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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My 1998 steel Serotta has the original stem, a 3T Status quill style, and the original handlebars: 3T Forma. They've worked great but finally I'm beginning to wonder if its time to change one or both of them. This season I've noticed that when going over bumps, there's an awful lot of flex in the bars and a creaking sound coming from where they are clamped into the stem. It is especially noticeable on descents when it can make the bike harder to handle. Even when standing still, you can grab the bars in the drops and if you pull fairly hard as if sprinting, a lot of flex can be felt. The fork is the old threaded style, but tracks true and absorbs shocks pretty well, so I'd like to keep it. Any suggestions, especially from someone who had the same experience with a well used set of bar and stem?
 

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I just read a thread in this forum today

prometheus said:
My 1998 steel Serotta has the original stem, a 3T Status quill style, and the original handlebars: 3T Forma. They've worked great but finally I'm beginning to wonder if its time to change one or both of them. This season I've noticed that when going over bumps, there's an awful lot of flex in the bars and a creaking sound coming from where they are clamped into the stem. It is especially noticeable on descents when it can make the bike harder to handle. Even when standing still, you can grab the bars in the drops and if you pull fairly hard as if sprinting, a lot of flex can be felt. The fork is the old threaded style, but tracks true and absorbs shocks pretty well, so I'd like to keep it. Any suggestions, especially from someone who had the same experience with a well used set of bar and stem?
about if switching to a CF vs alu bar would soften road buzz. Conversation drifted to how often you swap out bars due to loss of anodization and corrossive sweat on the bars and thru the bar tape. I've never had to swap out bars yet but YMMV. I would go with a pair of Nittos in whatever flavor you choose and not look back. It might be time before they suddenly snap.
 

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yup, I had creaking in that area the other day and after pushing off to get clipped in at a light my quill stem failed at the welds. I was really lucky it decided to go when I was just starting. Just got a little scratch on my leg.

I was planning to investigate the creaking when I got home, but I didn't make it that far. I would give it a thorough inspection at the very least.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
repartocorse40 said:
yup, I had creaking in that area the other day and after pushing off to get clipped in at a light my quill stem failed at the welds. I was really lucky it decided to go when I was just starting. Just got a little scratch on my leg.

I was planning to investigate the creaking when I got home, but I didn't make it that far. I would give it a thorough inspection at the very least.
You were very fortunate indeed. I have done an inspection. Took out the bolt and rubber bung, cleaned and lightly lubed the bolt and screwed it back in securely. But this didn't help.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
ARP said:
about if switching to a CF vs alu bar would soften road buzz. Conversation drifted to how often you swap out bars due to loss of anodization and corrossive sweat on the bars and thru the bar tape. I've never had to swap out bars yet but YMMV. I would go with a pair of Nittos in whatever flavor you choose and not look back. It might be time before they suddenly snap.
I once heard someone say to swap bars "twice a decade". That seems a bit excessive but I suppose it depends. I have a 1995 bike with original bars that are fine. Granted, they are a bit heavier and I don't ride that bike as hard.
Nitto has a good reputation. I've seen Deda Newtons still around in that size, and Ritchey bars too. Never really heard from anyone as to how good those bars are.
 

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Are you sure the flex isn't from the stem, not the bars? Your bars are 50 grams heavier than the Deda Prima bars that I use. Switching out the stem made a huge difference in stiffness, although this was going from a quill to a threadless adapter setup.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
sanrensho said:
Are you sure the flex isn't from the stem, not the bars? Your bars are 50 grams heavier than the Deda Prima bars that I use. Switching out the stem made a huge difference in stiffness, although this was going from a quill to a threadless adapter setup.
It crossed my mind to go threadless with an adapter for the fork. How has this worked for you? Just seems that with the weight of the adapter, might as well just get another quill stem if I have to replace this one. Then again, at least if its time to go with a threadless fork, I'd already have the stem and bars for it.
 

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prometheus said:
It crossed my mind to go threadless with an adapter for the fork. How has this worked for you? Just seems that with the weight of the adapter, might as well just get another quill stem if I have to replace this one. Then again, at least if its time to go with a threadless fork, I'd already have the stem and bars for it.
The threadless adapter (Profile) setup worked really, really well. I would still be using it today if I hadn't switched out for a threadless fork.

Both threadless adapters I looked at (Profile and ITM) weighed a hair over 150 grams. Pair it with a light stem (100-130 grams), and you are not that much heavier than a typical quill stem. I felt that the added stiffness was entirely worth the slight weight penalty and non-classic look.

The Profile adapter also happens to be cheap ($15-20) and easy to find.
 

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I would definitely replace them given age, the signs, and the fact that stem/bars are a critical control point. Short of losing an entire front wheel, I can't think of a worse spot to fail.

