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  1. #1
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    Carbon Fiber Handlebar Comfort...

    I generally have used aluminum handlebars on my mtb's however am considering trying a carbon fiber riser on my 29er. The goal isn't weight really but always looking for the best shock damping when riding off road.

    So my question is...for those that have experimented and switched to a carbon fiber bar...do you notice any more comfort?

    Lastly...I am looking for a CF riser handlebar...likely one I can use bar ends on for another hand position.
    Handlebar mfr's aren't real clear as to which bars are reinforced on the ends to allow the usable of bar ends. Anybody know which brands and/or models reinforce the ends?

    Thanks.

  2. #2
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    No clear answer on this.
    No 2 mfgr's carbon bars are a like.
    Some will have a little more give...another will be brutally stiff.( aluminum bars are the same way).
    Bar length and stem clamping size can also come into play.
    But...I'd tell you to stick with major mfgr's when it comes to bars....and follow the instruction on mounting ( torquing the stem!) and bar end compatability

  3. #3
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    What the mayor said

  4. #4
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    Also.....
    All materials have a life span.
    That life span...in addition to regular stress and flex cycles....can be seriously shortened by crashes ( this included alloy bars also).
    Handlebars are not a purchase....they are a rental.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by dirtrider7
    I generally have used aluminum handlebars on my mtb's however am considering trying a carbon fiber riser on my 29er. The goal isn't weight really but always looking for the best shock damping when riding off road.

    So my question is...for those that have experimented and switched to a carbon fiber bar...do you notice any more comfort?

    Lastly...I am looking for a CF riser handlebar...likely one I can use bar ends on for another hand position.
    Handlebar mfr's aren't real clear as to which bars are reinforced on the ends to allow the usable of bar ends. Anybody know which brands and/or models reinforce the ends?

    Thanks.
    Riser bars with bar ends?

    That's a no go on the Salsa Carbon riser bars. No go on Race Face carbon riser bars (but yes on their carbon flat bars). Ritchey - yes to bar ends. Some of the Eastons yes, provided you use bar ends with the following type of clamp...

    <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/5315340095/" title="bar_ends_on_Easton by singingsingletracker, on Flickr"><img src="https://farm6.static.flickr.com/5008/5315340095_b64a7a82a4.jpg" width="257" height="466" alt="bar_ends_on_Easton" /></a>

    Syntace Vector Lowrider, but you may not like the bar because it has 12 degree sweep. 660mm width, 25.4mm clamp area and allows for bar ends if you use the insert plugs from Syntace. I cannot attest to dampening properties of carbon riser vs. aluminum riser in the 31.8mm clamp size of any bars, but I can attest to it in the 25.4mm clamp size. In other words, of the 3 carbon riser bars I have tried (Race Face Next, Easton Monkey Lite and the Syntace) - yes, more dampening was felt with the Monkey bars and the Syntace. The Race Face Next was as stiff as a 2 x 4. But it is a very small improvement (the Monkeys and Syntace) when comparing to something like running a 2.4 tubeless at a low psi over a smaller volume tire.

    I'm sure there are others, but those are the ones I know of that take bar ends on carbon riser bars.

    If a carbon riser bar is not your only option, you may consider a stem with more rise and using flat carbon bars which would open up the number of options of using bar ends. You might get more dampening with a flat carbon bar than a riser anyway due to the construction process.
    Last edited by BruceBrown; 01-02-2011 at 06:15 AM.

  6. #6
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    I have 710mm 20mm rise CF Syncros bars with Ergon GP1 grips on my FS ride and I think it definitely dampens vibrations from the rough stuff. Same with the Easton CF bars on my SS.

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    Great responses. Thanks a lot guys. Figured it was a bit like the questionable comfort improvement of a CF versus AL seatpost...probably varies by mfr and set up.

    Mayor...what you wrote makes sense and validates what I kind of thought...hard to quantify based upon your excellent description.

    Bruce you are a font of information as always. Thanks for sharing your considerable experience. Yup...riser with barends...I am not comporting with the fashion police am I? ...instead opting for the best combo I have experienced. See my bar set up below which btw is not excessively stiff especially with a 25.4mm stem clamp dia. I thought a similar CF handlebar maybe even more comfy. Ritchey does indeed make a riser with reinforced ends as I recall...thanks. I believe Profile makes such a riser as well.

