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  1. #1
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    Wrecking too much for carbon?

    I recently upgraded my handlebars on my pitch w/ spec carbon enduro bars. I didnt really think about it beforehand since I used to use a carbon kayak paddle that could was indestructible. BUT, considering I am known to dump my bike quite a bit, low speed stuff usually, is carbon maybe the wrong choice for me? I have always thought carbon was pretty bombproof, but stuff I have read on here makes me think otherwise. What is your opinion. I love the way it feels and rides, but I dont really feel like shelling out that kind of money on a regular basis? Am I just looking into it too much? Should I just shut up and ride until it breaks??? I assume carbon is stronger than the oe aluminum bars?

  2. #2
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    The bottom line is if you do not trust it, do not ride it.
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  3. #3
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    If you're worried about shelling out money, than you should probably follow the age old addage for bike components "The more expensive it is, the more you'll have to spend to replace it".

    Unless you're racing or being a weight weenie, I'd just beat up some aluminum components for a while until you get more comfortable on your bike. Just my opinion.

  4. #4
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    From my experience with carbon, I trust it, but some of the info I have read on mtbr makes carbon sound like it is a ticking time bomb cause the damage is not always noticeable and can then fail on you later when you least expect it. I would think for the money, it is more durable than aluminum.

  5. #5
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    I've been running Easton carbon bars on my AM (Monkeylite DH) & XC hardtail (Monkeylite SL) builds for years now. No problem whatsoever. It's not a matter of material, it's a matter of build quality.

    And BTW, I ride the same trails on both bikes but at different speeds and choosing different lines so, no, it's not a problem. Moreover, I love the added comfort it adds on the hardtail and wouldn't look back.
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  6. #6
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    The weakest parts on my bike are the magnesium clamps and assembly on my Avid Juicy Ultimate brakes. I've crashed and never broken the carbon fiber brake levers, nor damaged my Easton Monkeylite carbon bars. I pull up hard on the handlebars on climbs and can feel them flex (which feels good to know it'll flex for me on the descents and long rides too). This is the third time I'm having to buy a new brake assembly because of brittle magnesium. With all the money I spent, I could have afforded some other model of brakes by now.

    I've used the same USE Alien carbon seatpost through two bikes, and replaced two metal seatpost clamps on it.

    After several years of abuse, the flexible carbon fiber chainstays on my old first-generation Cannondale Scalpel looked a little shredded, but they never broke. The rest of the rear end developed some problems that weren't worth fixing, but I still have the frame intact on my shop wall.

    Running 185mm cranks, I've whacked my Time ATAC XS carbon pedals on rocks and roots many times and they are still working reliably for me, best pedals I've ever owned.

    Carbon fiber is tougher than a lot of lightweight metals.
    Last edited by TunicaTrails; 12-23-2010 at 09:05 AM.

  7. #7
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    I broke a set of carbon bars once, they broke right at the brake lever clamp, sent me to the ground hard. never used carbon again, not on a single component (not even the headset spacers i used to have, lol)

  8. #8
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    My experience is that when it breaks at a clamp/contact point, installation is at fault.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by PissedOffCil
    My experience is that when it breaks at a clamp/contact point, installation is at fault.
    That might be true for most cases, but I did mine with a torque wrench to spec, so I stopped trusting carbon anyway.

  10. #10
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    I gotta say that after reading your responses, I do feel better about my purchase. Thanks!

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Luigiugueto
    That might be true for most cases, but I did mine with a torque wrench to spec, so I stopped trusting carbon anyway.
    Because you had a bad experience with carbon doesn't make it flawed. You didn't mention the brand of the bar so I'll give myself the privilege to doubt their QA... Hehehe

    We have all seen aluminium or steel parts break for different reasons, as I said it's not a matter of material but rather construction quality.

