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  1. #1
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    Carbon bars safe?

    I'm looking at the various mtb carbon riser bars that are available and in so doing I checked the mtb reviews and was concerned about the failures that some riders have experienced. I realize that proper torquing and installation is critical, but it does make me nervous. Are there bars that have better track records than others? Maybe a lightweight aluminum bar is better for peace of mind.
    Last edited by jrsbike; 07-24-2004 at 12:21 PM. Reason: typo

  2. #2
    The Ultimate Niche
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    Imho

    I rode FSA carbon risers for about a year and a half...didn't have any problems with them. However, I never fully trusted them because of the horror stories I've heard about carbon risers. I've even seen them fail in person...ain't pretty. And as a bike tech I see broken bars in the shop every once in a while...but not too much recently which leads me to believe that Carbon Fiber has got'n better than it used to be. Still your shouldn't ride carbon bars longer that about 2-3 years. But as for me, in the end I went back to alloy risers just for peace on mind as my fear of carbon bars was effecting my riding. Weight reduction is important...but in the end you got to stick with your gut and go with what your trust. BTW, I like the Easton Monkey Lite alloy bars and the Bontragers...Syncross is nice too. As far as Carbon Fiber I like anything Easton and the FSA...I've heard good things about the Maxxis but never used one myself. My two cents...good luck!

  3. #3
    I already rode that
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    Quote Originally Posted by jrsbike
    I'm looking at the various mtb carbon riser bars that are available and in so doing I checked the mtb reviews and was concerned about the failures that some riders have experienced. I realize that proper torquing and installation is critical, but it does make me nervous. Are there bars that have better track records than others? Maybe a lightweight aluminum bar is better for peace of mind.
    I have an easton monkeylite bar I've been using for 3 years now. Yea proper installation is always a good thing. My friend has the same handlebars and stem as me but when the shop installed his they put the 4 bolt stem faceplate on a lil crooked and his bar cracked but he is still riding it and it hasnt failed yet.
    I do alot of hard xc/trail riding too.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by jrsbike
    I'm looking at the various mtb carbon riser bars that are available and in so doing I checked the mtb reviews and was concerned about the failures that some riders have experienced. I realize that proper torquing and installation is critical, but it does make me nervous. Are there bars that have better track records than others? Maybe a lightweight aluminum bar is better for peace of mind.
    I guess it depends how much you weight and the type of riding (in addition the installation tips).
    I have a carbon post and bar, but I'm only 165 pounds and a finesse type of xc rider. My bar also has the "safety" inserts at the stem area; I think it's aluminum. And I don't torque the crap out of the clamps.
    Carbon failure is not pretty, no siree.

  5. #5
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    Hey Cyclesmith...

    I've heard the 2-3 yr. replacement on carbon, too, but never really understood it since carbon fiber evidently does not suffer accumulated stresses like aluminum. Any idea as to whether this caution is warranted? Also, what's the lifespan for the really lightweight Al bars? I have a synchros 140g 24" flat bar with a little over a year of hard riding (I weigh 185#) and I'm wondering what its life span might be.

    Thanks.

  6. #6
    Trail rider and racer
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    I have been using carbon bars for quite a while, together with carbon seatposts and indeed a full carbon stem (on my road bike) and frankly think that there is nothing to worry about. I have had plenty of falls and a few spills and haven't had a single breakage or been really concerned about the bars.

    Aluminum bars and posts can break.
    Trev!

  7. #7
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    I've been running Easton carbon flat bars for over 3 years now. Maybe one or two minor crashes on it and still no problems. Just got a Race Face carbon riser for a new bike build and I made sure all the parts interfaces were filed down smooth (brake lever clamps, stem clamp, ODI lock-on collars). Like somebody already mentioned, It may depend on your riding style and weight. I'm relatively light at 140lbs and ride cross country, nothing "hard-core" like hucking or lift downhilling. For those disciplines, I'd go with an aluminium bar.

  8. #8
    The Ultimate Niche
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    I've heard the 2-3 yr. replacement on carbon, too, but never really understood it since carbon fiber evidently does not suffer accumulated stresses like aluminum. Any idea as to whether this caution is warranted? Also, what's the lifespan for the really lightweight Al bars? I have a synchros 140g 24" flat bar with a little over a year of hard riding (I weigh 185#) and I'm wondering what its life span might be.

