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Thread: Handlebars:Ti vs carbon vs aluminum

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    Default Handlebars:Ti vs carbon vs aluminum

    Since many of you are builders,what has been your feedback on the three? Recently converted my geared Salsa El Mariachi back to SS.Last week I decided to take it a step further and go back to rigid..foregoing the stock steel fork..ordering a Niner RDO thru-axle fork.Currently I'm running Raceface Turbine Alum. flatbars.I'm considering going to carbon or possibly Ti..the former more likely.Weight is not an issue as the bars are the last place ( and stem) I would shed weight.My concern for carbon is durability/damage sustained in a minor crash.I live in PA where I ride everything from gravel to rock gardens.How well would the carbon bars hold up as far as the occasional minor crash.Scratches would be inevitable.Ti would be an alternative but quite $$$.In your experiences would changing out bars make a big difference.I know this has been covered in many forums but I may get some better insight with this forum.I can't help to feel when somebody pays big $$$ for handlebars in many cases it could be wishful thinking as far as a big difference.Thoughts?
    Thanks,
    Scott Altland
     

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    Default Re: Handlebars:Ti vs carbon vs aluminum

    I'm not a princess and the pea person so I really can't tell tons of difference between the three. I think if extra comfort was the goal on a rigid bike I'd upgrade to slightly more voluminous tire if you haven't done that. As far as carbon goes, I've put an original monkey light through about everything. It hasn't broken, but all it takes is the right hit. So it's hard to answer your question, or maybe you answered it yourself. Carbon is an incredible material, right up to the point it's not.

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    Default Re: Handlebars:Ti vs carbon vs aluminum

    I started racing in the mid 80's on steel bikes and steel bull moose bars. Have had every conceivable bar type since then: aluminum, ti, carbon, different bends, raisers, diameters, widths, etc.

    My 2 cents...
    #1 - The bar is part of the bike fit. This is more important than what it is made out of. Raise, bend, and width all impact the bike fit.
    #2 - There is a large placebo effect around what bars 'feel' like. Unlike the early days, the bar are more similar to each other in "feel" now. You would be hard pressed to tell the difference in the feel, as related to the material, if you did not know what it was made out of. You are going to read that this material will be stiffer/softer/more-give/less-give/etc. If none of that info was in your head you may never know the difference.
    #3 - Your tire pressure will have way more impact on the over all feel of the bike than your bar material.
    #4 - Durability. Any quality bar of any material will hold up to your riding area. Installation of the bar to the stem and the components onto the bar will have a larger impact (no pun intended) on durability than falling off and having bike flop around (this is a generalization). **Your body weight and riding style plays a role in all of this. If you are a heavy guy that likes to launch off things you need to take that in consideration.

    This leaves you with: color/style, band loyalty/interest, and $$$.

    Edit - I see I was beaten to the reply, but as you can see we are saying the same basic thing.
     

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    Default Re: Handlebars:Ti vs carbon vs aluminum

    Scott,
    I've never ridden a Ti bar, but I've got some experience with a couple different aluminum and carbon bars. I've had several easton and ritchey carbon and aluminum bars. I've had a number of Niner scandium frames, a Spot steel frame and an El Maraichi. Pretty much all of my bikes have rotated between steel rigid, carbon rigid, or F29 forks. I'll tell you what, I could never pick up on any differences between handlebar material. They were all stiff and all worked as they should.

    I did just recently built up a new bike (carbon frame, carbon fork) and grabbed a set of Enve flat bars. I think can feel a difference with this setup, but its a completely different bike, so who knows if the bars are a contributing factor. Correction: I think I can feel a difference in the parking lot. The bars flex pretty easily. Theres no way I'd ever notice it on the trails.

    I'll let some of the real experts comment on durability, because myself... Ignorance is bliss. if my bars dont look damaged, I keep riding them.
    Bill Showers

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    Default Re: Handlebars:Ti vs carbon vs aluminum

    Carbon gets my vote. I can feel a difference between carbon/ti and the handful of alloy bars I've ridden.

    I've got the Thomson ti bar on my SS, and it's really nice. But it's not any more comfy than carbon, a lot heavier, and a lot more expensive.
    Dustin Gaddis
    www.MiddleGaEpic.com
    Why do people feel the need to list all of their bikes in their signature?

