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  1. #1
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    carbon handlebars

    howdy eh.

    for those of you who choose to run carbon bars, have you felt or noticed a difference, vis, hand fatigue etc? some say it's just a weight issue, others say it results in an improvement in comfort.

    what say you?

  2. #2
    k_z
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    They're stiffer, definitely less comfort, more hand fatigue. At least that's what I feel...

  3. #3
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    I'm completely the opposite, I feel they dampen vibration better than a metal bar and are less fatiguing.

  4. #4
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    i had some serious hand issues that started in spring. my right hand got rattled so bad I actually developed tendinitis.

    I considered carbon bars, but ultimately came to a different, more complete solution after thinking about the issue all summer, reading everything I could online, and trying out different setups.

    THe most important thing for hand pump/finger fatigue is your brakes and fork compression setup.

    and, for me, the single biggest culprit in causing the initial injury was a big ride day on fast, chunky terrrian on a new fork where I had set way too low rebound compression.

    if this is similar to waht youre trying to solve for, I can post up in more detail. i feel like ive learned almost all i possibly could on the topic as it actually prevented a lot of riding for the first half of the summer for me

    EDIT: i do believe the right set of carbon bars could be icing on the cake for this issue, taking a slight edge off of chattery impacts from the feedback I've heard, but still think you solve 95% of the issue with fork and brake settings (in that order of importance)

  5. #5
    Elitest thrill junkie
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    The kind of vibrations that the carbon will help to damp are so minute that it's not worth talking about, it's the same stuff that your tires damp because they are made of rubber. If you're on a road bike you might get those frequencies propagating through the bike a little more, but he only reason I have carbon bars on both my bikes is due to the weight and stiffness (not flexy at the wider widths).
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

    You're turning black metallic.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by ride the biscuit View Post
    THe most important thing for hand pump/finger fatigue is your brakes and fork compression setup. If this is similar to what you're trying to solve for, I can post up in more detail. i feel like ive learned almost all i possibly could on the topic as it actually prevented a lot of riding for the first half of the summer for me

    Please post up your setting changes. Have similar issues to yours, mostly from a broken hand a few months back.


    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    it's the same stuff that your tires damp because they are made of rubber.
    Yes, and no, but you brought up tires, and they are the first line of defense in vibration/damping. You may notice more vibration control (small bump compliance) by lowering tire pressure than making changes in fork/shock set-up. I used to run tubes at 32+ psi, and now run tubeless at 20-22 psi. Huge difference in "vibration control" with the added benefit of improved traction.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    The kind of vibrations that the carbon will help to damp are so minute that it's not worth talking about, it's the same stuff that your tires damp because they are made of rubber. If you're on a road bike you might get those frequencies propagating through the bike a little more, but he only reason I have carbon bars on both my bikes is due to the weight and stiffness (not flexy at the wider widths).
    ^^ This, a thousand times, this. I have more bikes than I should, and two of them have carbon bars-- my MTB and my road bike. The rest have AL.

    Carbon bars are really helpful on road and CX bikes for uneven pavement and gravel roads. It really takes the sting out of little buzzy stuff. Carbon bars do almost nothing for medium and large bumps. They are light and sometimes are stiff, sometimes flexy depending on the model.

    So, that's pretty much the same on a MTB... Except the small buzzy stuff is already gobbled up by large volume tires--even a 26x1.8 is WAY more cushion than a 700x25-- and suspension. Carbon bars on a MTB really are a weight issue. And you have to be careful to cover or repair any scratches or chips that go through the clearcoat, or moisture will eventually get into the weave and potentially cause a serious issue.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Simplemind View Post

    Please post up your setting changes. Have similar issues to yours, mostly from a broken hand a few months back.
    OK, at some point (may take me a while) I will try to do a better type-up of my entire experience and what I learned on the topic, but this about covers it for now. I'll probably post up in the injury forum, but will link to here if I remember to

    When I researched the issue, I found a lot of posts where people thought they had narrowed it down to one thing or another. However, I found that, like almost everything in life, it is really a combination of all of the above.

    but for now, if the irritation is in your hand, specifically a harsh feeling at the palm, you need to play with your compression settings but this is probably not the issue; it was not for me

    for me, and i think the most common, it was mostly in my ring finger. right hand got it much worse than left (i am right handed). the problem boils down to how hard you are gripping while the bar is jumping around very fast on you.