    FWIW, on a bad crash at high speed on my AM bike I banged my Monkeylite DH. The rock hit the grip, shredded through it and then scratched the carbon underneath. The bar is still working as it should so I'm not worried at all that carbon is suitable for AM or even DH for that matter.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by PissedOffCil
    Because you had a bad experience with carbon doesn't make it flawed. You didn't mention the brand of the bar so I'll give myself the privilege to doubt their QA... Hehehe

    We have all seen aluminium or steel parts break for different reasons, as I said it's not a matter of material but rather construction quality.

    FWIW, on a bad crash at high speed on my AM bike I banged my Monkeylite DH. The rock hit the grip, shredded through it and then scratched the carbon underneath. The bar is still working as it should so I'm not worried at all that carbon is suitable for AM or even DH for that matter.
    I didn't say it was flawed, just said I dont personally trust it. By the way, the bars were Answer Protaper....
    I'm glad you've got good experiences man! thankfully your bar has taken the beating better than mine did!

    cheers

  13. #13
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    Carbon is cool. Very cool. Do I use it for my bars? Nope. There are a few factors that can DRAMATICALLY impact the life of a set of cf bars. 1) how tight you run your clamps on your brakes, shifters, etc, and 2) the clamp interface with the stem and the bars. Many stems have a fairly ovalized cavity for the bars, so that they will pinch them hard and keep them in place. This can, over time, cause micro cracks in the resin binder that holds the fiber bundles together. Also, if the edges of the stem's bar cavity are not rounded correctly, they cause a stress concentrator right at that joint. The constant fatiguing at the same exact position without spreading the load over a larger area is probably the worst offender in broken bars. Some stem manufacturers have even started making carbon bar approved stems for that reason. Very subtle changes in the shape, but very big changes in lifespan.

    Bottom line, check your equipment. Make sure you don't crush your bars without mercy when you tighten your levers, shifters, and stem. Make sure that the edges of your stem are shaped so that they are not going to concentrate every bit of the force right along that seam. Check your bars every few rides for micro cracks. They'll be super tiny usually, but most of the time they're still visible. Then go ride.
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  14. #14
    g3h6o3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Luigiugueto
    I didn't say it was flawed, just said I dont personally trust it. By the way, the bars were Answer Protaper....
    I'm glad you've got good experiences man! thankfully your bar has taken the beating better than mine did!

    cheers
    Reading the reviews, breaking at the shifter seems common : http://www.mtbr.com/cat/controls/han...66_123crx.aspx
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by lamb
    From my experience with carbon, I trust it, but some of the info I have read on mtbr makes carbon sound like it is a ticking time bomb cause the damage is not always noticeable and can then fail on you later when you least expect it. I would think for the money, it is more durable than aluminum.
    My advice, don't rely on MTBR armchair scientists to tell you whether carbon is or isn't safe. It's a great place for information, but not that level.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by lamb
    Should I just shut up and ride until it breaks???
    If you're worrying about it, swap it out. Having it niggle away while you're riding will do far more damage to your riding time than a part failure that may never happened. Best go back to the old ones and stop worrying.

    #On carbon. My experience of carbon bars is that they are less tolerant of bad mechanics than alu or steel bars.
    Other than that they are a wash. A big point impact (say, sharp rocks coming in at speed with a rider landing on top of them) will kill them, but that kills alu bars too.

  17. #17
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by fotu
    I've been sweating over the carbon crank that's coming stock on my new all mountain rigg. I just cant imagine that a carbon crank is suitable for the more aggressive end of the all mountain spectrum.
    Four wheels move the body.
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  19. #19
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    Buy them off a reputable company and they will be fine.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by fotu
    I bet if there was a website dedicated to cracked aluminum, it would have a lot more failures than that page...

