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Handlebar Upgrade. Carbon vs Alum

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Handlebar Upgrade. Carbon vs Alum

Old 01-10-22, 06:34 PM
  #26  
Seattle Forrest
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Originally Posted by topflightpro View Post
I've had plenty of carbon and aluminum bars. Whether it is worth it to spend extra on carbon really depends on the bar. There are good and bad carbon and aluminum bars.

What is more important is that the drop, reach and bar shape fits your needs. Also, note that a lot of aerobars flare at the drops. So a bar that is 42cm wide at the hoods can be 44cm wide at the drops.

And if aero is your goal:
  • Narrower bars will likely have a greater impact than aero shaped tops.
  • Carbon bars likely have better shaping than aluminum.
Lastly, there is nothing wrong with using an aluminum stem on carbon bars. Just make sure you use the correct torque specs on the bar.
​​​​​​Yeah but is this true on Wednesdays?
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Old 01-13-22, 06:07 PM
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Well we will see, I just ordered the Easton bars, wont be here till late March so we will see how they are when they get here.
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Old 01-14-22, 11:45 AM
  #28  
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I like my brand X Chinese carbon bullhorns, shown here half taped up. They were $60, not $300.


Grab the bull by the horns!

Edit: I guess the brand is TOSEEK, not X
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Old 01-20-22, 05:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Fredo76 View Post
I like my brand X Chinese carbon bullhorns, shown here half taped up. They were $60, not $300.


Grab the bull by the horns!

Edit: I guess the brand is TOSEEK, not X
Yep, I can believe that.
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Old 01-27-22, 12:02 AM
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Toseek do a pretty decent Aeronova copy, bought three for myself and another for a mate, and no worries. If you're not familiar with the Aeronova, it's a revelation - 3T pretty much defined how aero drop bar tops should be shaped with this.

Only caveat I'd suggest, is if you buy $50 carbon bars, just try to break them before you ride. If you can't bust them by hand no matter how hard you try, they'll hold up IMO.
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Old 01-27-22, 03:03 AM
  #31  
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Are Carbon bars worth the money? Yes

Round vs Aero flat carbon cost differential is around $150 for my bars.

Drop in aerodynamic drag for an aero carbon bar is around 10 watts. $15/watt is a steel. Zipp wheels are over $500/watt by contrast.

The real benefit for me is comfort due to more muted road vibration. The nerves in my hands are shot and as such, they are fine instruments to assess pain. I feel a huge difference from alu to carbon. In reality, it is probably small but my perception is large.

Only caveat is the Thursday night world championship sprint to the township line sign, some carbon bars are noodly and sprinters typically want very stiff bars.
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Old 01-28-22, 11:15 PM
  #32  
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Originally Posted by GhostRider62 View Post
Drop in aerodynamic drag for an aero carbon bar is around 10 watts. $15/watt is a steel. Zipp wheels are over $500/watt by contrast.
did you mean $50/watt for Zipp? A $2k pair of wheels has got to save more than 3 watts over a set of $500 aluminum wheels
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Old 01-29-22, 06:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Cdst View Post
did you mean $50/watt for Zipp? A $2k pair of wheels has got to save more than 3 watts over a set of $500 aluminum wheels
You have aluminum wheels. Box shaped. Save them. Will be worth a lot of money someday.

Are you saying you think a $2000 set of wheels will save you 40 watts? No way. Maybe at 40 mph.

Depends on how fast you ride. Most riders struggle to maintain 35 km/h. The savings at that speed is maybe 5-6 watts over boxed alu at that speed depending on which wind tunnel you believe. Flo showed around 6 watts for their 49 mm carbon wheel over a box shaped circa 1990 aluminum wheel. So, $333-500/watt. At 15-17 mph, it might be 2 watts.

Power savings for bars are all over the place and too hard to generalize, 10 watts is a little high for flat top aero drop bars and very low for TT position
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Old 02-02-22, 04:25 PM
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Originally Posted by beeballman View Post
Are Carbon bars worth the money?
Not to me.
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Old 02-02-22, 05:21 PM
  #35  
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I have Carbon bars on my Emonda ALR, and it really takes the additional buzz off, I wont go back to Aluminum. At the time I got them, I also bought the Carbon post, both were, FSA SL-K's.
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Old 02-03-22, 09:13 AM
  #36  
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been thinking about changing the bars over to CF on the Domane, but what holds that up are all the other tasks involved to do it. Just cannot justify the change when everything is wrapped & positioned where I want it all now.

