Author Topic: Carbon bars, seatpost  (Read 537 times)

Svend

  • 4-6 Year Member
  • 1000 Posts
  • ****
  • Posts: 1107
Carbon bars, seatpost
« on: September 04, 2012, 01:32:42 pm »
As a fall/winter project, I am looking at upgrading my wife's aluminum XC hardtail bike with some new components.  The frame is a winner and is well worth the expense and effort; the wheels and drivetrain parts are good.  The fork and brakes are middle of the road and will be upgraded (that's another discussion, however).  As a starting point, I am considering a carbon seatpost and handlebars for improved comfort.  Not having any experience with carbon components, I wanted to poll the gang here and get some advice.

Background:  comfort is first priority, as in vibration absorption; weight is secondary -- we are not looking to lose any grams off the bike with this (we will save significant weight with the fork upgrade, and that will be sufficient).  Strength is important, but we don't need bombproof build, as she is only 130 lbs.  OTOH, we also don't want ultra-light and flimsy, and have anything snapping off mid-ride and causing a disastrous crash.  In summary:  strong, reasonable weight, not too flexy and light.

As for brands and models, I am thinking something like the Easton EC70 or Truvativ Noir T30 models should fit the bill.  But I am really not "in the know" on these components, so am not familiar with who is doing good work with carbon parts.  There are lots of others to choose from -- FSA; 3T; Enve, Crank Brothers, etc.  Not to mention the different carbon technologies being used -- high modulus; unidirectional....

Any recommendations and insight into the world of carbon bits for bikes are greatly appreciated.  Alternatively, if anyone has tried a carbon bar or post and found that it was no great improvement over aluminum, then tell me so and I may not bother with these after all, and just focus on fork and brakes.

Thanks,

Svend
« Last Edit: September 04, 2012, 02:51:18 pm by Svend »


jim-ratliff

  • 6+ Year Member
  • 1000 Posts
  • ******
  • Posts: 2739
Re: Carbon bars, seatpost
« Reply #1 on: September 04, 2012, 02:46:26 pm »
My road bike came with carbon fork and steerer, and I did upgrade the handlebars to a carbon-fiber reinforced with Kevlar handlebar. It is a bit damper, but I did it because of the comfort factor for my hands.  The top of the bars is flatter which is where my hands are most of the time, and there is an indent in the bend that also makes that position more comfortable than a pure round bar. 
http://www.fullspeedahead.com/products/183/K-Wing-Compact

However, none of that is applicable to a Mountain bike since you spend all of your time on the grips. However, I did upgrade our bikes to Ergon grips, and love them. Rather than just being round, the elongated section supports the heel of the hand and really enhances comfort and takes pressure off of the web space between the thumb and the fingers. There are also other models that include a bar end so you can have a second hand position.
http://www.ergon-bike.com/us/en/product/gp1
http://www.ergon-bike.com/us/en/product/gp2

Carbon seat posts. Something to consider. My carbon steerer has a compression plug inside the tube to protect the tube from failing (if over tightened or whatever). A surprisingly good idea I thought. But that touch also reinforces my leeriness with carbon seat posts. There are suspension seat posts that I have seen on others bikes, don't know how well they work. I would consider a more "plush" seat first.
http://www.mtbr.com/cat/suspension/suspension-seatpost/pls_150crx.aspx

« Last Edit: September 04, 2012, 03:32:39 pm by gandalf »
"If you're gonna play the game boy, ya gotta learn to play it right."

Svend

  • 4-6 Year Member
  • 1000 Posts
  • ****
  • Posts: 1107
Re: Carbon bars, seatpost
« Reply #2 on: September 04, 2012, 03:08:34 pm »
Thanks Jim.  There is a very good saddle on the bike (SQ Lab, German-made) which is extremely comfortable, as well as ergonomic grips.  The latter are not Ergon brand, but Specialized, I think.  Regardless, they are very comfortable, and shaped like the Ergon ones to support the heel of the hand, as you describe.

I hear you about a carbon seatpost and having some doubts about it.  After seeing the Olympic mtn. bike race and the Italian guy losing his saddle, this is a choice that has to be carefully made.  I have heard of guys getting skewered with sharp carbon pointy bits when their seatpost broke.  Shudder to think of that.....

As I mentioned, I am not fixed on these components as must-do things -- there are other ways of improving comfort.  But just thinking that carbon post and bars might be worth investing in if the benefits are there. 

