Ask Pinkbike: Carbonphobia, Choosing a Rain Shell, and Hydro-Pack Alternatives

Dec 23, 2014
by Pinkbike Staff  
Ask Pinkbike Header

Here at Pinkbike we get inundated with all kinds of questions, ranging from the basic "Can I have stickers" to more in-depth, soul searching types of queries like if you should pop the question or what to name your first child. Ask Pinkbike is an occasional column where we'll be hand picking and answering questions that have been keeping readers up at night, although we'll likely steer clear of those last two and keep it more tech oriented.

Carbon Questions

Question: Pinkbike user reynamwit asked this question in the Bikes, Parts, and Gear forum: I recently bought a used Demo 8 I and would like to replace the stock handlebar with something wider. I did some research and was thinking of picking up Deity's DC31-Mohawk, but some people that I've talked to seem scared of carbon handlebars in general. What interests me in going with carbon is the shock absorbing properties that some are said to provide, and the whole being scared of carbon doesn't make sense to me given that it's supposed to be stronger, lighter, and more resistant to structural fatigue than aluminum.

bigquotesThere are people out there who will never run a carbon fiber anything out of fear. That sort of thinking is unsound, for the most part, and is usually the result of them having seen a failed carbon component that didn't seem justified. There being a ton of photos online of broken carbon stuff, most of it with the owner either not realizing why it failed or not explaining it at all, doesn't really help the case for carbon. I've seen a lot more broken aluminum bars than carbon bars in the last twenty years (although aluminum surely outnumbers carbon 100 to 1 over that time) and I'd personally trust a carbon bar so long as it was looked after. And that's where there really is a difference... nearly anyone with a hex tool can install an aluminum bar and not mess it up, you can scratch the hell out of it without worrying as much, and you don't have to be concerned about things like tie-down hooks on it.

Bottom line: an aluminum bar is better for a rider who is ham fisted, rough on their stuff, or doesn't inspect their gear every now and then. Carbon components can be made to be stronger, no doubt about it in my mind, but they can also more susceptible to damage. As for carbon's damping abilities, I wouldn't be too concerned given that you have eight inches of travel, a massive tire with about 25 PSI in it, and are a recreational downhiller. To be honest, most of the new carbon handlebars out there, and especially those that feature a 35mm stem clamp section, are very stiff and unforgiving. My advice would be to find a handlebar with the geometry that you prefer and then go from there, and spend the extra coin on a carbon bar if you look after your stuff and wouldn't mind the weigh savings.
- Mike Levy

Deity Mohawk bars.

Deity's DC31-Mohawk looks like a great carbon handlebar, but that doesn't mean that carbon bars are great for everyone.

Good quality waterproof jacket for under $125?

Question: Sewer-rat asks in the All-Mountain and Cross-Country Forum: I'm looking for an okay waterproof breathable jacket for around $125 max. I know the difference between soft / hard shells, but was wandering what people are using and how they work in regards to heat etc...?

bigquotesDuring my time living in the Pacific Northwest I've tried all manner of waterproof / breathable jackets, with prices ranging from inexpensive to astronomical, and in your price range the Marmot PreCip ($99) is one of my favorites. It's not designed specifically for cycling, but the hood will still fit over a helmet, and the arms have enough length and articulation to keep them from riding up or hindering your movement on the bike. It also has long pit zips, which are a necessity for those warm and wet days where maximum air circulation is required to avoid feeling like you're wearing a plastic bag, a common occurrence no matter how breathable a jacket claims to be. In addition to all that, the PreCip will pack down into its own pocket, making it easy to toss into your bag just in case those threatening dark clouds decide to start pouring down rain. - Mike Kazimer

Photo Natasha Ann

The Marmot PreCip jacket does the trick when the weather turns nasty.

Hydration Pack Alternatives

Question: Farry asks in the All-Mountain and Cross-Country Forum: Yo, I'm not overly fond of riding with a bag on and was wondering if anyone had any great solutions for getting the kit required for racing (tools, water, first aid kit snacks etc.) on to the bike or person in other ways? I currently use a Dakine drafter bag, not a bad bag, but it moves a bit when riding. Maybe there are some better bags out there that would be worth considering.

bigquotesEnduro racers must be self-sufficient during their race runs and some tape their essentials, like a mini-tool, some tire levers, a CO2 kit, and a spare tube under the top tube, and use a frame-mount water bottle. Tuck food into your pocket and you should be ready to go for a bit more than an hour of racing. Specialized makes the SWAT (I think that stands for, "Spandex With A Twist") bib shorts, which are a PB favorite. SWAT shorts have slim pockets sewn into the back, designed to be secure storage for water air and tools. You won't be jeopardized by having 60-percent of your body covered by skin-hugging Spandex in public, because the comfy bibs are intended to be worn under baggy shorts and a loose-fitting jersey. - RC

Annekin Beerten and Specialized S-Works Enduro. SWAT bib shorts.

Anneke Beerten simply tapes her essential tools and spares to the top tube of her frame - a simple solution perhaps, but nothing rattles and it keeps everything organized in plain view for a quick track-side repair. Specialized's SWAT bib shorts are much less cumbersome than a hydration pack and store similar items in a more convenient manner.

Have some unresolved tech questions? Jump in the Pinkbike Forum and we'll look to answer it for next time.