If you're in the market for some handle bars, I'd go CF. My other cycle has CF & I will miss riding it just for that feature.
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Old 02-04-22, 09:35 AM
  #37  
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Old 02-04-22, 11:00 AM
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I love my Enve carbon bars. The ride quality and dampness of them is definitely a big upgrade over aluminum bars. The weight is a non-factor.

That said, they are really expensive and if/when I eventually crash and destroy them, I'm not sure that I would immediately run out and buy another one.
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Old 02-04-22, 11:40 AM
  #39  
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Originally Posted by msu2001la View Post
That said, they are really expensive and if/when I eventually crash and destroy them, I'm not sure that I would immediately run out and buy another one.
This is where having brand flexibility is good - with just a smidgen of patience, there are always deals to be had on good carbon bars.
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Old 02-04-22, 11:42 AM
  #40  
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Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
This is where having brand flexibility is good - with just a smidgen of patience, there are always deals to be had on good carbon bars.
....but if I ruin my Eastons and buy some... Zipps or ENVE, or whatever... you know damn well I'mma have to buy a new matchy-matchy stem.
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Old 02-04-22, 11:46 AM
  #41  
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Wow. How times have changed. There was a point in time where this place would absolutely have sided on the aluminum bars side.

My input - FWIW.

Every time I used to go and look at weights the nice alloy bars were lighter. Maybe that's changed in the last couple of years? I'm not talking stem and bar integrated systems. Just regular ol bars you put in stem clamps. Regardless you can get a really nice and light alloy bar that is well shaped with newer hydroforming and then shot peened for a fraction of what a comparable carbon bar is.

As a mechanic, shop owner, team owner, Neutral race support mechanic, etc.... I have seen WAY more carbon bars fail than alloy bars. Sure the bars were hit but in every case the owner "thought it wasn't that big of a deal" and continued to feel that way until they failed. Do alloy bars fail? sure. Have I ever seen a single one fail on the road or in a race? No. How do they fail? Almost always from corrosion. Is corrosion preventable with even a modicum of maintenance? yes. For the record I have scraped up a few riders and sent them to the hospital after their carbon bars have failed while riding.

I personally have ridden a lot on both. IMHO Carbon bars deadening the road vibration is definitely a thing and noticeable. That said - I am riding a really nice alloy bar on my gravel and cyclocross bikes now and a carbon one on the road. The fact that I am more likely to hit the ground riding cross and gravel than I am on the road may have played a role. Who knows.

Customer story - Nice guy. Runs a S-Works Tarmac he bought used a few years back. Leaned his bike up against the wall at a Starbucks stop (because of course he did) and it was blown over. Car runs over the bars. They broke of course. That's not saying much. They were carbon and he wanted to replace them with carbon. Want's to buy his own through ebay. I don't care. He buys some. Wrong ones. Won't fit his clip on aero bars (yup). Eats the cost. Goes and buys the right ones. Complains about how much all this is on the side. About a year later is on a road he has ridden hundreds of times. Township put some sort of new marker on the road to help plows see where they are in the upcoming winter. He doesn't see it and hits it doing a flip in the process. Aero Bars take the brunt. Aero bar clamp cracks. Rest of the bike is fine. bars "look" OK. I go to put the new aero bars on and see the previous clamp that cracked left a deep impression and scar on the bars. I tell the guy that it was his choice but I couldn't in good conscious recommend staying with those bars. He's fine with it but buys yet another set of bars. He's roughly $500 in on just handlebars at this point and they were all used. They don't come in time for his riding trip so I recommend swapping to alloy to just get it done. We drop the weight, it costs him $50 and in the future when he wrecks again it will be obvious if they're good or not.

Story above could happen to anyone and it's not a condemnation of carbon bars per se but it's also not the only time I have watched a rider have to replace carbon bars because of some dumb thing or another. It adds up quickly and really makes a lot of people really question whether the "benefits" of carbon really are worth that price differential.

