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SNACKS FOR EVERYONE
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I did a search and didn't really see much about this, so figure I'll ask.

I'm looking for a new bar since the one I have is a bit too narrow for me. I am thinking about getting a decent carbon bar ($200ish), FSA, something like that...I spend a fair amount of time on the bike, commute on it, and like the idea of shock absorbing carbon.

What I really want to know is how do you guys like the flat top bars? I haven't ridden a bike with one on it, but figure they're nice.

Any opinions? I dont need a superbar, just a decent one. Doesnt have to be carbon, even though that's what I've got as the subject line. Don't really want aluminum since it might be too stiff.
 

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I just switched to the above mentioned FSA aluminum compact wing and love it. The drops are easy to ride in because of the decreased drop and the flat top section is very comfy. Give the aluminum idea some consideration. Aluminum is very durable and you are not giving much weight.

If you go the FSA compact handlebar route consider buying a width wider, the hoods should end up at about the right place because the bar flare at the ends and that is where the width spec is taken. I also went 1cm longer with the stem because the reach was also shorter.

Overall, the bars were a great upgrade for me.
 

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Steaming piles of opinion
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I like flat-top bars a lot, even though I rarely use them as such. They seem to put just enough flatness into the ramps to make that more comfortable.

However, I dislike so-called 'anatomical' drops, and unfortunately, many of the flattop bars have them. FSA is starting to use an elliptical bend on some models, though I believe those are compact drops. I put those on my wife's bike and she likes them a lot, but it depends if compact drops are good for you.

You say you like the idea of the shock-absorbing carbon. That's pretty much what it is - an idea, not an objective truth. Problem is, if they were flexible enough to meaningfully absorb shock, they'd be too flexible to reliably control the bike. A decent bar tape has much more effect on shock/vibration comfort as any difference in bar materials possibly could.

I use aluminum flattop bars, and because of the shape, many people confuse them for carbon. Riding buddies have borrowed my bike for a spin around the lot and commented after how much they liked 'the carbon bars', having never looked closely enough at the exposed part near the stem.

There's not much reason not to get carbon bars, other than price and wanting to take a bit more care in clamping, etc. But there are several aluminum alternatives that deserve a look. These are what I'm currently using, and I like them a lot. (And they're on sale.)

 

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n00bsauce
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Depends on how flat the flat tops are. I have a pair of flat top carbon bars and they're ok. Not great, but ok, but they've got a fairly wide and flat area on either side, much more pronounced than the picture danl1 posted of his bars. This limits your hand positions on the bars. Sometimes I like to rotate my wrists up or down and this is virtually impossible with a flat top bar.
 

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I've got the FSA K-wing on my bike and absolutely love it. It's super comfortable and quite light. Definitely a nice looking bar too. You can find it new on ebay in your price range.
 

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The whole idea that carbon bars make for a smoother ride is rubish. Carbon bars are stiffer, that is their seeling feature. Something stiff does not make for a smooth ride, in fact it makes the problem worse. Go aluminum, save money, and be more comfortable. Or run a wider tire, lower pressure, better bar tape, or 36sp box section wheels. All of those things will give you what you are looking for. Carbon bars will just make you angry.
I have no experience with flat top bars however.
 

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n00bsauce
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Wow, answering a generalization with a generalization. Carbon bars are not necessarily more stiff. It depends on how they're designed. I have carbon bars on one of my bikes and they are not as stiff as the alu bars on another of my bikes. Design determines the characteristics of a part MUCH more than the material it's made from. Your other suggestions will help smooth out a ride for most people but not necessarily the 36 spoke box section wheels. Again, design is more important than material and there are 36 spoke box section wheels that are quite stiff. As for carbon bars making someone angry, I'm just not getting this comment. Angry because of what, your perception that they are stiff? BTW, carbon bars do have one characteristic that does have an affect on ride because it is an inherent property of carbon fiber. They do tend to take the "buzz" out of the ride, at least the buzz that's transmitted through the bars. This is one of the reasons some people knock carbon fiber frames as being "dead". Carbon fiber does not transmit high frequency vibrations as well as alu or other metals and this can translate into a more comfortable feel for some people.
 

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This is where we will agree to disagree.
You have bought into the marketing hype that carbon bars take the "buzz" out. They don't.
Or you are also generalizing. Either way, carbon bars do not make your bike more comfortable. If your's do, then I think it's more in your head.
By the way, I love it when people say that "I have carbon bars on one of my bikes and they are not as stiff as the alu bars on another of my bikes." There are many more factors at play in the comfort of a bike than bars. Unless you take those bars off and put them on one of your other bikes you have no idea if they are different. Do all you other bikes have the same frame, fork, tires, tire pressure, wheels, stem?
And I'll clear up the angry comment for you. Carbon bars are quite a bit more money than an aluminum bar, they are really no lighter, and are actually more uncomfortable. I was angry, I felt like I had been had by marketing. So now I have this $300 bar, that I hate, but ride anyway because I spent so much money on it. It is currently on my rain bike.
And for the record, the only 36s box section wheel that is stiff has been tied and soldered.
 

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mad11:11one
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...

