Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Singlespeed & Fixed Gear
Reload this Page >

Aluminum handlebars feel different than Steel?

Notices
Singlespeed & Fixed Gear "I still feel that variable gears are only for people over forty-five. Isn't it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailer? We are getting soft...As for me, give me a fixed gear!"-- Henri Desgrange (31 January 1865 - 16 August 1940)

Aluminum handlebars feel different than Steel?

Old 10-18-21, 09:46 PM
  #1  
AJW2W11E
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Sep 2021
Posts: 87
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 52 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 15 Times in 12 Posts
Aluminum handlebars feel different than Steel?

I donít have that many protective devices on my single speed. Just a $20 Textro caliper.
Sometimes when I do hills I try to pedal like crazy on the way down to build speed for the next ascent.
Once in a while Iíll see gravel, debris, holes in the road ahead as I zoom down. If I use my brake to be cautious Iíll end up suffering on the ascent.
So I grab my trusty ugly steel handlebars with all my strength in case I lose stability. For some reason I remember aluminum felt ďflexyĒ.
Is that my imagination? I have grown to trust these ugly steel handlebars. Rusty, but in my imagination, trustworthy.Got a new Origin 8 aluminum one sitting right here, its shiny and pretty, afraid to try it.

Last edited by AJW2W11E; 10-18-21 at 09:50 PM.
AJW2W11E is offline  
Old 10-18-21, 10:35 PM
  #2  
Sorcerer
Senior Member
 
Sorcerer's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: '16 StumpJ, Salsa Mukluk, Soulcycles SS, Dean Colonel HT, BMC FourstrokeTrail, Dean Torres CX, Santana Visa Tandem, Trek T2000 Tandem, Cupertino MTB Tandem, FreeAgent26"Xtracycle, Dirt Drop Dingle, Jamis Dragon Dingle, Airborne Skyhag SS, SSDean Cols
Posts: 131
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 40 Post(s)
Liked 65 Times in 30 Posts
My daily commute is by single speed steel bike with steel Soma Eagle handlebars. All the other bikes I ride have either aluminum or carbon handlebars, and one has titanium handlebars..

​​​​​Honestly I really can't feel any difference in the material.

In this order, the position, the bar shape, the grips, the tire pressure and tires, the fork, and then the frame have more influence on how it feels.

Of course there's a subjective effect of psychological dimension that is going to play a huge role as well. If you believe in your set up, it can work out nicely as well.

Corrosion, and stress, and abuse are serious considerations. In my life I've had two forks, one steel, and one aluminum fold underneath me. That has instilled a certain lack of trust in those materials. A carbon handlebar has failed from a crash as well.

I don't trust anything anymore. Nothing is trusty.

When I think about it, trusty sounds a lot like truthy.

Depending on the extent of the rust and the kind of riding you do the steel handlebar might be okay. But that fresh aluminum one sounds appealing. It is lighter.
Sorcerer is offline  
Old 10-18-21, 11:12 PM
  #3  
AJW2W11E
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Sep 2021
Posts: 87
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 52 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 15 Times in 12 Posts
I should have said a few rust spots. Well maybe someday I will stick the Origin 8 's on. But sometimes I get caught threading the needle pedaling uphill on a skinny 24 " wide bike lane, cars whizzing by you, ditch on the right side, and I am superstitiously attached to the steel ones, never lost control . I should add my point straight out 90 *, but the Origin 8's sweep back ,which I don't like.
AJW2W11E is offline  
Old 10-19-21, 06:27 AM
  #4  
TugaDude
Senior Member
 
TugaDude's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 2,721
Mentioned: 8 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 359 Post(s)
Liked 304 Times in 220 Posts
There are way too many variables to draw a black and white conclusion or comparison between aluminum and steel. Sure, there's the difference in the metals, but beyond that there's the way they are fabricated. With steel it begins with what type of steel it is and then whether it is butted, double-butted or whatever. Add in heat treating or not too. Same for aluminum, by the way. So drawing a true comparison will necessitate knowing all of the above so that you can make it a fair fight.

