The SL70 has a great, middle of the road bend, with a mild flare to the drops.

The SL70 bar has a great, middle of the road bend, with a mild flare to the drops.​

Lowdown: Zipp Service Course SL70 Bar and SL Speed Stem

A great bar for riders who like a hybrid anatomic/compact bend and have medium to large hands. There is nothing drastic or quirky about the SL70s, instead they are a good all-round option. And if you're looking for a lightweight, stiff stem for your carbon race bike, Zipp's SL Speed is a fantastic, if expensive, option. For the weight weenies, aluminum models can actually be lighter for much less coin.

Weight: 258 grams size 44cm Price: $110
Stat Box: Zipp Service Course SL70 Bar
[TD] Options: 36, 38, 40, 42, 44cm (tested) center-to-center widths, High Polish w/white logos (tested) or Beyond Black finish[/TD]
[TD] Rating:
4.5 Stars
4.5 out of 5 stars [/TD]


  • Good size run. Nothing super wide
  • More expensive than competition
  • Clip-on aerobar compatible
  • Not the best for small hands
  • Bend works well w/modern shifters

Weight: 132 grams size 120mm Price: $265
Stat Box: Zipp SL Speed Stem
[TD] Lengths: 70, 80, 90, 100, 110, 120cm (tested) [/TD]
[TD] Rating:
3.5 Stars
3.5 out of 5 stars [/TD]


  • Light and stiff
  • Expensive
  • T25 titanium fasteners are great
  • Bad look on steel bikes with smaller tubes
  • Good look for modern bikes

Review: Zipp Service Course SL70 Bar and SL Speed Stem

It used to be that you bought traditional round drop bars, and picked deep or shallow and the width of your preference. Things are a bit more complicated these days. Options abound, not only in width and drop, but in material, color, bend, and flare. While certain manufacturers still produce bars similar to those used by Eddy Merckx (and modern greats such as Peter Sagan still prefer that style), most of us are more comfortable with anatomic incarnations such as Zipp's Service Course SL70 bars.

The Service Course SL70 bar is offered in widths from 36 to 44 centimeters and in the High Polish with white logos shown and Beyond Black.

The Service Course SL70 bar is offered in widths from 36cm-44cc, in the High Polish with white logos (pictured) and Beyond Black.​

Unlike many drop bars currently in production, the SL70's use a segmented drop, eschewing the progressive rounded compact bends that dominate the current market. I was hesitant at first. I was never a fan of the first anatomic bars that hit the market in the 1990's, sticking with my round drop bars for several decades until the latest batch of compact bend bars hit shops. They used a flat section of tubing in the drop and then transitioned again near the end of the bar. If it worked, great, but it locked you into a position that might not be ideal. Like most things bike fit related, you had to experiment.

Zipp's Service Course SL70 bar offers a hybrid anatomic/compact bend.

Zipp's Service Course SL70 bar offers a hybrid anatomic-compact bend.​

Zipp's SL70 bar is a bit of a hybrid bend, though, and it works splendidly for me. I like the shallow 128mm drop and the 70mm reach is close to what I've ridden comfortably in the past. I played for some time with the placement of my Shimano shifters before I taped them and the extra care paid off. I had initially placed the levers too low. Putting them higher than I expected made for a great transition to the hoods while still allowing for good access to the brake levers in the hoods. I don't have especially large hands, so I run my reach pretty far in. For those with exceptionally small hands you might want to look at other bar options. I would say the SL70s are best from medium to large hands.

The small, 4-degree flare of the drops is barely perceptible but something I appreciate. I like a flared drop as it opens up the arms a tad when most extended. This helps with breathing (I think) but also creates more forearm clearance.

When in the drops I find myself putting my hands right in the transition section and it feels something like my vintage round bars. Moving them farther up the drop requires me to bend my elbows, assume an aggressive, corner-attacking position and gives easy, secure access to the brake levers.

The 70 in the SL70 refers to reach of the bar.

The 70 in the SL70 refers to reach of the bar.​

The tops are fairly squared at the curve to the drops, but not drastically so like on bars such as PRO's PLT Compact II and some Ritchey bars. This means that you can use more of the width of the tops for climbing and rough sections of road. Some bars transition in a more rounded fashion (think Cinelli Criterium or PRO Vibe 7S), making for more forearm clearance but also rendering the tops somewhat less usable.