  21. #21
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    I completely trust carbon handlebars. I do not like carbon seatposts, as they are harder to setup, not much lighter, if at all, then a proven Thomson. Frame to seatpost interface is just not made for carbon.
    And I have seen too many cracked chainstays on a variety of frames to ever get arsed to get a frame with carbon bits down there. Maybe in a few years they will figure everything out. Aluminum for FS and titanium for HT are good enough.
    Cranks - I am sure they are solid enough, but value proposition over XTR is just not there. XTR and SLX are proven reliable.

  22. #22
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    I have and use a lot of carbon parts. No problems
    with Bontrager and Easton carbon bars. I haven't
    really had any problems with any of my carbon
    parts. I have read and heard of problems with
    Answer carbon bars and NEXT carbon cranks. I
    have always felt if carbon is good enough to use
    on a F18 jet fighter than it is fine for a bicycle.

    Best, John

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Kuhl
    have always felt if carbon is good enough to use
    on a F18 jet fighter than it is fine for a bicycle.
    Next time F18 rolls down a rocky ravine after its pilot had ejected - and does not need to be replaced, that would make for a very relevant analogy.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Luigiugueto
    I broke a set of carbon bars once, they broke right at the brake lever clamp, sent me to the ground hard. never used carbon again, not on a single component (not even the headset spacers i used to have, lol)
    Man- if you ever break an aluminum part, you'll have to go all Ti. God forbid you ever break a Ti part. You'll have to quit biking.

    As for me, I've beaten the crap out of my monkeylight handle bar for almost 8 years straight now. They look pretty beat up, but still work as well as ever. I'm going carbon frame/bar/wheels on my next bike.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Kuhl
    I
    have always felt if carbon is good enough to use
    on a F18 jet fighter than it is fine for a bicycle.
    The Carbon on MTBs is nowhere near that standard, I've cut up Giant and SC frames, if a dude at McDonnell ever built a part with that much filler in it he'd get the sack.

    But bikes are much easier structurally. They're never going to hit a bird at 700knots, or get friction heating at 900knots, or suffer a few tons of recoil and vibrations when firing it's main gun... or... or...

    Where was I again?

  26. #26
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    The main thing to keep in mind concerning carbon is that it is not ductile like metal. Meaning it will not bend, it will just simply break. That being said, one of the smoothest bikes I've ever ridden was a cannodale scalpel ultimate, and a good part of it was carbon fiber.

  27. #27
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    Yeah, so having ridden a bike with flexible carbon fiber chainstays, how can you say such a thing?

    Quote Originally Posted by RBowles
    The main thing to keep in mind concerning carbon is that it is not ductile like metal. Meaning it will not bend, it will just simply break. That being said, one of the smoothest bikes I've ever ridden was a cannodale scalpel ultimate, and a good part of it was carbon fiber.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by TunicaTrails
    Yeah, so having ridden a bike with flexible carbon fiber chainstays, how can you say such a thing?
    Flexible is not the same as ductile.

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by fotu
    This site is funny and irrelevant. Most of the posted pictures are after an impact...
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  30. #30
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    One other thing about handlebars is that in my experience they do not take the blunt of the force in a wreck. Usually the grips, shifter, or brakes hit first.

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by PissedOffCil
    This site is funny and irrelevant. Most of the posted pictures are after an impact...
    Hello McFly!?!

    The OP says he wrecks a lot. How is that irrelevant? I have never seen an aluminum bar fail like that. Or an aluminum steer tube separate from the fork.

    Things fail. It is not like every single carbon bar will fail. But carbon fails like no other material: instantly and completely, with no warning from minimal damage or impacts.

  32. #32
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    carbon bars are awesome. totally agree with the dude who said dont listen to the e material engineers. if the bar fails at a shifter or break clamp it is usually the users fault. dont neccisarilly install to torque specs, install so the clamps can rotate with a bit of force.