FYI, I will be installing a larger-volume rear tire on the bike soon to replace the 2.0 Geax Arrojo, which is worn down.  That should help a lot, and will be a good quick fix.

« Last Edit: September 04, 2012, 03:11:43 pm by Svend »

gandalf

  • Administrator
  • <100 Posts
  • *
  • Posts: 48
Re: Carbon bars, seatpost
« Reply #3 on: September 04, 2012, 03:34:50 pm »

And larger volume allows a lower pressure, I assume?

Svend

  • 4-6 Year Member
  • 1000 Posts
  • ****
  • Posts: 1107
Re: Carbon bars, seatpost
« Reply #4 on: September 04, 2012, 06:03:43 pm »
Perhaps.....she is running ~30 psi in the 2.0 Arrojo (rear tire) right now, with tubes  ;D  Same for the front tire, which is a 2.1 Slant Six, but significantly larger volume.  That seems a reasonable pressure, even by tubeless standards.  So far, not a single pinch flat at those pressures, for either front or rear.  Not sure if a larger volume rear tire will allow a lower pressure.  Depends on the sidewall thickness.  I will be putting on a 2.2 Saguaro, likely the TNT version, so that should be possible.  I am also looking at converting her Crossride wheels to tubeless -- according to what I have found on the web, this should be easily doable even though they are not tubeless-ready.  The problem I am having right now is finding Hutchinson or Geax sealant (the long-lasting stuff) -- all the stores here have only Stans, and I am not interesting in fussing with this every few months.

But we digress....back to carbon posts and bars....  Have you found that carbon bike parts are overly fragile? Or sturdy and durable, in general?

« Last Edit: September 05, 2012, 12:31:29 am by Svend »

jim-ratliff

  • 6+ Year Member
  • 1000 Posts
  • ******
  • Posts: 2739
Re: Carbon bars, seatpost
« Reply #5 on: September 04, 2012, 08:27:29 pm »
Sturdy and durable in general.  No failures. I talked to someone yesterday who said "Yeah, I've heard that if you drop the bike the carbon will shatter." Not at all my experience (and probably never true for a reputable manufacturer), and I don't take any special care to handle it gingerly or anything.  Lynn and I have both dropped and fell with our mtb's, landing on rocks and stuff.  No concerns at all.
"If you're gonna play the game boy, ya gotta learn to play it right."

Svend

  • 4-6 Year Member
  • 1000 Posts
  • ****
  • Posts: 1107
Re: Carbon bars, seatpost
« Reply #6 on: September 05, 2012, 12:38:55 am »
Good to know.  You can understand why I ask, and the general reason for the thread.  Having heard of some nasty carbon fiber bar and post failures, we definitely want to get this right if we choose to go this way.  Getting a solid product matters most.


bushwacka

  • Instructor
  • 400 Posts
  • **
  • Posts: 471
Re: Carbon bars, seatpost
« Reply #7 on: September 05, 2012, 07:06:21 am »
on the bars/seat post.

Bars will be very hard to notice IMO, any time I have ridden a carbon barred bike I have never thought about how much plusher it was. Maybe on a fully rigid it would matter more but on a bike with a suspension fork its very hard to tell.

a seatpost will make a difference but nearly as much as the tires.

the most complaint seat post on the market is the Syntace's, no idea on the strength but everyone who rides this thing says it work.

http://www.bikerumor.com/2012/05/10/just-in-syntaces-compliant-p6-carbon-hiflex-seatpost/



on everything else, you should be able to easily run high teens on tubeless tires with someone who weighs 130lb. 30 Psi is much to hard and is slowing her down.  It IMO is not reasonable. with that said a tubeless and tubes tire inflated at the same pressure will have perceivable differences.

Svend

  • 4-6 Year Member
  • 1000 Posts
  • ****
  • Posts: 1107
Re: Carbon bars, seatpost
« Reply #8 on: September 05, 2012, 08:42:44 am »
Thanks Josh -- good insight on the bars and post.  Interesting comment on tires making more difference than a post does.  Perhaps I'll go about this in a different order -- rear tire (tubeless, high volume) first; then a new, more plush fork.  We'll see how she likes the ride quality, then make changes to bars and post if needed.

