Titanium Handlebars
Titanium the Perfect Metal for the Best Bicycle Handlebar

Titanium happens to be my favorite material for a handlebar on a long road ride. Its light, won't rust, doesn't fatigue, and offers an amazing combination of stiffness and comfort. It is less likely to fracture or crack at clamps or in crashes like carbon fiber handlebars or aluminum bars ... and not as expensive a carbon fiber so I have a little more money to spend on other bike parts.

Weight: The TITEC TI-18 Titanium flat bar certainly takes the prize on weight, coming in at a meager 118 g, but most bars range from 140-200g.

Identical steel vs titanium handlebar would be about equal in strength, but the titanium bar would be about half the weight and half the stiffness. To build a titanium handlebar with more rigidity and better feel many manufacturers beef up the diameter and/or the wall thickness, so the overall weight of a titanium bar does not always reflect the fact that titanium is less than 60% of the weight of steel... but there's always a weight savings.

Alloys: Bicycle parts made of titanium are actually made of a titanium alloy. Typically the most common ones are Ti 6-4 (6% aluminum & 4% vanadium) and Ti 3-2.5 (6% Al & 4%V). Both are high strength aircraft grade titanium. Although the Ti6-4 is the stronger of the two, the Ti 3-2.5 is the most common. It is easier to manipulate as bike tube. Some suggest it is a waste of money to purchase the Ti6-4 as its felt it is a bit of overkill.... maybe necessary for an airplane fitting but not necessary for a bicycle handle bar.

Since titanium has a reputation of sometimes having a little too much flex, manufacturers often beef up the diameter of the bars to compensate. Bigger tubes reduces flex.

End Plugs: some mountain bars like the X-Lite XLR Titanium Pro include turned end plugs to allow clamping of barends without damaging the tubing.... a definite plus if you expect to install barends.

Issues: The titanium handlebars can flex enough that they can cause an annoying creaking noise where the bar fits into the stem clamp. Some handlebar makers down size the tube at the clamp, reinforce from the inside and then include a plastic shim to buffer the torsion and eliminate the creaking.

Related Articles:
Bicycle Handlebar Design: considerations based on your riding style
Features to Invest In:
Aluminum Handlebars
Carbon Fiber Handlebars

Other Articles of Interest:
All About Various Material Options: Carbon Fiber, Aluminum & Titanium

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copyright Jan. 2007