If you have ever looked at BMX bike or frames and parts, there’s a good chance you have memorized some of the “standard” features you find on bikes. For example, on BMX frames you can find integrated head tubes, Mid bottom brackets, 14mm dropouts and seat tubes that have a 25.4mm diameter to fit posts. Having standard sizes is important because it makes things more universal for all brands to create products for riders. That also helps riders to know that if they buy something for their bike, it will fit.
However, over the years we have seen “standards” change to new sizes or styles of production that can make bikes stronger, easier to work on and maintain and overall look better. Prior to the Integrated headset, we had the American headset which required pounding in two cups into the head tube and it wasn’t uncommon for them to crack from the wear and tear riding put on them. S&M Bikes were the first to introduce the integrated head tube (Learn about that here: Drawing Board: S&M Bikes an the Integrated Headset) and it quickly took BMX over and became an industry standard due to how much easier and cleaner it made things.
For the past two years the crew over at Wethepeople and Eclat have been working on moving BMX in a new direction when it comes to their handlebars and stems. Currently virtually all BMX handlebars and stems are designed around a 22.2mm size, which would be the diameter of the tubing on the handlebars where you can find the knurling for the stem to clamp down. It’s the standard size, everyone has been using this size for years and you know when you buy a pair of bars or stem, it will be compatible.
The crew at Wethepeople and Eclat have decided to sail in a new direction, by offering bars and a stem that are made for a 25.4mm size. For example, we have the new Strangler bars and Slattery stem featured here, both of which have that 25.4mm size. If you also ride mountain bikes, you are familiar with that 25.4mm size, since it’s one of the common sizes found over in that world. Just looking at the photo above, you might not notice the difference in size, but if you compare the lower crossbar to the top cross bar a little closer, it’s pretty easy to see the difference in size.
So, why the bigger size? Ultimately the goal was to create a stronger pair of bars. By having a larger diameter tube on the bottom where the stem clamps down, Eclat have given their bars more strength because of the larger diameter tubing leaves more surface area for clamping, which should decrease slip. Also with that larger tube, they also increased the surface area for welds, which is really a factor more ideal for 4-piece bars since there are the welds holding the cross bar in place. It’s not uncommon to see the 4-piece bars break at the weld from the amount of force put on them thanks to all the leverage from taller 8.5″ – 10″ rise bars that are common.
So, in short… 25.4mm has more strength benefits that are more ideal for the times since 22.2mm was standardized when bars were much smaller and taking way less stress than bars of today.
What do we think about all of it? It’s one of those things that it will be interesting to see if it can gain traction. Does using the 25.4mm size versus 22.2mm have benefits? Yes. Do we see brands rushing to tell their manufacturers they need to change their designs so their bars and stems are compatible? Not really… At least not right now. It would take a few things like demand from shops and riders, sales volumes and a few other key brands jumping on board to essentially make it their standard size before we could see the BMX industry changing it’s standard size for bars and stems. Could those things already be happening and we have just missed it? Possibly. We rarely get asked our opinion about a product until after it has been produced. But as of right now, Wethepeople and Eclat are the only two taking the risk and putting the product out there.
Could we see this becoming the new standard in the future? If more brands take interest in it, yeah, for sure.
But, until then, your options are pretty limited and you will need to purchase new bars and a new stem if you want to give this 25.4mm size a go. As of right now, all we know about the Strangler bars is that they will come in 9.6″ and 9.1″ rise sizes and that the Slattery stem features a new “Shark Tooth Clamping System”, which is essentially grooves added to the inside of the stem for increased grab to reduce slipping. We will have full specs and details closer to the release in just a few weeks.
Here you can see the Shark Tooth Clamping system on the Slattery stem.
Think this 25.4mm tube will take off? Let us know what you think in the comments below!