Carbon vs alu alloy bars

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cyclotaur
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Carbon vs alu alloy bars

Postby cyclotaur » Sat Sep 15, 2018 6:21 pm

I recently acquired a 2017 Giant TCR ADV Disc - a great bike, feels nippy, climbs well, rides great...but needs new engine. :D

Having ridden mainly CX/Gravel or endurance road bikes most of the last 7 years, especially since selling my old roadie 3 years ago, I naturally notice the harsher ride despite this being a nice carbon bike.

I need a new saddle (or an old cushy CAADX one please) as the one it came with is too thin, hard and narrow, but I also need to soften the ride through the hands if I’m to ride it all day in the mountains (which I like to do) and particularly at the AAC200 in January.

Apart from replacing the stock bar tape with thicker tape, or double wrapping, which I plan on doing, and possibly running some 28c tyres (if they fit) for these long rides, would it also be worth replacing the alloy bars with some secondhand Giant SLR carbon bars ? Do carbon bars give a little more flex ?
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Re: Carbon vs alu alloy bars

Postby foo on patrol » Sat Sep 15, 2018 8:40 pm

Don't know about more flex but they take some of the surface vibration out of the hands. I did the BVRT last Saturday and one of the riders that I meet there said putting CF bars on his 29er was one of the best things that he had done. :idea:

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Re: Carbon vs alu alloy bars

Postby g-boaf » Sat Sep 15, 2018 9:09 pm

cyclotaur wrote:I recently acquired a 2017 Giant TCR ADV Disc - a great bike, feels nippy, climbs well, rides great...but needs new engine. :D

Having ridden mainly CX/Gravel or endurance road bikes most of the last 7 years, especially since selling my old roadie 3 years ago, I naturally notice the harsher ride despite this being a nice carbon bike.

I need a new saddle (or an old cushy CAADX one please) as the one it came with is too thin, hard and narrow, but I also need to soften the ride through the hands if I’m to ride it all day in the mountains (which I like to do) and particularly at the AAC200 in January.

Apart from replacing the stock bar tape with thicker tape, or double wrapping, which I plan on doing, and possibly running some 28c tyres (if they fit) for these long rides, would it also be worth replacing the alloy bars with some secondhand Giant SLR carbon bars ? Do carbon bars give a little more flex ?


I think they do a little bit, but not that much. And what I'm about to say talks directly to the bars you were looking at.

As some of you know, my carbon bars were cracked recently courtesy of Emirates on my recent travels, so I had to get the bars replaced - Mavic put in place of those Giant Contact SLR bars (the aero shaped ones) some FSA alloy bars of the same size, along with Fizik bar tape and new brake cables/cable outers. I can say that with the very bad road surface on the Sarenne descent the difference wasn't as dramatic as you'd think. With the kms I was doing and especially the big descents, the bars didn't make a great difference.

I also got a comparison with Mavic's own bright yellow Canyon Aeroad CF SLX on 40mm Mavic Cosmic carbon wheels, that had carbon bars. That whole bike was harsh to be honest. Maybe if they'd put my Bontrager saddle on it it could have been a bit less uncomfortable. So I think I'd be looking at the saddle for the biggest wins on comfort, then look at bar tape and good gloves for the rest. Save your money in the respect of the bars.

For tyres, have a look at those 26mm S-Works Turbo tyres - those really help the comfort, they roll well and they have amazing grip. I'm never going back to Continental tyres after those.

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Re: Carbon vs alu alloy bars

Postby cyclotaur » Sat Sep 15, 2018 9:55 pm

Fair call. It’ll be saddle, bar tape and tyres before bars anyway but interesting to hear what others think.

I’m not worried about weight as, even with discs, this bike is the lightest I’ve ever had and I’m still 5kg overweight after my own euro trip this year, which I hope to work off in coming months.