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    Default Re: Handlebars:Ti vs carbon vs aluminum

    Quote Originally Posted by Bewheels View Post
    I started racing in the mid 80's on steel bikes and steel bull moose bars. Have had every conceivable bar type since then: aluminum, ti, carbon, different bends, raisers, diameters, widths, etc.

    My 2 cents...
    #1 - The bar is part of the bike fit. This is more important than what it is made out of. Raise, bend, and width all impact the bike fit.
    #2 - There is a large placebo effect around what bars 'feel' like. Unlike the early days, the bar are more similar to each other in "feel" now. You would be hard pressed to tell the difference in the feel, as related to the material, if you did not know what it was made out of. You are going to read that this material will be stiffer/softer/more-give/less-give/etc. If none of that info was in your head you may never know the difference.
    #3 - Your tire pressure will have way more impact on the over all feel of the bike than your bar material.
    #4 - Durability. Any quality bar of any material will hold up to your riding area. Installation of the bar to the stem and the components onto the bar will have a larger impact (no pun intended) on durability than falling off and having bike flop around (this is a generalization). **Your body weight and riding style plays a role in all of this. If you are a heavy guy that likes to launch off things you need to take that in consideration.

    This leaves you with: color/style, band loyalty/interest, and $$$.

    Edit - I see I was beaten to the reply, but as you can see we are saying the same basic thing.
    Point #2 and #3 I can really appreciate...well all the input from everybody.I do believe in a blind"taste test"this would probably be the case.Sometimes the industry ..well very often feed into our neverending quest for more bike bling.Lol.I'm running Hans Damf 2.3"s.This year before I do any races I'm going to experiment more with different PSI in my tires.
    Thanks again.
    Scott Altland
     

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    Default Re: Handlebars:Ti vs carbon vs aluminum

    Quote Originally Posted by Bewheels View Post
    #2 - There is a large placebo effect around what bars 'feel' like. Unlike the early days, the bar are more similar to each other in "feel" now. You would be hard pressed to tell the difference in the feel, as related to the material, if you did not know what it was made out of. You are going to read that this material will be stiffer/softer/more-give/less-give/etc. If none of that info was in your head you may never know the difference.
    I want to agree with this but based on personal experience, I do not agree with this sentiment. I think a handlebar feel begins to become apparent on longer rides (2-3 hours+, not 1-2). Carbon in my hands has a much better ability to dampen small chatter and "noise" associated with singletrack. Drawn Aluminum delivers a much harsher ride characteristic while carbon albeit plenty stiff, has a knack for delivering a smoother ride over a great distance. I do not have any long term experience with Ti in handlebars. My own experience: Riding aluminum handlebars for years. Began to develop pain in my palms and wrists on longer rides into the 2 and 3 hour mark. Switched to carbon and the pain is gone.

    Carbon durability wise is like any material: Inspect it when you crash (and I grew up in PA and ride there every so often - There's tech in those hills!). Most from my knowledge have a finish to them that can take some abuse. IF you have damaged the fibers of the carbon layup, that's when you want to look at replacing them. Respect the torque settings that are recommended by the manufacturer's.

    Bicycle frame materials all deliver unique ride characteristics. Titanium rides very differently than Steel, which rides differently than Aluminum which rides different than Carbon. Handlebar materials all have a unique ride characteristic as well. But you have to roll your sleeves up and spend time and distance on them to start to feel which one best suits you - rise, sweep and width can play large parts as well. However, the better the fit of the bicycle and the more dialed the setup is with regards to your cockpit (handlebars included) the overall ride will be that much more enjoyable. Unfortunately, that all just takes time in the saddle and a bit of money.
    Kristofer Henry : 44 BIKES : Made to Shred™
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    Default Re: Handlebars:Ti vs carbon vs aluminum

    Quote Originally Posted by fortyfour View Post
    I want to agree with this but based on personal experience, I do not agree with this sentiment. I think a handlebar feel begins to become apparent on longer rides (2-3 hours+, not 1-2). Carbon in my hands has a much better ability to dampen small chatter and "noise" associated with singletrack. Drawn Aluminum delivers a much harsher ride characteristic while carbon albeit plenty stiff, has a knack for delivering a smoother ride over a great distance. I do not have any long term experience with Ti in handlebars. My own experience: Riding aluminum handlebars for years. Began to develop pain in my palms and wrists on longer rides into the 2 and 3 hour mark. Switched to carbon and the pain is gone.

