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

Svend

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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

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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 »
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Svend

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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

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Re: Carbon bars, seatpost
« Reply #3 on: September 04, 2012, 03:34:50 pm »

And larger volume allows a lower pressure, I assume?

Svend

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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

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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.
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Svend

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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
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LivingProof

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Re: Carbon bars, seatpost
« Reply #15 on: September 06, 2012, 06:53:07 am »
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

For over a year, I've been fighting a very sore left hand at the base of the thumb joint. Research, via the net, indicated arthritis as the most probable cause, and, I just had that confirmed via x-ray. Damn the aging process. >:(  It's surprising how much a small jolt can inflict a fair amount of pain. My thumb can also become very weak, no problem on a road bike, but, this fall I will need to change the thumb shifter on my cross bike to permit shifting with my hand grip. I can ride both in the drops and on the hoods of my shifters without pain, although after a couple of hours on the road, my thumb will be sore.  I do have aero-bars and use them just to get all pressure off my hand. Not a fan of extended riding in that position.

While road biking, I've become pretty adept at looking for bumps in the road, then, getting my left hand off the handlebar. I've been considering transitioning to carbon bars. My net research seems to indicate that they will be damper, but, there is no magic to cure my problem.

Any thoughts?

Liam

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Re: Carbon bars, seatpost
« Reply #16 on: September 06, 2012, 07:32:27 am »
Carbon Bars:  I have used the Race Face Next Carbon low rise bar for four years on three different bikes...still going strong, no complaints. 

Carbon Seat Post:  That is one product I have seen (and been part of) multiple failures of...I had an older Easton EC 90 the frayed and split on a ride, and I've seen them sheared clean on friend's bikes as well. 

I'm a Thompson seatpost and stem man for life.  It's the gold standard no matter what the criteria is-there are some products that are just the best-THompson Seatpost and Stems are one of them.

I own (and I am looking to sell) a USE Alien Suspension Seatpost-27.5.   You can check the mtbr reviews on this product, it is very highly regarded.  It does add a ton of 'comfort' and seated control with little fuss to a hard tail....if that's what you're looking for.


Bigger tires run tubeless are one of the keys to comfortable all mountain bliss.  Josh is right about that 100%.


I also use Ergon grips (small)---Some folks love 'em, some hate them, they're not for everyone, but for me, they added a ton of comfort, reduction in arm, wrist, and neck pain.  I won't ride anything else for grips.

Liam


jim-ratliff

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Re: Carbon bars, seatpost
« Reply #17 on: September 06, 2012, 07:59:41 am »
For over a year, I've been fighting a very sore left hand at the base of the thumb joint. Research, via the net, indicated arthritis as the most probable cause, and, I just had that confirmed via x-ray. Damn the aging process. >:(  It's surprising how much a small jolt can inflict a fair amount of pain. My thumb can also become very weak, no problem on a road bike, but, this fall I will need to change the thumb shifter on my cross bike to permit shifting with my hand grip.
Living Proof: I hear you. I had a blast injury to my left hand back in 1972 that almost severed my left thumb. I still have very limited range of motion, little strength, and only about an inch of web space between the thumb and first finger (but I can hold a ski pole). The damage was my biggest reason for the K-Wing bar, longer rides with round bar became quite uncomfortable in the web space. The flatter top section allows me to get more of my palm on the top of the bar with fingers wrapped around and under. Much more comfortable for me now that I've gotten the pressure off of the area between the thumb and finger.

For my mountain bike thumb shifter, I reach across and shift the left thumb trigger with my right hand, and that works just fine for me. In fact, I'll bet I'm smooth enough at it that Lynn has never even noticed.

My son had grip shifts on an old, upper end Cannondale bike, and I really didn't like the feel. I would certainly test ride grip shifters before making that transition.

PS.
The FSA K-Wing Aero bar is a wing shaped bar (as opposed to round), not aero bars like tri-athletes ride. They are also a more compact drop, so riding in the drops is more comfortable than the drops on standard road bars.
« Last Edit: September 06, 2012, 08:35:13 am by jim-ratliff »
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Svend

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Re: Carbon bars, seatpost
« Reply #18 on: September 06, 2012, 10:50:42 am »
LP -- re. the shifting troubles on your cross bike; are you using flat bars with mtn. bike shifters? If so, what part of the shifting motion is causing pain? Just the movement itself, regardless of how much resistance is presented by the levers? Or only on one of the levers, which happens to be very stiff and hard to move (ie. the upshift lever, left hand, large paddle)? If you elaborate a bit, perhaps I can suggest a fix.  I am thinking that if it's only when you apply a lot of pressure to the big lever (upshift), and we can ease the resistance, then you might be good (?).  Specifically what I am getting at is that there is can be significant resistance at the lever that is caused by friction in the entire line from shift mechanism to derailleur, and alleviated that friction can make shifting much smoother and lighter. 

