A couple of months ago, I wrote a review of the Ritchey Beacon Handllebar. At the time, due to the WCS version being sold out, the only one I could get was the Comp version. I backordered the WCS version and, upon finally receiving it, installed it on my bike. After riding on it for a while, it’s now time to reveal my thoughts on this particular version of the Beacon handlebar.
For this review, I won’t be talking about the particulars of the handlebar. For that, you can read my previous review of the Comp Beacon. Instead, I’ll be concentrating only on the differences between the WCS and Comp versions. Hopefully this will give you enough insight into which version is right for you. With that in mind, let’s start with the obvious differences.
There are really only two primary differences between the WCS and Comp Beacon handlebars: price and grade of alloy. Priced at $99.95, the WCS is a little over twice the price of the Comp ($46.95). The reason comes down to the fact that the WCS uses a much higher grade of alloy, a triple-butted 7050 alloy to be exact, whereas the Comp is made from a cheaper double-butted 6061 alloy.
Other than that, virtually every aspect of these handlebars is exactly the same. Even the ride quality is nearly identical. However, there are a number of marked differences though.
First, the WCS has a smooth texture, which is likely a byproduct of the 7050 alloy itself. The 6061 alloy has more of a grainy texture to it. It’s not super smooth like the 7050 but not super rough either. The smoother finish of the 7050 make it feel like a more expensive bar for sure. Ritchey did add rough areas for the main mount points of the stem and lever clamps. The rest is as smooth as a baby’s bottom.
Second, the WCS is a wee bit lighter. Not much lighter though. 270g vs the 300g Comp. Holding both of them in my hands, it’s clear the WCS is lighter. Unless you’re a weight weenie though, I can’t say that 30g will amount to much of a difference.
Maybe it’s just me but the only difference I could tell was the WCS felt a little more balanced while installed on my bike. For some reason, handling felt a little smoother. If that’s really the case, that’s super weird. I buck it up to some sort of change in the way I setup the WCS vs the Comp. Come to think of it…I did install a Redshift Sports Shockstop stem, which may explain some of the differences I noticed in handling. Going from a 70mm to a 100mm stem would definitely smooth out the handling a bit so there’s that. :P
Lastly, the WCS provides a bit better dampening than the Comp. Now, I’m going to preface this by saying that the degree of dampening you might feel between these two bars might vary. While the properties of 7050 alloys do provide better resilience, that effect likely won’t be felt as much when you put other parts of the cockpit in context. But even a minor improvement is good. As with many things on a bike, every little bit helps.
Think of it like this. Consider all the contact points between the road and your hands: tires, wheels, stem, handlebar, bar tape, maybe gloves. Wider, more supple tires give you extra shock absorption, followed by more compliant wheels for an extra bit of dampening. Something like a Shockstop stem can go even further by absorbing bigger bumps and more road noise. After that, you can reduce things a little further by adding a high grade handlebar and thicker bar tape. Again, every little bit helps.
My experience with the WCS is that, while it does offer a wee bit of extra energy dampening, it’s not the feature I would say is the primary reason to choose the WCS over the Comp. Looking at the differences between the 6061 and 7050 alloys, yeah, resilience is better, strength to weight is better, tensile strength is better. But the one area that shouldn’t be overlooked is the fatigue strength which can potentially be doubled with a 7050 handlebar.
All metals and alloys will fade over time and become more and more compliant. When that happens, the metal bends more easily with pressure. 7050 alloys have a higher fatigue rating, which means they’ll remain stiffer for a longer period of time. Basically, if it’s made well, a good 7050 handlebar has the potential of lasting twice as long as a comparable 6061 while maintaining the same ride quality. That’s the primary reason for spending more on the WCS. Forget all the rest of the perks that comes with a 7050 bar. Fatigue resistance to me is the main one that gives you the most bang for the buck in my opinion.
So, is it worth ponying up the extra $53 for the WCS? Or should you stick with the Comp? If you want a bar that’s gonna last longer and you don’t have to worry about for quite a while, get the WCS. If you’re on a budget though, there’s nothing wrong with the Comp. It might not last as long but, if you’re the type that doesn’t ride all the time then the bar will still last you a while. Honestly, either choice will work. For my money though, I prefer the WCS simply because I know it’s a bar that will last a while. Either way, you can’t go wrong with either or.
Keep calm and pedal on!