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I will be replacing my handlebars in the next month or so (still getting the position figured out). Both the bar and stem are lowest-of-the-low Bontrager Select, and are 31.8 mm diameter. I mainly want to replace them to get the bend/rise/sweep/reach that I want, and save some weight in the process.

My question to those of you who follow trends - is the industry switching slowly moving to 31.8 daimeter as a "standard", so that I should mainly look at the larger diameter bars, as the 25.4 will be harder to find in 2 years? The extra stiffness, if there is any, and nominal weight differences between the two diameters don't really interest me. My feeling is that a nice bar can me made from high strength alloy in either diameter, and in some ways a 25.4 bar with slightly thicker wall thickness might be less prone to buckling.

Steve
 

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There will be no shortage of one inch bars. Though many mfgs are going to 1.25, there are 20 years worth of millions and millions of one inch stems and bars out there, and we'll continue to produce complimentary components.

If you are interested in durability over weight, go with a middle-weight Ti bar. They feel better to boot. Many can be found on ebay, actually, at more reasonable prices, on account of all the shmoes who consider switching to a carbon unit an upgrade... a handlebar is definitely one place where the infinite fatigue life of an appropriate amount of ti is worth the extra 10-20g. Ride on.
 

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Take a look at road bikes

Road bar/stem manufacturers started making the movement sevral years before the oversized bars started showing up on MTBs with frequency.

Now with roadbikes you see all the latest and shiney-est new bars and stems being oversized. I think there will always be 1 inch stuff out there, but if you like new stuff (technology etc) you should consider sticking with the larger diameter clamp.

Stiffer? I notice no difference at all. The rest of the bar is still narrow and most flex I have noted occurs throughout the bar. (per haps the short section in the center that is larger diameter is stiffer, but isn't that a lot like putting a really big lock on a small chain?)

Better? probalby marginally.

The bike industry has several times introduced new standards that force us into upgrades eventually. (ever increasing seat post diameters, BB designs, ever increasing numbers of cogs out back, larger steerer, larger stem clamp) There will always be people who love the new, and those that wonder what was wrong with the old.

Either way you will be fine probably, especially if you upgrade your stem and bars every couple years like so many do.

For the record, I am not an insider, I am a nobody. Just spouting opinions.
 

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The Ti bars I've heard about being sold off are either insanely overpriced or those poorly designed White Bros bars. "Inifinite fatigue life"!? Ti components are not failure proof.

I say, get a CF bar. They are plenty strong. Any damage that would render them unusable would do the same for an aluminum bar. If price is an issue, just get a decent aluminum bar. If you are that worried about them snapping on you, you should probably replace your bar after a couple years of hard use anyway.

25.4 bars aren't going to go away, but if you are partial to a bar with obscure dimensions you'd be wise to stock up.

You'd be suprised what factories are still churning out. You can find just about anything if you know where to look or who to ask.
 

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gabbard said:
I will be replacing my handlebars in the next month or so (still getting the position figured out). Both the bar and stem are lowest-of-the-low Bontrager Select, and are 31.8 mm diameter. I mainly want to replace them to get the bend/rise/sweep/reach that I want, and save some weight in the process.

My question to those of you who follow trends - is the industry switching slowly moving to 31.8 daimeter as a "standard", so that I should mainly look at the larger diameter bars, as the 25.4 will be harder to find in 2 years? The extra stiffness, if there is any, and nominal weight differences between the two diameters don't really interest me. My feeling is that a nice bar can me made from high strength alloy in either diameter, and in some ways a 25.4 bar with slightly thicker wall thickness might be less prone to buckling.

Steve
It's funny, but every bike I service has one inch bars on it. I hardly ever see a bike with the new larger diameter bars here.

However, i'm in AU, so keep that in mind. We are still in the dark ages here...:)

R.
 

