinions throughout.