    Keep your comments coming please. The truth probably does vary by mfr as the Mayor suggested and appreciate the advice.


  8. #8
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    "So my question is...for those that have experimented and switched to a carbon fiber bar...do you notice any more comfort?"
    - My Monkey Lite Low Rise XC does dampen out the ride slightly but a good set of grips will do more for you than a bar (IMHO).

    "Lastly...I am looking for a CF riser handlebar...likely one I can use bar ends on for another hand position."
    - I've run lock on grips for 2 years and bar ends occassionally without any problem. I'm a 180 lbs and used the bar ends while SSing. So, I think a good quaity bar can handle bar ends if you are careful not to over torque the bolts. My technique for torquing the bar ends was to tighten them until they were snug and then do a quick test ride. If they slipped I'd crank them a 1/4 or 1/2 turn and test again. This process never failed me. BTW, Easton Monkey Lite Bars are not reinforced at the ends and haven't cracked.

    "Handlebars are not a purchase....they are a rental"
    - Totally agree. A new FSA SL-K flat bar is on its way from Tree Fort right now. During my post season bike inspection, I found two wrinkles on the underside of the bar that look suspicious. I don't know if this bar has 1 or 100 rides before failure but it's not worth finding out. My old bar is toast.

  9. #9
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    I run a carbon bar plus Ergon GP1 grips and I find that the GP1 grips do a tremendous job of dampening vibration. I ran them on an aluminum bar for a year before I bought a carbon bar and they nearly completely eliminated any vibration. I bought the carbon handlebar to lower weight and it reduced vibration just a little bit more. I cannot say if just adding a carbon bar would help the same as just adding Ergon GP1's. I kind of doubt it though. I've talked all my friends into buying GP1 grips and they all swear by them now. Best investment for a bike ever.

  10. #10
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    Do I notice a difference? Yes, for sure. I notice it on a rigid or hardtail set up more though, therefore my reason for purchasing depends on frame type - I buy carbon bars and posts for my full suspension to save weight, but on the rigid and HT it's for ride comfort.

    Last ride I had on a "test build" on my Access frame was with an aluminum bar and post. Both changed after the first ride, now sitting collecting dust. I've never felt an aluminum (or scandium for that matter) bar that felt like carbon does. Say what you want about material useage, but aluminum will NEVER behave quite like carbon.

    Biggest shame is that there aren't more carbon "alt bars" out there.


    EDIT - i've only ever used Race Face and Easton. Older Easton stuff, parts with an actual noticeable weave, had more flex in it, imho/ime. Their newer stuff, like Race Face, feels a little stiffer. It's all better than aluminum as far as i'm concerned.
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  11. #11
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    I feel that there is a difference, although like others have said, it is dependent on the manufacterer. I did run Easton carbon downhill bars years ago and they were very, very unforgiving, but the XC version at the time was a noodle. I currently run a Carnegie carbon on my SS and Syntace low rise carbons on my FS bikes. Both offer a good combination of stiffness relative to dampening. I never had a carbon handle bar failure, but had issue with carbon seat posts in the past.

  12. #12
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    Is there a reason you're looking at carbon and aluminum but not titanium?

  13. #13
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    I haven't noticed a difference between AL and carbon. I'll be honest... carbon handlebars are snakeoil as far as price. And frankly, I don't think they dampen enough to make a difference to me.

    If you are running a rigid fork, you might want to try using some vibration dampening on your fork... not your handlebars. Any hardware store will have silicon. Use a piece of old steer tube, Put some wax paper on the inside and underside, and fill it with silicon to make a large plug, about the same size as the I.D. of a fork steer. Once it is cured, insert the silicon plug into your steer. It works fairly well... better than $100 for a carbon bar. Silicon plugs in impreg is common in a lot of other sporting goods to reduce shock and vibration.