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In an effort to sell more product most manufacturers, like your Bontrager components are coming spec'd with a 31.8 bar/stem combo. There is no data that shows 31.8 is better over 25.4 clamp diameter's. There are plenty of opinions and feelings about both. I would say that on the road climbing out of the saddle or sprinting 31.8 feels stiffer than 26.0. However, when at cruising speed 26.0 feels as if it dampens more of the road vibrations and the bar/ stem has slightly more dampening. The energy or force that you are exerting on the bar has to go somewhere. The majority travels through the machine between your legs and into the surface that you are riding on, propelling "gracefully" around the planet. Some of it is lost in the machine, eaten up by the inefficiencies of the machine (in this case flex of the bar/ stem combo).

Sorry, this is getting long.

So, that energy that energy has to go somewhere (and my statement about 31.8 being for capitalist glut isn't completely true). You have to think of the bike not as a individual components, but as a complex system working together. Most of the articles that we read in magazines talk about flex being bad and I think that just isn't true. Some flex is good, like the compliance and dampening properties of a nice steel frame. Like most things flex isn't black and white, it is gray and subjective.

Getting back to your questions; 31.8 will most likely become the most prominent size of bars and stems available. More options will continue to emerge. However, should you buy a 25.4 combo you will find plenty of options available. Depending on the type of riding you do, the terrain, how often, etc... Most manufacturers suggest replacing control components, like the bar and stem every 1-3 years. You will get ample usage out of whatever you buy and have plenty of options the next time.

To respond to other posts about materials. Carbon, Aluminum, and Ti bars all have their pros and cons. Ti is pricey, but allows you to specify any bend angle and general width and depending on the manfufacturer, how much flex you want the bar to have. Expect to spend 150-200 dollars for a full custom bar of good quality, you can get 25.4 or 31.8 diameter shims. Carbon is also pricey, but has great vibration dampening properties and is stiff for the extreme light weight. Some have had bad experience with carbon bars, but most manufacturers spend ample time and resources testing them. Expect to pay 100-150 depending on the carbon bar manufacturer. Aluminum is affordable, has plenty of options, and is more than adequate.

I have ridden all three and can say this. If you are riding a front sus fork carbon will dampen the small vibrations more than steel or ti and compliment your fork that generally soaks up the big hits. Ti is great all around. Aluminum is great for sus, but perhaps to rigid for a rigid bike.

Of course all of this is subjective based on my opinions and there is much more to it than here, but this should give you a place to start.
 

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Standards? In the Bicycling world?

Ha! Anyone that thinks there are or ever have been "standards" in the cycling world is not well informed. The lack of standards is what keeps people like Sutherland and Barnett in business. :p

That said, your safe in buying either 31.8 or 25.4mm. Niether is going away anytime soon. I find it interesting to note that Jason from Salsa Cycles has asked about this same subject on a couple of different occaisions. The motivating factor to produce one or the other seems to be whatever the market will buy. If the manufacturers see a clamouring for 31.8 or lots of sales in that size in the aftermarket, then that is what is going to drive one sizes choices up over the other. Vote with your dollars folks!

I am amazed, personally, that so much technology is spent on the other contact points of a bike, while handlebars are still virtually the same since the birth of the bicycle well over 100 years ago. Round cross section bars are stone age connections for our hands. Road bikes are starting to reflect the change in design for this contact point by using the properties of carbon fiber to it's fullest potential for ergonomic steering components.Grips are starting to show signs of ergonomic influences. I think that there is alot of potential for advancement in this area. It might be held up by component compatibility with things like brake and shift levers, but there is definite room to improve here.

The current crop of "alternative" bars is only a first step.I think we are going to see a great deal of research and developement in this long forsaken area in the near future.
 

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Guitar Ted said:
I am amazed, personally, that so much technology is spent on the other contact points of a bike, while handlebars are still virtually the same since the birth of the bicycle well over 100 years ago. Round cross section bars are stone age connections for our hands.
But any ergonomically shaped grip will weight at least an extra 50 grams!!!1!!1!!1 Unacceptable!1!!!1!!!
 