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by b-kul
    carbon bars are awesome. totally agree with the dude who said dont listen to the e material engineers. if the bar fails at a shifter or break clamp it is usually the users fault. dont neccisarilly install to torque specs, install so the clamps can rotate with a bit of force.
    We are all entitled to the parts we want. I, however, don't want critical parts on my bike failing catastrophically. Either by my own errors, or the manufacturers'. Seat post, fine. Brake levers, fine. Chainstays, fine. But bars, stems, frames, steer tubes, forks...I don't want to have to worry that maybe any of these parts might fail because they are a little too light, or I crashed, or were torqued a bit too much. Screw that. I want to shred. And there are enough things to do piloting a bike without wondering if my handlebar is about to separate into both of my hands.

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by fotu
    Seat post, fine. Brake levers, fine. Chainstays, fine. But bars, stems, frames, steer tubes, forks...
    so youd take carbon seatstays or seatpost but not bars? if either fail you are in a world of hurt. and i find it funny that people use carbons specific torque specs as a negative, thats like not buying a tv because it is dificult to wire.

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by b-kul
    so youd take carbon seatstays or seatpost but not bars? if either fail you are in a world of hurt. and i find it funny that people use carbons specific torque specs as a negative, thats like not buying a tv because it is dificult to wire.
    Huh? I disagree, but only because you make no sense. Aside from your argument and analogy, we are on the same page. Handlebars breaking are way worse than a seatpost or stays. And your analogy fails because you compared setting up a TV to a bicycle thus, you are way outside design tolerances. A better analogy would be people not wanting low profile tires on their cars because you have to be much more diligent about maintaining correct tire pressure. However, that analogy also breaks down since with low profile tires, being slightly outside of spec leads to a flat tire, sending you head first into a jersey barrier, and being engulfed in flames. Whereas there is a very low chance of immolation from over-torquing your weight-weeny carbon bars.

    So you see b-cool, we really agree about most things. It is only the points that you are trying to make that are non-sensical.

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by fotu
    Huh? I disagree, but only because you make no sense. Aside from your argument and analogy, we are on the same page. Handlebars breaking are way worse than a seatpost or stays. And your analogy fails because you compared setting up a TV to a bicycle thus, you are way outside design tolerances. A better analogy would be people not wanting low profile tires on their cars because you have to be much more diligent about maintaining correct tire pressure. However, that analogy also breaks down since with low profile tires, being slightly outside of spec leads to a flat tire, sending you head first into a jersey barrier, and being engulfed in flames. Whereas there is a very low chance of immolation from over-torquing your weight-weeny carbon bars.

    So you see b-cool, we really agree about most things. It is only the points that you are trying to make that are non-sensical.
    ok, so i guess i was unclear. i disagree with you. i cant see how a bar failing could be worse than a chainstay or seat post snapping. your days ruined any way you slice it. and i think my analogy is fine, in either case the user shies away from buying the product because it is more dificult to set up, not maintain as you suggested.

    so tofu i actually agree with nothing you say.

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by b-kul
    ok, so i guess i was unclear. i disagree with you. i cant see how a bar failing could be worse than a chainstay or seat post snapping. your days ruined any way you slice it. and i think my analogy is fine, in either case the user shies away from buying the product because it is more dificult to set up, not maintain as you suggested.

    so tofu i actually agree with nothing you say.
    I am surprised the difference in experience between a snapped bar and snapped chainstay is so difficult to visualize.

    And no, your analogy is not fine. Your analogy has a broken clavical and dislocated jaw after its proverbial carbon bars snapped after hitting the metaphorical step-down of comparitive assertions.

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by fotu
    I am surprised the difference in experience between a snapped bar and snapped chainstay is so difficult to visualize.

    And no, your analogy is not fine. Your analogy has a broken clavical and dislocated jaw after its proverbial carbon bars snapped after hitting the metaphorical step-down of comparitive assertions.
    not sure how to make it more clear. specific torque specs on carbon bar = more dificult time setting it up, leads to individual not purchasing. complicated wiring on tv = more dificult time setting it up. leads to individual not purchasing. do you get it now? both involve the product being more dificult to set up thus leading the consumer not buy the product. results of improper setup are not being compaired here and yo're right, failure of any unit would lead to very different situations. but thats not what im talking about.

    as for snapping a bar versus a chainstay what do you see as the bid difference? in an extreme case either one is gonning to lead to you smashing you head and nuts on the stem, the only difference will be if you are still rolling or not.

