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Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg) Looking to lose that spare tire? Ideal weight 200+? Frustrated being a large cyclist in a sport geared for the ultra-light? Learn about the bikes and parts that can take the abuse of a heavier cyclist, how to keep your body going while losing the weight, and get support from others who've been successful.

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Old 06-16-10, 02:06 PM   #1
Seattle Forrest
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Anybody use carbon fiber handlebars?

My shoulders get very sore after I've been riding for a while; this starts when I've been in the saddle for 2 or 3 hours, and gets worse as time goes on. Stopping for a break can help, but the soreness comes back in a few minutes when I get back on the bike. I feel like I'm Frankenstein, and the pin holding my arm into my shoulder is rusty and falling out.

This happened faster than normal on a weekend ride on a dirt and gravel trail. A friend (offline) suggested that it's probably from the bumpiness, and pointed out that most of our roads aren't smooth, but suggested that it takes longer to get sore on the road because they're in much better shape than the trail. He thinks carbon bars would be a big help. I'm skeptical, but if it works, I'd be happy; this is what's holding me back from century and longer rides. (I know one of the reasons photographers like CF tripods is their vibration dampening power.)

So, my first question is for people who've switched from aluminum to carbon fiber bars at some point: does it smooth out the ride much? Are you more comfortable with them, particularly in the shoulders? Or will I already be shaking things up enough with an alu fork, stem, etc, for it not to matter? I've already got gel under my tape...

And my next question is about buying them used. I've seen them used on Craigslist for as little as $85, but I know carbon fiber can have structural problems and look fine. I emailed local somebody about a pair and got this reply: "these are 44's and both sides have have chips at the ends where the end caps go. I switched to a more compact design but other then the ends I think they are structurally sound" Would a bang at the end compromise the whole bar, or if there was a problem, could it be localized at the ends?

I'm asking about drop bars, by the way.
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Old 06-16-10, 02:09 PM   #2
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I picked up some carbon handlebars at the beginning of this season. Was disappointed that I didn't feel more difference. But of course individual results may vary...
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Old 06-16-10, 02:26 PM   #3
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I don't use them since I like clip on aerobar or a front bag on my bikes.
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Old 06-16-10, 02:30 PM   #4
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I wouldn't buy used carbon bars. You never know how they were used. It's hard to tell by looking, but they may have been in a bad accident and could fail when you lean on them going up a hill.
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Old 06-16-10, 02:33 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
So, my first question is for people who've switched from aluminum to carbon fiber bars at some point: does it smooth out the ride much? Are you more comfortable with them, particularly in the shoulders? Or will I already be shaking things up enough with an alu fork, stem, etc, for it not to matter? I've already got gel under my tape...
I recently found the carbon version of my favorite aluminum bar on sale for only $10 more than the Al version, so I bought them. Honestly, I can't tell any difference between the ride of the carbon bar and the aluminum bar. They look cool, so they're worth the extra $10 but not, in my opinion, worth the normal 3X price difference...

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And my next question is about buying them used.
Buying used carbon fiber parts is always a bit of a crap shoot... I, personally, only buy CF new or from friends I trust to tell me the truth about the history of the part.
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Old 06-16-10, 02:36 PM   #6
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The only thing worse than a carbon bar snapping in half would be your seat post snapping in half... I"m tempted to get rid of my carbon seat post, the creaking unnerves me. So if you get 'em, get new ones. Chips at the end probably aren't a problem... probably.

As for photographers, I believe the best reason to get a CF tripod is the weight, strength and stiffness.... vibration from the earth isn't really a problem (my experience)
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Old 06-16-10, 02:52 PM   #7
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do you wear gloves when you ride? When i got some gel gloves I found it helped me out quite a bit.
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Old 06-16-10, 02:56 PM   #8
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Fizik-Bar-Gel

I used the above product for similar reasons, and it made a huge difference in taking the vibration from the handlebars. Sometimes small changes can make all the difference needed. When it comes time to re-wrap the bars on my new Scott, I will use it again just for the added comfort.
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Old 06-16-10, 03:52 PM   #9
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So, I'm not 100 % convinced that my issue is with bumpy roadways, but the wisdom of the Clydes ( and Athenas ) is making it sound like even if that is what's making my shoulders sore, used carbon fiber might not be the best solution...

Quote:
Originally Posted by cyclist2000 View Post
I don't use them since I like clip on aerobar or a front bag on my bikes.
Hmmm. Would CF bars mean no bike computer, lights, or GPS? Or are areobars different?

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Originally Posted by TrojanHorse View Post
As for photographers, I believe the best reason to get a CF tripod is the weight, strength and stiffness.... vibration from the earth isn't really a problem (my experience)
I want a CF 'pod for the weight, but also for the dampening. It's not so much earthquakes I'm worried about, but long exposure photography, and rumbling from nearby streams, the wind, or from city traffic. Especially on bridges and balconies. ( Off topic, but the links go to photos shot under those conditions... )

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do you wear gloves when you ride? When i got some gel gloves I found it helped me out quite a bit.
I used to on my MTB, but I guess the brakes on my drop bars require a little more dexterity, and the gloves make it a little harder to pull the levers, which makes me nervous. The only ones I wear nowadays are merino liners.