Most all of my handlebars are aluminum but I wouldn't hesitate to purchase steel bars so long as they were of high quality. I've been tempted to try some of the Bullmoose Bars that are out there, some of which are steel. All materials have limitations. There is no perfect material for handlebars as far as I know. Titanium is probably the closest we have. So finding the "right" bars for you boils down to trial-and-error mostly. It's very similar to the search for the "perfect" saddle. And what ends up being perfect for you is very subjective.
TugaDude is offline  
Likes For TugaDude:
Old 10-19-21, 08:47 PM
  #5  
Rolla
Gyro Captain
 
Rolla's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2020
Posts: 1,300

Bikes: 4 Singlespeeds, 2 Gearies

Mentioned: 6 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 548 Post(s)
Liked 1,368 Times in 605 Posts
I can feel a difference when I’m pulling hard in the drops. Aluminum bars flex more, and I vastly prefer them on both of my drop bar bikes.
Rolla is offline  
Old 10-22-21, 05:55 AM
  #6  
Phil_gretz
Zip tie Karen
 
Phil_gretz's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Alexandria, VA
Posts: 6,991

Bikes: '13 Motobecane Fantom29 HT, '16 Motobecane Turino Pro Disc, '16 Motobecane Gran Premio Elite, '18 Velobuild VB-R-022, '21 Tsunami SNM-100

Mentioned: 25 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1446 Post(s)
Liked 1,506 Times in 795 Posts
I'm running carbon bars on my fixed gear. They feel about as flexy as aluminum. Am I crazy to believe that they won't fail catastrophically?
Phil_gretz is offline  
Old 10-22-21, 08:26 AM
  #7  
TejanoTrackie 
Veteran Racer
 
TejanoTrackie's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Ciudad de Vacas, Tejas
Posts: 11,509

Bikes: 29 frames + 74 wheels

Mentioned: 24 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 970 Post(s)
Liked 310 Times in 184 Posts
Originally Posted by Phil_gretz View Post
I'm running carbon bars on my fixed gear. They feel about as flexy as aluminum. Am I crazy to believe that they won't fail catastrophically?
Flexibility has nothing to do with strength. As long as you use a proper stem meant for carbon bars and use a torque wrench to tighten the bolts, you should not have a problem. Stay away from cheap off brand carbon bars. BTW, aluminum bars can fail catastrophically as well. If you really want to be 100% safe, get a steel bar.
__________________
What, Me Worry? - Alfred E. Neuman

Originally Posted by Dcv View Post
I'd like to think i have as much money as brains.
I see the light at the end of the tunnel, but the tunnel keeps getting longer - me
TejanoTrackie is offline  
Likes For TejanoTrackie:
Old 10-22-21, 05:35 PM
  #8  
AJW2W11E
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Sep 2021
Posts: 87
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 52 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 15 Times in 12 Posts
Originally Posted by Phil_gretz View Post
I'm running carbon bars on my fixed gear. They feel about as flexy as aluminum. Am I crazy to believe that they won't fail catastrophically?
I have this thing about Carbon Fiber. I read about a guy who would do cross continent expeditions and he eschewed it. You could find a welder in any town in the middle of nowhere , but if it were carbon fiber, time to wait for the weekly bus or postal truck.
AJW2W11E is offline  
Old 10-22-21, 05:43 PM
  #9  
TMonk
Not actually Tmonk
 
TMonk's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: San Diego, CA
Posts: 12,047

Bikes: road, track, mtb

Mentioned: 136 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1276 Post(s)
Liked 1,120 Times in 595 Posts
Originally Posted by AJW2W11E View Post
I have this thing about Carbon Fiber. I read about a guy who would do cross continent expeditions and he eschewed it. You could find a welder in any town in the middle of nowhere , but if it were carbon fiber, time to wait for the weekly bus or postal truck.
What's the diameter of your stem clamp? A modern 31.8 mm alloy bar is going to be a lot stiffer than an old school one.
__________________
"Your beauty is an aeroplane;
so high, my heart cannot bear the strain." -A.C. Jobim, Triste
TMonk is offline  
Old 10-22-21, 08:01 PM
  #10  
TejanoTrackie 
Veteran Racer
 