  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by b-kul
    not sure how to make it more clear. specific torque specs on carbon bar = more dificult time setting it up, leads to individual not purchasing. complicated wiring on tv = more dificult time setting it up. leads to individual not purchasing. do you get it now? both involve the product being more dificult to set up thus leading the consumer not buy the product. results of improper setup are not being compaired here and yo're right, failure of any unit would lead to very different situations. but thats not what im talking about.

    as for snapping a bar versus a chainstay what do you see as the bid difference? in an extreme case either one is gonning to lead to you smashing you head and nuts on the stem, the only difference will be if you are still rolling or not.

    Ok, I am going outside right now and doing an experiment. First, I will hit a drop without a rear wheel, and then with out a handle bar, and I will report back to this tread. If there is no reply from fotu in the next few hours I am probably dead, and one can assume that b-kul is right, and it is not safe to watch tv without setting it up correctly, as there are serious, life-threatening consequences.

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by fotu
    Ok, I am going outside right now and doing an experiment. First, I will hit a drop without a rear wheel, and then with out a handle bar, and I will report back to this tread. If there is no reply from fotu in the next few hours I am probably dead, and one can assume that b-kul is right, and it is not safe to watch tv without setting it up correctly, as there are serious, life-threatening consequences.
    either you have very selective reading or you simply cannot read. i expressly said i was NOT comparing the consequenes of setting either up improperly. and your experiment makes no sense, if the was to be a fuilure it would be on the impact of landing the drop, not before you even hit it.

  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by fotu
    Hello McFly!?!

    The OP says he wrecks a lot. How is that irrelevant? I have never seen an aluminum bar fail like that. Or an aluminum steer tube separate from the fork.

    Things fail. It is not like every single carbon bar will fail. But carbon fails like no other material: instantly and completely, with no warning from minimal damage or impacts.
    It's irrelevant because if it breaks in a crash you need not to worry about the bike as much as you need to worry about your bones. Sure it might cost more to replace but if that's your concern I'll leave you to ride Walmart bikes.

    Most of what is posted on that site is people crashing in cars and trees at 30+ km/h and ending up with a broken bike... The same would happen with aluminim, titanium and steel. I've had a friend's steel bike just collapse under him, it doesn't make all steel bikes dangerous. Same applies to carbon, important is the quality of the construction, not the material.

    Now stop being so defensive and angry, it's Christmas.
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  42. #42
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    I would like to know how many of you have seen or
    had a pair of carbon bars break? Not read, or heard
    about, or know someone, but saw a pair break. I've
    never seen it happen, even when some of my friends
    went down hard.

    Best, John

  43. #43
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    Oh and I forgot. If you crash hard enough
    you can break anything no matter what its
    made of.

    Best, John

  44. #44
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    True although the dictionary definition of the word is beside the point. Nobody will be melting down or hammering their bikes into something else, I don't suppose.

    One of the best things about carbon fiber is that it is flexible, not brittle, and good layup can be made to flex in a certain direction.

    Quote Originally Posted by Curmy
    Flexible is not the same as ductile.

  45. #45
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    even if you torque things to spec, clamps on carbon still create stress risers. That's most likely where they'll break if they're going to break. It doesn't have to be improper installation.

    Despite that, I think carbon bars are the future, and will be mainstream on everything from xc to DH bikes in several years. At the moment though, I don't see much point - suspension and tires will make a way bigger difference in damping then the difference between carbon and alu bars, and bar diameter isn't wide enough to mean major weight savings between the two. Carbon bars on a road bike - I can feel the difference. On a suspension mountain bike with <45psi in their tires? No way Jose.