  14. #14
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    I bought a set of Eason Monkeylite bars to try and smooth out vibrations, but I can't tell the difference. I had them on my SJ FSR, but for the last year I've been riding my 29er HT with the stock Al bars and really can't say I notice a difference. I use Ergon GP-1L (on both Al and my carbon bars) and they give me the comfort I'm after.

    When I got my Pivot, though, I did swap them over. Even if I can't tell the difference, it'll save a few grams... and hey, I already have the bars, right?
    Last edited by skiahh; 01-02-2011 at 10:30 AM.

  15. #15
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    I have been using a Nashbar brand CF riser handlebar for about 4-5 years. Moved it from my old full suspension 26er over to my new 29er hardtail. Definitely damped some vibrations with improved comfort and confidence compared to the aluminum straight bar.
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  16. #16
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    I agree that grips make a bigger difference. I have Azonic carbon riser bars on my 29er. I love the look and weight of the carbon bars, but the biggest bang for my buck was when I switched out the standard round bolt-on grips for Ergon GX-1.

    Torque is important with carbon bars more than aluminum too. My Ergon bolt-ons have rotated while riding and I've had to increase the bolt torque. You can see the bars conforming under the clamp as you tighten vs aluminum which feels like you can tighten the grips more solidly.

    If you have a fully ridged bike, carbon bars might make more difference than on front suspension.
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    carbon vs titanium

    I also am trying to decide on bars for a new Lynskey build. I have had carpal tunnel surgery, so wrist fatigue and hands numb pretty quick. I had switched to ergons on my 26'er, and that seems to help. Also, my 26 has wider bars than my 29'er, 660 mm compared to I think about 630. I've been looking at titanium bars, Dean vs. Moots vs. carver. Anybody have any experience on any of these vs. a Race Face carbon bar. Anything else I should be looking at. I realize position will have alot to due with hand fatigue, but everything else being equal, what is the best option for 3 hour XC type, fireroad and singletrack type riding. Thanks

  18. #18
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    I used an easton Monkey light carbon bar that was super stiff and I did not care for it one bit.I used a LP composites and got the DH bar for a little more strength and it damped the trail chatter like crazy. It worked great!

    I really liked the LP composites DH bar - nice riser bar with some good sweep. I just got a Ragley carnegie's bar in carbon but have not ridden it enough to tell you how it does yet.

    Oury grip worked well but ESI chunky grips worked better.

    to the OP what if you ditched your ergon and cane creek set up and just got the ergon that had built in bar ends? it would look less botched up.
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by cbchess
    I used an easton Monkey light carbon bar that was super stiff and I did not care for it one bit.I used a LP composites and got the DH bar for a little more strength and it damped the trail chatter like crazy. It worked great!

    I really liked the LP composites DH bar - nice riser bar with some good sweep. I just got a Ragley carnegie's bar in carbon but have not ridden it enough to tell you how it does yet.

    Oury grip worked well but ESI chunky grips worked better.

    to the OP what if you ditched your ergon and cane creek set up and just got the ergon that had built in bar ends? it would look less botched up.
    I'm OK with how it looks honestly. Its really a great combo. I considered the Ergon grips with integrated bar ends but I like the set up I have. For those interested...Ergon grips to me are the single best mountain bike purchase I have made.
    Thanks for the tip on the LP composites DH bar.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by JimInSF
    Is there a reason you're looking at carbon and aluminum but not titanium?
    Nope...probably should have included Ti bars in my query. My thought was the Carbon bikes come in different config especially with rise and don't recall seeing Ti in a riser shape but perhaps it does. I could also heed Bruce's suggest to go with more rise to my stem but but would take a pretty substantial stem rise to equal the amount of rise I run...32mm on these particular bars. I run the rise I do because I am tallish and prefer a higher bar position and the frame I chose...which was deliberate has a 100mm head tube.
    Cheers.

  21. #21
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    I ran a few different alloy bars from different manufacturers a few years ago on my 26 FS bike. Didn't like the feeling. Switched to an Easton Monkey Lite SL carbon bar and did feel a difference in vibrations being transfered to my hands. But that is my own experience.


    If you want to run bar ends on a carbon bar with out compromising the clamping area, get a set of these. They are expansion plugs that go into the end of the bars to help with achieve proper clamping force with clamp on grips and bar ends.