  • 83 8
 Nobody ever talks about the recycling of carbon fibre vs. aluminum. I have to say I'm not afraid having used carbon bits, but I like to think about my "carbon" footprint.
  • 48 15
 You save those polar bears
  • 5 1
 You got props from Max and co.
  • 118 2
 Recycling is actually the coolest shit people can do. Being environmentally aware isn't the uber-gay-liberal-agenda I was always taught growing up, being environmentally aware in terms of purchases, consumption and future use is genuinely bad ass.
  • 41 2
 I have ultra limited knowledge on this subject. Allow me to chime in. Aluminum must be mined and transported, which uses a lot of oil and damages the environment (mine tailings). Carbon Fiber is made from Polyacrylonitrile, which is made synthetically from other naturally occurring elements in a factory. Both materials require elements that must be harvested somehow from the earth in mass quantities and transported for industrial use. Both materials can be recycled. What it comes down to is which material requires the most energy to produce and recycle. It seems that carbon fiber is a more sustainable material due to its long life span and little amounts of energy (in comparison to aluminum) it requires to make and recycle it. This article is where I got my info:

These are other carbon fiber facts:

I have a lot of time!!! Wooo long winter breaks!!!!
  • 6 0
 That's badass. Thanks for the info!
  • 9 2
 I'm pretty sure you're joking, but in case you aren't:

The aluminum bar probably has a higher carbon footprint than the CF bar.

Sure, there's less carbon in the end product, but mining and processing aluminum is a nasty business. Consider the impact of deforestation from mining, the massive amounts of petroleum products that are burned just digging aluminum out of the ground and transporting it, and the actual processing that goes into aluminum.
  • 44 4
 How many of you have taken your old aluminum bars to the recycle plant?

Also, when I'm done with my carbon bars, I just burn them into a cloud of dark black smoke. I inhale as much as I can as to prevent the smoke from depleting our carbon monoxide supply, sending us back into another ice age.

  • 13 1
 100% serious about recycling being awesome. Completely indifferent on alu vs carbon bars.

To the guy above, I've recycled many aluminum bike parts. :shrug:
  • 3 0
 Didn't mean to imply that nobody does it, if that's how you took it. Understandable, given the snark that follows... Honestly wondering how much this is done. I have like 5 aluminum bars in my garage. Maybe I'm just a hoarder, but I wouldn't get rid of them unless they were fully broken.
  • 7 1
 Quality carbon fibre filament like Toray PAN is a by-product of crude oil production, its not as environmentally unfriendly as you may consider?

As long as carbon fibre structures like bicycle frames and handlebars are used within their design / engineering specifications; they will outlast aluminium alloy structures by many years, as aluminium alloy fatigues with each loading cycle.

Pretty much all of the carbon fibre structures I have presented to a manufacture for warranty (I am talking 100s) have been from:

1. Road traffic collision or riding into a tree on a trail / binning bike into rocks (sudden, and massive overload beyond design specification). Nothing can survive this instance. Normally dealt with under "crash replacement" schemes.

2. Galvanic corrosion (metallic elements embedded in a carbon fibre structure). This is eventually designed out by a revision of the product.

3.Miss-handling by the end user, such as over tightening a handlebar stem and cracking a carbon fibre handlebar, customer admitting they did not own / use a torque wrench.

4. Historical design flaw on a specific product - you see the same claim on a number of the same products. This is eventually designed out by a revision of the product.

My my bikes are carbon fibre, and both my handlebars are carbon fibre, no concerns here. Have seen a lot of broken cromoly steel, aluminium alloy and carbon fibre, even some titanium alloys, over the years.
  • 30 0
 Talking about the (recycling) characteristics of carbon fiber without mentioning epoxy is like explaning sex and leaving out the dirty part.
Seriously, there's no such thing as a carbon part made from 100% carbon. There's no industrial option to recycle any epoxy composite (like "carbon" the way we use it) 100%.

Still, if you really wanna work on your footprint: RIDE YOUR BIKE TO WORK, promote cycling in your neighbourhood/city, or at least, consider car-pooling when going to the bike park.
  • 1 0
 Totally agree. It's a physical representation of common sense.
  • 12 8
 @anchoricex @MatthewCarpenter no, recycling isn't a "uber-gay-liberal-agenda" thing (your words, not mine) but its not the solution to everything that crowd might make it out to be, either. Nor is driving a hybrid really saving the world. Changing your own consumer behavior is great for telling your friends and PB friends about, but it doesn't make a damn dent in worldwide resource usage. Until large-scale commercial interests find it net-positive to care about recycling and reclamation, the land fills will keep piling up with our humanity's detritus. Environmentally speaking the "coolest" thing to do might be not to buy a bike at all. Or yes, ride that bike instead of taking a car trip.
  • 3 1
 @anchoricex "I've recycled many aluminum bike parts"

You took them to the facility, asked if it was OK to recycle, or just put them in the blue bin for the truck to "take away"?
  • 5 0
 Yeah, carbon also tends to be lighter, so it probably saves a couple of lbs of CO2 when I check it on the plane to Whistler.

@MatthewCarpenter the linked posted about ( specifically addresses the epoxy.
  • 2 0

Carbon fiber also fatigues that's not just for aluminium...
  • 5 4
  • 2 1
 Come on, carbon has a better carbon footprint due to the durability? It is better in some aspects but durability is not a factor in the bike world as a lot of people will change their parts before they even come close to expire. Good luck selling that used CF handlebar! How many people ride a frame until its unrideable anyway? I think most people keep their bike like 3 years max according to a PB poll iirc.

