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How important are handlebars?

Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

How important are handlebars?

Old 07-31-09, 11:49 AM
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w98seeng
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How important are handlebars?

Interesting title? Anyway, not including carbon bars, what are the differences between different dropped bars today? Why spend $60 or more when there are $25 bars out there?

I know about 6 bend and 8 bend bars, but I would think that is just personal preference. All bars (except for carbon) are aluminum. So what are the differences I should be looking at? Weight isn't much of an issue for me.

Just curious.

Thanks,
Ian
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Old 07-31-09, 11:51 AM
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Stiffness, ergonomics, reach, drop and width.

I personally like a narrow, shallow drop, compact bar that is extremely stiff. My EA70's are all of those expect stiff, having very flexible bars really bugs me, others do not care.
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Old 07-31-09, 11:51 AM
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Yes, it's personal preference. I go for whichever bar doesn't hurt my hands on a 100 mile ride. Lucky for me, that turned out to be a 3T Forgie which cost $20 and weighs 220g.
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Old 07-31-09, 11:54 AM
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pretty important... It does steer the bikes, you know .

Anyway, choose what feels the most comfortable in your hands. The only recommendation I'll make is, if you race, choose aluminum so you don't munch the carbon bars in a crash; sounds like you've already made this decision.

The difference between price is just material and processing; different alloys of aluminum and thinner, more precisely drawn tubing. Cost is basically inversely proportional to weight. They'll all work more or less the same. If you are not worried about weight, cheap is fine. The really cheap ones (Nashbar or Forte/Performance house brands) might not be as straight as more expensive ones.

EDIT: I can't, for the life of me, see how different aluminum bars will be stiffer than others, except by changing aluminum alloys. 7000 series aluminum is probably stiffer than 6061 series, but probably not a huge difference. The diameter of the bar is all standardized, so really, the only way to increase the stiffness of the bars is to go to carbon or do like the trackies and use steel.
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Old 07-31-09, 12:03 PM
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Weight, quality, sizes are the standard areas of importance.
Weight is a very important factor to some/many.
Aluminum has a failure point. At some time metal fatigue will take control and the bar will/may have catastrophic failure usually at the most inopportune time. I have seen this more often with "sleeved" bars opposed to one piece bars.
Steel bars generally won't ever break.
Carbon may be much stronger...no expert here and no info either...but manufacturing quality standards will rule the day.

Generally better bar manufacturers offer more sizes, widths, reach, drop, etc. models and due to the variety are usually a bit costlier.
Brand recognition is also a pretty standard culprit in costs. The more known...usually better, more advanced, etc. products are also costlier.
Carbon is the new "wonder material". I have the EC90 carbon bars and absolutely LOVE them. They are stiff but also forgiving on rough roads...meaning they seem, to me anyway, to absorb road shock and vibration.
Carbon can be "laid up" in a virtually endless variety of designs to offer ultimate stiffness to comfort and everything in between. Check out the variety of designs and styles compared to "metal" bars. It is expensive material wise and "hands on" time to create these bars so they cost more. You again pay more for the coolness factor, brand name, style, etc.

Are they worth it? It depends. To me "YES". To many others NO.
If I were a club racer, etc. I would not use them as I would not want to trash them in a crash. Matter of fact when racing in the cat 3 crits I used a "disposable" bike. Meaning the components were reliable and durable and I would not cry...too much...if it got totaled or damaged in a crash...lots of crashes in cat 3 crits when I was a senior cat 3 and the smart guys all did this.
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Old 07-31-09, 12:28 PM
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3t ergonova ftw, they made a huge difference to how comfortable my bike was
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Old 07-31-09, 03:27 PM
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Many thanks for the info.
Ian
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Old 07-31-09, 03:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Kai Winters View Post
You again pay more for the coolness factor
Yes, I like the "coolness" factor. They look great, but are looks worth the extra money?
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Old 07-31-09, 03:36 PM
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depends on who is looking
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