    I believe that’s an issue of Manufacturer warranty more than anything else. Carbon manufacturers don't recommend usage over about 2-3 years (depending on company and item) I’ve seen guys use carbon stuff for far longer...but after a few years the Manufacturer won't stand behind the product anymore, because of the shorter fatigue life. Alloy also has a fatigue life but it is a few years longer. Usually about 5-7 years depending on the alloy, and thickness. That doesn’t mean it will break all of a sudden, but after a certain period of time the risk of failure goes up exponentially both with carbon and alloy respectfully. Alloy bars can brake too, but that’s usually because manufacturers are making bars out of very thin alloy, giving them a fatigue life much like carbon. I always recommend replacing carbon and ultra-light thin alloy items after a few years…it’s a risk (but one that most people are willing to take). Better safe than sorry.

  9. #9
    nightriding is fun !
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    MaXm makes very light carbon bars, that can even be cut to size and accept bar ends.
    www.maxmcomponents.com/
    Titanium or Bust !

  10. #10
    nightriding is fun !
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    Quote Originally Posted by jrsbike
    I'm looking at the various mtb carbon riser bars that are available and in so doing I checked the mtb reviews and was concerned about the failures that some riders have experienced. I realize that proper torquing and installation is critical, but it does make me nervous. Are there bars that have better track records than others? Maybe a lightweight aluminum bar is better for peace of mind.
    The best bar for peace of mind is well-made titanium . Look at Moots f.e.
    Alu bars cannot be trusted after a fall.
    Titanium or Bust !

  11. #11
    Just passing through....
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    Quote Originally Posted by danK
    I guess it depends how much you weight and the type of riding (in addition the installation tips).
    I have a carbon post and bar, but I'm only 165 pounds and a finesse type of xc rider. My bar also has the "safety" inserts at the stem area; I think it's aluminum. And I don't torque the crap out of the clamps.
    Carbon failure is not pretty, no siree.
    I don't think the weight of the rider is as much of a factor as some think. Carbon bars are tested at a much higher load than Al bars are, and are in fact stronger. Failure problems come when there are cracks, fissures, or other weak points, which are sometimes not visible. Al bars are not as susceptible to such flaws. In any case, it probably won't fail any quicker with a heavier vs. lighter rider.
    If you want to play with electricity, more power to ya......

  12. #12
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    I want to thank everyone for their replys. Its been a lot of help. jrsbike

  13. #13
    And if not, why not?
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    Good job!

    I absolutely endorse easton carbon bars. I'm still riding the original monkeylights that I got in 2001. I went from beginner to expert on these bars, and all the wrecks in between. The bars have actually outlasted the frame I originally hung them on! I only own one mtb at a time, so I don't go easy on my stuff. I can't speak for the other brands, but I would be surprised if the maxm bars weren't also good, and they are a little cheaper than the monkeylight SL.

  14. #14
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    I used to work at a composite engineering company. I am not an engineer, but worked closely with them. Carbon fiber bars are pretty much the same as any material, it really depends on how they are layed up and rather they are built for maximum strength or really lightweight. We built a bar that had an outer layer of material used in bullet proof vests. It was very cool in that if the carbon let go this outer sock would maintain the structural integrity. What would happen is your bar would get soft, but would not break off. Non-catastrophic failure is a beautiful thing. Just make sure your carbon bars were built for strength, if that is what you need them to do. A properly designed composite structure should be able take as much or more flexing cycles than aluminum or titanium, but you do need to watch impacts on sharp objects.

    hope this helps,
    Craig
    the Gorge

  15. #15
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    don't trust carbon bars nor seatposts, on a MTB

    "...A properly designed composite structure should be able take as much or more flexing cycles than aluminum or titanium...."

    this comment should be true, but real life observations seem to show otherwise.

    if you're
    not the most cafreful "wrench'"
    or
    is a heavy rider (over 160#)
    or
    is an"'aggresive" rider,
    then do not trust carbon handle bars nor carbon seatpost (nort any light weight aluminum alloy bars or seat posts).

    the only aluminum parts i trust are made by Thompson, other wise i use crmo steel or titanium.

    when safety is an issue, I'll spring the the extra bucks for good ti. parts (like from Moots) or when weight doesn't matter, use steel or stronger (heavier) engineered aluminum parts.