Yes, maybe carbon is recyclable but the most important thing that people forget is: is there a carbon recycling plant near you? The answer is very likely to be no, as opposed to shops buying metal which are all over the place.

Don't forget the 3 R's:

It's hard to apply to the bike world but recycling is not an environmental savior, it should be a last resort.
  • 2 0
 Recycling is a bunch of BS...The three "R's:
1 Reduce..Buy parts only when you need them. Buy quality parts that will last a long time.
2 Re-use. Buy used parts. You can do that right here. Use parts from your old ride if they are in good shape.
3 Finally, Recycle. This is still a good thing but is the last on the list,
  • 3 0
 Please correct me if I'm wrong here but it seems to me that the typical consumer of a cf product is not likely to use that product for more than half of its theoretical use-life. I'm sure many viewers of this particular website are guilty of spending more time considering/buying/oggling upgrades than riding and using that gear; something I'd consider to be a grave tregedy of our dear sport. Further, who buys used carbon equipment? I wouldn't dare.... maybe on my road bike. For that reason, cf has limited re-usability. Relative to aluminum, it is also very limited in how it can be re-purposed one it is broken, unless you consider wall-art for some bike dork somewhere re-purposing. No offense bike dorks.
  • 5 0
 @konarider112 Sure did his research and cited the sources! This is the first time I see someone do it on Pinkbike! Way to go!
  • 3 6
 In the end recycling bike parts is going to save .000000000000000000000001% of the environment
  • 1 0

The democratic world works in large part due to public policy, which is when the public sees a problem and the policy makers respond to the problem. Buying hybrid cars is a market signal for policy makers that will trickle up to the producers as a result of slow change over time.

In other words, buying a hybrid car does change the world. Its sort of obvious that one car is not going to change the world on its own, so I don't really understand the point that you are trying to make.

... unless you are saying that we should abandon consumerism/liberalism in favor of living in a stone age where fire isn't a thing, we should only travel by foot, produce our own food, and be completely independent of the advantages that technology give us to make the world a livable place. If that's what you are arguing for, you might have the wrong idea about environmentalism.
  • 4 0
 Konarider112: carbon fiber recycling is extremely expensive at this time, and very limited to few companies, mainly aerospace, and associated outfits that have the investment for that high volume carbon recycling. Repurposing carbon is happening, and Specialized even has a take back program. The reality is that in most places in the world, you can't throw your carbon handle bar on the Blue Bin. It's garbage, and it goes to the landfill, end of story Hopefully it changes soon, and more companies invest.

And old read, but still relevant:
  • 2 0
 Aluminum fatigue becomes a a factor ONLY if a part is designed outside of the endurance limit of the particular alloy. That is to say, if the part doesn't regularly flex past the endurance limit, it will not fatigue to the point of faliure. It's very easy to engineer parts to stay inside this limit. Aluminum fatigue is NOT NESESSARILY A FACTOR. Shouting because I'm so sick of hearing about it talked about as if it's inevitable. Mostly we are using parts that are stiff enough that they are not fatiguing these days. That said, I'm not at all against carbon parts, except for handlebars, I like my handlebars to fold up in a crash. Saved my sternum once already.
  • 2 0

Aluminium alloys, unlike steel alloys, do not have a fatigue limit. If a cyclic load is applied, aluminium alloys will always fatigue.

Mild steel will not normally admit fatigue crack growth if the applied stresses are below about 10% of the strength of the material

This is why so much effort is expended on NDT and rigorous inspection of aircraft assemblies made from aluminium alloys, even when designed within their specification limits. Over time, they fatigue, and can eventually crack leading to failure.
  • 3 0
 From Wikipedia's entry on 6061 t6.
. "A material data sheet [5] defines the fatigue limit under cyclic load as 14,000 psi (100 MPa) for 500,000,000 completely reversed cycles using a standard RR Moore test machine and specimen. Note that aluminum does not exhibit a well defined "knee" on its S-n graph, so there is some debate as to how many cycles equates to "infinite life". Also note the actual value of fatigue limit for an application can be dramatically affected by the conventional de-rating factors of loading, gradient, and surface finish."
Have you seen how much an airplane's wing can flex? Bikes don't bend anywhere near that much. Nobody likes riding a noodle. Five hundred million completley reversed cycles is more than enough in my books.
  • 2 1
 @VTwintips -

No, that's not what I'm arguing for, and please don't put words in my mouth (or text in my ummm text box). I'm not banging a drum for any kind of future reality.

I completely agree that buying a hybrid car will change the world - it makes more money for Toyota or the other car producers, who in turn can use that money to either reinvest in hybrid technology, spend it on savvy marketing for hybrid cars, or blow it on a re-entry into Formula One racing (which is also a form of marketing). I don't see what you call 'public policy' contributing anything to that equation, other than having certain US states give our tax rebates for buying a hybrid or electric car.

The point I was trying to make - and maybe the hybrid analogy got off track - was that recycling your aluminum chainring probably makes you feel good, but until INDUSTRY sees profit potential in recycling, energy use reduction, burning less oil, changing to LEDs, what have you... consumer behavior will remain an inconsequential percentage of the total achievable result. The only factor that has PROVEN to make the US consumer use less resources is a shrinking national economy - AKA having less money to spend.