    I'm using these with a set of clamp on grips. Without them, the grips would slip, even with carbon paste being used.

    BTW, the little taps are for helping install them. Once they are torqued to spec, they snap right off.

    https://www.ergon-bike.com/us/en/product/ls100


  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by dirtrider7
    I'm OK with how it looks honestly. Its really a great combo. I considered the Ergon grips with integrated bar ends but I like the set up I have. For those interested...Ergon grips to me are the single best mountain bike purchase I have made.
    Thanks for the tip on the LP composites DH bar.
    I'm considering Ergon grips, but have heard that they make gripping the bar more difficult when behind the saddle...is that true? Does the wing shape hamper gripping from that position?

  23. #23
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    questionable to whom?

    Quote Originally Posted by dirtrider7
    Great responses. Thanks a lot guys. Figured it was a bit like the questionable comfort improvement of a CF versus AL seatpost...probably varies by mfr and set up.

    Mayor...what you wrote makes sense and validates what I kind of thought...hard to quantify based upon your excellent description.

    Bruce you are a font of information as always. Thanks for sharing your considerable experience. Yup...riser with barends...I am not comporting with the fashion police am I? ...instead opting for the best combo I have experienced. See my bar set up below which btw is not excessively stiff especially with a 25.4mm stem clamp dia. I thought a similar CF handlebar maybe even more comfy. Ritchey does indeed make a riser with reinforced ends as I recall...thanks. I believe Profile makes such a riser as well.

    Keep your comments coming please. The truth probably does vary by mfr as the Mayor suggested and appreciate the advice.

    certainly not to me. I would never go back to aluminum bars or seatpost. EVER. Carbon and ti 4 me all day everyday.
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    Quote Originally Posted by EJ_92606
    I'm considering Ergon grips, but have heard that they make gripping the bar more difficult when behind the saddle...is that true? Does the wing shape hamper gripping from that position?
    The key I believe is get the right size. I wear a size Large glove and yet ordered size Small in the Ergon which is their most popular size. This still allows great retention of the handlebar and yet still a large platform for your palm. I suffered with hand issues and tried all the best grips on the market. To me without a doubt, Ergon grips are the best...fantastic comfort. Also, Ergon I believe makes a more round grip which you may prefer but to me this defeats the premise a bit. Further...their racing model is a bit smaller for maximum retention as well.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by frdfandc
    I ran a few different alloy bars from different manufacturers a few years ago on my 26 FS bike. Didn't like the feeling. Switched to an Easton Monkey Lite SL carbon bar and did feel a difference in vibrations being transfered to my hands. But that is my own experience.


    If you want to run bar ends on a carbon bar with out compromising the clamping area, get a set of these. They are expansion plugs that go into the end of the bars to help with achieve proper clamping force with clamp on grips and bar ends.

    I'm using these with a set of clamp on grips. Without them, the grips would slip, even with carbon paste being used.

    BTW, the little taps are for helping install them. Once they are torqued to spec, they snap right off.

    https://www.ergon-bike.com/us/en/product/ls100

    Great tip. Thank you!

  26. #26
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    Syntace also makes a 12deg sweep which is designed specifically to mimic the riding position for climbing which negates the need for bar ends (tree grabbers). I believe the model that has this is the Vector Low-Rise Carbon. The biggest problem with Syntace bars is the unavailability, but that is because ALOT of people are buying them right now. I am waiting for a Vector Low-Rise carbon myself....
    http://www.syntace.com/index.cfm?pid=3&pk=1529

    I believe you have to buy special plugs that allow the use of bar ends. Also take a look at the Duraflight Carbon 31.8
    http://www.syntace.com/index.cfm?pid=3&pk=1496

