Do Aluminum Bars Last Forever?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Do Aluminum Bars Last Forever?

    Forum sages, help me justify (or resist) purchasing new bars. I've been running some aluminum Deity bars for 2+ years, across two bikes, and put some pretty good miles on them. Visually, nothing is wrong, and I like the basic setup with rise and width enough that I don't need to change anything. Hands never get numb or tired, body position is good.

    But even so... I've been bitten by the upgrade/changes bug, and wouldn't mind a new bar with a splash of color to liven up my all-black bike. Maybe even with Vibrocore just to try it out.

    Question is, is there a "life span" on aluminum bars? Is there a point in time when replacing them makes sense from a practical perspective? Or will I have to admit to myself that I want new bars "just because"?

  2. #2
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    Having trouble finding anything that lasts forever. When something has a lifetime warranty, that tends to mean a product's lifetime...

    Some metals have a shelf life, as they "air harden" and become fairly stiff and brittle.

    There's even some evidence to dispute that metals don't have fatigue endurance limits, which means that metals may in fact crack from fatigue from a high number of small loads.

    Syntace is a brand that is well recognized for lasting ages, in both carbon and aluminum. Their aluminum lasts more cycles on fatigue tests than many other brands' carbon.

  3. #3
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    Google "fatigue limit of aluminum" and edumacate yaself. Highly dependent on the endurance limit of 7075 aluminum tubing with whatever treatment deity utilizes, the amount of force you exert on dem bars, and how many cycles of said stress are at or above the fatigue strength if I recall correctly --it's been awhile.

    Do you ride rampage or ride circles in your driveway? Because the answer is likely different dependent on your riding.
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    EXODUX Jeff

  5. #5
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    Some things too good to believe, like Ti, carbon, steel, etc. last forever.

    There are fatigue tests on sheldonbrown's site that shows otherwise. A well made alloy frame, CAAD3, outlasted various steel and Ti, in a fatigue test. Gist was that it's how the material's used, not the material itself that matters.
    https://www.sheldonbrown.com/rinard/...tigue_test.htm

    I uploaded a PDF showing fatigue testing on handlebars:
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/1VcG...ew?usp=sharing

    There's also some interesting science on Vibrocore that I was reading up:
    https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/23...est_Report.pdf

    The gist was that handlebars have a certain resonant frequency, and along that point vibrations could reach dangerous/harmful levels, and contribute to arm-pump. The foam was designed to target that, and create a bar that damped vibrations better than carbon to prevent arm-pump.

  6. #6
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    Thanks for the responses, and the interesting links... I feel psychologically justified to buy some new bars. Life is good.

    Perhaps a better way to ask my original question would have been "how often should we think about replacing bars". I've run these bars on my main trail bikes for ~ 1,200 miles so I think I'm gonna hang them up.

  7. #7
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    Hmmm.

    I've got some aluminum bars over 15 years old that are still going strong.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by ninjichor View Post
    There's also some interesting science on Vibrocore that I was reading up:
    https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/23...est_Report.pdf

    The gist was that handlebars have a certain resonant frequency, and along that point vibrations could reach dangerous/harmful levels, and contribute to arm-pump. The foam was designed to target that, and create a bar that damped vibrations better than carbon to prevent arm-pump.
    Recently switched from an Enve to a Spank Vibrocore bar. Couldn't really tell much of a difference between the carbon. I guess that's a good thing.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Miker J View Post
    Hmmm.

    I've got some aluminum bars over 15 years old that are still going strong.
    Oh, don't start with that now. I've already got my new colors picked out.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by ninjichor View Post
    Some things too good to believe, like Ti, carbon, steel, etc. last forever.

    There's also some interesting science on Vibrocore that I was reading up:
    https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/23...est_Report.pdf

    The gist was that handlebars have a certain resonant frequency, and along that point vibrations could reach dangerous/harmful levels, and contribute to arm-pump. The foam was designed to target that, and create a bar that damped vibrations better than carbon to prevent arm-pump.
    I love that you fought is up, it’s always something I kind of wondered about with regards to handlebars but never bothered to look into. And it’s not just handlebars, really anything you apply a force to periodically at such a frequency that matches the natural frequency of the object thereby inducing resonance in the object to which it is being applied. For instance, the implications of natural frequency and resonance with regard to the design of mixers/mixing tanks especially on an industrial scale—think refining—are very important. If the natural frequency of the shaft is achieved at high rpm the oscillation at the tip of the shaft can be drastic— picture a huge steel shaft with impellers several feet across oscillating (wobbling) back and forth several feet while spinning at high rpm! It’s hard to believe until you see it. They go all Gumby rubber pencil. Scary stuff and something to be mitigated in the design, tested for, and avoided in many instances unless you can pass through that frequency quickly or at a low non-critical speed/frequency.