    Carbon durability wise is like any material: Inspect it when you crash (and I grew up in PA and ride there every so often - There's tech in those hills!). Most from my knowledge have a finish to them that can take some abuse. IF you have damaged the fibers of the carbon layup, that's when you want to look at replacing them. Respect the torque settings that are recommended by the manufacturer's.

    Bicycle frame materials all deliver unique ride characteristics. Titanium rides very differently than Steel, which rides differently than Aluminum which rides different than Carbon. Handlebar materials all have a unique ride characteristic as well. But you have to roll your sleeves up and spend time and distance on them to start to feel which one best suits you - rise, sweep and width can play large parts as well. However, the better the fit of the bicycle and the more dialed the setup is with regards to your cockpit (handlebars included) the overall ride will be that much more enjoyable. Unfortunately, that all just takes time in the saddle and a bit of money.
    I'll have to heartily agree with Kris here, material is everything. This may not be apparent with the suspension technology common on so many bikes these days but try a rigid bike with any of the above mentioned materials and you'll find they are quite different. That said I switched back to a rigid bike 2 years ago. Loved the response and 'feel' of going back to the simple set-up. But after a few long races/ rides with alu bar/ post I was having a lot of hand discomfort (I suppose you could go SLOWER but who wants to do that?) so I switched to a Thomson Ti bar and made a Ti post to match. HUGE difference. I'm in love with this setup. Plenty of 'feel' and just enough Ti magic to take the edge off when blasting through rough stuff faster than I should. The price may make you pause but believe me that all evaporates once you go for a ride. Besides, some folks spend that much on tires...
    Seth Rosko
    Rosko Cycles
    New York City
    www.rosko.cc

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    Default Re: Handlebars:Ti vs carbon vs aluminum

    I feel greater big-bump compliance with a titanium bar on my rigid front fork. Titanium isn't always expensive PryBar Handlebar
     

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    Default Re: Handlebars:Ti vs carbon vs aluminum

    All things being equal as per ergonomics Ti all the way.
    I bet those Thomsons are damn near 10 year handlebars.
    - Garro.
    Steve Garro, Coconino Cycles.
    Frames & Bicycles built to measure and Custom wheels
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    Default Re: Handlebars:Ti vs carbon vs aluminum

    Thanks guys..Kris and Rosko hit on time on trail being a factor...something I failed to mention.For the most part my interest lies with mainly ultracross distance(60-70 miles) but mainly 100 milers...so depending on the race 10-12 hrs.In the case of a race like the Patapsco 100 could be 15-17 hrs in the saddle.Weight wise I'm light 150ish and as far as riding style somewhat conservative.Also I tend to spend about 75% of my time out of the saddle esp. on singletrack unless its smooth.Unfortunately where I live I don't even know what smooth singletrack feels like. Probably what it will come down to is just trying things out.Its funny I've been thinking so much about the bars forgetting the quality of the stem...which Rosko hit on.
    Not to change the subject but I've read...take that for whats its worth...that a stems a stem...but how much would a better quality stem effect feel even on a aluminum bar.Or a lower end stem on a better quality bar.This is obviously assuming all things being equal...good fit on the bike,sweep,etc.
    Sorry if I opened up a whole can of worms here guys but I'm realizing since discovering this forum last month why its now my go to site for good info.
    Thanks....more thoughts are appreciated
    Scott Altland PS Don't get me wrong..no matter which route I choose I don't expect to suddenly have my ride feel "plush" just the take the edge off.
     

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    Default Re: Handlebars:Ti vs carbon vs aluminum

    Quote Originally Posted by HillDancer View Post
    I feel greater big-bump compliance with a titanium bar on my rigid front fork. Titanium isn't always expensive PryBar Handlebar
    Any thoughts on esp. from the builders on the difference in quality between in expensive Ti bars..or carbon for that matter and the more expensive bars?
    Scott
     

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    Default Re: Handlebars:Ti vs carbon vs aluminum

