Product Review Joystick 8 Bit LT handlebars and Joystick Binary stem

Touch wood, I’ve never broken a handlebar just riding along. I’ve discovered cracks in my bars before a ride but thankfully not during. I’ve not really seen many failures so it’s reassuring to know the mainstream brands we have available are pretty reliable. If Loic Bruni can downhill the world and not have a busted handlebar by the end of the day then it’s good enough for us right? May I introduce the saucy Joystick 8 Bit LT alloy bars and Joystick Binary stem available from our pals at Mountain Bikes Direct.
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Item: Joystick 8 Bit LT alloy handlebars and Joystick Binary stem
Purchased From: Mountain Bikes Direct (bars here and stem here)
Purchase Price: $97.95 for the handlebars, $149.95 for the stem

I’m fussy with handlebars and stem height. I typically go for black bars and a black stem with a 20mm rise on the bars depending on what stack height and stem raise I have. In this case, I have gone for the 31.8mm clamp size and 28mm rise on an 800mm wide bar jus to get that extra height off my 50mm Binary stem. Stock bikes; even in a large or XL size come out of the box with almost flat bars and it’s one of the first things I change to get my position right. The mellow sweep of the Joystick 8 Bit’s caught my eye initially with 6 degrees up and 9 degrees back meaning your dropping your arms into a comfortable initial position.
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My first impression of the bars was that they felt stiffer than what I was used to and a pal asked “er, you can feel a bar flex usually?” as I was kind of scratching my head at the same time. It took me a while to decipher what made these bars feel so direct and I can only put it down to these being a 31.8mm clamp size instead of the 35mm clamp size that I took off the bike. You can get the 8 Bit LT’s and the Binary stem in 35mm but I wanted black and black was only listed in the rise I wanted in 31.8mm clamp. From my understanding, a 35mm handlebar will have thinner material but the outer circumference of the pipe makes it stiff where as the 31.8mm material is thicker but not as large in circumference compared to the 35mm. You feel me? I’d love to chuck the 35mm bars on and do a proper comparison just for research sake.
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Anyway, I’ve thrown this setup on my all mountain hardtail. The addition of these parts means I’ve raised my bar height by 10mm and pulled the bars about 10mm closer via the 50mm stem. That gives me a relaxed position for pedalling up the climbs and on the flat while also keeping my front wheel down on the steeper climbs. When descending, I’m loving the sweep of the bars as it’s a natural position to keeping front grip and not having the back end bounce around too much, thats especially important to find that balance on a hardtail that you’re riding like a proper enduro bike. Win win!
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I totally hate picking up some new bars where the graphics on the bars end up under the grips or tucked under the stem. The 8 Bit bars have some great stuff on show and it’s all visible once you bolt all your devices on. The Binary stem is open around the faceplate so you can also see the Joystick skull through that but admittedly would be covered by most stems. The stem face is wide, fits very flush face to face and has sweet sharp finishes to the machining of the alloy material. The 40mm stack height gives you opposing threads so you can tighten from each side, I like that feature for a reassuring fit.
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Back to the markings of the bars and stem, the graphics on the bars double nicely as an easy guideline for getting your bars centered and rolled to the right spot. The stem has a handful of marks offering your torque amounts and locating the top plate upright. Look closely at the bars though and you’ll see the extra details that set the finish off, the Joystick skull, the 8 Bit Alloy text and the small bit squares look really cool.

Some people cut their barts down from 800mm but I like that width, its comparative to your shoulder width and is a science that not many people think of, some assume a wide bar is less effort, a low bar is better for front end control etc etc but I also heavily consider the width as something relevant to how wide your shoulders are. Remember the days in the early 2000’s where dudes were showing up to downhill races with completely flat 820mm wide bars on a downhill bike but they had shoulders like a brown snake? Truly a case of fashion over function yet looked hilarious! I’m glad that faze fizzled out but do miss the heckle you used to give those guys.
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I did consider going for carbon bars on this project but the bike itself is all alloy, not a drip of carbon on it so alloy it is! The initial look was a bland boring bar and now it has a bit of flair at the front with the cool Joystick finish. To sum it up, Joystick have a good range in bar rise and a good few stem lengths without complicating it. If you know what you like in a handlebar position then chuck Joystick on your list of options when getting something new.
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Comments

Great read on the cockpit stuff.
But that cable wrapping is a crime against humanity. Tie cables moving in the same direction together so they look like a single cable, then put a stand off between the two neat bundles if required.
 