If carbon bars were as cheap as good alloy bars then I don't even think this would be a discussion so...yeah...price is the major downside. If price doesn't matter to you then who cares.
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Old 02-04-22, 11:48 AM
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My alloy favorites are FSA compacts in all shapes and recently started switching over to Ritchey WCS with some of their wing and flare gravel stuff has been rally nice.
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Old 02-04-22, 03:05 PM
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Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
This is where having brand flexibility is good - with just a smidgen of patience, there are always deals to be had on good carbon bars.
In April 2019, I bought a Zipp Contour SL (SS: short & shallow) CF handlebar from Competitive Cyclist for $98 + tax. But since then I have never seen a < $100 CF handlebar from any major brands.
Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
....but if I ruin my Eastons and buy some... Zipps or ENVE, or whatever... you know damn well I'mma have to buy a new matchy-matchy stem.
And that is why nothing matches on my road bike, except the fork matches the frame.

Last edited by SoSmellyAir; 02-04-22 at 03:11 PM.
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Old 02-04-22, 03:55 PM
  #44  
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Originally Posted by SoSmellyAir View Post
In April 2019, I bought a Zipp Contour SL (SS: short & shallow) CF handlebar from Competitive Cyclist for $98 + tax. But since then I have never seen a < $100 CF handlebar from any major brands.
Yeah, a hard limit of 100 bucks is pretty low, as far as carbon bars go, but availability is usually considerably better with another 20 - 40 bucks. I've personally bought some 3T bars under $100 and was mightily tempted to get some Easton EC70s for the gravel bike at $140.

Originally Posted by SoSmellyAir View Post
And that is why nothing matches on my road bike, except the fork matches the frame.
On builds from the frame up, or on complete bikes where I've replaced the bars, I think I've always gone with a matching stem. Oh, there's always been of bit of justification on the side ("the reach on these new bars is 10mm longer... I'd better get a stem that's 10mm shorter to offset that ...and while I'm at it...."), but alloy stems are relatively inexpensive, anyway.
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Old 02-04-22, 04:12 PM
  #45  
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Originally Posted by Psimet2001 View Post
As a mechanic, shop owner, team owner, Neutral race support mechanic, etc.... I have seen WAY more carbon bars fail than alloy bars. Sure the bars were hit but in every case the owner "thought it wasn't that big of a deal" and continued to feel that way until they failed. Do alloy bars fail? sure. Have I ever seen a single one fail on the road or in a race? No..
A couple years ago, I built a new gravel bike: custom frame, Di2, custom-built wheels, etc. You get the idea – money was not a big concern. I went with an alloy handlebar that cost about $70, for precisely the reason you cite. If I laid the bike down in a race, or it just tipped over in my garage, I did not want to have to unwrap the bar, remove the shift levers, and take it out of the stem just to make sure that there wasn’t a little fracture.

It’s pretty much impossible for a bike to hit the ground without banging the handlebar. For me, that’s enough reason to stick with alloy.
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Old 02-04-22, 05:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
<snip> I did not want to have to unwrap the bar, remove the shift levers, and take it out of the stem just to make sure that there wasn’t a little fracture.<snip>
...and even then you don't really know until you know.
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Old 02-04-22, 07:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Psimet2001 View Post
...and even then you don't really know until you know are getting dental implants.
fify.
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Old 02-04-22, 07:52 PM
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You guys are scaring me; I asked my wife to give me a ribbon to stash in my jersey so when I make a coffee stop or pee break I can tie the bike onto a post.
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Old 02-05-22, 09:40 AM
  #49  
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Originally Posted by Psimet2001 View Post
Wow. How times have changed. There was a point in time where this place would absolutely have sided on the aluminum bars side.

My input - FWIW.

Every time I used to go and look at weights the nice alloy bars were lighter. Maybe that's changed in the last couple of years? I'm not talking stem and bar integrated systems. Just regular ol bars you put in stem clamps. Regardless you can get a really nice and light alloy bar that is well shaped with newer hydroforming and then shot peened for a fraction of what a comparable carbon bar is.
.
What I was told, ymmv, is that some sort of either CEN, CPSC or other safety guideline body made newer (mid 2000s or so?) minimum requirements such that effectively made it much more difficult for alloy bars to compete any longer with CF bars in weight. Eg. I had a pair of some 3T Zepp XLs back in 2003 (which were pretty big - one site lists them with 100mm reach and 170mm drop) and came in at 215g.
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Old 02-05-22, 12:45 PM
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Just checked and a set of Zipp alloy bars and carbon in the same series were within 20g of each other - 240-260g range. Roughly 0.04 lb difference. This used to be true with alloy being the lighter now it seems to be the opposite. Regardless at 20g it's negligible. Cost. shape and durability are really the only differences. Again I do understand that integrated bars/stems drop the weight by a lot.
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