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Altland View Post
    Any thoughts on esp. from the builders on the difference in quality between in expensive Ti bars..or carbon for that matter and the more expensive bars?
    Scott
    I put my trust in the best (IMO): ENVE. I've been doing longer rides, and their bars are what turned me on to what carbon can do for longer rides and pain that surfaced. Rosko hits the nail on the head here. I'm not a racer but being in the saddle for 6-10 hours on a hardtail or fully rigid bike, bars and seat post make a HUGE difference. They are 2 of the 3 contact points on the bike and carbon is very well suited to these two spots. I can only speak to carbon however like I stated earlier. Weight also plays a huge roll in longer distances. Tire choice and tire pressure as well. You only have so much in your tank and the more comfortable you can be from the start and for the duration, the fresher you will feel, your focus can remain sharp (or relatively sharp) and you will be less likely to make mistakes if you are feeling fresh later in a ride/race.

    I have both the ENVE Mtn. Risers and the Sweeps. Both are uncut, but are now offered in 740mm width so it's nice for a customer to ride them and slowly trim to the ideal width. A recent build had a set of Thomson Ti Risers. Excellent fit and finish albeit noticeably heavier than carbon - Rosko can speak to the feel better than I can. Those suckers are WIDE out of the box. I did not have much experience with them as they were a clients build... can't shred them as much as you want to.

    Both will definitely take the edge off of Aluminum over the course of a long distance.
    Kristofer Henry : 44 BIKES : Made to Shred™
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    Default Re: Handlebars:Ti vs carbon vs aluminum

    as a caveat to my comments above, I should add that a typical Mid Atlantic XC race will be my amongst my longest rides. I'm out for an hour or two at a time, so I'm not putting stuff to the test like these other guys are. It's pretty rare for me to be out more than 2 hours. That very well could explain why I cant tell any difference between the various bars that I've used.
    Bill Showers

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    Default Re: Handlebars:Ti vs carbon vs aluminum

    Many years of riding with some of them being very long days in the saddle. In order of pref for me and why:
    1. Ti: much reduced issues surrounding crashing and hidden damage). Downside is $
    2. Carbon: smoother than alu but crashing leaves a bit to be desired. Downside is $ and crash damage.
    3. Alu: can be less forgiving than either of above over the long haul.

    For ti check out Watson Cycles & Eriksen
    Aiming to KICK cancer's butt this time around
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    Default Re: Handlebars:Ti vs carbon vs aluminum

    For me, after trying a bunch of bars, I'd rank attributes in the following order of importance: (1) bend or wrist angle, (2) width, and finally (3) material. I've settled on an older set of Jones H-bars in ti as my standard. The ti material, especially in a 26.0 diameter, really cuts chatter.
     

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    Default Re: Handlebars:Ti vs carbon vs aluminum

    Ti handlebar...always Ti

     

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    Default Re: Handlebars:Ti vs carbon vs aluminum

    I always ran ti in the old days, now it is carbon. They both reduce the chatter but carbon is lighter and in most cases cheaper.
     

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    Default Re: Handlebars:Ti vs carbon vs aluminum

    Quote Originally Posted by billrick View Post
    For me, after trying a bunch of bars, I'd rank attributes in the following order of importance: (1) bend or wrist angle, (2) width, and finally (3) material. I've settled on an older set of Jones H-bars in ti as my standard. The ti material, especially in a 26.0 diameter, really cuts chatter.

    This is where I'm at as well. Also, grips make a difference as well.

    I've ridden some nice bars that put my wrists at uncomfy angles and it sucked. Wider is better for SS, especially climbing. I'm currently on the Enve Risers and I don't have any complaints. They are on a rigid, but lets not confuse comfort on a rigid with actual comfort. Rigids and rocks are NOT comfortable, and that's not a complaint because I enjoy it, but it's just a fact. It's not comfy, just like that lactic threshold burn is not comfy, but we keep doing it. Racing a rigid in Pa....anywhere in Pa, is tough. I have big squishy tires, carbon Niner fork and Enver Risers and it's a blast to ride, but pain to race.
    Will Neide (pronounced Nighty, like the thing worn to bed)

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    Default Re: Handlebars:Ti vs carbon vs aluminum

    Funny... The older I get the skinnier my grips and tape get. Also my sweep has increased. I ride Rody's Luv Handles(Groovy Cycles). I am happy with both versions(Steel on the SS, Ti on my Ritchey). My hands haven't been this happy in a long time. Plus my carbon bars(old faves) are taking a rest at the moment.
     

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