Carbon fiber handle bars yay or nay?
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  1. #1
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    Carbon fiber handle bars yay or nay?

    I have heard different things about carbon handle bars for road bikes and am curious what you all think. I have some Fizik R1 carbon bars and have no complaints so far.

  2. #2
    Forever a Student
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    I don't think they're worth it personally. I've generally switched back to alloy.

    Edit: the above bars are ENVE bars, not some crap Chinese or whatever bars.
    Doesn't matter where they come from, they are just not built for some stuff.
    Last edited by MMsRepBike; 05-05-2014 at 06:42 PM.
    use a torque wrench

  3. #3
    Adorable Furry Hombre
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    If you have to ask the answer is "yes, they're a bad idea".
    "Refreshingly Unconcerned With The Vulgar Exigencies Of Veracity "

  4. #4
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    In the process of switching to Fizik Carbon bars now...

  5. #5
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    Will never put carbon bars on any of my bikes after seeing some of the failures I have.

  6. #6
    ngl
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    I love mine and have been riding with them for years. Are they as safe as aluminum? Probably not.

    But hey, I don't ride my motorcycle without a helmet like some people do. How safe is that?

  7. #7
    wim
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    If they would provide a real or even just a perceived advantage, I would probably use them in spite of knowing that a crash cold crack them and render them trash. But as far as I can remember, nothing changed when I replaced my alloy bars with carbon bars some years ago. So I don't see much point in them other than merely "wanting carbon." That may be reason enough for some. They do look nice, got to admit.

    (Sold the bike with alloy bars back on. The buyer didn't want the carbon bars for fear of invisible defects.)

  8. #8
    ngl
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    You are spot-on with the "WANTING CARBON" theory. And I am as bad as the rest.

    If you crash (depending on the severity) they are more likely in need of replacement. I guess that is the price one has to pay. I don't think I notice much of an advantage (probably no more than installing some nice bar tape on alloy bars).

  9. #9
    have droids, will party
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    FWIW, the last crash I had bent the crap out of my alloy bars and actually twisted an alloy stem longitudinally without damaging the carbon steerer.

    That said, I wouldn't waste my money on carbon bars, no matter how strong they are. They really aren't worth the cost and you don't save a whole lot in weight vs good alloy components.

    The Enve stem and bars look sexy as hell though... As does the latest Ritchey stuff....

  10. #10
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    The advantages in carbon bars isn't really in weight, its in the shaping they allow and the slight increase in vibration absorption. I replaced some Deda alloy bars with FSA K-Wings and I really like the flat tops

  11. #11
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by nhluhr View Post
    Must be some new form of carbon that looks like alloy...hmmmm.....

    I've had carbon on both my road bikes. I've had a few spills and they have been fine for the most part. I did crash in a crit a month or so back and the bar didn't crack but where the bar plug goes got shredded a bit. The same thing would have happened to an alloy bar the only difference is that this crack may spread. That crash was at 30mph though so it was at speed.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by deviousalex View Post
    Must be some new form of carbon that looks like alloy...hmmmm.....

    I've had carbon on both my road bikes. I've had a few spills and they have been fine for the most part. I did crash in a crit a month or so back and the bar didn't crack but where the bar plug goes got shredded a bit. The same thing would have happened to an alloy bar the only difference is that this crack may spread. That crash was at 30mph though so it was at speed.
    Well yeah, it's obviously carbon since it is broken.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by nhluhr View Post
    Well yeah, it's obviously carbon since it is broken.
    I'm going to start making solid-core steel bars. I think there's a market to sell them on this forum.

  15. #15
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    no carbon bars on my bikes.

    don't see a need.
    Ancient Astronaut theorists say, 'YES!'

  16. #16
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    If you have the funds, go carbon. Why not? Get the Zipp SLCss. While you're at it get the seatpost and the stem to match.....and the wheels.

    Edit: Don't forget the bottle cages as well.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by deviousalex View Post
    Must be some new form of carbon that looks like alloy...hmmmm.....

    I've had carbon on both my road bikes. I've had a few spills and they have been fine for the most part. I did crash in a crit a month or so back and the bar didn't crack but where the bar plug goes got shredded a bit. The same thing would have happened to an alloy bar the only difference is that this crack may spread. That crash was at 30mph though so it was at speed.
    Here is the difference, MY friend did the same thing you did - crashed on his carbon bars, and while there were a few scratches near the bar plug everything seemed fine, right up until he hit a pot hole at about 10 mphs (i.e. not that hard) and the bars failed completely at the stem dropping him on his face.

    Mind you my friend is an experience bike mechanic and works in the cycling industry, meaning he fully examined the bars and even tested them a bit but leaning on them, the bars exhibited no damage or weakness prior to failing. These were not Chinese knock off btw they were from a major manufacturer.

    Now I don't think they will happen to every set of carbon bars but seeing as any fall usually hits the bars and pretty hard its not a risk I think even worth taking considering that carbon bars offer no advantage and I have never seen alloy fail like that.

    That one incident prompted me to sell my carbon bars, no way did I want to wonder if my bars were going to hold u post crash esp if I was going back into a crit from the pits.

  18. #18
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    Aluminium bars break too. And they can break suddenly. Cracks in aluminium propagate quickly.

    I did a 35 mph crash which smashed in my teeth and gave me a concussion. My bike (carbon) only had superficial scratches on a shifer and rear derailleur. The carbon bars were fine, and I am still using them seven years later. I have an even older set now on my rain bike.

    Many mountain bikers use carbon bars. They crash all the time. If carbon bars assploded in crashes, mtbers wouldn't be using them.

