ProTaper Fuzion Handlebars
For some, handlebars are just a hunk of metal that they hang onto and use to turn the bike. Picky people, such as myself, find that every millimeter difference in the bend, or how the bars flex, can greatly affect how you ride. For the longest time, I'd been a part of the crossbar clan. Whether it was reality or just a mental thing, I seemed to be more comfortable with a crossbar in front of me. But at the same time, I do value the extra flex that comes from an oversized bar without a crossbar. Apparently someone at Pro Taper had the same conundrum. That's where the Fuzion comes in which has a cool feature found beneath the bar pad, which gives you the ability to choose your ride quality.
Pro Taper Fuzion Handlebar Highlights:
- Available in six bar bends.
- Only available in 1-1/8" mounting size.
- Features locking dial, which can be unlocked to receive more flex.
- Weighs 975 grams.
- MSRP $129.99.
Before you take off the crossbar pad, the Pro Taper Fusion bar looks just like any other 1-1/8" crossbar handlebar. Its bigger in the center, before tappering off to 7/8" by the ends. Once you pull the pad off, you'll find a dial that has an arrow which corresponds to lock or unlock. Inside this dial is a simple hook that hangs onto a pin inside of the crossbar. When it's locked, this pin won't move, causing the bar to be more rigid. When it's unlocked, the hook releases the pin and allows the crossbar to flex during impacts, thus allowing more flex. To better explain the design, check out the illustration below.
Although a crossbar that has adjustable flex isn't new to the market, Pro Taper took a different approach by offering the simple lock/unlock dial that doesn't require any tools to change.
On the Track
Personally, I've always preferred a 1-1/8" bar with a crossbar because of how they behave on the track. And by this, I mean the precise feedback I get from the front end of the bike due to the rigid feel of the bar. This might sound minute, but I normally struggle when I have a bar that flexes heavily, because I lose the ability to react as quickly when something happens with the front end of the bike.
When in locked mode, the Fuzion feels just as I'd expect, rigid and precise. At the same time however, this feedback can be brutal on hard-packed tracks with high-speed "chatter" chop that is repetitive on the hands and arms. So as you'd expect, there is some give and take in this situation. In unlocked mode, Pro Taper claims that the Fuzion begins to flex almost as much as their popular EVO bar (1-1/8" non-crossbar), but it still has a unique feel. The Fuzion's sleeve inside its crossbar only allows so much travel in the bar. For me, it still has a bit more precision than the non-crossbar. It took away a bit of the harshness on the repetitive, high-speed chop, but still gave me enough feedback to feel comfortable with what the front end was doing.
I feel like the Fuzion gives the user the ability to answer a question, do I like my handlebar rigid or flexible? It's as easy as stopping, flipping the bar pad upside down, and turning the dial. Doing back-to-back laps to get a feel for how different it really is can be enlightening. As the rider, you may find one of two things. You may either answer the question about which you prefer and leave it in that position, or find under what conditions you'd switch the dial position to get the best advantage from the bar.
I originally received a set of the Fuzion bars back in July of 2014 at Pro Taper's intro. Since then, that set of bars has jumped from bike-to-bike and over the past seven months has witnessed me running out of talent numerous times. Through it all, I've yet to bend them in any way, although I did manage to mangle a set of bar mounts on one bike.
The only concern I found was after a few months, the nut on the side of the lock dial/crossbar had become a bit loose. Now I check it every so often to ensure that it stays in place.
The Last Word
I have no complaints when it comes to the overall function of the Fuzion. The concept is simple, as the dial mechanism can be used without tools. Which allows you to stop outside of a corner, flip the lock and continue on your way. The price is my only dig, as $130 is a bit on the high side for handlebars. But if you consider the fact your sort of getting two handlebars in one, it could be viewed as a bargain as well, depending on what you're looking for. Also in hindsight, I do wish there were a few more bends available, but Pro Taper seemed to get the most popular ones in their six options, including the one I typically use. All-in-all, the Pro Taper Fuzion is a good buy but an even better one if you're really trying to figure out if more or less flex is right for you.
Vital MX Rating
Check out ProTaper.com for more handlebars and other products.
About the Test Rider
Michael Lindsay - is a born-and-raised moto freak and gearhead from the heart of motocross in Southern California. First swinging a leg over a bike at the age of five, he immediately caught the racing bug, spending nearly every weekend behind a gate…and a lot of time on the couch while injured. While swinging back and forth between moto and the off-road scene, giving him a wide range of experience on the bike. Of course, all of this led to one thing: Lindsay loves working on his bikes almost as much as he loves talking about them. When he’s not in the Vital MX forum or writing his latest product review, you can find him out at the track taking dirt naps, snapping some pictures, or drooling over the latest parts for his bike. With an outspoken personality, gearhead background, and as Vital MX’s guru for product, Michael is here to share his unbiased opinion.
Review by Michael Lindsay // Photos by Michael Lindsay and Todd Gutierrez