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Old 09-03-12, 12:01 PM   #1
beezaur
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Strong Handlebars?

I'm getting ready to pre-emptively replace my handlebars, and am looking for something stronger.

What I have now is regular drops with clip-on aero bars.

I'm 190 lbs and spend about half my time on the aero bars, half on the hoods. I pretty much never use the drops.

I was thinking of using a steel drop bar that works with my aero bars (does that even exist?), but actually any bar that accommodates those two positions is fine. Steel is fine, heavy aluminum is fine, titanium, carbon fiber, I don't care.

It just needs to be something durable.

Any ideas?
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Old 09-03-12, 12:20 PM   #2
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Steel "Bullhorn" bars for your style of riding.

http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_nkw=bullhorn+handlebars
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Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
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Old 09-03-12, 12:29 PM   #3
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190 lbs isn't that much. What makes you think your current handlebars aren't durable enough?
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Old 09-03-12, 02:08 PM   #4
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190 lbs isn't that much. What makes you think your current handlebars aren't durable enough?
A search on this forum for "handlebar failure."

I ride ~4500 miles per year, none of it racing. I have zero need for uber-lightweight handlebars that regularly fail in fatigue.
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Old 09-03-12, 02:41 PM   #5
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Been riding aluminum bars for years, weight between 170-240 depending on the years, no failure ever.
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Old 09-03-12, 03:01 PM   #6
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Thanks for the steel bullhorn idea.

I found that Nitto makes them in stainless, but they have closed welded ends. And they are small diameter.

Is it fair to hotlink to images posted on BF? Anyway . . . from the first two threads on the search . . .





My bike maintenance book says to pre-emptively replace handlebars, or they can fail. The book "Bicycling Science, 3rd Ed." by Wilson has this to say in the Strength of Materials secion (p. 354):
Quote:
Aluminum-alloy handlebars all too frequently break off (three have done so for the author), as do handlebar stems and even cranks . . .
The collective experience here plus the say-so of authors of books I own is enough for me. I'm done with aluminum racing bars for my commuter bike.

The thing I don't like is that fatigue failure is sudden and often comes without warning. Many accounts on this board resulted in crashes, as one side of the handlebar abruptly let go while the rider was moving.

But if someone should want to stick to minimalist aluminum construction for tens of thousands of miles, hey, knock yourself out . . .

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Old 09-03-12, 03:25 PM   #7
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Strong Handlebars?

You do not have to worry about bars breaking generally, but using clip-ons, you should take extra care to learn that the bars you choose are compatible, and that they're installed correctly.

Failing to to do proper installation on a suitable bar could lead to bar failure.

I suggest you consult a manufacturers site for
compatibility info.

Yes, you can simply discriminate by material type and weight by buying the heaviest steel bar you can find, but you'll have more options if you take the less emotional course I just outlined.
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Old 09-03-12, 03:44 PM   #8
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less emotional course I just outlined.
Where does that come from?

There is ample evidence that normal aluminum handlebars do not stand up.

The normal, and manufacturer-recommended practice is to preemptively replace the handlebars if you ride a lot. I don't want to do that. I am looking for equipment that I can mount on my bicycle, which is my primary vehicle, and not worry about it. I do not want some understrength item that I would have to replace every one or two years to be sure of my safety.

Quote:
You do not have to worry about bars breaking generally . . .
Unless you ride a lot.

Seriously, take some time to read what others have written about their own experiences. Near misses. Crashes. Bruises. Broken equipment. Broken bones.

Look, the bike is due for a handlebar replacement. Going by all the advice I can find it is time to chuck my old one for concerns of fatigue. Modern racing handlebars are just not designed to last, period.

I don't want a disposable racing handlebar.
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Old 09-03-12, 04:17 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by beezaur View Post
Where does that come from?

There is ample evidence that normal aluminum handlebars do not stand up.

The normal, and manufacturer-recommended practice is to preemptively replace the handlebars if you ride a lot. I don't want to do that. I am looking for equipment that I can mount on my bicycle, which is my primary vehicle, and not worry about it. I do not want some understrength item that I would have to replace every one or two years to be sure of my safety.



Unless you ride a lot.

Seriously, take some time to read what others have written about their own experiences. Near misses. Crashes. Bruises. Broken equipment. Broken bones.

Look, the bike is due for a handlebar replacement. Going by all the advice I can find it is time to chuck my old one for concerns of fatigue. Modern racing handlebars are just not designed to last, period.

I don't want a disposable racing handlebar.
Suuuuuure buddy. Anecdotes on the interwebs are pretty much the opposite of evidence. I'm sure Grant and his boys would be happy to sell you a boat anchor that will meet your specifications.
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Old 09-03-12, 04:24 PM   #10
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I thought I was scared of handlebar failure. I just replace mine every 10 years.