    Sorry, I digress, it’s just that outside of work it’s super rare to hear anyone mention natural frequency or resonance. Coincidentally, I actually just made a joke about it yesterday in a thread in which someone was asking what a handful of plastic pieces that came with their bike were for.
    Quote Originally Posted by Shartist View Post
    Whatever you do, don’t ride your bike without them installed. They’re the frame dampers that prevent the bike from becoming totally unbalanced when the frequency of the chatter reaches the natural resonance of the frame. For the love of god install the damn things, she’ll tear herself apart, man!
    18’ SC Bronson Carbon
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  11. #11
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    OP, if you think 2 year old bars are old, you've got a ways to go in this thing we call MTB I honestly hope that 2 years is, as I see it, just a drop in the bucket, as my oldest bar is 7 years old and on my FS. I'd say how long any part will last will greatly depend on your weight, riding style and terrain, so if you're a big jumper/hucker and have "learned" a lot, then maybe your bars won't last as long as mine, someone who does drops and such, but nothing over 3ft and rides fairly smoothly, trying to pick the bike up and "place it" vs just smash through/into stuff like a tank.
    Quote Originally Posted by Harold
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  12. #12
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    As long as you're asking total strangers for permission to spend your own money and change up your bike's color scheme with a new handlebar, let me add I think you need a whole new bike. You deserve it.

    You're welcome.
    Veni vidi velo!

  13. #13
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    I don't know anybody who has had nor have I've seen al mtb bars fail in normal use. I do know people who have had al road bars fail due to corrosion from sweat getting under the bar tape, not failing at the stem but out under the tapee portion. In retaping some road bars I've seen some pretty bad corrosion that warranted replacement. The odor and appearance was rather disgusting, actually. This tends to be unique to certain individuals, as most can go tens of thousands of miles and have the bars remain pristine under the tape. I guess some just sweat on their bars a lot more than others.

    Mtb bars? 31.8 vs 35? Al vs cf? 650mm vs 800mm? IDK. You might check them by pushing and pulling on them hard enough to convince yourself they won't break on your ride.
    Do the math.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by veloborealis View Post
    As long as you're asking total strangers for permission to spend your own money and change up your bike's color scheme with a new handlebar, let me add I think you need a whole new bike. You deserve it.

    You're welcome.
    Thanks, I appreciate your generosity. Probably don't deserve a bike, but may deserve a little sarcasm for asking about the bars. Chalk it up to overthinking components on a slow day at the office.

    It was a real question though, color changes aside. What's the rational life span of aluminum under moderate to heavy use. Obviously some of us have old bikes and have never changed the bars. My current gravel bike has some older salsa bend bars that I've never thought about replacing, but it's a different application. If my Mtb bars were carbon, I'd have replaced them a year ago after the various minor endos and clipped trees they've endured under my pilotage. I guess at the end of the day, old bars are as unlikely to kill me as new bars are to bankrupt me, I just try to question my real need for things before spending mo'money.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lone Rager View Post
    I don't know anybody who has had nor have I've seen al mtb bars fail in normal use. I do know people who have had al road bars fail due to corrosion from sweat getting under the bar tape, not failing at the stem but out under the tapee portion. In retaping some road bars I've seen some pretty bad corrosion that warranted replacement. The odor and appearance was rather disgusting, actually. This tends to be unique to certain individuals, as most can go tens of thousands of miles and have the bars remain pristine under the tape. I guess some just sweat on their bars a lot more than others.
    I've seen this enough times. Yeah, it's NASTY. Bars turned to swiss cheese underneath the tape. Oftentimes, the headset on the same bike is rusty powder. It's oftentimes worse on tri bikes and bikes used heavily on a trainer, since in these cases, the rider holds the same position on the bike and sweat just drips down to the same spot. Add in some dripping energy drink residue. I often joked that working on tri bikes warrants a tyvek suit and a face shield with splash goggles. Suit, boots, and gloves.

    Quote Originally Posted by JScoot View Post
    It was a real question though, color changes aside. What's the rational life span of aluminum under moderate to heavy use. Obviously some of us have old bikes and have never changed the bars. My current gravel bike has some older salsa bend bars that I've never thought about replacing, but it's a different application. If my Mtb bars were carbon, I'd have replaced them a year ago after the various minor endos and clipped trees they've endured under my pilotage. I guess at the end of the day, old bars are as unlikely to kill me as new bars are to bankrupt me, I just try to question my real need for things before spending mo'money.
    I've really only changed handlebars on my bikes for 2 reasons. 1st reason being to adjust the fit. 2nd reason being a crash that makes me suspect the integrity of my bars. Bars on my gravel bike are a few years old, but that bike doesn't get ridden a whole lot. Bars on both of my mtb's are less than a year old. On one mtb, I replaced the bars last fall because of crash damage that made me suspect their integrity. New ones are Chromag OSX. My other mtb is only a couple months old so far, so the bars are essentially new (Spank Vibrocore - they're legit comfy).