    Thompson al. seatposts (i have two) are the only seat post i've not yet bent or broke.

    I've aready bent a Mamahon ti. seatpost (but bent ti. isn't same risk as bent al.) so I'll be getting a Moots ti. lay back seat post for my MTBs and road bike.

    Listen to that "Big Bad Wolf" "...the best bar for peace of mind is well-made titanium . Look at Moots"

    $170 spent on a good ti. (or steel, if you can find "light" steel) part saves more money and trouble than having to pay for surgery and hospital costs from try to save a few bucks on light al. carbon is super strong and light until it shatters with no warning. A good ti. or steel bar or post will last far longer than al., even something so well engineered like Thompson's
    Last edited by TrailNut; 07-28-2004 at 10:49 AM.

  16. #16
    inner peace to make peace
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    Well, are carbon bars durable and safe?
    “Everyday is a good day,” from the Blue Cliff Records, Yun-men (864-949 AD).

  17. #17
    nightriding is fun !
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    Funny you should ask that.. I just mounted a raceface carbon bar on my Merlin..

    I will let you know but I have an extralite carbon bar on another bike which is going into its third year now .
    Last edited by Big Bad Wolf; 01-31-2008 at 08:18 AM.
    Titanium or Bust !

  18. #18
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    How did you even remember this thread still existed after 3.5 years? Did you have it bookmarked with today's (yesterday's?) date marked in your outlook calender to remind you to follow up on this one?

    Quote Originally Posted by TrailNut
    "carbon is super strong and light until it shatters with no warning.
    Dude, I was just sitting there in my living room and I heard this noise coming from the garage... I ran out to see what it was, and my carbon bars, post, cranks, headset spacers, all just shattered simultaneously... Crazy...

    Should've shelled out for some Ti bits...

    Seriously though, I've been riding the same carbon widgets for a few years now, and are actually on my 2nd frame. My first frame, being alu- cracked. Imagine that.

    Doesn't anyone think, that by now, if carbon junk was inherently unsafe, that component and carbon frame manufacturers would have been sued by now?

    BM
    "I've come to believe that common sense is not that common" - Matt Timmerman

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmadau
    How did you even remember this thread still existed after 3.5 years? Did you have it bookmarked with today's (yesterday's?) date marked in your outlook calender to remind you to follow up on this one?



    Dude, I was just sitting there in my living room and I heard this noise coming from the garage... I ran out to see what it was, and my carbon bars, post, cranks, headset spacers, all just shattered simultaneously... Crazy...

    Should've shelled out for some Ti bits...

    Seriously though, I've been riding the same carbon widgets for a few years now, and are actually on my 2nd frame. My first frame, being alu- cracked. Imagine that.

    Doesn't anyone think, that by now, if carbon junk was inherently unsafe, that component and carbon frame manufacturers would have been sued by now?

    BM
    we all know carbon's strong, but
    isn't carbon prone to cracks when struck and shattering when it fails?
    some of us, either due to lack of finess or penchant for aggressive descending, crash onto rocks now and then (for NorCal riders, think Downieville's Butcher Creek-2nd Divide).
    so i've been buying al. alloy part and, when avail., titanium parts.
    I ten years I've broken or bent four aluminum seapost or seatpost clamps (I've still have not broken my Thompson Elite).
    now I am considering buying, agast, an all carbon frame, a 575.
    I'm also concerned about carbon brake levers (Oro Puros) and will order alloy spare levers, just as a reserve.
    i've been shopping for 27" wide riser bars...hard to find them in titanium (or even in al.) so I may well end up buying a carbon bar, Mokeylite or what ever
    “Everyday is a good day,” from the Blue Cliff Records, Yun-men (864-949 AD).

  20. #20
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    If you can dig up that carbon fibre bar review from a few years back that was in...what, German Bike I think... they tested the bars and found them (from memory) 30% stronger than the equivalent Alu bar from the same manufacturer.