Though I'm fairly slight of build, I went with 44cm bars as I like the breathing room and wanted to match the width on my cyclocross and gravel bikes. After taking my time during installation, I'm very happy with Zipp's Service Course SL70 bars. They're fairly affordable, though there are certainly cheaper bars on the market. They are also quite light for an aluminum bar, though there lighter options on the market. I like the look of the bars as well as the fit. The SL70s are offered in the High Polish with white logos that I tested or a blacked out Beyond Black for those seeking a low-key look. I guess the best endorsement I can make is that I can't see taking them off anytime soon.

Continue to page 2 to read our review of the Zipp SL Speed Stem

Zipp's SL Speed stem became available in May 2016 and offers a compliment to the firm's SL Sprint stem.

Zipp's SL Speed stem became available in May 2016 and offers a compliment to their SL Sprint stem.​

Zipp SL Speed Stem

What can you say about a stem? It connects the steerer of your fork to your handlebars. As long as it does this with predictable sizing (hard to say with a sample size of one, but the stem did measure 120mm as requested) and in a somewhat attractive package, you've got a winner. Of course, there is a bit more to it, but you get the gist.

Zipp's SL Speed stem is the latest carbon model from the Indianapolis-based component and wheel maker (I'm a Hoosier, therefore the shout out). It first became available in May 2016 and plays counterpart to Zipp's SL Sprint stem. While the previous model was only offered in a negative 12-degree, the SL Speed is offered in a more approachable six-degree angle. Likewise, it's available in shorter sizes, from 70mm-120mm (the SL Sprint comes in 90mm to 140mm sizes). The aesthetic is leaner than the Sprint stem and it's 40 grams lighter, too, with the sample 120mm stem tipping the scales at a gossamer 132 grams. What the SL Speed stem isn't is cheap. It'll lighten your wallet to the tune of $265. This is spendy but right in keeping with its competition.

For the same money, ENVE offers its own blacked-out carbon stem that is a few grams lighter. Tough call between the two for my money. Ritchey offers its Superlogic Carbon C260 stem for similar money and the same weight. Here I would go with Zipp's offering, as its mounting and faceplate is more user-friendly than the Ritchey model.

It's also worth mentioning Zipp's own aluminum Service Course SL stem. It's a measly two grams heavier for the same size according to Zipp but a whopping $155 cheaper at $110. It's likely that the carbon model will be a bit stiffer but for many of us, the less expensive choice will do just fine. If you prioritize rigidity and love carbon components, then read on.

All six bolts on the SL Speed stem are M5 titanium with Torx T25 sockets.

All six bolts on the SL Speed stem are M5 titanium with Torx T25 sockets.​

The SL Speed stem looks cool. There's no doubt about it. But mounted on my steel road bike it looked out of place. This is the sort of stem that belongs on a carbon super bike. It looks ready for take off. Not that you need my style advice, but I wanted to mention it.

The body of the stem is quite large, measuring 45mm wide at its widest and 41mm tall. It's a robust look that will appeal to many. The clamping area carries this width forward to the stem. Normally not a big deal, the clamp of the SL Speed stem is so wide that I couldn't quite center my Garmin mount. But this is a small niggle.

I would never claim that installing this stem transformed the handling of my bike, but in very amateurish "twist" testing, it was quite a bit stiffer than the aluminum stem that it replaced. Whether this is a good thing or not, I'll leave up to the reader to judge. It's personal. Not everyone wants a super rigid bike. Others crave it like a town sign sprint.

On its website, Zipp makes quite a big deal of its decision to use Torx T25 titanium bolts throughout the stem. While I think they were a bit early when they first began to do so, thankfully the industry has begun to come to them on this matter. It's true that Torx is a better interface, especially when using light materials. I really only mention it because you'll want to check that your multi-tool has a T25 (it should if you bought in the last decade) so you can make on the road adjustments after installation.

Due to the expense in losing weight via a stem purchase, this is not the first place to do so if you're putting your bike on a diet. But if you've already looked at wheels, cranks, and other big-ticket items, then Zipp's SL Speed stem should be next on your list.

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