    My experience with Easton CNT Monkeylite have been nothing but good, and I would be willing to guess that they would hold up to a bar end clamp, very durable and very good dampening.
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  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by cibob113
    I also am trying to decide on bars for a new Lynskey build. I have had carpal tunnel surgery, so wrist fatigue and hands numb pretty quick. I had switched to ergons on my 26'er, and that seems to help. Also, my 26 has wider bars than my 29'er, 660 mm compared to I think about 630. I've been looking at titanium bars, Dean vs. Moots vs. carver. Anybody have any experience on any of these vs. a Race Face carbon bar. Anything else I should be looking at. I realize position will have alot to due with hand fatigue, but everything else being equal, what is the best option for 3 hour XC type, fireroad and singletrack type riding. Thanks
    with your history(carpal tunnel) you might consider some of the alternate bars available. i've been using some titec(alloy) h-bars on my singlespeed and like their position a lot. the ti version would probably be even better but they are really pricey. also, just got a set of the new carnagie carbon bars from ragley for my pivot. only one ride on them , but so far i like them a lot. hope that helps

  29. #29
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    ^pimpin' ain't cheap!

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  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by appleSSeed
    ^pimpin' ain't cheap!

    lol
    LOL! To have the "Black Bling" (carbon fiber) you have to pay for it!
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  31. #31
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    Definitely varies. I had some cheap (relatively) Performance carbon flat bars, and switched to some Titec Flat tracker aluminums (both 25.4) for the extra width. I didn't really buy into bars adding to comfort on a mountian bike with 2+ inch tires and a suspension fork besides shape beforehand, but now I do. The carbon bars were either better at damping or more flexy, but either way they were a bit more comfortable. Just too narrow.

    Then again the difference was not huge and I don't feel like running out and spending 80 bucks to get it back (maybe). Best to look at reviews of any specific bars to see if others have noticed some extra comfort
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  32. #32
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    I wonder if those that feel no difference....

    between carbon and alu have tried the 25.4mm bars or the newer, larger size 31.8mm?. I would think the 31.8mm bars would be stiffer, but have never ridden them so I do not know for sure.
    I have only ridden Salsa Pro Moto carbon, and Titec Hellbent ti flat bars and Titec Hellbent ti and Azonic CF-1 carbon risers which are great, durable bars that get no love on these forums. All of these bars are much more comfortable to me than any aluminum bars flat or riser that I have ridden.
    Ps, been using Ergon from day one of seeing them. Size XXL hands so the large Ergons are snug as a bug in a rug on descents and everywhere else. simply the best, most comfy grips ever imho.
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  33. #33
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    Syntace

    Another vote for Syntace 12 degree low rise @ 660 wide. Excellent quality. The titanium reinforced clamp areas for the stem and bar ends are nice. As mentioned, you have to run plugs in the ends for bar ends.

    I'd like to run bar ends, but the bars are wide and would hang/catch to much in my area. Hard enough squeezing between trees as it is.

  34. #34
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    I found a carbon bar very close to the spec's I prefer. It comes in low and high rise and I prefer the high rise with my short head tube and high-ish saddle height.
    Ritchey carbom bars as discussed I believe all have reinforced ends to accept bar ends.

    Anybody here ride the Ritchey bar below and can you comment on its relative stiffness?

    Thanks for all the suggestions and keep 'em coming.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Carbon Fiber Handlebar Comfort...-ritchey-hi-rizer.jpg  


  35. #35
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    If you are looking for comfort have you considered a different shape bar?

    I am using the on one frugle, very very impressed. the angle of the grips has completely removed all hand pain for me.

    Worth trying.
    Why would I care about 150g of bike weight, I just ate 400g of cookies while reading this?

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaveGiant
    If you are looking for comfort have you considered a different shape bar?

    I am using the on one frugle, very very impressed. the angle of the grips has completely removed all hand pain for me.

    Worth trying.
    Please don't ask that...Dirtrider he didn't ask that...LOL

  37. #37
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    It's been my experience that carbon bars do provide a bit of damping over aluminum bars.

    Well, except for one. I had a carbon Syntace Vector bar that was just sooooo stiff that it actually felt harsher than any aluminum bar that I have ever used.

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by dirtrider7
    I generally have used aluminum handlebars on my mtb's however am considering trying a carbon fiber riser on my 29er. The goal isn't weight really but always looking for the best shock damping when riding off road.

    So my question is...for those that have experimented and switched to a carbon fiber bar...do you notice any more comfort?