The auto suppliers and their sub-suppliers are eagerly looking toward 2015's reports of continued low oil prices, because it will prod the masses to buy more cars. With low oil and gas prices, do you think people will be more encouraged to buy 1) a more expensive hybrid, or 2) a less expensive conventional car or truck?
  • 2 0
 You are looking at things all wrong. Sustainable technology is not a feel good thing. LED's for example are cheaper in the long run; new buildings and infrastructure are built with the cheapest technology and that is with LED's. The reason you say that its just a feel good thing and that its not really changing is because things don't shift overnight. There is a shift in the market, and its ignorant to ignore it.

We're not necessarily talking about using less resources in this case, but managing resources differently. It would be acceptable to use 10x as much energy if the energy is 100% coming from sustainable infrastructure.

Public policy influences economies as well. When consumer's attitudes towards certain products shift, they stop being bought, and the economy changes. Its not as simple as price.

City governments are pushing strongly towards electric cars especially Beijing, Shanghai and LA, where pollution is a public health problem. They're all already testing electric car sharing programs, and cities (particularly Chinese ones) are trying to remove conventional motors from cities altogether - and since China has a government with actual power, they'll likely succeed if that's what they decide to do.. This public health problem is a public problem, receiving a policy maker response and leading to change in policy. So again, what are you arguing for? Its not a debate about whether or not to cut down consumerism. Its about where the market is going to shift.
  • 2 1
 Using China as an example when talking about free market forces isn't a strong debate point. (100th out of 175 rating from Transparency International).

Thanks for the discussion. Merry Christmas! VT is nice this time of year.
  • 3 0
 I bet Washington is great up in the mountains too!!!!

China is important in free market forces because if they decide to go all out with electric vehicles, the rest of the world will follow suit just because it will be easier to make money that way. But that is besides the point. China is just one example, and it pertained to what we were talking about (the future of the car industry). The same stuff is happening within the United States too, it just doesn't happen as fast, because or political system isn't as efficient (although yes it is less corrupt).
  • 2 1
 To be honest steel is much more ''green'' than either of those option followed by alu and then carbon... why? Well think about that: carbon, when recycled, is cut down so fibers are much shorter and the end product is no where near as strong as it once was so you'll see a lot of that on laptop, small decorative pieces in cars...blablabla and as a result its a no go for most bike manufacturers.
As for aluminum its life span is limited ( no matter how small the force is, it gets weakened every time it is stressed ) and technically much shorter than carbon but as far as recycling goes its almost completely recyclable into the same product over and over. Now for all of you internet engineers out there, yes aluminum has a cycle limit which is stupidly high because they designed the part so, but it will fail no matter what, especially on harder use and crashes which can exceed the stress it is designed to take.... also the aerospace test you see are made by Boeing and the like, do you really think your bike is made out of the same quality of 6061 ( let alone the welding, heat treatment, machining....) ??? nope. Anyways aluminum and steel will always be a better choice over carbon in terms of carbon footprint regardless of recycling techniques because there is a very limited amount of time you can recycle carbon if at all on certain parts and everyone I know who buys carbon parts are so f*ing scared of failure that they change them whenever they see a scuff.... Anyways carbon is a high end product made for high performance, not for carbon footprint and ''eco-friendliness'' so why the hell bother ??? get a smaller car with a roof rack instead of a pick up truck and then you can talk about carbon footprint...
  • 1 0
 Finally someone making sense. I've looked and most places won't take a carbon frame and even the places that do use fossil fuels to recycle a small amount of usable material. I think people are also ignoring the fact that we have tons of aluminum that doesn't need to be mined alread.
  • 1 0
 Does anyone talking about hybrid cars realise the enormous resource cost of manufacturing the batteries for hybrids will never be offset by the emissions savings and battery usage
  • 1 0
 Batteries are expensive, but they have ways to work around that. The biggest one is that you won't own the car battery. Instead, you'll go to the gas station, they'll pop out your old battery (because the car will be made for quick switches - especially since electric cars are half as complicated as regular cars inside), and they'll give you a charged one. The big thing with electric is getting smog out of cities anyways. Plus, you can't compare carbon emissions, and acid mine problems (or whatever the deal is with extracting battery resources.) Its like comparing apples and oranges - in fact you can't even compare CO2 and methane (natural gas) well, since they have such different characteristics in the atmosphere.
  • 2 2
 You hippies are still arguing over this shit
  • 2 1
 Yeah bro, want some hummus?
  • 3 1
 Fuck yeah, bro. I brought some quinoa.
  • 1 0
 I drive a honda fit thank you very much!
  • 35 1
 Apparently I'm going to be the old crotchety guy railing at the youngsters in a few years when no-one but me wears a pack anymore. I like my pack. I like having more than water than I can fit in a bottle. My lawn, gets off it.
  • 17 0
 I'm with you. What's the big problem with packs? It's also nice having a first aid kit, enough spare parts and tools to fix things and not having to shove a pump and/or co2 cartiges up my ass.
  • 1 0
 theyre ok if they ont move around , i think these are the future :
  • 2 1
 I've worn an under-jersey thing before, I wasn't a fan. having the stuff closer to my skin made me sweat more, not less.
  • 6 0
 Having a good supply of water is essential in the summer for long rides plus the sloshing sound in bottles is annoying. I see so many riders without tubes ect or A bunch of crap taped to their bikes, it's just stupid. There are a lot of good packs out there for riding, and I'm just about all set on giving away tubes and lending my tools to people too lazy or fashion to put a pack on
  • 1 0
 I just got a SWAT bib short and lost my bottle first ride. The issue may be that I'm skinny, or that the pocket had nothing else in it. If you have a solution (other than: wear a pack) please let me know
  • 14 0
 I'm amazed that no one has mentioned the HUGE protection benefit of a hydro pack. I can't count the number of times I've landed on my back from a fall and gotten up like it never happened because the pack took most of the abuse.
  • 4 0
 So true! My pack has saved my spine more than a couple times. And it's the only place to put beers when you ride to the beer store post-ride
  • 11 0
 or pre ride beers. whats up with the non-backpack trend on PB these days? tool, beer, keys, tube, pump, ganja and pipe, phone, flip cam, snackage, and water, it all fits nicely in there and if I want to shove crap down the back of my shorts or tape it to my bike I'll keep that option open, thanks.
  • 2 0
 Camelback Mule. Spare parts-usually for other riders, tools-for other riders' stuff, water, food, first aid, extra dry shirt and gloves. It's saved my back and butt a few times. Plus a place to strap the helment to on a long push uphill.
  • 1 0
 I live in a very humid climate, started using a hydro pack about six months ago and liked it; more water and can carry a few essentials conveniently. But jeez, I get a real sweaty back with the pack on so have just gone back to a water bottle. Anyone know of a hydro pack that allows a little air to flow between shirt and pack? And please, no alu frames.
  • 2 0
 Tons of companies make mesh backed packs ie. the Dakine Drafter. That style is about as good as it gets but it's not the lightest and it cuts down on a little usable space.
  • 1 0
 Thanks, I'll take a look at the Dakine website, the weight and minor space issues are not a worry.
  • 1 0
 some of the new Ospreys have a little bit of stiff frame to them that lift the whole pack off your back, as does Deuter. not sure if that's what you're saying you don't want though.
  • 2 0
 I had a Deuter pack some years ago, it worked great to keep the pack away from the body and the frame wasn't too obtrusive. Wasn't as durable as any Camelbak gear I've owned tho, it kind of fell apart
  • 3 2
 Long rides? Pack mandatory! End of story. Seems like a lot of "mountain bikers" don't really ride that hard.
  • 2 0
 @JustinVP Yeah really. I don't know how many rides that lasted less than 3h ended with me saying "well that was about time, I just ran out of water" with a 2.5L pack. Dunno where this whole "let's use bottles" trend came from but it doesn't make much sense to me unless you're doing a quickie.