TejanoTrackie's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Ciudad de Vacas, Tejas
Posts: 11,509

Bikes: 29 frames + 74 wheels

Mentioned: 24 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 970 Post(s)
Liked 310 Times in 184 Posts
Originally Posted by TMonk View Post
What's the diameter of your stem clamp? A modern 31.8 mm alloy bar is going to be a lot stiffer than an old school one.
Why is that ? The bar will be 22.2 mm or 23.8 mm beyond the clamping area either way. The only advantage of a larger clamping diameter is that the bar will be stronger and less likely to fail.
__________________
What, Me Worry? - Alfred E. Neuman

Originally Posted by Dcv View Post
I'd like to think i have as much money as brains.
I see the light at the end of the tunnel, but the tunnel keeps getting longer - me
TejanoTrackie is offline  
Old 10-22-21, 09:17 PM
  #11  
AJW2W11E
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Sep 2021
Posts: 87
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 52 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 15 Times in 12 Posts
Originally Posted by TMonk View Post
What's the diameter of your stem clamp? A modern 31.8 mm alloy bar is going to be a lot stiffer than an old school one.
I think itís more of a superstition thing. ďDonít change anythingĒ That handlebar came with my Pista and it was ugly when I got it,
AJW2W11E is offline  
Likes For AJW2W11E:
Old 10-22-21, 11:09 PM
  #12  
TMonk
Not actually Tmonk
 
TMonk's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: San Diego, CA
Posts: 12,047

Bikes: road, track, mtb

Mentioned: 136 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1276 Post(s)
Liked 1,120 Times in 595 Posts
Originally Posted by TejanoTrackie View Post
Why is that ? The bar will be 22.2 mm or 23.8 mm beyond the clamping area either way. The only advantage of a larger clamping diameter is that the bar will be stronger and less likely to fail.
Good question, and I can't answer that. I had assumed that a larger stem clamp diameter meant more bar stiffness, but maybe that's not the case?
__________________
"Your beauty is an aeroplane;
so high, my heart cannot bear the strain." -A.C. Jobim, Triste
TMonk is offline  
Old 10-23-21, 06:59 AM
  #13  
TejanoTrackie 
Veteran Racer
 
TejanoTrackie's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Ciudad de Vacas, Tejas
Posts: 11,509

Bikes: 29 frames + 74 wheels

Mentioned: 24 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 970 Post(s)
Liked 310 Times in 184 Posts
Originally Posted by TMonk View Post
Good question, and I can't answer that. I had assumed that a larger stem clamp diameter meant more bar stiffness, but maybe that's not the case?
Like I said, a larger clamp diameter simply means a stronger bar at the location of highest load. By increasing the bar diameter, you decrease the stress at that point, which increases the failure load. The bar deflects throughout its entire length, such that the flexibility will be the accumulated deflection under load. Therefore, a longer/wider bar will be more flexible than a shorter/narrower more compact one.
__________________
What, Me Worry? - Alfred E. Neuman

Originally Posted by Dcv View Post
I'd like to think i have as much money as brains.
I see the light at the end of the tunnel, but the tunnel keeps getting longer - me
TejanoTrackie is offline  
Likes For TejanoTrackie:
Old 10-23-21, 07:27 AM
  #14  
TMonk
Not actually Tmonk
 
TMonk's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: San Diego, CA
Posts: 12,047

Bikes: road, track, mtb

Mentioned: 136 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1276 Post(s)
Liked 1,120 Times in 595 Posts
gotcha, makes sense
__________________
"Your beauty is an aeroplane;
so high, my heart cannot bear the strain." -A.C. Jobim, Triste
TMonk is offline  
Old 10-23-21, 08:15 AM
  #15  
Dylansbob 
2k miles from the midwest
 
Dylansbob's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Washington
Posts: 1,451

Bikes: ~'75 Colin Laing, '80s Schwinn SuperSport 650b, ex-Backroads ti project...