    But, there is not much performance advantage to carbon bars over aluminium. They can be a little lighter and have a very slight amount of high requency vibration damping. So unless you really want carbon, there's not much reason to get carbon bars.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by 32and3cross View Post
    Here is the difference, MY friend did the same thing you did - crashed on his carbon bars, and while there were a few scratches near the bar plug everything seemed fine, right up until he hit a pot hole at about 10 mphs (i.e. not that hard) and the bars failed completely at the stem dropping him on his face.
    Mind you my friend is an experience bike mechanic and works in the cycling industry, meaning he fully examined the bars and even tested them a bit but leaning on them, the bars exhibited no damage or weakness prior to failing. These were not Chinese knock off btw they were from a major manufacturer.
    I've taken a spill with carbon bars multiple times (fast and slow), on one occasion I wore through my brand new bar tape (some scuffs on the end of the bar), the bars are still in 100% working order.
    Each accident is a unique event, both alu and carbon can/will fail, carbon may mask a failure better.
    If your friend had fully examined the bars the damage would have been found.

    I really don't get the "I don't trust carbon bars" but "I'll ride a carbon frame or a carbon fork"

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by 32and3cross View Post
    Here is the difference, MY friend did the same thing you did - crashed on his carbon bars, and while there were a few scratches near the bar plug everything seemed fine, right up until he hit a pot hole at about 10 mphs (i.e. not that hard) and the bars failed completely at the stem dropping him on his face.

    Mind you my friend is an experience bike mechanic and works in the cycling industry, meaning he fully examined the bars and even tested them a bit but leaning on them, the bars exhibited no damage or weakness prior to failing. These were not Chinese knock off btw they were from a major manufacturer.

    Now I don't think they will happen to every set of carbon bars but seeing as any fall usually hits the bars and pretty hard its not a risk I think even worth taking considering that carbon bars offer no advantage and I have never seen alloy fail like that.

    That one incident prompted me to sell my carbon bars, no way did I want to wonder if my bars were going to hold u post crash esp if I was going back into a crit from the pits.
    There is no way the crack wasn't there. That just isn't the way carbon fails. Did you pull the stem face to check? Was this all the same ride?

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by redlude97 View Post
    There is no way the crack wasn't there. That just isn't the way carbon fails. Did you pull the stem face to check? Was this all the same ride?

    All on the same ride (gotta get home somehow) and no one pulled the stem plate (no way that will ever happen in a race) but there was no crack to see after the crash.

    I have seen 3 different carbon bars break at the stem shearing off all the way around. All were either from impact or (like above) an incident post impact.

    Im sure there are lots of bars that don't brake and work fine after impact but the "benefits" of the carbon bars are not worth the risk or the price to me.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by 32and3cross View Post
    All on the same ride (gotta get home somehow) and no one pulled the stem plate (no way that will ever happen in a race) but there was no crack to see after the crash.

    I have seen 3 different carbon bars break at the stem shearing off all the way around. All were either from impact or (like above) an incident post impact.

    Im sure there are lots of bars that don't brake and work fine after impact but the "benefits" of the carbon bars are not worth the risk or the price to me.
    Of course they break at the stem, its the point where the bar will leverage the most in a crash. No one is saying that there isn't a potentially increased risk of failure with carbon, but to say that is suddenly happened with no signs of failure is very unlikely. Thats fine if you don't think they are worth the cost, but the fear of them failing out of the blue isn't rational. They either fail at the moment of impact or are compromised in a way that is observable if checked carefully. Any fracture of the carbon strands will propogate through the cosmetic surface layer of epoxy.

  23. #23
    ngl
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    Quote Originally Posted by 32and3cross View Post
    All on the same ride (gotta get home somehow) and no one pulled the stem plate (no way that will ever happen in a race) but there was no crack to see after the crash.

    I have seen 3 different carbon bars break at the stem shearing off all the way around. All were either from impact or (like above) an incident post impact.

    Im sure there are lots of bars that don't brake and work fine after impact but the "benefits" of the carbon bars are not worth the risk or the price to me.
    I don't mean to be argumentative here, but, in one statement you say your experienced friend FULLY examined them and then tested them before continuing because he had to get home somehow.How did he do this? Then they failed? I wouldn't ride with them again before pulling the stem cap AND removing the bar tape AND thoroughly inspecting them. If I did I wouldn't blame the bars. I'm just saying that's what I would do.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by ngl View Post
    I don't mean to be argumentative here, but, in one statement you say your experienced friend FULLY examined them and then tested them before continuing because he had to get home somehow.How did he do this? Then they failed? I wouldn't ride with them again before pulling the stem cap AND removing the bar tape AND thoroughly inspecting them. If I did I wouldn't blame the bars. I'm just saying that's what I would do.
    I mean he looked them over and pushed down and pulled up on them, no creaking or cracking and nothing moved. I agree that is not a FULL examination but its as much as most people are going to put in roadside if they plan to keep riding (actually most people will do less)

    I agree you should do a full inspection after a crash BUT that's NEVER going to happen in a race situation and mostly likely won't happen if you pick you self up and decide to ride home. Seriously I really don't see anyone taking their bars out of the stem and unwrapping them roadside.

    So my take on carbon bars is they are not worth the trouble.

  25. #25
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    Is bar flex something of an advantage/concern? I know some aluminum bars on my old CX bike would flex pretty bad while sprinting but the carbon bars on my road bike don't seem to flex as much while yanking on them while sprinting. Not sure if that's a stem thing or bar thing or if it was just those aluminum bars. I'm not the typical cyclist though being an ex-defensive lineman in college football. I have 3 sets of carbon bars and haven't broken any yet. I've waiting for my mtb bars to assplode since I've crashed the **** out of them and dropped them on rocks several times during my last mtb trip from bailing from the bike after slipping on wet rock and broke the bar plugs the day before from knocking a tree with the bars on a descent (**** my chamois from that one).

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