And you know... tools and spares?

Fanny packs were all the rage a few months ago on PB and now packs aren't cool anymore? Sigh... I guess I bought this enduro sash for nothing.
  • 1 1
 If you have two cages and enough clearance above them, as I do on my Blur, you can fit two 34 oz smart water bottles, which is just about as much as a 75oz pack, the weight is lower on your bike, you don't sweat as much and you don't get the shoulder fatigue you can with a full pack on steep uphills.
  • 3 0
 Still not convinced. You may have enough water but what about tools, spare parts, first aid stuff, emergency shit, food etc? If I only rode in city parks, sure, I guess two water bottles and a few things taped to my frame would be fine.
  • 1 0
 Saddle bag. That stuff needs to be continually attached, not in a camelback you might wear on another bike or on a hike where something might be forgotten,
  • 2 0
 Everybody is trying to get their bike as light as possible and now we're just going strap a ton of shit to it? Really?
  • 3 2
 Saddle bag, electrical tape, water bottles and fanny pack should cover all your bases but for the love of God don't use a camelback!
  • 1 1
 If you are going more than five miles, you need a tube, inflator, multitool and lever. There is no two ways about it. You can go as light as possible on all those but its like having enough water. You cant ride without it.
  • 1 1
 MRGONZO whats wrong with a camleback exactly. I've rode with one for couple yrs and had no problems at all. id deff pick that over a fag pack er sorry fanny pack any day. the leatt bags look really good. i know a couple of people that use them and with the way the fasten the don't move at all
  • 1 1
 I was being sarcastic bud. See my above comments.
  • 24 1
 And that's while I'll stick with aluminum - I'm a ham fister!
  • 13 1
 Haha. Ham fister. Haha
  • 18 1
 Yeah, kinda felt a bit dissed by those comments above, I mean we're mountain bikers not roadies. We ride in horrible stoney rocky, abrasive sandy conditions an I'm being told to worry aboot a zip tie on a carbon bar??
Metal for me Thanx \m/
  • 3 1
 Hes not talking about Zip ties hehe, he means this setup. Point loading of Carbon is generally not a great idea
  • 4 0
 Ham fister here... hahaha, but I do know ive crashed in the rocks at Bromont, and put nice scratches in my alum if it was a 170$ carbon bar, those scratches may have been gouges or chips, which is a failure waiting to happen. And I dont want my bars breaking.
  • 7 0
 Exactly dude! To say that carbon-phobia is irrational then that you have to take such care of it unless it'll break is contradictory! At the end of this summer my ally bars were covered in chips and scratches caused by flying rocks, crashes, turning my bike over, transit - all of the things that a mountain bike has to put up with even if you're a bit of a mincer like me with your kit! Aluminium works just fine for me thanks!
Mike did make a good point about finding some bars that feel nice though, too many peeps just buy the lightest/ cheapest/ best ano matching/ coolest bars they can find. The biggest difference in bars of similar widths will be the geo and that's what we should look for. For me its Azonic, all day!
  • 4 0
 My last handlebar was carbon and it broke in two on the landing of a jump. Yeah I ride like an idiot, but that's what makes it fun. Aluminum for me!
  • 3 0
 Landed a jump, snapped my Easton Monkey bar, hit a tree, cracked my sternum, broke my kneecap, broke two ribs. 7075 aluminum is just as light and I don't have to relive nightmares like that again.
  • 9 5
 My aluminum bars snapped & a mountain lion named Karen came out of the broken end. I had to fight it right there on the trail, I'd have been done for if Lee Majors hadn't shown up in the nick of time. Big Grin