BTW, the fork is a mid-range Rock Shox - the Recon SL from 2008.  Not very sophisticated, and we can do better and lighter.  I'll start another thread at some point to chat about options there.  Too busy these days to shop for that.... One comment on the topic, however, is that it seems we have an opportunity with a new fork to go with a QR15 model.  As far as I can tell, even the older Crossride hubs could be converted from 9mm QR to 15mm just by popping in a new skewer adapter.  Sweet! Will check with my local shop tech and see if he can order that.


bushwacka

  • Instructor
  • 400 Posts
  • **
  • Posts: 471
Re: Carbon bars, seatpost
« Reply #9 on: September 05, 2012, 08:48:33 am »
once your ride a 15mm thru there is no going back IMO.

QR should die, on all bike including road/CX bikes. Thrus are lighter, and stronger.


Svend

  • 4-6 Year Member
  • 1000 Posts
  • ****
  • Posts: 1107
Re: Carbon bars, seatpost
« Reply #10 on: September 05, 2012, 08:58:55 am »
Agreed -- I can definitely see the merits of that design.  Impossible to put the wheel on crooked, which is a big benefit to those with ten thumbs.  And stiffer, too, I imagine.  Should be a nice upgrade if the Crossride's will accept it.

« Last Edit: September 05, 2012, 09:00:22 am by Svend »

epic

  • Instructor
  • <100 Posts
  • **
  • Posts: 85
Re: Carbon bars, seatpost
« Reply #11 on: September 05, 2012, 01:30:03 pm »
Considering how many times I have seen my carbon barred/seatposted bikes go tomahawking down the mountain without me, I don't think you need to be too worried about durability if you choose a quality product. I've also seen plenty of broken aluminum components and the last bars I broke were titanium (ouch), so just because it's metal doesn't mean it's stronger. F-35s have a full carbon airframe and are designed to land on aircraft carriers every day for 50 years.

A few years back Bike magazine (the German one) did one of their many tests on carbon bars, and it was convincing enough to make me ride Race Face carbon bars, they were significantly better than the competition. Other brands I would run for sure are Easton and Answer. For the seatpost, either get a Thomson or get a dropper post of some kind. Every bike should have a dropper, but if not, get a Thomson.

Svend

  • 4-6 Year Member
  • 1000 Posts
  • ****
  • Posts: 1107
Re: Carbon bars, seatpost
« Reply #12 on: September 05, 2012, 02:45:22 pm »
Too funny! The image of a bike hurtling down the hill, sans rider, mowing down trees as it goes.....hilarious.

That's good info on the carbon bits -- thanks Epic.  You spoke directly to my question:  what is a good quality component? I will check out the Raceface stuff -- I have always liked their products, and we have several on our bikes -- bars, stems, seatposts (nothing in CF, though).  I have a Turbine bar on my 29er that has a very nice feel to it -- not in the least bit harsh.

Re. a seatpost for my wife's bike, I like the recommendation of a Thomson, and was checking out the Elite and Masterpiece units last night.  Our daughter's Norco XC hardtail has a Thomson X4 stem on it, and it is a seriously nice little piece of kit.  Beautifully machined.  I would not hesitate to buy anything from that company. 

And the F-35 reference is familiar to me -- I have a cousin in Germany who works for an aerospace company, and he has been designing commuter and private jets whose fuselage and wings are made entirely of carbon fiber.  Very cool project.  As you say, there is good stuff, and cheap stuff.

Thanks for the insight.
« Last Edit: September 05, 2012, 02:47:02 pm by Svend »

epic

  • Instructor
  • <100 Posts
  • **
  • Posts: 85
Re: Carbon bars, seatpost
« Reply #13 on: September 05, 2012, 02:52:55 pm »
On the subject of good stuff and cheap stuff, there is also FAKE stuff. Ritchey had a problem with people selling counterfeit Ritchey on e-bay. There are also lesser "brands" that sell a bar with several layers of fiberglass and an outer wrap of carbon fiber (there was an article on this in Bicycle Retailer and Industry News a few years back). I'd be very nervous about buying carbon bits for a really, really good price new online.

jim-ratliff

  • 6+ Year Member
  • 1000 Posts
  • ******
  • Posts: 2739
Re: Carbon bars, seatpost
« Reply #14 on: September 05, 2012, 03:40:00 pm »
Too funny! The image of a bike hurtling down the hill, sans rider, mowing down trees as it goes.....hilarious.
But FAR better sans rider than "with the rider still attached to the bike".
Or so Lynn tells me.  :o
"If you're gonna play the game boy, ya gotta learn to play it right."