    Lastly...I am looking for a CF riser handlebar...likely one I can use bar ends on for another hand position.
    Handlebar mfr's aren't real clear as to which bars are reinforced on the ends to allow the usable of bar ends. Anybody know which brands and/or models reinforce the ends?

    Thanks.
    I noticed some difference when I switched to a CF bar on the rigid, before I went to lower tire pressures. On the 5" trail bike I don't know that it makes much difference at all. I'll find out soon, I am replacing an old CF bar with an AL one.

    I don't like thinner, harder grips, so I am not going to get much vibration damping there.

    On my old road bike with narrow tires at high pressure I found it made a HUGE difference going with a good CF bar. However, now that I am running 32's at 55/70 psi rather than 23's at 90/120 psi, it is likely making less difference.

    I've had a CF seatpost on a mt bike, and honestly, it felt the same as any other post I've used. Never saw the benefit. Maybe on a road bike it would be different.
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

  39. #39
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    my most flexy bar is my custom dean Ti bars (around 700 mm). they work great on my rigid steel bike but feel way to flexy on a bike with suspension fork.

    the carbon bars I have (e.g. syncros bulk) aren't noticeably flexy, but they do seem to dampen the ride just a bit.

    that Ritchey bar you posted above is only 660 mm wide. but perhaps you're short and narrow-shouldered.

    those Ragley carbon lo-rise bars look like a good deal.
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    Quote Originally Posted by frorider
    my most flexy bar is my custom dean Ti bars (around 700 mm). they work great on my rigid steel bike but feel way to flexy on a bike with suspension fork.

    the carbon bars I have (e.g. syncros bulk) aren't noticeably flexy, but they do seem to dampen the ride just a bit.

    that Ritchey bar you posted above is only 660 mm wide. but perhaps you're short and narrow-shouldered.

    those Ragley carbon lo-rise bars look like a good deal.
    I am not short or narrow shouldered...lol. How bout you?
    Not everybody buys into the wide bar craze...especially if running bar ends which I like for an alternative position. 660mm is considered wide by yesterday's std and probably average today.

    I just ordered a Monkeylite XC riser bar...only $46 + shipping at Jensenusa.com for those interested. I also heeded frdfandc's suggestion and ordered Ergon plugs to support the barend so I can run Ergon GX-3's...their minimalist racing grip with integrated bar end. So that will be my new set up and I will report back how it goes. Some run barends with the Monkeylite XC riser bar without plugs but I am not gonna temp fate and will support the bar internally to keep it from crushing when running adequate torque to keep the bar end from rotating.
    Thanks for all the great advice...a lot of good comments in this thread...thanks everybody.

  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by dirtrider7
    I just ordered a Monkeylite XC riser bar...only $46 + shipping at Jensenusa.com for those interested. I also heeded suggesting and order Ergon plugs to support the barend so I can run Ergon GX-3's...their minimalist racing grip with integrated bar end. So that will be my new set up and I will report back how it goes. Some run barends with the Monkeylite XC riser bar without plugs but I am not gonna temp fate and will support the bar internally to keep it from crushing when running adequate torque to keep the bar end from rotating.
    Thanks for all the great advice everybody...appreciate it.
    In my experience, 25.4mm bars have more give than 31.8mm, so your results with those bars from Jenson should be reasonably good if the shape is right.

  42. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by kestrel242
    In my experience, 25.4mm bars have more give than 31.8mm, so your results with those bars from Jenson should be reasonably good if the shape is right.
    There is wealth of reviews on the Easton Monkeylite XC riser on the web. Most report is to be a stout bar even at 25.4 with a noticable improvement in damping compared to an equivalent Al bar. It is also 155 grams so very light. The downside is there were some early accounts of breakage with this bar but believe Easton addressed it. What is difficult to sort out with breakage as you know is...there is fair amount of abuse in Mtbing. CF handlebars are very sensitive to stem torque...and even torquing pattern. Further likely some of the breakage was due to clamp on grip and bar end torque without plugs. I have had good experience with CF on road bikes but it only works if care is shown. To me there is a good upside. Lots of very strong riders race CF handlebars and I am an average rider in strength so should be fine.
    Thanks for your comments.

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