I used to poo poo these things until a "well-loved" pair of 10 year old standard-weight Kestrel carbon bars failed with no prior warning or external visual cues whatsoever. They had been truly abused them for several seasons, so not a warrantee issue. It was a slow enough "craackkk" to allow for reaction time (I wasn't pulling up all that hard), but you might not be so lucky when aluminum tubing or a weld decided to go. So, don't ignore the signs.

There is still lots of decent quality Nitto stuff out there, also check out veloorange.com. Purchase based off preferred dimensions rather than brand. It makes sense to stay with the 3T shape if you're happy with it. There is nothing wrong with choosing lightweight stuff, just realize that you'll be replacing it much sooner than with mid-heavy weight models, and if you want to play weight weenie games it's probably more effective to go whole hog with a new rig. I think the marginal weight penalty for bars like Deda Magic vs Newton or Ritchey Comp/Pro vs. WCS are worth the significant stiffness improvment, especially when they're going on a well-used frameset that may or may not be starting to sag (let's not get into the "frame fatigue" debate). I'm not neccessarilly saying you should settle for 400gm $10 no-name clunkers with funky dimensions, but it's definitely better to err on the heavier side. It's also always better to pay a little more for something local (or scrounge your buddie's junk piles) that you know will work, rather than to take a chance on a "better bar/stem" online.

RE: threadless adaptors...been there, not overly impressed. some of the adaptors are very poor quality - I had one that would always work itself loose. Don't remember which brand. I had another one (might have been the Profle) which worked fine but didn't line up very well with a Thomson stem (limited clamping area). That combo was pretty darn stiff and quite portly. I then stumbled upon a quill that was much lighter and just as solid. Adaptors make sense if you already have a threadless stem laying around or can't find a quality quill supply. Open faceplates are also really nice and not many quills have them. But otherwise, a quill stem can be just as solid and look better on a "classic" bike than a fake threadless job. It'll help to first decide if you're inclined toward upgrade-itis with the fork, or if the next bar and stem will see the bike through the rest of it's life.
 

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More thoughts: Has the frame/fork become spongier with the front wheel locked, or does it just seem like the stem and bars twist while the head tube and fork remain stable? Unless it's a super light deal, most forks were pretty reliable by 1998. Even if it does seems like everything is sagging, sometimes just a handlebar and stem change can dramatically make it "good enough."

Keep in mind that finding a quality replacement 1" fork with matching length and rake might be challenging. Also gotta find a headset and pay someone to install everything and cut the steer tube if you're not equipped to do it on your own. Still, it's a Serotta...tough call.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
BenR said:
More thoughts: Has the frame/fork become spongier with the front wheel locked, or does it just seem like the stem and bars twist while the head tube and fork remain stable? Unless it's a super light deal, most forks were pretty reliable by 1998. Even if it does seems like everything is sagging, sometimes just a handlebar and stem change can dramatically make it "good enough."

Keep in mind that finding a quality replacement 1" fork with matching length and rake might be challenging. Also gotta find a headset and pay someone to install everything and cut the steer tube if you're not equipped to do it on your own. Still, it's a Serotta...tough call.
Thanks Ben, your points are quite helpful.
The frame doesn't feel spongy.The fork is a 1998 Serotta F1 .Although heavy by today's standards, its solid too. All the "give" that's occuring seems to be coming from the handlebar/stem interface. I have a 3T Status stem very lightly used from years ago, but it is 1cm shorter than the one on the bike now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Measuring stem length

If I do get a new stem, wondering is the length measured end to end or center to center?
Also, saw NOS 3T quill stems for sale on ebay. Anyone familiar with the Motus or Synthesis models?
 

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Possibility.

prometheus said:
Any suggestions, especially from someone who had the same experience with a well used set of bar and stem?
Could it be just a matter of heightened awareness? If you've been steering through a non-threaded headset on another bike for a while and then went back to your Serotta, the Serotta threaded setup could feel more flexy than you remembered. Given equal-quality components, almost all threaded setups flex more than non-threaded ones.

Quill stem extensions are measured center-to-center just like unthreaded ones. Quill stem quills are measured top-to-bottom.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks for the info re: measurements. My other bike is threaded/quill set up too so I don't think its a question of perception.

I just pulled the trigger on a replacement stem/bar. Found NOS in same size and models as what I'm replacing. Only difference is the bars are black instead of silver alloy color. Still, I recently upgraded from 9 to 10 speed and the levers are the black carbon, so the "classic" look is adulterated already. As long as the stuff works well that's most important! We'll see if this firms up the front of the bike and completes this rebuild.
 

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Flexy Handlebars

I had a new TTT Synthesis 10mm.stem I got rid of it because of too much flex. I am a 140 llb non sprinter.
 
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