The Lauf Smoothie bar offers vibration-smoothing performance in an unusual flared shape for gravel and all-road riders. It weighs 259g, which is by no means heavy, and at under £200, it’s good value for the smooth ride it delivers. However, its lack of Di2 holes at the end of the bar blots its performance.
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The Smoothie bar is available in 3 widths, 400, 420, and 440mm, which is the version I have on test. The 16˚ flare feels good and natural when dropping into them and produces a pretty wide bar down in the drops with a width of 51cm. The unusual 90˚ transition, where the top flat section meets the drops, creates an excellent 170mm wide, flattened top section, allowing extra width for more hand position and, therefore, comfort.
There are no positional markings on the bars other than the grip surface for the brakes. It’s up to you to measure and check the location yourself. This is not a bad thing as sometimes the marks are wrong (as Matt found on the Spank bar), and your eyes can deceive you. Be patient and measure everything twice before you tape up.
The handlebar has a drop of 125mm and a reach of 80mm. This is all familiar to me from previous bars, but I immediately noticed how much more comfortable that top section was due to that 3˚ backsweep from the stem clamping area. I usually don’t ride for long on the tops, but I’ve found myself happily using the tops with the Smoothie.
The Lauf Smoothie does have some short fallings, though, a complete lack of internal routing, be that cable or electrical or even grooved external channels which are standard on pretty much all bars. Depending on your chosen braking and shifting components, it may not bother you, but the lack of them is odd in 2021 (when I got this bar).
When wrapping the cables under the bar, there is no designated position to fit them, so it will depend on how you like them to run. Care was needed to get a good run around that tight transition, and I used a lot of electrical tape to fix everything in place. I ended up with a super comfy upside-down soft-edged Toblerone shape, which worked well for me. I haven’t fitted Di2 to this bar, but I know from local shops that it is possible. They suggest a small notch/hole at the end of the hand bar for the junction box cables, but it seems odd to have to do with an expensive bar. The lack of Di2 integration is by no means unique to the Smoothie, though.
In use, Lauf’s Smoothie handlebar provides a vibration-absorbing feel via its use of Flexible S2 flexible S2 glass fibres that is hard to measure until you swap back to riding a standard bar, be that carbon or Alloy.
I've been using the Smoothie on the same bike for months now, on everything from towpaths, gravel, and crap roads around Wiltshire, and I have had to adjust my thinking. The bar is definitely doing quite a lot to smooth out the trail conditions. No, it's not as obvious as a Redshift stem, but neither does it require you to get used to the Redshift's up and down movement.
Lauf describes the bar as eating vibrations; I'd agree with that. It simply flattens the spikey hits that arrive at your hands, whether you are in the hoods or the drops. The vibrations I normally get on certain sections of knackered road are reduced to the point where I no longer have to steel myself to ride that route.
Proof that it was working came when swapping back to an alloy bar and feeling all ruts and edges that the Smoothie had 'eaten' for me. Plus, the backsweep is perfectly judged for me, and the flattened shape of the top of the bar further increases my comfort on long rides.
Even with the wider flattened top section, there is still plenty of space for lights, GPS mounts if you're using those, and a handlebar bag that has become de rigour on a gravel bike these last few years.
As for that extreme 90˚ corner transition between the flat and hood section, I've stopped using that area to hold or rather rest on during longer rides. That sharp transition provides more real estate on the tops allowing me to stay there for longer in comfort. So you lose one casual outside of curve position but gain hand positions where you can move your hand around on the tops. I think it's the right decision.
Lauf has created a subtle, effective vibration-absorbing bar without bells and whistles that quietly gets on with doing the job of improving your ride. It doesn’t bounce when out of the saddle like the ‘flexi-stem’ systems and so delivers a more connected ride feel.
What price for smooth ride?
Expensive – well, that depends, really. What can we compare it against? The cheapest option is to double tape your bars with tape like ENVE’s handlebar tape, £70 for two rolls, but the diameter of the bar could get pretty huge with thick tape, and your hands might not like it.
I haven’t tried the Spank Vibrocore that Matt tested at £100. Matt could tell it was working, reducing the sharp edges and making him more comfortable, but it’s no lightweight. The Smoothie is double the price for over 90g lighter, which, in bar weight terms, is a pretty good return.
Compare the Smoothie to a standard similar price carbon bars, and they might be lighter, but the Smoothie is not heavy, plus it has that smooth feel. Dave Arthur reviewed and liked the ENVE G Series Gravel bar with similar vibration-eating carbon weave credentials, but that costs a huge £160 more!
The Redshift stem costs £180 and works really well, but you have to get used to its up and down movement. Against an £890 Lauf Grit SL fork with 30mm of travel from the same S2 Fibre Glass springs, the discrete Smoothie looks good value, albeit providing a different role. Against the current crop of ‘gravel’ telescopic forks from Rock Shox, Fox, and MRP, it doesn’t mean a large geometry change to your bike to use it; your bike maintains its traditional look and feel.
The only black mark comes from the lack of integration with Shimano Di2 shifting. There are no holes anywhere on the bar other than the bar plug ones, which means that if you want to fit an internal junction box, you will need to get creative. You shouldn’t really have to do this for £200.
Check our feature on how to make your gravel bike more comfortable for more options to the Smoothie.
An excellent well thought, simple upgrade for your gravel or road bike. It’s fairly easy to fit and requires no adjustment; the back sweep is very natural and comfortable, as is the extra width created by that tight corner. The Flare is spot on, and, as an added bonus, vibrations through the bars are softened, providing a more comfortable adventure. What more could you ask for? Di2 routing, please!