I've been considering carbon bars, but now ya'll have got me nervous again.
  • 4 1
 Agreed, the bar advice was condescending. Why point out you have seen so many alu bars break then point out they are more common by 100:1? Every mtb'er out there knows that....
  • 3 0
 I folded a set of aluminum bars against my sternum. Carbon bars being stronger might have broken my sternum in that particular crash. Personally I think carbon bike parts are great. Aluminum bars for me though. By the time I got to the parking lot, I had three offers of spare bars. I miss Calabogie peaks, wish they'd open up again.
  • 13 0
 Some of the old fellers like me on here will remember the late 80s early 90s...then everyone knew that alu fatigues and breaks catastrophically blah blah, titanium lasts forever etc. In those days it was scratches and stress raisers around the clamp that everyone worried about on alu. Just like carbon fibre now.

And now you all think alu is 'safe'.

Whatever. If it's built right it will be fine. The tricky part is knowing who builds their carbon / alu / ti / steel right.
  • 1 0
 Exactly. And people still make the mistake of using price across materials... A $40 Al bar is going to be built to a much different quality level than a $40 CF bar.
  • 19 3
  • 14 3
 Same here.
  • 4 0
 You're just like my friends. Don't worry, we don't mind being pack-horses.
  • 20 0
 just dont ride with RC.....
  • 12 0
 Man I really got the wrong meaning off "sponge off my friends" for a second there o.O
  • 10 0
 If you're scared of a carbon bar but want the dampening abilities just fill an aluminum bar with expanding foam. I saw Mick Hannah do this at crankworx to help with his shoulder, magically spank offered this feature on their bars a short time after. Rider input at it's finest right there.
  • 1 0
 For real?
  • 1 0
 Yeah that was the rumour. Look on Spanks website, pretty sure they offer a foam filled bar and Mick is a Spank rider so it makes sense.
  • 1 0
 Too lazy to look, but I thought that foam filled bar was carbon. If SikMik did this to an alum bar with good results, sounds like a sweet hack.
  • 1 0
 Regardless of what the bar is made of I'm sure the results would be similar within reason.
  • 1 0
 I'd be curious to see a flex/dampening test done on a slew of bars of both materials. Most recently, I went from a Raceface Atlas alu bar to an Enve DH carbon bar and the difference between the two is huge. I've had both carbon bars that were not as damp or flexible as the Enve DH, and alu bars that were not as ... (bright? lively?...not sure what the word is) as the Atlas. Not all bars of the same material are the same.
  • 2 0
 It's called vibrocore
  • 1 0
 In the renthal feature Collins boy said they made the carbon bar feel exactly like the aluminium one. Only the weight is different.
  • 9 0
 got my 1st pair of carbon bars back in '99 maybe. never had a problem. and i'm not too particular about torque settings...don't understand why some people hate on the hydrapacs-roadies carry water bottles. not that there's anything wrong with being a roadie(i was a cat2 roadie back in the day). h2opacks are just easy. put some crap in 'em and go ride. leave crap in 'em and go ride again. done. throw out the bladder once in a while. repeat as necessary. taping shit to my frame-get the f*ck out of here. my 2cents
  • 7 0
 I think there a bit of misunderstanding of the science in this report.

"Scratch the hell" out of an aluminium bar and you'll introduce a whole load of stress raisers that might lead to a crack initiation site and consequently a fatigue failure. This is not good.

This is not a concern with carbon fibre, which is pretty insensitive to fatigue loading and crack propagation.

Over tighten the clamp on a aluminium bar and you might in the worst case cause a little bit of plastic deformation but it's highly unlikely and not a massive concern. Crush a carbon bar and you may cause a bit of matrix failure and delamination. This is not good and may lead to premature bar failure. I expect the problems with sharp edges on stems with carbon bars are not the consequent scratches but the local crushing failure?

So don't scratch your ally bars. And scratching your carbon bars isn't the end of the world. But crushing your carbon bars (or other impact damage) is not a good idea.
  • 2 0
 While it is true that carbon isn't susceptible to fatigue like aluminum is, scratches still create stress concentrations regardless of material. With carbon the concern is that its failure is always catastrophic. Sure scratched aluminum bars might fatigue (never seen this though), but 6061 will yield before fracturing unless you send it to uphill. This and price is why I prefer aluminum components. I would much rather have bent bars that can at least get me back to the car after I eat it hard. A bent bar also can't stab you, but a sheared one can.

When it comes to crashing, sharp impacts on aluminum cause dents whereas they can crack carbon. The dent will create a smaller stress concentration than the crack and you also might not even notice the crack is there. Cracks also arguably lower your moment of inertia more than dents, which would make it worse in bending.

In the end small surface scratches that come from regular use are no concern at all for either material. Bars are certainly designed with this in mind and also with a high factor of safety.

I guess it's really a pick your poison type of thing. Aluminum bars theoretically won't last as long, but you will know it's time for them to go when you look at them after eating it and they are all bent up. Carbon bars would last forever, but if a crack is created they can fail catastrophically and you might never see it coming.
  • 1 0
 Carbon is fatigue sensitive, but in a whole different way than alu and also somewhat different than steel.
It is also different given the type of composite (thermoset or thermoplastic) and the type of cyclic loading.

