Carbon Fiber handlebars are typically chosen by those individuals
that are really focusing on weight as their primary objective.
Easton puts out a top of the line handlebar that uses the newest
in carbon nanotube technology to increase strength and still weighs
in under 200g.
An elite Kestrel handlebar made of a carbon-aramid blend, with
a full lifetime warranty comes in at 170 g, but of course you
may need to win the lottery first... all that being said there
is one other feature of carbon fiber that is interesting and that
is its ability to absorb vibration. This makes that long trek
a little less stressful on the upper body and may justify the
purchase of a carbon handlebar.
Here's a list of typical features for the typical bicycle
Clamping Area: One challenge of using a carbon handlebar
is tightening down the brake levers and mounting on the stem,
without using so much clamp pressure that you risk crushing the
tube. Slick clear coated carbon fiber bars make the job more difficult
and don't provide a nice grabbing surface. They tend to result
in your stem and levers migrating out of position at the most
Newer designs include a textured clamping area, often reinforced
with fiberglass or aramid fibers to address this issue. Its a
feature well worth paying for.
Cabling: carbon bars come with both internal and surface
grooved designs to accommodate both brake and derailleur cables.
Seems to be more a function of personal preference and manufacturers
Clip-on Aero Bars: Not all carbon fiber handle bars are
designed for aero bars. Clip-ons require reinforcement of the
fiber at the strategic points where the clamps meet the bar..
if the bar has not been designed for this added stress you'll
fracture your handlebar in no time.
Kevlar Coating: KevlarŪ is the most common aramid type
fiber that is sometimes used as a coating material, particularly
in the clamping zones to improve abrasion resistance. Carbon fiber,
has poor abrasion resistance and scratches can compromise the
integrity of the bar and lead to fatigue, thus kevlar coating
of carbon fiber handlebars adds one more layer of protection and
gives your bars a longer life expectancy.
Hint: Covering small scratches with a coat of clear nail polish
will help protect the carbon fiber below. It is critical that
any fixtures that clamps carbon composite components is free of
sharp edges and burrs.
Warranty: All over the map, from nothing at the low end,
to lifetime on the really expensive $350 versions. Some manufacturers
offer a discount on a replacement if you crash, so you may want
to ask. Then "when" it happens you'll know if it is
worth hauling the broken parts out of the bush.
I've also noticed that some manufacturers have chosen to invalidated
their warranty if you don't use their proprietary stem, so once
again ask. No point is paying big bucks for a warranted bar only
to find out you can't collect because you're using your old stem.
- as suggested earlier, inspect before each ride for scratches
and or fracture lines.
- don't over tighten or you'll crush the fiber
- don't grease the clamp zone, or you will have to overtighten!
Carbon fiber does not tend to seize in the clamp the way aluminum
or steel bars tend to.
- If you need to cut your bar, support it in an appropriately
designed jig (see below) so that you don't damage the tube.
- inspect and remove all sharp edges and burrs using a fine
emery cloth before clamping.
Weight: from 170 g up to 300g but always less then a similarly
designed aluminum or steel handlebar of the same strength.
Pricing: $100-$350. How broke do you want to be?
& Their Design: road vs mountain biking
to Invest In When Purchasing a Handle Bar
External Links of Interest:
your carbon fiber handlebars: (Easton Bike's PDF Download)