If I can get comfy on this bike I’ll be a happy camper. :wink:
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Re: Carbon vs alu alloy bars

Postby lone rider » Sat Sep 15, 2018 10:28 pm

I had some 3t ltd carbon bars, so fairly expensive, and IME they flex more in the drops when sprinting than at the hoods. I think your better off double wrapping unless you already have the bars sitting around.

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Re: Carbon vs alu alloy bars

Postby nickobec » Sat Sep 15, 2018 10:37 pm

+1 tyres make the biggest difference, not only width but quality, tubeless and pressure all make huge differences.

As for bars, I have two carbon and a carbon wrapped set of bars in my spares box, all my bikes (steel, alloy and carbon) run alloy bars.

Carbon bars do flex, first set are probably counterfeit, name brand, bought second hand, right weight but at 85kg stood to sprint on the drops and it felt like they spread and extra couple of centimetres, too flexy for me, removed straight away.

Second set name brand, bought new reputable shop, still a little too flexy for me, survived for a year on my alloy crit bike (though used for everything else) before being replaced with a narrower alloy set and very please with the decision.

The carbon wrapped set spent a couple years on steel long distance commuter/training bike. Removed during last refresh and not missed.

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Re: Carbon vs alu alloy bars

Postby rodneycc » Sun Sep 16, 2018 10:02 pm

Hi Mike, do you think maybe new bike, different geo, bike fit might be slightly out?. I'd seriously look at that first ( after you get a comfy saddle).

Whenever I get a new bike I seem to always (particularly between diff brands) have to fiddle around with the fore/aft and saddle height to get the sweet spot for knees and hands. Can be frustrating sometimes when you can't get it right.
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Re: Carbon vs alu alloy bars

Postby cyclotaur » Sun Sep 16, 2018 10:35 pm

rodneycc wrote:Hi Mike, do you think maybe new bike, different geo, bike fit might be slightly out?. I'd seriously look at that first ( after you get a comfy saddle).
.....

I have fairly thick bar tape on my other two bikes. The CAADX I most recently taped myself with a thicker more cushiony tape, and the Diverge came with an almost identical thick bar tape. The new TCR has very thin tape through which I can feel the bars and cables and the rear edges of the shifters. It gives a very thin grip under the hands as well.

I will definitely retape the bars, and probably slightly adjust the shifter position as well. I’ve done this on most of the bikes I’ve owned, I match things as close as possible to the old CAADX which rides like an armchair despite its stiff alu frame.

Like you I fiddle with the seat, bar and stem setup for a few moths to get it dialled in on a new bike. Just measuring gets close but is never perfect due to differing geometry.
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Re: Carbon vs alu alloy bars

Postby rodneycc » Sun Sep 16, 2018 10:59 pm

I get numb hands a lot on new bikes which seems to settle down after a few weeks. I dont know whether I adjust my fit correctly with all my fiddling or my body just adapts half the time ( or more likely a bit of both).
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Re: Carbon vs alu alloy bars

Postby owly » Mon Sep 17, 2018 10:37 am

http://blog.fairwheelbikes.com/reviews- ... ar-review/

Could even be worth looking at putting on a Redshift Shock Stop stem.
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Re: Carbon vs alu alloy bars

Postby Bentnose » Mon Sep 17, 2018 12:24 pm

I found the biggest difference I made to the comfort of my bike was putting on a wider rim. I went from 36 spoke Mavic Open Pro rims to Fulcrum Quattro LG (wide rim) and the difference in comfort was amazing. I was surprised because I thought it would be less comfortable. Also call me old fashioned, but I would never use carbon handlebars, stems or seatposts, I don't trust them, but that's just me.
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Re: Carbon vs alu alloy bars

Postby biker jk » Mon Sep 17, 2018 1:07 pm

Wider tyres at lower pressure are going to make a much bigger difference to vibration through the hands than carbon bars. I switched to 28mm tyres at lower pressure on one of my bikes (with alloy bars) and the improvement in the ride was significant. A section I ride regularly which is paved (and bumpy) was hardly noticeable as a different surface after the switch to 28mm tyres.

