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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm going to be re-building my 2014 BMC GF-01 soon, once it gets back from Calfee for a chip repair.

I still have all of the original components to re-install, including a 3T alloy handlebar.

I'm not concerned about the weight of the current bars, but I am curious if there is any real benefit in terms of comfort and compliance with a carbon bar vs alloy?

Is a carbon bar significantly better at vibration dampening ?

What about cold weather? Any benefits (or concerns) with carbon when its cold (I don't ride much below freezing 32F/0C)

I'm 6' 5" (195cm) and 245lbs (111kg), and have a long torso, so there is a lot of pressure on my hands when I ride.

This is an endurance/all-day ride sort of bike, so my primary goals would be.

1. Safety
2. Comfort/Compliance
3. ....
4. ....
5. ...
~~~
998. Weight
999. Aerodynamics

I know that carbon bars are far more expensive, and more fragile in terms of possible crash damage, so that is also something I'd be factoring in to my decision.

I was looking at Ritchey Evo Carbon and 3T Ergonova (can get a discount from my LBS). I wouldn't risk any 'bargain' chinese carbon bars on Ebay, even if they are a 'good deal'.
 

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Forever a Student
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Negligible really. I ride both and there really isn't much difference outside of weight. Carbon will break at some point most likely. If I wanted an aero shaped bar I'd run carbon, if I used a regular shape I'd go alloy. Alloy stems.
 

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Adorable Furry Hombre
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The only real reason to go carbon-fiber on handlebars is for the shaping, which CF affords tons of shaping possibilities. I prefer wing cross section when I'm on that portion of the bar. The difference in dampening is miniscule, especially if you have under-the-tape gel pads. I have an Aeronova-look-alike from fleabay...but I am cognisant of the risk and ride the bars light especially on bad pavement. If I could get the ergonomics of the Aeronova in alloy I'd take it-but that degree of shaping is impossible in alloy...Sure 3T sells an alloy version of it, but it is basically impossible to do cable routing internally, and if you pull it oss it will impact your shifting.

If you're getting a round-tube bar get an alloy one, much less worry. Odds are especially in round-tube you can find a bar with the drop/reach qualities you want easily.

Also as someone who is heavier, OP...3T only warranties their carbon-fiber handlebars if you weigh under 240#.
 

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It doesn't really matter. And fragile or not isn't unique to material but has to do with design and how much priority was placed on strength vs low weight. It has to do with how they are made/designed.
Bridges and airplanes are made of carbon fiber. The beer can you smashed on your head in college was alloy. So don't assume one thing is stronger than the other because of what it's made of. Plenty of carbon bars are really rugged while alloy makers who want to play in the weightweenie category will produce weak bars.

That being said I don't see the benefit of paying carbon bar prices for a few grams. If carbon is the only way to get a particular shape though then it makes sense.
 

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Crank Addict
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I'd say the differences in weight are almost nill... There's perhaps a little bit of vibration absorption, but I'd bet that's pretty marginal if you're already on an endurance frame. The biggest advantage is shaping as others have mentioned. I'm running S-Works Aerofly bars on both bikes and have no worries about riding them on any pavement I come across, but I'm nowhere near the weight limits... not even close.
 

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If I could get the ergonomics of the Aeronova in alloy I'd take it-but that degree of shaping is impossible in alloy...Sure 3T sells an alloy version of it, but it is basically impossible to do cable routing internally, and if you pull it oss it will impact your shifting.
Specialized Bar Shapers are an option to add aero shape to an alloy bar.
 

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I have seen an alloy bar break when used on a bike that spent a lot of time on a trainer with one that sweats heavily. The corrosion was impressive.

If you experience road buzz with alloy bars, then carbon may help. Beyond that, shape is the main benefit. I have some Vision Metron bars and Easton EC70 aero shaped bars and like them both.
 

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Of the bars I've put a ton of miles on so I'd know well; two were carbon and one was alloy.
The most flexy bar was one of the carbon ones.
The stiffest bar was one of the carbon ones.
The best at damping vibration was one of the carbon ones.
The worst at damping vibration was one of the carbon ones.

The alloy was in the middle of the two in every performance category. So just to stress what I said earlier. It really doesn't matter what they are made of performance wise....like frames it's more about design than material.
 

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Carbon will break at some point most likely.
Barring a crash, under regular riding circumstances carbon bars will outlive alloy bars. Some manufacturers recommend changing alloy bars because they fatigue much quicker. This is especially true if you do a lot of sprinting.
 

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Banned Sock Puppet
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Of the bars I've put a ton of miles on so I'd know well; two were carbon and one was alloy.
The most flexy bar was one of the carbon ones.
The stiffest bar was one of the carbon ones.
The best at damping vibration was one of the carbon ones.
The worst at damping vibration was one of the carbon ones.

The alloy was in the middle of the two in every performance category. So just to stress what I said earlier. It really doesn't matter what they are made of performance wise....like frames it's more about design than material.

This reminds me of the old "Frame Materials For The Touring Cyclist" article by the late great Sheldon Brown. I've posted it before, but it bears repeating:

"Did you know that:


  • Aluminum frames have a harsh ride?
  • Titanium frames are soft and whippy?
  • Steel frames go soft with age, but they have a nicer ride quality?
  • England's Queen Elizabeth is a kingpin of the international drug trade?

All of the above statements are equally false.

There is an amazing amount of folkloric "conventional wisdom" about bicycle frames and materials that is widely disseminated, but has no basis in fact.

The reality is that you can make a good bike frame out of any of these metals, with any desired riding qualities, by selecting appropriate tubing diameters, wall thicknesses and frame geometry."