I have this stem.
Looks good and has not snapped.

What more can you ask?

The graphics on the bars are a bit gaudy though. I have Spank Spike bars and I hate the graphics on them too.


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That cable wrapping is a crime against humanity. Tie cables moving in the same direction together so they look like a single cable, then put a stand off between the two neat bundles if required.
You're absolutely right, I binned that pretty quickly after I had to change some lengths, much neater now. ;)
 
Near on $250 for an alloy bar and stem is taking the piss surely?
I initially thought that when looking at my other options but a handlebar under $100 is good buying. The stem is in the same ballpark as the other brands of that vintage but admittedly, it is a touch dear. Still, in this price range you want your gear to look a lot more classy than the old chunky Husslefelt dungers from back in the day.
 
I initially thought that when looking at my other options but a handlebar under $100 is good buying. The stem is in the same ballpark as the other brands of that vintage but admittedly, it is a touch dear. Still, in this price range you want your gear to look a lot more classy than the old chunky Husslefelt dungers from back in the day.
But when you can get a Thomson/Spank Vibrocore combo for less...

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Do you guys match socks, hankies and ties? How about shoes, wallet and belt?

You know there's a medication for that.

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Do you guys match socks, hankies and ties? How about shoes, wallet and belt?

You know there's a medication for that.

Sent from my SM-G900I using Tapatalk
I'm not so funny on my fashion sense but I do heavily scrutinize my wife's outfits if the shoes, belt and purse don't match so I think my answer is yes. ;)
I've not seen a person use a hanky since the mid nineties, I though people discovered tissues and hygiene?
 
Reactions: Zaf
Good job and ace pics ace usual @Dozer. Not sure that Joystick is my cup of tea but each to their own.

Curious on the whole 31.8mm vs 35mm bar thing too - is there any noticeable difference or is it just marketing horseshit... I've read a few articles that suggest that 35mm alloy bars are just too stiff to be comfortable, and that 35mm carbon bars mute the chatter a lot better. Then you have Spank's Vibrocore that are supposed to do something similar.

How's the Torrent going btw, still got hardtail love?
 
Good job and ace pics ace usual @Dozer. Not sure that Joystick is my cup of tea but each to their own.

Curious on the whole 31.8mm vs 35mm bar thing too - is there any noticeable difference or is it just marketing horseshit... I've read a few articles that suggest that 35mm alloy bars are just too stiff to be comfortable, and that 35mm carbon bars mute the chatter a lot better. Then you have Spank's Vibrocore that are supposed to do something similar.

How's the Torrent going btw, still got hardtail love?
In regards to 35mm versus 31.8mm, Hard to say until I have an exact same version of each. I've got 35mm Raceface bars on my Tracer but the bikes are chalk and cheese. I made mention that I found the 31.8mm Joystick bars stiffer than the stock 35mm generic Norco bars though, can't quitew put my finger on what makes it feel that way and can only suggest its the thicker material.
And yes, hardtail love is still a thing, absolutely loving this bike.
 
In regards to 35mm versus 31.8mm, Hard to say until I have an exact same version of each. I've got 35mm Raceface bars on my Tracer but the bikes are chalk and cheese. I made mention that I found the 31.8mm Joystick bars stiffer than the stock 35mm generic Norco bars though, can't quitew put my finger on what makes it feel that way and can only suggest its the thicker material.
And yes, hardtail love is still a thing, absolutely loving this bike.
Just dialled up the specs and the stock TranzX bar on the Torrent is a 6061 alloy whereas Joystick roll with their proprietary 8-bit alloy that "not only meet(s) our exacting test standards but also provide(s) an unmatched performance and feel" according to their website. Read into that whatever you want but it's quite likely that the Joystick bar is made of a stiffer alloy than the cheese-like 6061, hence the difference in "them feels".

Having a blast on a hardtail at the moment too - the pub bike, a Scott Aspect 730 or something like that; inherited about 18 months ago. Shitty Suntour 100mm coil fork, 3 x 9 povo groupo, definitely not built for the flogging it's getting but surprisingly it's taking it all without complaint. And to it's credit it's why I've spent a lot more time riding lately - I'm enjoying the spritely nature of this dirty, scratched up reject with it's 19mm rims, saddle made of basalt with no dropper and a squawking front brake.
 
Unpopular opinion:
Apart from "feels" I don't think anyone can tell the difference between bars. Particularly not between different ally "formulas" and with/without foam.
Anyone got the sciences to prove otherwise?
 
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