A correctly engineered alu or carbon bar will work fine. So in the end it's a trust issue.
  • 2 0
 Aluminum fatigue becomes a a factor ONLY if a part is designed outside of the endurance limit of the particular alloy. That is to say, if the part doesn't regularly flex past the endurance limit, it will not fatigue to the point of faliure. It's very easy to engineer parts to stay inside this limit. Aluminum fatigue is NOT NESESSARILY A FACTOR. Shouting because I'm so sick of hearing about it talked about as if it's inevitable. Mostly we are using parts that are stiff enough that they are not fatiguing these days.
  • 1 0
 Agreed, but it's the stress raisers in the ally parts that lead to the local stress exceeding the endurance limit. A poor weld or a local scratch for example may be the culprit. Admittedly I've never seen bars that look like they have a fatigue failure. But I've seen many ally frames snapped due to cracks growing from bad design features or welds. What I find interesting is the varied opinions on carbon parts. A lot of it from what seems to be people qualified to comment. It just goes to show its a new material and that our understanding is relatively immature. Also, different engineerings fields and applications focus their attention onto different issues. All good fun...
  • 1 0
 I'm sure that bars are designed within their endurance limit, but what type of cyclic loading they design them for isn't always the same. The number of cycles something can endure depends on mean stress and stress amplitude. For a given mean stress you can easily move outside of the endurance limit by increasing the amplitude. This is what scratches, gouges, or whatever else you manage to do to your bars does. I have broken bars because they weren't designed for jumping so the larger stress amplitude was more than they could handle (I'd guess number of cycles to failure was around 500). Fatigue and wear are always inevitable for pretty much every part of a bike. It just seems most people don't actually hold onto them for long enough for it to matter.

My main argument against carbon for freeride applications is that I think components that are critical to you not eating it (such as bars, wheels, or cranks) should be designed for failure such that in the event that the fail the risk of you hurting yourself isn't too elevated. Aluminum parts can be designed to bend prior to fracturing, but carbon parts can't. This applies more to wheels than anything else really, though.
  • 1 0
 Snapped an alu bar clean off, no deep scratches whatsoever so I can imagine it being fatigued (rigid fork on dirt jump bike, almost two years old..).
  • 9 1
 If you run carbon bars, use a proper torque wrench and proper lube on your stem bolts to get an accurate torque reading
  • 5 0
 Be sure to read the instructions. A lot of torque specs are given for dry installation of the bolts, unless specifically noted.
  • 4 0
 carbon paste is the way to go, i got a little pack of it for free at my lbs for my bars.
  • 2 0
 Good point on both of those. Carbon is a great material, just requires a bit more attention than just wrenching your stem bolts down
  • 5 0
 +1 on the torque wrench. Use it to ensure you don't over-tighten brake/shift levers as well. You want them to move when you crash. Also, run lock-on grips with alloy outer clamps to protect the ends of your bars in the event of an accident. I can almost guarantee that mine have my carbon bars numerous times.
  • 1 0
  • 1 0
 Ritchey has a little 5nm torque key that I use to install all my handlebar doodads. Easy as pie.
  • 2 1
 protip: teflon tape for gas pipe(it's yellow, & thicker) underneath your brake, shifter, etc mounts allows you to torque them to spec, but still allows them to move in the event of a crash. Bonus is that it gives you a little extra brake power as well, since running them loose allows them to move side to side a little when you grab the lever.

This REALLY helps when you start using I-spec or Matchmaker, as it's hard to get those loose enough to move in a crash without having them migrate from pushing the shift levers.
  • 6 0
 The water bottle on that SWAT bib short is not easily accessible. Unless you wear the bib shorts only, or cut a section off the back of your jersey...
  • 1 0
 HA! I just had a terrible image of someone riding down the trail in only bib shorts. Anywho if you have a bike without a water bottle holder you're kinda screwed out of this concept. I'll usually carry 1 in the back pocket and one in the cage. Then halfway through I'll switch them. On a side note I was torn between several models of bikes recently. The deciding factor was whether the bike had an accessible holder. As much as I wanted that Yeti, no holder, no dice. First world problems...
  • 7 2
 A good old marathoners fanny pack under a jersey you can getem anywhere the sell dick tights!!!!
  • 9 1
 "dick tights"?
  • 13 0
 Can you recomend a brand of water proof, windproof, foul wind proof, swamp ass proof, schwetty balls proof "Dick Tights"???
  • 10 0
 Are dick tights like condoms?
  • 2 0
 @fecalmaster the fecalmaster doesn't know?!?!
  • 4 0
 Your don't want to ride behind me bro!
  • 5 0
 Yes Sewer rat on the front page!! Thanks Mike for the response, noted and appreciated
  • 2 0
 Looking for an inexpensive rain shell? Check out Winners in their active clothing section, you may have to wait a bit & know what you want or are looking for but you can get some screaming deals on good outdoor clothing. I got a Patagonia soft shell last year for $60 (regular price $280). I get a kick out of the mt. bike clothing manufacturers that charge ridiculous prices, $400 for a bike jacket !?! Maybe for trustfunders. Most of the bike clothing I buy ( shirts, socks, jackets) I get at Costco or Winners, $15 shirts that perform as well as $60-$90 shirts, no brainer.
  • 1 0
 I'll add that most major jacket makers offer a "economy shell" These are great coats but lack the necessary ventilation. that being said, I purchased Eddie Bauer equilvalant at their outlet store for $39.99... It has held up great with nothing more than a quick hose off after rides with the bike... Just know these coats are saunas with our proper ventilation...
  • 4 0
 Of course, thats the thing about waterproof gear. The waterproof part is easy, its the breathabilty part that's difficult/expensive.
  • 5 0
 Not sure about landing on my back with a bottle right on my spine?
  • 2 0
 The bottle would probably explode, but yeah it would hurt. I had a rolled up tool pack in that area, crashed on it, and cracked a vertebra.
  • 1 0
 I landed on some emptys after a good crash into some rocks and they probably saved me a world of hurt, granted air is a bit more compressible then water....
  • 1 0
 Wait a tick! Clap tells me that their 35mm stuff is no more stuff than their 31.8mm stuff. But this article stated that "most of the new carbon handlebars out there, and especially those that feature a 35mm stem clamp section, are very stiff and unforgiving.".