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Of the bars I've put a ton of miles on so I'd know well; two were carbon and one was alloy.
The most flexy bar was one of the carbon ones.
The stiffest bar was one of the carbon ones.
The best at damping vibration was one of the carbon ones.
The worst at damping vibration was one of the carbon ones.

The alloy was in the middle of the two in every performance category. So just to stress what I said earlier. It really doesn't matter what they are made of performance wise....like frames it's more about design than material.
This^^^^^

Carbon can be any of these depending on its design. I had an FSA K-Wing. I was a little rough to ride with, but real stiff. I now have a Thomson KFC1 and it's way more comfortable to ride with. I can feel a tad more flex, but it's not a deal breaker
 

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I like the carbon bars I have owned (Easton, 3T, Thomson) because of the better vibration damping and lighter weight vs. the alloy bars I've used (Deda, 3T).

The carbon 3T bars I owned were fragile and snapped in a crash. I wouldn't buy 3T carbon bars again.

What I have found that I particularly like are Thomson Carbon Road bars. They damp vibration and are lighter than alloy bars, while still being stiff.
 

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Let me try to help you by first simplifying then providing some guidance and fellow clyde advice...

cabon bars typically more expensive
alloy bars typically less expnsive

carbon bars may be more fragile if crashed cause can't see damage
crashed alloy bars may be able to keep using

a good alloy bar may be better for you than a bad carbon bar
meaning light strong better fitting alloy bar more benefit
than heavy or fragile or improper drop reach carbon bars

none of the above are based on scientific data, research or fact
just opinion that really means nothing to no one
this advice was free so you got your money's worth before you finished reading this

Now as a clyde, really a super clyde, you may want to consider getting handlebars better sized for your dimensions and possible fit needs. Specifically, consider looking for 46 cm center to center bar (not 46 outside to outside cause those are really just 44 c to c) for the possibly needed width to open up your shoulders, wider hand position and possibly a more comfortable fitment.

To help the Naysayers - just cut and paste...

I don't ride wide bars and I am the size you were in grade school so that means you don't need them.

UCI maximum bar width is 44 c to c so in case someone measures on your Tuesday night world championship hammerfest you will be legal.

Only a few handlebars makers actually make available 46 c to c so that means no one needs wider than 44 c to c bars.

Many bike fitters don't even look at anatomically correct crank arm length so why should they bother looking at bar width after they have taken your money for a professional fit.

46 c to c bars are too wide, they will flex, you will bend them, they take up too much room in the peloton, there is not enough bar tape in the package to wrap all that width, makes the bike look funny, makes you look funny without scrunched up shoulders, less aero, wind scoops you mack truck you, handles like a pig, and let's not forget that you should be charged more cause you get way more (insert carbon or alloy material here) at the same price I pay for my itty bitty liddle narrow girly bars made for a horse jockey like me.

Where was I? Oh yeah...consider wider bars if needed for a proper fit. Consider longer crank arms for your inseam...oh wait the bike industry just arbitrarily set maximum crank length at 180 mm and really just make and mostly sell 175 crank arms cause that should fit everyone including 6 foot 5 inchers.

Barring unforseen posts that will distract you, good luck in getting a grasp of things. I'm sure you will handle it well and wrap this up soon.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
LOL Cranky! No one has ever called me a 'Super Clyde', but I suppose it might apply. Thanks for all of that. I ride 175mm crank arms (180 on my MTB), and they are fine. My current bars (on this bike) are 44cm 3T alloy, and they also fit fine. I've tried a wider bar during a fit session, and prefer this width.

Thanks to everyone for all of the input. It's all good useful info. I still haven't made up my mind. I'm still curious about the vibration dampening. I talked to the guys at my LBS (they sell Enve and 3T). They offered to let me demo a set on my bike. I may take them up on it.

Two years ago, this would have been an easy decision. I would have gone with carbon. But at that point in my life, I had literally never had a crash. Since then I've had one semi nasty crash (self inflicted), and been hit by a car. I also had a kid chasing his dog knock over my bike at a park one day when I was refilling my bottles. Scuffed my shifters and bar tape, and a little road rash on the seat stays.

Now the car thing was not at all my fault, and the bike was completely replaced by insurance, but the reality is, crashes happen, and I just don't know if I want to have to deal with replacing a $350 set of handlbars on the chance I have to lay the bike down and ding them on something.

Thanks again
 

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...I just don't know if I want to have to deal with replacing a $350 set of handlbars on the chance I have to lay the bike down and ding them on something.
That's your answer. Odds are you're going to crash again. Maybe you'll crash hard enough to break the bars. Maybe you won't. But, you seem to be uneasy with the possibility of spending another $350, so alloy is for you.
 

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I haven't owned CF bars, but my experience with alloy bars is that wing-flat topped bars are more comfy than round bars, because flat topped bars flex like a yard stick, not like a round dowel. I'm guessing that the flat topped bars are weaker than round bars, but the engineering types would know far better than I. If I were you, I would get alloy flat topped bars in the drop shape you prefer and then replace them every 3 years. I like my FSA Wing Pro Compact better than the 3t, because the FSA's flare out more after the hoods. Also, I would steer clear of butted bars because you are a big boy.
 

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Adorable Furry Hombre
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Huh, I honestly didn't know you could get a flat top/aero bar in Alloy.
There aren't very many. If you are choosy about your reach/geometry...you'll likely need to use a standard round bar and buy that Specialized wing kit linked above.
 

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I feel that carbon bars come at such a high price premium over aluminum bars that I can't bring myself to buy them. The only carbon bars I have are ones that came with one of my bikes.

I don't feel any difference in comfort or stiffness, but I'm also more than a hundred pounds lighter than the OP.
 
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