Review: Kore Repute Stem, Mega Bars & Ikon Grips

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Mountain biking can be a fickle sport sometimes and brands like the trends that spawned them, can often disappear off the ‘cool radar’ to only re-appear under new ownership, and quite often just as cheap immitations of their former selves. Roll back 15 years and there were several brands that were making all the right gear that everyone wanted, many of which are long gone and some are making a comeback… Kore were one of these mid 90’s power brands and like many of the other greats, faded into obscurity, but rolling forward 15 years and they are back on the offensive with a renewed focus that’s backed with some dialed components…

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Words: Olly Forster | Photos: Nathan Carvell & Olly Forster

Repute Stem – If any one component put Kore on the map, it was their legendary stems and if their new Repute model is anything to go by, they’re are heading back there and double time! The Repute is an awesome looking lump of Cold Forged, CNC’d aluminium that oozes everything but the crazy £45 price tag! I had to look twice when I saw the price and aside from its great looks, the Repute has got some admirable technical qualities that are worth boasting about.

Starting life as a solid lump of AL6061 T6 aluminium, that is then 3d Forged and then CNC’d, the end product is incredibly well refined and to the point. The manufacturing process not only delivers an attractive product, it also delivers one that is as light as it is strong – weighing in at an admirable 165 grams, the inner core of the Repute has been machined out remove any unwanted and unnecessary material.

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Available in either a stumpy 35mm or a more standard 50mm reach, the Repute has a 35mm stack height with a zero degree rise – coupled with the high gloss black finish and laser etched logos, its hard to believe that this stem is only £45!

Looking like something that’s fallen off a stealth fighter plane, the Repute is as sleek as it is tough. Designed to take the beating from a day at the jumps or smashing out DH runs, the Repute does this while being light enough for your trail bike – dare I say this exactly what an “enduro” bike should have bolted to it? It raises the question, as this new type of racing is giving birth to a new riding style where ‘AM Bikes’ are ridden in a manor more closely associated with downhill and where products must be as storing as they are light…

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Mega Bars – Go putting the word ‘mega’ on anything is a sure fire way of saying it will give as good as it gets and like the Repute stem, is a product that I feel is right on the money for the emerging number of riders pushing their riding on 150mm bikes, either between the tape, or deep in the wilderness.

I’m definitely a guy who has little time for products that exist exclusively in either the ‘form’ or ‘function’ camp and thankfully with its mirror black finish and sensible graphics, the Mega’s look the business! Featuring a fairly standard 5° upsweep and a slightly larger than average 8.5° backsweep, it didn’t take long for the Mega’s to feel instinctively comfy and after a few days shuttling DH runs on the trail bike, reassuringly capable.

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At £47, the Mega bars are competitively priced to say the least, especially when you consider that these, along with the Repute stem, will together cost you less than many of the stems on the market.

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740mm wide bars are becoming the norm for trail bikes and even DH bikes, even more so as more and more of you 5’5″ to 6′ riders are noticing that 780mm bars are a bit silly – pretty sure Brendan Fairclough only runs 730mm’s and he’s not a little lad…

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Getting alloy bars to be both strong and light requires some careful thought with regards to material allocation – a little more where it’s needed and little less where it isn’t. Case in point: as you can see, the walls of the bar are crazy thin at the end, which can be a pain when fitting 80% of the grips on the market, including the ones we tested here, as your bar end plugs will fall out… While this is a pain, what it does offer is a bar, that at 250g, is still capable of taking a thorough beating as the material needed has been beefed up at more critical points along the bar.

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Ikon Lock-On Grips -Lock-on grips might be ten a penny, but it never hurts to spend some time finding the right ones for you and as with all contact points, its worth getting things feeling just right! Manufactured from Nylon/Kraton rubber, the Ikon’s narrow profile and ‘anti-slip’ design give an instinctive feel through the bars that can be deadened by some grips on the market. It has been said that thinner grips aid in the dissipation of arm pump or lactic acid build up in your arms, but its as much to do with your technique as it is the size of your hands… Narrower grips in my experience offer a heightened sense of connectivity and that’s exactly what you get with the Ikons.

While there are softer compound grips on the market, the narrow profile of the Ikon’s is definitely what is see as their stand out feature. Other notables are the addition of 3mm hardware over the leading brands fiddly 2mm.

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You should always know a good pair of grips from the moment you grab them and it certainly pays to exercise your choice when choosing new ones as you never know…

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Conclusion.

I chose these three as a group review for several reasons. Firstly, I wanted an all black set up and with the bars’ mirror finish next to the stem’s gloss finish, well, it just looks the business. While were on the subject of aesthetics, lets also touch on economics as they are seemingly mutually exclusive of each other. At £47 for the Mega bars, £45 for the Repute stem and £15 for the grips, you are getting a new set-up for just over one hundred pounds – when you consider that the majority of ‘discipline specific’ stems with an ounce of pedigree, are nearly that price on there own, the value and indeed pedigree soon all up. But it is the Repute stem, that for me, really stands out.

Aesthetically on the money, stiff, light and of course, well priced, the Kore set-up featured here could well be the enduro set up you’ve been looking for…

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Bolted up and on the bike, all three performed as any good bar, stem and grip combo should – on they went and that was that. The extra degree or so of backsweep on the Mega’s over the bars they replaced on our test bike, proved to be no huge dilemma and after 4 months of riding everything on one bike, are holding up and why wouldn’t they? While bars are bars, stems are stems and indeed, grips are grips – these three components represent exactly the kind of parts many of us are looking for; well priced, but don’t look cheap, have an air of pedigree that some of the other “well priced” brands are spending thousands to build and they do the job they were designed for. I definitely think Kore are on the come back and while they have shifted from producing stems only a few could afford, they are now producing parts that are very much of the here and now. So, if your in need of a new do-it-all stem that looks awesome, some new bars for that enduro build or just some new grips that are a little narrower than what you had before, look no further.

Kore components are exclusively distributed in the UK by Decade Europe and for everything Kore, tap the logo below. Happy trails, Olly.

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