Mentioned: 12 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 302 Post(s)
Liked 443 Times in 219 Posts
Cheap aluminum flexes. Sometimes it's intentional, othertimes it's just a cheap handlebar. If you don't want as flexy, get a heat treated Nitto or some nice 7075 alloy bars.
Dylansbob is offline  
Old 10-23-21, 11:16 AM
  #16  
TejanoTrackie 
Veteran Racer
 
TejanoTrackie's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Ciudad de Vacas, Tejas
Posts: 11,509

Bikes: 29 frames + 74 wheels

Mentioned: 24 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 970 Post(s)
Liked 310 Times in 184 Posts
Originally Posted by Dylansbob View Post
Cheap aluminum flexes. Sometimes it's intentional, othertimes it's just a cheap handlebar. If you don't want as flexy, get a heat treated Nitto or some nice 7075 alloy bars.
Making bars from stronger or harder aluminum material does not make them stiffer (less flexible), it just makes them stronger and tougher. This is because the modulus of elasticity does not increase as the material gets stronger. The only way to make a handlebar stiffer is to use thicker tubing.
__________________
What, Me Worry? - Alfred E. Neuman

Originally Posted by Dcv View Post
I'd like to think i have as much money as brains.
I see the light at the end of the tunnel, but the tunnel keeps getting longer - me
TejanoTrackie is offline  
Likes For TejanoTrackie:
Old 10-30-21, 12:52 PM
  #17  
jasoninohio
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2021
Posts: 22
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 10 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 4 Times in 4 Posts
No one mentioned it yet, but heavier bars are going to make your steering feel different too, if your front end is twitchy steel bars might feel slightly more stable in that way...
jasoninohio is offline  
Old 10-30-21, 06:53 PM
  #18  
AJW2W11E
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Sep 2021
Posts: 87
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 52 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 15 Times in 12 Posts
Originally Posted by jasoninohio View Post
No one mentioned it yet, but heavier bars are going to make your steering feel different too, if your front end is twitchy steel bars might feel slightly more stable in that way...
There's this big hill I climb. Near the top I'm moving so slowly that the slightest twitch will cause a tip over. The bike lane is only two feet wide; on the right is a big 10' deep ditch with rocks and on the left are cars and trucks zipping by. During that last bit, I grab my handlebars for dear life. The last thing I need is flexy handlebars.
( Well I better be honest. Theres a big descent before that hill where I build up steam for the climb. I time my descent so there are no cars in my mirror and pedal like hell on the way down. And drivers on that road are pretty considerate if they do come up alongside. )
Anyway I took my rusty steel handle bars and got all the paint of them and hit them with 600 grit. I primed them and sprayed them with aluminium colored spray paint and use autobody compound on them and now you can't tell the difference. Problem solved!

Last edited by AJW2W11E; 10-30-21 at 07:02 PM.
AJW2W11E is offline  
Old 10-30-21, 07:06 PM
  #19  
AJW2W11E
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Sep 2021
Posts: 87
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 52 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 15 Times in 12 Posts
..

Last edited by AJW2W11E; 10-30-21 at 07:21 PM.
AJW2W11E is offline  
Old 11-16-21, 07:32 PM
  #20  
Bianchi pc
Quixote
 
Join Date: Jun 2019
Location: New York
Posts: 17

Bikes: Bianchi Pista Concept 05

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)
Liked 3 Times in 3 Posts
I feel a difference between my steel deda veledroma (40cm ctc) and my nitto heat treated alloy adb - x (37cm ctc) when I climb hills and when I sprint - both are wonderful bars. it may be subjective but I feel a little more explosive at the beginning of a sprint with the steel but that could be the deepness or angle of the drop too, I'm not sure. With the steel bars I'm always on the ramps when I ascend a hill but with the shallower drops on the nitto alloy I can pretend to be a Marko Pantani(dream on) and spend a decent percent of my climbing in the drops. I recently added a sakae fx modolo (39cm ctc) to my collection - I have wanted a steel one of these old bars for some time and never found a way to justify the price of a used one from njs export. Anyway I saw this one come up nos on eBay and that's what I thought I was ordering but nope, surprise to me this one is alloy - and had a little sticker on the bags label that read 'crit' - I find this bar way too flexible for standing starts - big contrast to the first two Which feel super stiff to me. When I first took it for a ride I wondered if I had entirely wasted my money, but I experimented a bit and found that with a couple of spacers and a twisted forward flat ramp repositioning of the bars I could get pretty low,with both a relitively horizontal back and forearms if you know what I mean... so yeah I guess the point of this long rant is for me at least it depends.
Bianchi pc is offline  
Old 11-16-21, 08:22 PM
  #21  
Bianchi pc
Quixote
 