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Re: Carbon vs alu alloy bars

Postby RobertL » Tue Sep 18, 2018 12:57 pm

Wheels make a difference, too, even on road bikes.

I upgraded from some old Mavic Aksiums to some new Campag Zonda C17s. I put the same tyres back on and pump them to the same pressure.

I'm not sure whether it is the slightly wider rims, or just different construction in general, but the new wheels give a much plusher ride.
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Re: Carbon vs alu alloy bars

Postby Derny Driver » Tue Sep 18, 2018 7:16 pm

Bentnose wrote: Also call me old fashioned, but I would never use carbon handlebars, stems or seatposts, I don't trust them, but that's just me.

Ditto

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Re: Carbon vs alu alloy bars

Postby nickobec » Wed Sep 19, 2018 10:54 pm

Bentnose wrote: Also call me old fashioned, but I would never use carbon handlebars, stems or seatposts, I don't trust them, but that's just me.

Derny Driver wrote:Ditto


But you will ride a carbon bike or one with carbon forks?

I have ridden carbon bars but in the end do not see the need for me, so switched back to alloy.

I have ridden with carbon seat posts, like the way they absorb some road noise (on steel and alloy frames) and will keep using them. Even after cracking one. I did suffer a serious seat post failure but that was due to an alloy bolt shearing.

The only catastrophic failure I have seen, was an alloy fork. Luckily the rider was climbing and left him a bruised and bloody mess, 500 metres later it would of been a lot worse.

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Re: Carbon vs alu alloy bars

Postby Duck! » Wed Sep 19, 2018 11:20 pm

Contrary to popular misconception, carbon doesn't just shatter into a bazillion bits. Because a carbon layup comprises literally millions of individual fibres, laid in different directions to deal with different loadings, unless it takes a seriously massive hit of the kind you're unlikely to comfortably walk away from it will collapse or tear in a fairly controlled manner. I've seen numerous broken bits of carbon over the years, including one of my own (which I quite safely but carefully rode several kilometres back to the trailhead), and none have just snapped clean off; the same cannot be said for aluminium.
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Re: Carbon vs alu alloy bars

Postby singlespeedscott » Thu Sep 20, 2018 4:49 am

Personally I don’t like thick or double wrapped tape. Longer the ride the more I hate it. However I tend to have a very loss grip on the bars which in itself stops a lot of road noise transferring to my hands.

For me I think your biggest comfort improver will be to fit fatter tyres and run them at less pressure. But when I say fatter tyres I mean good supple ones built like a try race tyre. They’ll give you comfort with zero loss in speed and on rough surfaces they’ll actually be faster than skinny tyres.

The added bonus of fatter, supple tyres is the improved grip when cornering at high speed on rough descents.
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Re: Carbon vs alu alloy bars

Postby cyclotaur » Thu Sep 20, 2018 11:28 am

Left is the wrap on my Diverge which, obviously, combined with the fatter tyres and sprung steerer, is far easier on my hands and wrists than the skinny-wrapped minimal tape on the TCR on the right.

To turn the TCR into a suitable ride for much loner mountain rides like the AAC I plan to wrap the bars more like the ones on the Diverge. I also have some gel inserts I may use on the tops. I'm getting hold of a better saddle soon (I hope). Those wheels are wider rimmed DT470DB with Conti4Seasons 25s which I like and have used for years. May consider a set of 28s if they fit, and if I still feel I need a bit more cushioning.

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Re: Carbon vs alu alloy bars

Postby outnabike » Thu Sep 20, 2018 5:17 pm

Whilst it depends on the size of your hands, in golf, folks with arthritis benefit from larger softer grips on the clubs. I know there is a complete difference in cycling.
So this might seem like BS to the younger members. :)

I changed from the loop bars on my original VWR but took off the "slide on rubber" grips and have them on my drop bars. But they are not for every one either, as they are so well insulating that a bit of ally is nice on hot days.