Which is it?
  • 4 0
 My SixC 35mm bar is anything but unforgiving. It feels great.
  • 1 1
 I've not tried 35mm bars but my expectation is that they would be stiffer (less flex) but offer the same vibration damping feel?
  • 1 0
 The bar advice sounded carbonphobic. If you buy cheap stuff, you still need to look after it. An Al bar can actually sneak up on you because it can develop cracks etc. The article just perpetuates the myth that CF is some super-high-maintenance material. Just like any other, when the manufacturer does it right it lasts damn near forever with proper maintenance.
  • 3 0
 People are talking about the carbon footprint of a carbon bike handlebar? Time to not dive into the comments section ever again...
  • 1 0
 Nail on head
  • 2 0
 Nice to see a rain jacket under 100 bucks....honestly, I cannot get over the 475+ crowd here in Squamish. Jump up and down with glee because they bought a first release 7mesh jacket to hang around the coffee shop.
  • 1 0
 Hey PB, three quick questions about your answers:
1. You seem to indicate that scratches on a carbon bar somehow disrupt the integrity of the material. Can you elaborate?
2. Is there some sort of study showing you can carry stuff in the small of your back without being injured in a crash? It seems unsafe.
3.what kind of tape is best to tape your tools to your bike?
  • 2 0
 Another alternative to the SAT is a Camelbak RaceBak. It's a vest that goes under your jersey which carries a 70 Oz bladder without the restriction of a backpack.
  • 2 1
 You forget that a hard crash with carbon with enough force will crack the frame and right it off. A dent to aluminium or steal can be repaired or you can continue to ride it after inspection. This may no apply to bars.
  • 8 1
 Carbon frames get repaired all the time.
  • 1 6
flag Tar895 (Dec 23, 2014 at 10:18) (Below Threshold)
 specialist carbon frame repair is very expensive. Depending on the damage steel or aluminium frame repair is less but still expensive.
  • 6 1
 Aluminium frames generally cannot be repaired as they would have to be re-heat treated after welding. Carbon is often repairable with strength as good as new. The price for repair will come down as more people become qualified at doing the repairing.
  • 2 1
 A hard crash with enough force to crack a carbon frame and write it off would cause an aluminum frame to instantaneously vaporize. Maybe not, but plastic frames can take an effing beating.

Personally, I don't really care, aluminum or carbon for a frame, but for me, there are no downsides to a carbon frame other than cost relative to aluminum.

I'd still not run a carbon bar or seat post (if the days before droppers were still here) even on my road bike.
  • 4 2
 I repaired by carbon swingarm myself. Only about $20 in materials. Stronger than new; I wrapped the carbon more than twice as thick as original. With a layup pattern that adds toughness as well to avoid a repeat failure by another freak hit like the one that cracked it. The skills are simple enough but labor intensive.
  • 3 0
 Aluminum cannot be repaired(i guess it can, but it aint easy or worth it), and carbon is generally cheaper to repair than steel. The paint matching on the other hand...
  • 4 1
 Yes its easy to have alu frame welded but you will have to re heat to get at least same strenght as before crack. I got my rear end heated in my oven for 18 hours at 180 degrees C. and it holds fine.
  • 5 0
 Wow, 18 hours of getting your rear end heated...snigger.
  • 3 1
 The mini bags that strap underneath the saddle seem to work alright, U can fit a tube, some tire levers and a lil snack if you want.
  • 3 0
 Bottle attached to spine is a nice way to dislocate vertebrae in an otherwise minor crash. Solid thinking.
  • 1 1
 Hydration Pack Alternatives? Who cares. Is there any better way to carry mass amounts of water other than throwing water bottles in the back pack for rides that take over 6 hours?
  • 1 0
 get a bottle cage and a water bottle. then put it inside an tube, tire levers, tool & link chain. less 0,5kg on your back.
  • 7 4
 Nice commercial
  • 3 1
 The swat bib will just make me look fatter than I already am.
  • 2 0
 no way l would ever wear one of these! just no
  • 1 0
 Gonna buy some duct tape, go all enduro style! It's the right thing to do, right?
  • 1 0
 Why not an under the saddle bag so long as you don't have clearance issues under full compression?
  • 1 1
 Well short answer for first question:

Carbon snaps with no warning
Aluminum bends meaning you won't have to pay to replace your teeth.

Spank make nice al bars btw
  • 2 0
 Cheap. Light. Strong. Pick two.
  • 2 0
 Aluminium ,, in theory , is infinetely recyclable .. My 2 cent !!
  • 2 1
 Yes, taping tools and supplies to your frame. Enduro pioneered that!
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