    I think CF got a bad rep in the beginning of parts, but is now pretty safe...I know I trust it for my stem spacers Maybe someday I'll spring for a CF bar as well...we'll see....although a nice ti bar would also be pretty nice...

    Tim

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by TrailNut
    we all know carbon's strong, but
    isn't carbon prone to cracks when struck and shattering when it fails?
    some of us, either due to lack of finess or penchant for aggressive descending, crash onto rocks now and then (for NorCal riders, think Downieville's Butcher Creek-2nd Divide).
    so i've been buying al. alloy part and, when avail., titanium parts.
    I ten years I've broken or bent four aluminum seapost or seatpost clamps (I've still have not broken my Thompson Elite).
    now I am considering buying, agast, an all carbon frame, a 575.
    I'm also concerned about carbon brake levers (Oro Puros) and will order alloy spare levers, just as a reserve.
    i've been shopping for 27" wide riser bars...hard to find them in titanium (or even in al.) so I may well end up buying a carbon bar, Mokeylite or what ever
    Well, don't scratches create stress risers on Al parts? Doesn't Al fatigue no matter how gentle you are on your equipment? All parts break, reputable companies test the snot out of their sutff before the unleash it on the public. One that's been out for a while (easton, for example), imo, can be trusted for the carbon parts as well as their al parts. Buying for a botique gucci company, that's small, and is relatively new is a risk no matter if they are selling Al or carbon, or even Ti, imo.

    BM
    "I've come to believe that common sense is not that common" - Matt Timmerman

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmadau
    Well, don't scratches create stress risers on Al parts? Doesn't Al fatigue no matter how gentle you are on your equipment? All parts break, reputable companies test the snot out of their sutff before the unleash it on the public. One that's been out for a while (easton, for example), imo, can be trusted for the carbon parts as well as their al parts. Buying for a botique gucci company, that's small, and is relatively new is a risk no matter if they are selling Al or carbon, or even Ti, imo.

    BM
    hmm that is true.

    I killed an al. rear dererailler clamp on a crash. an al. brake just fell off when tightening, from old age i guess.

    i paid $200+ for a custom ti. seatpost from a boutique...and the post is strong, worked well, but the clamp's made of aluminum: last mtbing trip to Sedona ("200 miles of single tracks") finally killed the clamp. now i'm on a Thompson for less then 1/2 that price.

    fine, i'll go buy some fancy Easton carbon h'bar and see for myself. at least i might get a story if something happens.

    by the way, Seven Cycles custom handlebar's really durable, but one has to get fitted...three years later i want a wider bar, LOL

    my LBS has Easton carbons on stock, so there i'll go...
    “Everyday is a good day,” from the Blue Cliff Records, Yun-men (864-949 AD).

  23. #23
    nightriding is fun !
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    I think its safe to say that the risk of breaking reputable stuff like Easton, Race Face and other high-end carbon widgedrys - when being used for what they are intended - is relatively low.
    Nevertheless, when I have a crash which involves alu or carbon bars (I don't use alu anymore but include it just to make my point) I WILL replace the handlebar.
    With titanium I just wip off the dust and continue.
    Titanium or Bust !

  24. #24
    Elitest thrill junkie
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    Quote Originally Posted by Big Bad Wolf
    With titanium I just wip off the dust and continue.[/FONT][/SIZE]
    Yeah, cause titanium doesn't have a fatigue limit.
    "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.

  25. #25
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    If I was filthy rich, one of my hobbies would be to test stuff like this. I mean, I've had at two good 30mph crashes on carbon bars, and handful of slow speed crashes, and never damaged a bar, in my four years of riding. I would argue that if you crashed in a way that the bars somewhere between the stem and the grips took some kind of fatal damage from a rock, it would kill your bar no matter what material they were made from, as long as they were the same kind of bar, ie. lightwieght carbon vs. lightweight al. Comparing a 99g carbon flat bar to a 200g al bar is not a fair comparison.

    I'd build a rig that I could drop some kind of weight on bunch of different bars, see the damage, whether it's dented, cracked, or splintered, and then secure the bar in a stem and push on the grip until it broke in two and measure the force. That'd be fun. Anyone want to fund my research project?

    BM
    "I've come to believe that common sense is not that common" - Matt Timmerman

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