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I've actually got these under my bar tape. It doesn't feel as squishy as you'd expect, but I do think the bumps it takes out add up after a long ride. It's pretty hard to say, because I've been making other adjustments, but I do think a 30+ mile ride is more comfortable with that stuff.
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Old 06-16-10, 04:52 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
I used to on my MTB, but I guess the brakes on my drop bars require a little more dexterity, and the gloves make it a little harder to pull the levers, which makes me nervous. The only ones I wear nowadays are merino liners.



I've actually got these under my bar tape. It doesn't feel as squishy as you'd expect, but I do think the bumps it takes out add up after a long ride. It's pretty hard to say, because I've been making other adjustments, but I do think a 30+ mile ride is more comfortable with that stuff.
Gloves make a difference. Have you tried fingerless ones?

What do you ahve bars wrapped in? I like not-really-cork tape. It absorbs a lot of vibrations.

Also, try gripping the bars less tightly. that's a common problem, too.
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Old 06-16-10, 05:37 PM   #11
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I've got Fizik gel pads under some Fizik cork tape. And actually I have some fingerless gloves with gel palms, but they're no go on the drop bars. And the mountain bike I used to have was stolen a year ago, so the CX bike is the only one I have.

My gut says this is more a fit issue than a vibrating bars issue. I've moved a bunch of stuff around, and got the seat at what seems to be the best place for it, and ditto the bars. So I'm really not sure. It would be perfect if I could try my bike on a normal trip with CF parts, but especially for the handebars, that would be kind of expensive ... I'd have to get new tape, and it would probably take me an hour to swap everything, just to find out if this really is the right solution.

But it sounds like people who've went CF for the bars don't feel it's made a huge difference, and if I can only afford used ones, it sounds like I'd be wise to stick with trusty metal anyway. I'm a lot more afraid of crashing if the bars snap than I am of having sore shoulders at the end of a long ride.
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Old 06-16-10, 08:56 PM   #12
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I got these (but from a US dealer for about $57 new)
http://cgi.ebay.com/FSA-K-Force-Carb...item3effc85ed1


I think these are the newer version (I think MSRP is like $160 but seen as high as $240) so why buy used.
http://cgi.ebay.com/New-FSA-K-Force-...item51938ebcd7


I really like them and do notice some dampening effect, you don't seem to get any sharp jarring (but I do have front suspension too), but for as stiff as they are they work great.
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Old 06-16-10, 09:00 PM   #13
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I have been using a set of Easton EC90 bars on my road bike, I love the bend and they are super light weight. I can not say that I notice any difference in the dampening qualities of the carbon over alloy bars. I just like how they fit.
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Old 06-16-10, 09:06 PM   #14
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I'm going to suggest that CF bars are not going to help. Your arms, hands, and shoulders hurt because you are using them to support your weight. You should be using core muscles instead. Something that helped me a lot was getting a really good fitting. A change in stem length and position, along with a change in my saddle position to get me balanced over the cranks went a long way toward reducing the pressure on my hands, which resulted in much less fatigue in arms, shoulders, back, and neck.
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Old 06-16-10, 10:27 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
I've got Fizik gel pads under some Fizik cork tape. And actually I have some fingerless gloves with gel palms, but they're no go on the drop bars.

I am trying to picture how one could not use levers in fingerless gloves. I don’t get it. I can pretty much do anything in fingerless gloves; break, shift, text, play the piano, type, etc.... Maybe try different gloves.
Quote:
My gut says this is more a fit issue than a vibrating bars issue.

I would say trust your gut. As was mentioned before If a joint or muscle hurts it is probably being used in such a way that it is not strong enough to support. When that happens to me I look to make a small adjustment to the bike and then do a bit of (or massive) focus on that group with weights in the gym.
Get someone who understands bike fit to take a look at you on your bike. A stationary trainer is good for this. The correct frame size, saddle tilt (ie level), saddle height, bar angle, stem height and reach will make a big difference. If you cannot ride relaxed on the bike, something isn’t right and pain will surely follow.
If you suspect fit as the issue what will almost certainly not solve the issue is carbon fibre. CF dampens some road vibration it is not suspension or a massage therapist. What would cyclists with sore shoulders done before CF?
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Old 06-17-10, 03:52 AM   #16
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I guess it's been said already, but I have carbon bars on my bike and haven't noticed any difference compared to aluminum bars.
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Old 06-17-10, 05:31 AM   #17
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IMHO I would say this is more of a fit issue. Try some differerent tape, maybe some gloves, try not to lock out your arms too.
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