Join Date: Jun 2019
Location: New York
Posts: 17

Bikes: Bianchi Pista Concept 05

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)
Liked 3 Times in 3 Posts
Velodrama - I hate spellcheck.

By the way I should have mentioned the steel bar is 31.8mm stem clamp and the other two are 26mm.
Bianchi pc is offline  
Old 11-16-21, 08:29 PM
  #22  
cubewheels
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2020
Location: Manila, Philippines
Posts: 2,109

Bikes: A really old BMX bike, Jackal Mio Gravel Bike

Mentioned: 6 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 947 Post(s)
Liked 435 Times in 352 Posts
lightweight 6061 aluminum handlebars can flex quite a bit. It can be good to soften bumps on the road.

As long as there is no permanent deformation, you're fine. But if you see even just tiny deformation, time to take a very close look or replace.

Al handlebars can take a hit and will deform instead of breaking into sharp stabbing object.
cubewheels is offline  
Old 11-20-21, 08:10 AM
  #23  
Jonneh
Senior Member
 
Jonneh's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2018
Posts: 79
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 19 Post(s)
Liked 14 Times in 8 Posts
Originally Posted by TejanoTrackie View Post
Like I said, a larger clamp diameter simply means a stronger bar at the location of highest load.
That's certainly true, but many bars keep the clamping diameter until the bar curves. A 31.8 bar that does this is likely to be stiffer than a bar of smaller diameter, given the massive effect of tube diameter on stiffness.

Bars with larger clamping diameters can maintain their diameter until the drops if so designed, but it's rare to see a smaller clamp bar increasing its diameter, at least among round-profiled bars. I'd bet there was a correlation between clamp diameter and stiffness, even once removing cofounders relating to the modernity of the 31.8 diameter. That said, we agree that the larger clamp diameter per se wouldn't be the cause of the greater stiffness.

Last edited by Jonneh; 11-20-21 at 08:14 AM.
Jonneh is offline  
Old 11-20-21, 08:53 AM
  #24  
TejanoTrackie 
Veteran Racer
 
TejanoTrackie's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Ciudad de Vacas, Tejas
Posts: 11,509

Bikes: 29 frames + 74 wheels

Mentioned: 24 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 970 Post(s)
Liked 310 Times in 184 Posts
Originally Posted by Jonneh View Post
That's certainly true, but many bars keep the clamping diameter until the bar curves.
Really ? In over 50 years Iíve never seen any like that. Iím not saying that they donít exist, but I think itís not a very common occurence.
__________________
What, Me Worry? - Alfred E. Neuman

Originally Posted by Dcv View Post
I'd like to think i have as much money as brains.
I see the light at the end of the tunnel, but the tunnel keeps getting longer - me
TejanoTrackie is offline  
Old 11-20-21, 09:24 AM
  #25  
Jonneh
Senior Member
 
Jonneh's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2018
Posts: 79
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 19 Post(s)
Liked 14 Times in 8 Posts
Originally Posted by TejanoTrackie View Post
Really ? In over 50 years Iíve never seen any like that. Iím not saying that they donít exist, but I think itís not a very common occurence.
We might be talking about different things. As an example, the bars on my fixed gear are the Ritchey Comp EvoCurve. They stay fat until the (second) curve that begins the fall into the drops: https://images.internetstores.de/products/487987/02/9004c3/Ritchey_Comp_Evo_Curve_Lenker___31_8_mm_hp_black[1920x1920].jpg?forceSize=false&forceAspectRatio=true&useTrim=true. Perhaps that design is rarer than I thought---you must have seen a lot of bars!
Jonneh is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information -

Copyright © 2021 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.