Only bent one pair while dirt jumping.

Never broken one (knock on wood)
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Old 09-03-12, 04:25 PM   #11
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Nitto.

/thread
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Old 09-03-12, 05:09 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by beezaur View Post
A search on this forum for "handlebar failure."

I ride ~4500 miles per year, none of it racing. I have zero need for uber-lightweight handlebars that regularly fail in fatigue.
That's about how much I ride, on 20-30 year old aluminum bars. If you want to replace your bars just to be on the safe side, be our guest. But you should also Google "hypochondriasis" before fixing problems you aren't having.
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There's no such thing as too far.. just lack of time
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Old 09-03-12, 05:25 PM   #13
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Nitto.

/thread
Nitto is the brand of bar that I bent.
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Old 09-03-12, 06:03 PM   #14
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Nitto is the brand of bar that I bent.
After how many years/miles of use? Based on your experience what's your recommendation for the OP?
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Old 09-03-12, 06:13 PM   #15
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About 2 years. Not many miles but some dirt jumping.

I recommend not dirtjumping with wimpy bars.

Replacing Al road bars every 10 years or after a crash.

Steel bars and overbuilt Al bars suck. Major road buzz. If you're on aero bars most of the time that might not matter, though.
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Old 09-03-12, 07:15 PM   #16
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Suuuuuure buddy. Anecdotes on the interwebs are pretty much the opposite of evidence. I'm sure Grant and his boys would be happy to sell you a boat anchor that will meet your specifications.
Gawd you guys are rude.

The first time I read about modern racing handlebars needing to be replaced (not 20-30 year-old bars - those are a whole other animal) it was in a maintenance book by Zinn or someone. The recommendation was to replace them after X miles, which I don't remember the exact value of but it was surprisingly short, several thousand miles or something. I was almost in disbelief about it, but when I checked into it there are all these reports of broken handlebars. Every time I have looked in one of my cycling books the same advice is given: racing handlebars are not intended for indefinite service life. They are more or less disposable.

Can you put 20k miles on one handlebar? Probably. Or maybe. Or probably not. It depends on how you ride and how much you weigh and how that specific handlebar is installed in that specific stem.

It's just not a chance I am willing to take.

I don't race (for one thing I doubt I could stand the culture) so I don't need to shave off every gram for a split-second finish. If I come in with a sack of potatoes and a gallon of milk at 24 mph instead of 25 no one cares, least of all me. I just want to do that ride safely.

And as for useless drivel on the interwebs . . . eh . . .
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Old 09-03-12, 07:40 PM   #17
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You guys really have never heard this before, have you.

I found the book where I first read this. It is by Zinn, Zinn and the Art of Triathlon Bikes. On page 258 it has a section called "Handlebar Maintenance and Replacement Schedule." Every other cycling book I have that mentions handlebar maintenance says the same thing: replace (modern racing style) handlebars every few years, depending on how you ride. They are built to be light, not durable, and can fail on you unexpectedly with catastrophic results.

If you still don't believe it, you can search here on this site and read firsthand accounts with photographic documentation.

I think the advice given above is solid advice: listen to the advice of experts and not the interweb wannabes.

Last edited by beezaur; 09-03-12 at 07:44 PM.
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Old 09-03-12, 08:16 PM   #18
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What confuses me (and some other the other posters I would assume) is how you got from talking about "regular [aluminum] drops" to the ultra-light racing types -- which do you have on your bike?

No one will argue that ultra-light racing parts are a good choice for bulletproof longevity, but there were and are a lot of well-made aluminum handlebars that will give decades of service if you're not crashing them. I intend to ride the latter with a calm mind until experience gives me a reason to do otherwise.

Hopefully this will help temper the hysterics.
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Old 09-03-12, 09:06 PM   #19
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Zinn is well known for being an alarmist on this matter. Buy whatever makes you feel happy about your bike. Like I said, contact Rivendell. They will be more than happy to sell you something 3 times heavier than it needs to be. Forged by dwarfs of elvish iron and all that wacky LOTR nonsense.
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Old 09-03-12, 09:24 PM   #20
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Quote:
Nitto.
they have a Heat treated after bending line that is higher priced.
seems to be in the wider versions.

Used my Nitto/Specialized Randonneur bars for a long time ..
but never with Aero bars .
maybe you scratched or deformed the bars when you mounted them.
IDK
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Old 09-03-12, 09:55 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beezaur View Post
You guys really have never heard this before, have you.

I found the book where I first read this. It is by Zinn, Zinn and the Art of Triathlon Bikes. On page 258 it has a section called "Handlebar Maintenance and Replacement Schedule." Every other cycling book I have that mentions handlebar maintenance says the same thing: replace (modern racing style) handlebars every few years, depending on how you ride. They are built to be light, not durable, and can fail on you unexpectedly with catastrophic results.