BONTRAGER race x lite carbon blade.
:23:
 

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Mel Erickson said:
Wow, answering a generalization with a generalization. ....

They do tend to take the "buzz" out of the ride, at least the buzz that's transmitted through the bars. This is one of the reasons some people knock carbon fiber frames as being "dead". Carbon fiber does not transmit high frequency vibrations as well as alu or other metals and this can translate into a more comfortable feel for some people.
That's the opposite side of the same generalization coin. That is not at all an inherent characteristic of carbon fiber, but can be had from using a higher percentage of matrix to fiber. Of course, that also tends to add weight and decrease strength. (strictly: Decreases strength, requiring added material and weight to compensate.)

As for the notion that CF composites don't transmit high-frequency sound well, that's mostly a marketing coup, as high frequencies don't really matter all that much to comfort - it's all about amplitude. Also, the range of frequencies in which aluminum and CF behave meaningfully differently are entirely absorbed by the air suspension of the tires.


Besides,
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/19/arts/music/19carb.html

"Mr. Leguia, who studied under Pablo Casals and played cello for the Boston Symphony Orchestra for 44 years, came up with the idea for a composite cello after going sailing on a fiberglass Hobie 16 catamaran. He was struck by how efficiently the boat’s hulls transmitted the sound of the waves. “The greatest instruments can be heard through the din of an orchestra,” he said in a telephone interview. “I saw potential in that.”

Granted, that's in comparison to wood as regards volume, but for a musical instrument to sound at all decent, it must faithfully resonate the a full span of frequencies.


But your post nails it well by closing 'for some people.' Some of those people do feel a small gain, but could also see it with an array of other choices other than bar material. Others feel it not because they are riding on carbon fiber, but because they bought carbon fiber.
 

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ok how about the fact that carbon looks cooler then aluminum. It's not always about functionality when buying parts. Maybe the OP likes the look of carbon. I know that's part of the reason why I have carbon bars on my road and MTN bikes. Sometimes it is about the bling factor :D
 

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danl1 said:
But your post nails it well by closing 'for some people.' Some of those people do feel a small gain, but could also see it with an array of other choices other than bar material. Others feel it not because they are riding on carbon fiber, but because they bought carbon fiber.
Bingo!
 

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Well that's different, and not what the op is asking.
If you like the looks of it, fine. But if you're looking for "shock absorbing carbon", and don't want an aluminum bar "since it might be too stiff". You may have bought into some marketing hype. Carbon has it's uses, it just that bars are not one of them.
 

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n00bsauce
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The buzz part is not hype. It's inherent in the makeup of carbon fiber as it's applied to bicycle parts like frames and bars. Given a range of costs, design parameters, weight targets, etc. typical bicycle components have a fairly small window that carbon designs and materials will work in. This window means that the material will have certain characteristics that can be universal and frequency damping is one of them. BTW, I can tell the difference in my bars regardless of all the other variables. It has nothing to do with comfort or damping. I can flex my carbon bars and I can't flex my alu bars. It's pretty easy to tell when your bars are flexing. They don't flex a lot but there is some flex. It's their design, not the material. It's not in my head. My head has been around long enough to know.
 

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Mel Erickson said:
I can flex my carbon bars and I can't flex my alu bars. It's pretty easy to tell when your bars are flexing. They don't flex a lot but there is some flex. It's their design, not the material. It's not in my head. My head has been around long enough to know.
Really? How do you know it's not your stem flexing? Or your head tube? Or your fork. Sure you may see your bars move when you pull on them, but that does not mean it's the bars flexing, all it means is there is flex in the front end as a whole. I find it laughable that you can say that any flex in your front end is identifiable down to the component. Too many factors.
And sorry, but it is hype. Find me a study that says that carbon bars absorb more road buzz than aluminum.
 

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n00bsauce
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I wasn't clear enough regarding carbon fiber and the buzz factor. As carbon fiber is applied to bicycle components, and particularly frames and bars and other roughly tubular components, there's a fairly small selection of types of fiber and how it's laid up that meets the cost and performance parameters. Racing yacht hull, violin bodies or aerospace applications have very different cost and performance parameters. For instance, cost is a fairly unimportant factor, they aren't mass produced and, therefore, they use more sophisticated carbon fiber technology. Yes, in the carbon fiber technology that's affordable in tubular bicycle components, high frequency damping is a general characteristic. High frequency is also a relative term. High frequency in the bicycle world is much different than the violin world. To be honest the frequency damping characteristics of tubular bicycle carbon fiber components is probably more related to the binding agents than the carbon fiber but they go hand in hand.
 

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n00bsauce
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I know it's not the other components because I used to have alu bars on the same bike and the only thing I changed was the handlebar. Plus, I've had nearly 40 years of cycling experience of all types. Racing to touring to recreational riding to commuting to mountain biking to tandeming. I've built countless bikes from the ground up. I can read my body and my components pretty well.

Regarding vibration damping. I realize that Calfee Designs may not be considered unbiased however, I think they're pretty straight shooters http://www.calfeedesign.com/whitepaper4.htm
 

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n00bsauce
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So you believe carbon bars are useless? That's quite a statement.
 
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