Just saying. :)
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Re: Carbon vs alu alloy bars

Postby cyclotaur » Thu Sep 20, 2018 6:40 pm

After a pleasant ( :roll: :lol: ) arvo of home bike maintenance TCR bars now look more like the Diverge bars. And my old CAADX bars, for that matter.

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Re: Carbon vs alu alloy bars

Postby g-boaf » Fri Sep 21, 2018 2:49 pm

Duck! wrote:Contrary to popular misconception, carbon doesn't just shatter into a bazillion bits. Because a carbon layup comprises literally millions of individual fibres, laid in different directions to deal with different loadings, unless it takes a seriously massive hit of the kind you're unlikely to comfortably walk away from it will collapse or tear in a fairly controlled manner. I've seen numerous broken bits of carbon over the years, including one of my own (which I quite safely but carefully rode several kilometres back to the trailhead), and none have just snapped clean off; the same cannot be said for aluminium.


This is the results of poor handling by an airline. The bike was carefully packed in a Scicon Aerocomfort 3.0 bag:

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That is carbon. It must have taken a hell of an impact to do that.

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Re: Carbon vs alu alloy bars

Postby Bentnose » Fri Sep 21, 2018 5:50 pm

nickobec wrote:
Bentnose wrote: Also call me old fashioned, but I would never use carbon handlebars, stems or seatposts, I don't trust them, but that's just me.

Derny Driver wrote:Ditto


But you will ride a carbon bike or one with carbon forks?

I have ridden carbon bars but in the end do not see the need for me, so switched back to alloy.

I have ridden with carbon seat posts, like the way they absorb some road noise (on steel and alloy frames) and will keep using them. Even after cracking one. I did suffer a serious seat post failure but that was due to an alloy bolt shearing.

The only catastrophic failure I have seen, was an alloy fork. Luckily the rider was climbing and left him a bruised and bloody mess, 500 metres later it would of been a lot worse.


I have a carbon MTB and road bike, my road bike came with a carbon seatpost but it slipped all of the time, previous road bike had a carbon post (and cranks) for 10 years and it was fine. I mainly don't trust breaking of carbon seat posts on the MTB due to the amount of post sticking out, but also the slipping of the last carbon post drove me bonkers. My road bike fork is full carbon but I won't get carbon forks for the MTB and I only use alloy stems and handlebars. The carbon stem that came with my previous roadie was recalled and I replaced it with a Zipp alloy one. The carbon steerer on my road fork caused the stem to slip and headset to loosen and it took a while to sort out. It seems okay now but I'd probably aim for an alloy one next time because it was annoying and it rears its head every time I take the stem off.
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Re: Carbon vs alu alloy bars

Postby timbo » Tue Oct 09, 2018 3:46 pm

With regards to comfort on a bike, if you find a comfortable saddle, it's a keeper, and if you do upgrade keep the old one. As for handlebars, before you consider expensive options, perhaps look at thicker palmed (gel) gloves. It may or not work, but is a cheap exercise.

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Re: Carbon vs alu alloy bars

Postby cyclotaur » Tue Oct 09, 2018 4:02 pm

Update on the OP.

I rode 227kms on Sundays ATB200 on the new(-ish) TCR with retaped alloys bars including some gel inserts and a 'new' saddle I picked up two weeks back. It's a Selle Royal Seta S1, so not too fancy, but one I rode on for 2 weeks in July in Europe with no issues.

Also running Conti 4S 25s at 75psi on DTSwiss R470 db wheels that are a little wider in the rim than I'm used to on a road bike.

Apart from a couple of wrist jolts from unexpected bumps it was a very satisfactory ride, considering max recent distance (since AAC200 in January) was about 70kms.
Last edited by cyclotaur on Tue Oct 09, 2018 5:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Carbon vs alu alloy bars

Postby rodneycc » Tue Oct 09, 2018 4:40 pm

Nice ride! Perfect weather conditions too I believe. Made me think I should of been out there.... (a guy that I bought some wheels off on Saturday was doing the 300km and a mate of mine was doing the 250km and I regretted not registering when I saw the weather was so good.
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