If you still don't believe it, you can search here on this site and read firsthand accounts with photographic documentation.

I think the advice given above is solid advice: listen to the advice of experts and not the interweb wannabes.
Dude, two things to think about. If you want to replace your bars do so. Material doesn't matter because most bars will hold up for the time frame you have specified. Second you don't ride all that much. 100 miles a month would be 5200 a year and 100 miles a month isn't all that much. Still with your riding style why not get areo bars that are made to be areo bars? No extra stress from where the areo bar attaches. http://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product...92_-1___202445

http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/M...?ModelID=36158

If you insist on using clip-ons try: http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/M...?ModelID=49322
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Old 09-04-12, 12:44 AM   #22
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What confuses me (and some other the other posters I would assume) is how you got from talking about "regular [aluminum] drops" to the ultra-light racing types -- which do you have on your bike? . . .
The vast majority of bicycles sold now (including mine) come equipped with the modern, lightweight aluminum alloy drop handlebars. Those which are not configured for road racing are structurally equivalent. That is the norm now.

The problem of insufficient strength is not limited to handlebars. That's actually been sort of a rude awakening to me as I have learned more and more about the technical side of bicycles. There are spokes that beg for fatigue failure, skewers with inadequate strength, disc brakes that want to pull out, forks that fail in a variety of ways, wheels that are too weak. The list goes on and on.

I figured, like a lot of people do, that bicycles are a fairly mature technology, so should be pretty safe.

What I did not appreciate was the "advancement" of cycling toward the ultra-lightweight, ragged edge of performance. Advances in technology have only encouraged pushing of the boundaries, often with very real consequences for safety. There are many first-hand accounts here and elsewhere of such failures.

Now, if you are still young enough to be 10 ft tall and bulletproof, I guess none of this matters. But at some point most people start to care about hitting pavement (or worse) at speed in shorts and a tee shirt. Eventually it starts to dawn on you that you are going waaaay past the level of use most consumers put on their bikes.

A 1-in-1000 risk is no big deal until you realize you are doing the thing several thousand times. Then you start to look for ways to mitigate the risk.

That's where I am with this.
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Old 09-04-12, 02:56 AM   #23
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Old 09-04-12, 07:54 AM   #24
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The vast majority of bicycles sold now (including mine) come equipped with the modern, lightweight aluminum alloy drop handlebars. Those which are not configured for road racing are structurally equivalent. That is the norm now.

The problem of insufficient strength is not limited to handlebars. That's actually been sort of a rude awakening to me as I have learned more and more about the technical side of bicycles. There are spokes that beg for fatigue failure, skewers with inadequate strength, disc brakes that want to pull out, forks that fail in a variety of ways, wheels that are too weak. The list goes on and on.

I figured, like a lot of people do, that bicycles are a fairly mature technology, so should be pretty safe.

What I did not appreciate was the "advancement" of cycling toward the ultra-lightweight, ragged edge of performance. Advances in technology have only encouraged pushing of the boundaries, often with very real consequences for safety. There are many first-hand accounts here and elsewhere of such failures.

Now, if you are still young enough to be 10 ft tall and bulletproof, I guess none of this matters. But at some point most people start to care about hitting pavement (or worse) at speed in shorts and a tee shirt. Eventually it starts to dawn on you that you are going waaaay past the level of use most consumers put on their bikes.

A 1-in-1000 risk is no big deal until you realize you are doing the thing several thousand times. Then you start to look for ways to mitigate the risk.

That's where I am with this.
Hey Beezaur,

I've been teasing you, not realizing how serious you are about this, and I'm sorry about that. Your comments do seem to indicate you're very concerned about a wide range of potential failure points on the bicycle, and while failures do occur, usually through improper application and extreme use, I do think that you're miscalculating the amount of risk you face with component failure.

We don't know each other, of course, but I would like for you to consider talking to someone real about your concerns. Not online, or in a book, but face-to-face. I'd suggest a trip to to your local bike shops, talk to them there, and survey them about the frequency of the type of failures you're concerned about.

Surely they'd know, right? They may also be able to lend you very specific insight and tips as to which equipment would work best for you, your bike, and the local riding conditions. Many shops have service people with a lot of practical, hands-on experience who can help you make sure your bike is set up in tip-top condition to best mitigate failure and give it a look over to hopefully catch potential problems before they become dangerous failures.

Good luck, and happy riding!
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Old 09-04-12, 11:12 AM   #25
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Thanks for the steel bullhorn idea.

I found that Nitto makes them in stainless, but they have closed welded ends. And they are small diameter.
If you decide to go with steel bullhorns coat the inside of the tubewith heavy motor oil then drive a plug of some type into the open ends to seal the tubes shut. This will avoid any rusting from the inside out.
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Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
Aluminum: barely a hundred, which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?
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