For example, when I ride my father-in-law's bike, or test ride my daughter's bike, both of which have identical derailleurs and shift levers to mine (SRAM X9), they are both super smooth and effortless to shift, requiring only light pressure on the left-hand upshift lever.  My own bike, OTOH, requires a lot of thumb force and can be a bear to get it to upshift.  The difference? Better cables on the other two bikes -- quality Jagwire, vs. OE cheap cables on my bike.  That, and when lubing the shifter and derailleur mechanisms helps some too, but better cables are really where it's at.  Needless to say, if I keep my bike for next season, I will be swapping cables and going with Jagwire.

Liam -- thanks for the insight.  As I mentioned, I am really impressed by Thomson's stuff, and would not hesitate to buy any of their components.  I will definitely be putting one of their stems on my wife's bike, and it would make a nice combo with a Race Face Next low-rise or flat bar.  The more I hear and read about carbon seat post failures, the less inclined I am to go there, esp. given the marginal benefits.  I think I'll stick to working with a larger rear tire and tubeless conversion to ease the impacts back there. 

I should add -- she is not finding the bike uncomfortable, per se, so this is not the impetus for these upgrades.  She loves the bike, and rides it hard over rough terrain without a word of complaint.  But since I want to upgrade some middle of the road components anyway, the opportunity to make an aluminum hardtail 26er more of a plush ride is certainly worth taking advantage of, and paying attention to this aspect in our choice of parts.

Next thread will be about forks....
« Last Edit: September 06, 2012, 01:39:04 pm by Svend »

LivingProof

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Re: Carbon bars, seatpost
« Reply #19 on: September 07, 2012, 06:30:56 am »
LP -- re. the shifting troubles on your cross bike; are you using flat bars with mtn. bike shifters? If so, what part of the shifting motion is causing pain? Just the movement itself, regardless of how much resistance is presented by the levers? Or only on one of the levers, which happens to be very stiff and hard to move (ie. the upshift lever, left hand, large paddle)? If you elaborate a bit, perhaps I can suggest a fix.  I am thinking that if it's only when you apply a lot of pressure to the big lever (upshift), and we can ease the resistance, then you might be good (?).  Specifically what I am getting at is that there is can be significant resistance at the lever that is caused by friction in the entire line from shift mechanism to derailleur, and alleviated that friction can make shifting much smoother and lighter. 

  My own bike, OTOH, requires a lot of thumb force and can be a bear to get it to upshift.  The difference? Better cables on the other two bikes -- quality Jagwire, vs. OE cheap cables on my bike.  That, and when lubing the shifter and derailleur mechanisms helps some too, but better cables are really where it's at.  Needless to say, if I keep my bike for next season, I will be swapping cables and going with Jagwire.

Svend,
My cross bike (not a cyclocross) is currently configured with road drop bars, using road-style brake levers and the 7 speed mountain bike shifters. You are quite correct that the friction is a function of older equipment and shift cables. I don't have power at the ends of thumb range of motion, plus, the pain can be intense.  I did the conversion from flat bars to facilitate climbing on tours in hilly regions. I've always liked the ability to use narrower tires on the road and wider tires for light trail use, which is why I still have the old frame.

As Jim does on his bike, frequently, I need to do the shifting on the left side with my right hand. I've been fighting poor shifting for too long, but, it was not much of an issue as the trails I ride can be done mostly in the middle chain-ring.. I plan on converting back to a flat bar and have some XT gear for the brakes and shifters. I like your thoughts about using better cable and will give that a try.

Svend

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Re: Carbon bars, seatpost
« Reply #20 on: September 07, 2012, 07:15:44 am »
Yeah, it's definitely worth checking out. I would guess that it takes about half the thumb pressure to upshift the front derailleur on the other two bikes than it does on mine....same equipment, just better cables.  Do you have the opportunity to try another bike with lighter shifters, to see if the pain is still there? Might be worth a short ride. Otherwise, swapping cables is cheap and easy to do, and should be done anyway on older bikes as routine maintenance, as it can fix a number of shifting problems -- missed shifts, sluggish shifts, skipped shifts....that sort of thing. It's only $30 for a full cable kit; $20 for a cable cutter tool; and a half hour under a shade tree with a frosty beverage :-)

Let me know if you need advice on kit and method - glad to help. 

I sure hope this does the trick for you.  It would be an easy solution and save you some hassle.  Even if you do decide to revert back to flat bars and older shifters, new cables may help significantly.  Good luck with it. 

« Last Edit: September 07, 2012, 12:37:31 pm by Svend »

epic

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Re: Carbon bars, seatpost
« Reply #21 on: September 07, 2012, 01:07:30 pm »
For a flat bar bike, you might want to check out Shimano's (discontinued) dual-control stuff. The thumb is not involved as the brake lever is your shifter. It works a treat.

For road-style shifters, I'd think most anything except Campy would be good, but Di2 would have to be the best. Mouse-click shifting and you can put satellite shifters anywhere - tops, drops, aerobars, whatever.