  16. #16
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    Well, I'm glad I'm not the only one who's experienced this disgusting thing. I've told them they need to spray the bar and bike down with fresh water to try and help neutralize whatever it is their sweat has in, but they don't listen, hate working on roadies bike.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lone Rager View Post
    I don't know anybody who has had nor have I've seen al mtb bars fail in normal use. I do know people who have had al road bars fail due to corrosion from sweat getting under the bar tape, not failing at the stem but out under the tapee portion. In retaping some road bars I've seen some pretty bad corrosion that warranted replacement. The odor and appearance was rather disgusting, actually. This tends to be unique to certain individuals, as most can go tens of thousands of miles and have the bars remain pristine under the tape. I guess some just sweat on their bars a lot more than others.
    Quote Originally Posted by Harold
    You're doing mtbr wrong, you're supposed to get increasingly offended by the implications that you're doing ANYTHING wrong.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by JScoot View Post
    Thanks for the responses, and the interesting links... I feel psychologically justified to buy some new bars. Life is good.

    Perhaps a better way to ask my original question would have been "how often should we think about replacing bars". I've run these bars on my main trail bikes for ~ 1,200 miles so I think I'm gonna hang them up.
    I'd say start thinking about replacing Al bars after about 20 years, maybe 100k miles.

    Yes, there is a fatigue limit. You aren't anywhere near it; probably not even within 2 orders of magnitude.

    I am laughing about you trying to trick yourself into believing they are 'worn out'. If you want a different color, no one is going to judge you for replacing working bars.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by JScoot View Post
    Do Aluminum Bars Last Forever?
    Yes.
    Maybe.
    Sometimes.
    No.

    This is a multiple choice question. Pick any of the above, and you'd be correct.

    Quote Originally Posted by JScoot View Post
    I've been bitten by the upgrade/changes bug...
    This is not a multiple choice question. You must upgrade because that particular bug bite will cause sleeplessness, followed by questioning your ability to make decisions, and eventually death.
    You didn't quit riding because you're old, you're old because you quit riding.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joules View Post
    If you want a different color, no one is going to judge you for replacing working bars.
    You haven't met my lovely wife. If she found out the old bars were fine....

  20. #20
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    A bit OT for a thread on MTB bars, but some triathletes can be the worst, spewing energy drinks and pee all over their bikes, drenching them with sweat on the trainer, and never doing one iota of cleaning or maintenance except dropping it off at the LBS for its yearly tuneup. These types are not interested in cycling or their bikes. The bikes (many over $10K) are simply a means to and end.
    Do the math.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joules View Post
    I'd say start thinking about replacing Al bars after about 20 years, maybe 100k miles.

    Yes, there is a fatigue limit. You aren't anywhere near it; probably not even within 2 orders of magnitude.

    I am laughing about you trying to trick yourself into believing they are 'worn out'.
    This. If you want a different color, get some stickers.
    :nono: :thumbsup:

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by fredcook View Post
    You must upgrade because that particular bug bite will cause sleeplessness, followed by questioning your ability to make decisions, and eventually death.
    I don't want to die yet. I'll get the bars. I never realized this was so serious.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lone Rager View Post
    A bit OT for a thread on MTB bars....spewing pee all over their bikes...
    I'm getting conflicting messages here. I don't want to die... but I've never peed on my bars, so I'm good?

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    New ones are Chromag OSX. My other mtb is only a couple months old so far, so the bars are essentially new (Spank Vibrocore - they're legit comfy).
    These are actually the two bars I've looked at most. The chromags look good, can be found on sale and are probably comparable to what I have now but with a cute little bear or whatever that graphic is. I'm wondering if the vibrocore tech is worth the extra cost. A whole nother topic, I know, with its own threads.

  24. #24
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    I've bought many name brand, brand new high quality bars (midweight range) for $10-$30.

    After 2 years my bars are dinged and scraped from either crashes and trail debris. For the crazy low price I find bars, no way I'm not replacing them often.

    I went carbon this time for $140... even at that price, thats sort of nothing every 2 years.

    I want to never, ever have a bar fail.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by JScoot View Post
    These are actually the two bars I've looked at most. The chromags look good, can be found on sale and are probably comparable to what I have now but with a cute little bear or whatever that graphic is. I'm wondering if the vibrocore tech is worth the extra cost. A whole nother topic, I know, with its own threads.
    I paid retail for both, and the vibrocore wasn't that much more expensive. imo, worth it. fwiw, I put the vibrocore bars on a hardtail and the chromag ones are on my FS fatbike. the chromag ones are definitely more flexible/comfortable than the stiff-af carbon bars they replaced on that bike.

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