    First thing to look at is increase rebound damping. under many rapid succession heavy compressions, the fork has so much stored energy it wants to kick back up very hard and fast. when you break down what this does at the bar and to the hand, it is actually pulling the bars against your fingers away from your body (this is a bit counter-intuitive), and your grip can be over-taxed well beyond what even a strong hand can handle. This typically is felt most in the ring finger since your index is on the brake and your middle is finger is much stronger

    to exaggerate the concept: when you slow the rebound down enough you could almost ride thru a rock garden with just the weight of your body on your palms on the grip with no fingers wrapped around the bar.

    this will make the fork feel a bit more harsh, and harshness is the best way to know how to not go too far with the rebound compression. you definitely do NOT want to go so far as to have the fork packing up since that will lead to crappy performance. if riding hard, you dont want the front wheel to go back down into every divot in the trail (this indicates too fast rebound if you are riding hard through chunk); the goal is to make the fork do the work of handling most of the high amount of stored energy in a compressed fork...find the right balance and you still get plenty of tire-to-ground contact for grip/control in the rough

    the other side of this is brakes. ideally, you want a strong brake that achieves a lot of braking force with just a little pressure from your finger. this means keeping your brakes well serviced and if possible, going to a 4 piston setup is best for aggressive riding on steep chunky terrain (I have since switched from elixir CRs to the shimano zee brakes with servo-wave lever tech and 4-pot pistons ). if you have to death grip in order to slow down, this is bad (especially bad if your rebound is too fast like what happened to me).

    Part of the problem for me is that with good modern brakes, I didnt notice performance drop off as I had been doing a lot of winter rides at more local XC places. Then I found out they needed a bleed too late when I went to do a monster all-mountain point to point shuttle ride for the first time this year in the spring.

    Bonus points on the brakes if you can adjust yours to catch very close to the bar and without a ton of lever throw (ie: distance from zero braking to full braking). With less extension on your index finger to reach the brake, the rest of your hand is in better position to grip the bar. lastly you want your finger to keep a straight and relaxed position relative to your forearm (a lot of times this means positioning the lever at a lower angle on the bar than you had it).

    OK thats my hasty brain dump that I think covers most of the conclusions I came to...hope it helps others out there avoid what I went through...basically, i had developed a pre-condition to trigger finger and even after rest off the bike, the scar tissue didnt go away on its own. i eventually ended up getting a cortisone shot up my finger by a hand surgeon specialist and it has almost completely solved the problem as far as I can tell. that combined with getting my settings right allowed me to ride pain-free 4 days in a row (3 of which at bike parks) on a mtb trip i took last week

    GOOD LUCK and let me know if I can help further on this issue
    Last edited by ride the biscuit; 08-30-2013 at 10:57 AM.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by JackP42 View Post
    I'm completely the opposite, I feel they dampen vibration better than a metal bar and are less fatiguing.
    Same here.

    They defo dont feel stiffer.

  10. #10
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    Biscuit, thank you for the advice, I'll try those things. I get a crazy 'pump' when riding, and I've never really known how fast to set my rebound. I too switched to a carbon bar in hopes of getting less shock, but I didn't notice anything.

  11. #11
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    It depends on the handlebar. My Race Face Sixc is pretty darn stiff and doesn't seem to damp out vibrations any better than my Easton EA50. My Easton EC70 on the other hand has noticeably more give to it when I push on it with the fork locked out, and at the end of a long ride my hands are in better shape.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by k_z View Post
    They're stiffer, definitely less comfort, more hand fatigue. At least that's what I feel...
    Agree, thinking of going back to Al.

    FYI - Easton Haven Carbon uncut

  13. #13
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    wow, that's some variance of experience and opinion! all over the map. sounds like there's also significant difference in the carbon bars out there.

  14. #14
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    Yep. I think it depends on the manufacturer too. I went from an easton haven aluminum bar to a haven carbon. The biggest difference was it was about 100 grams lighter. The vibration damping was minimal. I can feel the difference, but I was surprised that there wasn't more. I agree with others that tire pressure, fork setup makes more of a difference on a mtn bike.

  15. #15
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    I am running Easton carbon bars and I love them. I feel they absorb a lot of vibrations to help eliminate the numbing feeling you can sometimes get on long rides. Plus the weight reduction helps lighten up that front end.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by cunningstunts View Post
    howdy eh.

    for those of you who choose to run carbon bars, have you felt or noticed a difference, vis, hand fatigue etc? some say it's just a weight issue, others say it results in an improvement in comfort.

    what say you?
    I have gone back and forth between CF and Al on my bike a few times and the difference always seemed very slight, but it was there. Not enough to really factor into my decision. However, the most recent switch from an Answer Pro Taper Carbon to a Kore Aluminum bar the difference is more noticeable. I don't know if it is the fact that these are much wider bars than I've used in the past or just specific to these to bars but the new Kore one is definitely harsher after a few hours of trail ridng with much in the way of roughness. It is enough that I am considering a new CF bar.

    I do use very thin, hard grips, and gloves with no padding, so that might make me more sensitive to the differences.
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

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