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Guitar Ted said:
Round cross section bars are stone age connections for our hands.
Round bars ain't broke. They are strong and can accomodate whatever wierd shaped thingamajig you want to install on it at any angle you choose. Round MTB bars will dominate long after the round wheel has become obsolete.
 

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PeanutButterBreath said:
The Ti bars I've heard about being sold off are either insanely overpriced or those poorly designed White Bros bars. "Inifinite fatigue life"!? Ti components are not failure proof.

I say, get a CF bar. They are plenty strong. Any damage that would render them unusable would do the same for an aluminum bar. If price is an issue, just get a decent aluminum bar. If you are that worried about them snapping on you, you should probably replace your bar after a couple years of hard use anyway.

25.4 bars aren't going to go away, but if you are partial to a bar with obscure dimensions you'd be wise to stock up.

You'd be suprised what factories are still churning out. You can find just about anything if you know where to look or who to ask.
Wrong on all accounts.

There is nothing obscure about a one inch bar. Nor will there be. No one is expecting one inch bars to go away. They will still be used on the majority of bikes produced, and stem makers are not planning on abandoning one inch just becuase there are 1.25" around.

You can score WTB, Merlin, Moots, Titec, or the tapered & butted Ibis Ancotech bars for $50-$75. Any of these (with the possible exception of the lightest Bontrager 118 bar) will outlast any carbon bar made today.

Yes, titanium has an infinite fatigue life, unlike steel & aluminum. Depending on the materials and laminate, composites as well. This doesn't mean you can make a frame out of five thousandths wall ti tubing and it'll last infinitely. Too little material is too little material. In addition, craftsmanship is critical, using thin-wall, especially on welded components & frames. Hence all the broken forks... if you're going to buy cheap, chinese, welded ti, you're taking a bigger risk than buying aluminum.

You can buy a brand new tapered, non-shimmed, butted Ancotech ti bar from UBI for $75. This is probably the most bang for the buck going in bars. That design hasn't changed in over ten years. Hasn't had to. It's as close to perfect as any bar has gotten.

As someone who has designed carbon bars and ends, and run fatigue studies on bars of every material from every mfg, I ride only ti. But I am not you. The decision is yours.
 

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Don Juan said:
You can buy a brand new tapered, non-shimmed, butted Ancotech ti bar from UBI for $75. This is probably the most bang for the buck going in bars. That design hasn't changed in over ten years. Hasn't had to. It's as close to perfect as any bar has gotten.

As someone who has designed carbon bars and ends, and run fatigue studies on bars of every material from every mfg, I ride only ti. But I am not you. The decision is yours.
So where does one get info on this bar online. UBI doesn't give any specs on it that I could find. A width would be nice. I am guessing it is only 23" wide like most flat bars out there, which is too narrow for me. BUT, it if were wider I would be very interested.
 

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31.8 may be good, eventually

Having a standard size between MTB and road bars could be a good thing in the long run. Like many of you, I have a 12 year old bucket-o-stems that never seem to yield what I need when I need it, because they are a mix of 25.4 and 26 - hence, the bucket gets fuller. (how did this sizing malfuction occur anyways??). Now if we could have a common rear hub width between road and MTB - death to 130mm spacing;) .
 

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Don Juan said:
There is nothing obscure about a one inch bar. Nor will there be. No one is expecting one inch bars to go away. They will still be used on the majority of bikes produced, and stem makers are not planning on abandoning one inch just becuase there are 1.25" around.
Obscure as in sweep, rise, etc
Don Juan said:
Yes, titanium has an infinite fatigue life, unlike steel & aluminum. Depending on the materials and laminate, composites as well. This doesn't mean you can make a frame out of five thousandths wall ti tubing and it'll last infinitely. Too little material is too little material. In addition, craftsmanship is critical, using thin-wall, especially on welded components & frames. Hence all the broken forks... if you're going to buy cheap, chinese, welded ti, you're taking a bigger risk than buying aluminum.
Straight up sophistry. You are claiming infitinte fatigue life, but excepting thin walled and welded tubing. Please point me to an actual manufacturer of Titanium components made out of tubing that claims they have and infinite fatigue life.