  46. #46
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    I have been riding carbon bars for years and laydown my bike consistently in rocky terrain. All of the guys I ride with hammer them as well. They resist crashing just fine. Just be smart about it; if you have a gouge in your bar, replace it. If it is just a superficial scratch, don't worry about it. The biggest risk is on the install IMHO. Use a friction paste and torque slightly below spec.

    Also, get a bar that works for your intended use. I am a heavier guy and occasionally due lift runs on my bike so I went with the SIXCs and I shouldn't be running EC90's for example.

    Stop worrying about it and enjoy!

  47. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by William42
    Carbon bars on a road bike - I can feel the difference. On a suspension mountain bike with <45psi in their tires? No way Jose.
    I ride aluminium on my roadie because the whole bike is carbon and absorbs the vibrations, adding the handlebar extra won't make much difference.

    On the other hand my MTB are aluminium. On the hardtail the carbon vibration dampening is especially noticable. Not that much on the AM but I bought it cheap (60$ at Jenson) and mostly for the bend that I knew I would like (Having ridden it on the HT).
    Check out my SportTracks plugins for some training aid software.

  48. #48
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    So, I did my experiment and I didn't die. Thank goodness! B-kul is totally right, my experiment makes no sense, as my bike wasn't even ridable so I couldn't actually test which would suck more, a chainstay failure or a handlebar failure. I am pretty sure I made the point of saying everyone is entitled to ride whatever parts they want, and I am expressing my personal preference based on the things I have seen or heard. The OP asked for opinions and I offered mine. Others on here seem to be set on exposing how stupid my preferences are.

    I think it is kind of funny that I am being accused of being defensive by those making defensive comments about what is relevant, what the equality of suckage between different types of component failure, etc. As if they are avoiding feelings of doubt about their own choices of handlebar material. Hmmm...compensating much?

    Also, I have seen carbon fail. At the burlington city criterium a few years ago, I saw a dude's fork fall off while he was turning left. His name is Glen Swan (sp) for those that are wondering. I don't care who's fault it was it sucked for him, and the accident would not have happened if he had a steel fork.

    Also, not all of the wrecks on bustedcarbon are impact related. The disintegrated stumpjumper on the second page apparently just disintegrated with a guy riding it. Whatever.

    Like shiggy said, if you trust this crap-on fiber, than go for it. I don't. And I would take a chainstay failure over a handlebar failure anyday. I have broken a set of scott aluminum handlebars and it sucked. I also totally fractured the chainstay on a first gen karate monkey, and I didn't even notice it. I just noticed the frame got a bit flexier, and I was able to ride it home.

    Just my 2 cents, sorry about my lame experiment results. And Merry Christmas to those that observe it.

  49. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by b-kul
    carbon bars are awesome. totally agree with the dude who said dont listen to the e material engineers. if the bar fails at a shifter or break clamp it is usually the users fault. dont neccisarilly install to torque specs, install so the clamps can rotate with a bit of force.
    Well, being robust against user errors is an important part of being robust. Not a big issue with handlebars, but when you readjust seat clamp in the middle of the night, after riding for a few hours - it is nice not to have to worry about torque specs too much.

    You may have the strongest part in the world - but if it requires Ph.D. in mechanical engineering to use correctly, under exactly controlled conditions, all the strength is useless.

    Carbon chainstays on many bikes do crack. People screw up their expensive carbon frames installing front derailleur clamps. Readjusting a carbon seatpost is a pain in the ass. That aint e-speculation.

  50. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by TunicaTrails
    True although the dictionary definition of the word is beside the point. Nobody will be melting down or hammering their bikes into something else, I don't suppose.

    One of the best things about carbon fiber is that it is flexible, not brittle, and good layup can be made to flex in a certain direction.
    You should read some mechanical engineering text about the difference between flexibility and ductility, not dictionary. This distinction is very much relevant in this discussion.

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