Is 25.4 The Next Big Thing?

We all like our bikes simple, effective, and easy to keep going – anyone who’s worked around the BMX industry for a time will know all about how hard it is to develop and introduce new ‘standards’ in BMX – keeping BMX products up to par with the riding we’re doing and the bikes we need. For example, bottom bracket sizes went completely ballistic ten to fifteen years ago and a cocktail of sizes all seemed available on frames during the same period – old-school USA size, European threaded, Spanish, Midsize, a weird press-fit Euro and even Macneil played with a ‘Canadian BB’ for a while… before everyone settled on Midsize; which is obviously what everyone uses these days. But what about bars and stems? Time for a change – now that bars are taller and wider with far more leverage? Time for 25.4?

On the left, regular 22.2mm size handlebar knurling area – compare this to the 25.4mm size bar on the right.

Forever and a day BMX bars have been manufactured with tubing that has an O/D (outer diameter) of 22.2mm – however, Wethepeople along with sister brand Eclat and more recently BSD are introducing more and more bars and stems that come with a 25.4mm clamping area. These bars then subtly taper down to the regular 22.2mm for the cross-bar, grip and levers area (remember brake levers?). Hoffman Bikes worked on 25.4mm handlebars before the days of butted bars, and it never really went anywhere beyond prototyping, some time in the 90s. Roll forward to today and WTP, BSD and Eclat are really pushing 25.4, and in the modern guise it really works – their team riders are all on board and seeing the advantages, and now more and more brands are working on their own 25.4 bars and stems.
So the questions are… Will it catch on? What are the benefits? What’s it like to design and build product like this? Time for an interview with Wemakethings’ product designer Mikael Frisk, based in their headquarters in Cologne, Germany.

“With bars getting bigger we saw a growing problem with bar slip because of the added leverage of a tall bar” – Mikael, Wemakethings product designer

With bars getting taller and the leverage increasing, it’s time for a rethink on the diameter to increase grip and strength. These are Wethepeople Buck bars with 25.4mm tubing.

How long have you guys been working on 25.4mm bars and stems?
We started developing the 25.4 system about three and a half years ago and we’ve grown the 25.4mm product range every year since we first released it.
Who came up with the idea?
The idea of oversized bar clamping area has been around forever in cycling and even motorcycling, most often to add stiffness, strength and/or dampening to that area. What we did was take the proven idea and apply and develop it for modern freestyle BMX. The hardest part with a project like this is to develop it for our intended use and invest in the tooling needed, and of course to get the market to accept and embrace a new standard.

WTP’s Hydra stem with 25.4 clamp size…

So what are the main benefits?
With bars getting bigger we saw a growing problem with bar slip because of the added leverage of a tall bar. With the 25.4mm system you get more surface area for the stem to grip and at the same time you get a stiffer and stronger bar. All this while being almost identical in weight for the combined stem/bar combo as a traditional 22.2mm combo.
Is it easy to work with, from a design point of view?
Yes it’s actually very easy, as soon as we had the handlebar tubing figured out it’s just like working with the old 22.2 standard.
Well, it’s been toyed around with in BMX before, but WTP / Eclat are really pushing it now – how popular do you think it could be?
I think the 25.4 is only going to gain in popularity. It’s a relatively easy change for the customer and it makes so much sense with today’s bigger bars.
What products did you start with for 25.4 and why? Was it first on the Wethepeople Envy complete bike for 2015?
The first product was the WTP Hydra stem and the Envy bars and later the Eclat Slattery stem. Our goal with the Envy complete is always to make the best bike you can buy off the showroom floor so it was only logical to put the system on that bike. To put the new technology on a complete bike also shows the customer our commitment to the system.
With your new 2018 ranges coming out this summer, which other products have 25.4 now?
For WTP we have the Hydra stem in two rises. On Eclat we have a whole range of stems from several different top-loaders, even different reaches, to a new front-loader so there will be something for everyone. Almost all of our bars come in 25.4 versions now.
Are there any other brands, besides you guys, doing 25.4?
Yes there are other brands that are coming out with it now, again the 25.4 system makes sense and we believe in the system. We’ve showed for a couple of years now that it works so we knew it was only a matter of time before other brands would do it. In the end it’s good for us and for the riders that there are more options out there.
Who’s running 25.4 bars and stems on the team?
Almost all of the Pro team runs 25.4 now. It’s honestly easier to say who isn’t running it. For example, Dillon Llloyd, Dan Kruk, Jordan Goodwin all ride the 25.4 bars and stems on their bikes…

Eclat’s 25.4 stem and 4pc Strangler bars.
BSD are also bringing out bars and stems in 25.4 to give you more choice…

WTP feature 25.4 on the Envy complete bike: