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XC handle bar replacement

Epic29er's picture

By Epic29er - Posted on 24 April 2013

NB: Originally posted elsewhere on the Global Riders Network and appears via syndication.

Hey all

Can anyone give me any pointers in regards to replacing my current alloy handle bars for carbon fiber option?
Shape, size and brand?

And is it worth replacing the stem at the same time?


GAZZA's picture

Are you happy with the width and sweep of the bars you're riding now?
If so, look for something with the same dimensions.

pharmaboy's picture

Epics are flat with around a 10 degree sweep.

Decide what sweep you want, and whether you want some rise as well.

She really popular bars are the eastons, ritchey wcs, raceface, even Thomson Carbons. But there are stacks of other brands, I found the most popular width were around the 685mm size flat with around 8 or 9 degree of bend. The Thomson s are cool in that they work both ways up so you can be lower than the stem or above which is nifty.

Stems can have any available size and most people only. Change in order to get a better position , either length or rise fall.

Slowpup's picture

Gazza's question is very relevant. It's difficult to offer suggestions without knowing the reason for the upgrade.
For instance, a 710 mm wide 25 degree sweep Chrome Moly bar may alleviate wrist pain.... Or a carbon flat bar may save the 20 grams needed to get under the 10kg mark.

Zoom's picture

Tracks in our area are built deliberately with narrow gaps to keep MX riders out. Wide bars will definitely be a hindrance here.

Hans's picture

I can recommend Ritchey 680 mm low rise carbon XC bars for a 29'er. The damping of the carbon takes away the 'buzz' / vibrations from small bumps and this bar is sturdy enough to survive some stacks / drops etc. I've used bars from this brand for 5 years - no problem. Some say you should replace them after a couple of years or after big stacks to be on the safe side. As others mentioned - personal fit is important (back sweep, up sweep). Use your current bars as a guidance and adjust as needed.

Note: Stems need to have suitable clamps for Carbon bars - to avoid pinch pressure. Never over-tighten stem bolts on a carbon bar - get a torque wrench to make sure you stay within the very low 5-10Nm torque limits (see manufacturers specs).

P.S. Don't go for Carbon stems - they are too flexy for the sake of saving a few grams.

Epic29er's picture

The main reason got chaing out a few components on my bike is weight saving. I the last 5 months I have lost 10kilos to bring my weight down to about 60kgs. In trying to push my total weight (bike+water+tools+me) below 75kilo.

Also I am a pretty short guy only hitting 166cm. The ritchety bars are ones that I have been looking at a fair bit to be honest they seem to have all the ticks. The problem I have is I have a bit of a dodgy lower back. So bending down real low tends to cause a bit of pain after about an hour of riding. I'm not to fussed about cost more function and weight. If I can get the bike under 10kilo then I can put a bit more weight back on lol, or carry more water.

pharmaboy's picture

You are going to be on a small then. As such consider the upside down ones from ritchey and Thomson to get your hands lower, which helps on climbs and front end grip

If you are having back problems , perhaps an epic is not the best , those things are like hard tails

Epic29er's picture

Thanks for the advice. I will check out those ritchety ones and see how they go. I might be head more towards the low rider then the drop down. To be honest I would have to give them both a go to see if the lower bars caused any undue discomfort. I found the epic is fine with the back and a hell of alot better then my carve hard tail. My problem is I have two bulging discs which tends to cause pain after long periods of standing or curled right up, hence I don't use the drop bars on my road bike very often and you bars are out of the question. It depends on how much lower the ritchety bars are. Ill check them out.

Once again thanks for the advice.

hawkeye's picture

If you're getting lower back pain I'd go see a physio and get the appropriate exercise regime, and then once partway through and your movement issues are starting to resolve, go get a medical bike fit.

The bike fit will provide the appropriate guidance on stem length and bar height.

I've been doing a core maintenance regime for some time and I got a fit done a month before the Mont and it helped improve both comfort and power output.

mxracer92's picture

im not a huge fan of carbon bars , borrowed a mates bike to bash down lancaster .

off the small log ride/log drop nek minuut
 photo A173086A-78C2-41E0-9659-A5ABFD369AC6-31583-00000F327C303545_zps6163dec1.jpg

Epic29er's picture

Oh snap

Antsonline's picture

Well - if ever I saw evidence of over-tightened brake lever clamps, that was it. Snapping exactly around the clamp zone?

Its very very rare to snap carbon bars of an reputable brand (including Race Face). I'd reckon that around 30% of everyone riding MTBs these bars run carbon bars, and I have seen very few snap.

Hop fiend's picture

Still using after 15 years,now on my pub/commuter bike is some Easton CT2 Monkey Lite bars-stiff,light & very comfortable!

mxracer92's picture

not my bike , but yea the bars where used for 3 years with no issues .. until i jumped onto it .. owner of bike is 10kg lighter then me thou

hawkeye's picture

Youve got grips and brake clamps stiffening the end of the bar and then it suddenly stops. Thats going to create a stress riser for sure at the end of the clamp. I'm not surprised to see it go there.

Dunno about you guys but I run my brakes at low clamp torque so that the controls will move rather than snap off if they take a hit in a bingle. Be lucky to be more than 2nm

Epic29er's picture

I know this is off topic but does anyone run workshops on mtb repair and preventative maintainence?

Zoom's picture

Videos on YouTube are a good source of information.

hawkeye's picture

Zinn and the Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance

Best $40 you'll ever spend.

CAUTION's picture

if you are asking questions about what bars to buy and should i replace my stem at same time, either read more or go to a store as you are probably not in the right form for doing it solo.
AND to the carbon bar snapper, buy a torque wrench. in fact dont matter if it is carbon, alloy or steel, all bolts should be properly torqued on a mnt bike or prepare for pain.
Unfortunately some bike shops should read this and follow all suggestions and warnings on product paperwork and websites instead of just hand tightening...
Some stuff i have been given from stores are dam atrocious...

hawkeye's picture
Unfortunately some bike shops should read this and follow all suggestions and warnings on product paperwork and websites instead of just hand tightening...

Never seen a bike shop mechanic use a torque wrench. Sad

Epic29er's picture

I tried reading there is a "there's a hippopotomus on my roof eating cake"... nothing in there about mountain bike handle bars.
Don't worry I am fully intending to have all work done at my local bike shop however I wouldn't mind learning bits a pieces where I can, hence why I asked it anyone knows of workshops that get run on these kind of things. I am some what u able to access a book shop for the next few weeks. But that zinn and the art of mountain bike maintenance is going to be the first thing I buy when I get back to Australia.

Zoom's picture

Don't confuse the book with Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, which has very little to do with motorcycle maintenance, and even less with Zen.

Epic29er's picture

Haha yes I think a mid 70's phyolosofical novel would about as helpful as CAUTION's comment. Read more and go to a store haha you so get me. But seriously a very interesting book.

pharmaboy's picture

my mechanic has broken a number of parts on various bikes - each time torqued to manufacturers specs, now he uses hand only

Epic29er's picture

My job in the navy is basically a cross between a mechanic and an electrician. One of the issues we have had over the years is supporting documentation. Funnily enough even torque settings have caused a problem. The one thing we try and do however is follow the supporting documentation to the letter. If something goes wrong after that we can not be held responsible. If you deviate from the instructions you leave yourself open to a very actionable position. In saying that however we also have a process in which we are able to identify supporting documentation that is not correct. The instructions are then changed to suit.

If bike shop mechanics are coming across problems were following the provided standard instruction for that specific item then they should be flagging it up the chain to their state reps and so on. Now I know there is a different between working on a MTB vs a marine gas turbine but the principal is the same.

As much as I am very much capable to do most of the work on my bikes myself, the installation of new parts is something I have not yet ventured into. Mainly because until now I have never had to buy any after market parts. I have always thought the idea if weight saving on your bike when you can loose the weight off your body for free a bit silly. But now If I loose much more off the body I will start looking a little in healthy. I have not been this light since I was 18.

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