Don Juan said:
You can buy a brand new tapered, non-shimmed, butted Ancotech ti bar from UBI for $75. This is probably the most bang for the buck going in bars. That design hasn't changed in over ten years. Hasn't had to. It's as close to perfect as any bar has gotten.
"Used by many top-end companies as their branded handlebar, the Ancotech bar is light and strong - the perfect match to a custom titanium frame." According to UBI, this item is long out of stock and should not be appearing on their site. Sounds like "many top-end companies" are SOL. They had no info on weight, width, sweep, rise etc. Do you?
Don Juan said:
As someone who has designed carbon bars and ends, and run fatigue studies on bars of every material from every mfg, I ride only ti. But I am not you. The decision is yours.
Internet CVs are awesome. :rolleyes:
 

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31 for road since it gives a nice fat bar top to rest your hands, and 25 for MTB since the narrower bar is more compliant.

Re materials, you can read a bit here with some charts comparing Ti to othersTST. As long as you keep the fatigue cycle below an overload you can flex a piece of Ti "forever". With Al no matter how low the cycle is it will fail eventually just like bending a paper clip. Now in the real world that Al bar could last for 30 years depending on use or just one season. Carbon is the do-all wonder material. Properly laid up its light, has a good feel, etc. Cf's weak point is that it's more fragile so a typical MTB bar will wind up with some damage. Compression is one of the biggest killers, and that can come from an over-tightened shifter or brake lever.
 

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Danke said:
31 for road since it gives a nice fat bar top to rest your hands, and 25 for MTB since the narrower bar is more compliant.
That 31.8 road bar is only 31.8 right next to the stem. Where you hands rest is still the same diameter as a 26.0 bar. A 31.8 mtn bar can have the same compliance as a 25.4 bar because, again, the two bars are the same diameter for all but a couple of inches where the stem clamps. But typically, the 31.8 mtn bars feel stiffer to me.

But, 31.8 will not be phasing out 25.4 on mtn bikes any time soon. I remember, though, a certain bike company developing a 34.9 mtn bar back in the late 80s....
 

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About 5cm on either side on my Easton, almost to the bar tape. If I cheated and used 2 rolls. It makes a nice almost straight transition. We had a revolt on a team I know where a sponsor really pushed to hand out 31.8 bars (DH), and the riders hated them. I think it's a bit too much myself but as said I like it on the road.
ssmike said:
That 31.8 road bar is only 31.8 right next to the stem. Where you hands rest is still the same diameter as a 26.0 bar. A 31.8 mtn bar can have the same compliance as a 25.4 bar because, again, the two bars are the same diameter for all but a couple of inches where the stem clamps. But typically, the 31.8 mtn bars feel stiffer to me.

But, 31.8 will not be phasing out 25.4 on mtn bikes any time soon. I remember, though, a certain bike company developing a 34.9 mtn bar back in the late 80s....
 

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Danke said:
About 5cm on either side on my Easton, almost to the bar tape. If I cheated and used 2 rolls. It makes a nice almost straight transition. We had a revolt on a team I know where a sponsor really pushed to hand out 31.8 bars (DH), and the riders hated them. I think it's a bit too much myself but as said I like it on the road.
Hmm, I'll have to try double taping the bar tops. That's one aspect I don't like on road bars - the transition from skinny to fat always makes for an ugly bar tape transition. Not like them old school Cinellis with the sleeve.

For DH, I can't see 31.8 having much impact on the rider since you've got 8" of suspension under your hands. I know that a lot of preference has to do with shape of riser bars and the early 31.8 bars just didn't have the same shape as the 25.4 bars everyone was used to.
 
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