If you haven’t made the switch from your Cross Country MTB aluminum handlebars over to a set of XC mountain bike carbon handlebars, you need to make the move.
Carbon vs. Aluminum Handlebars
The advantages of XC mountain bike carbon handlebars:
- Weight Savings: (75-125 grams)
- Vibration Absorption – In my opinion this one is the winner alone. There is simply no reason to subject your body to the constant extra repetitive vibration that passes through an aluminum bar. It does do damage to your body over long periods of time.
The disadvantages of XC mountain bike carbon handlebars:
- Cost – They tend to be more expensive but are coming down in price every year.
- Crashes – Carbon bars may actually be stronger than aluminum if laid up properly when tested against lateral forces, but they simply don’t react well to slamming into rocks and trees in a crash or other hard objects.
- Installation – Extra care needs to be applied tightening things down to the handlebar, like the stem brake levers, shifters, etc. Over tightening can cause the bar to break prematurely or on the spot.
The advantages of XC mountain bike aluminum handlebars:
- Reliability – They have proven reliable in both racing and crashing
- Sizing – Plenty of options here
- Installation – much more forgiving if you over tighten the stem, brake, shifters or other components down onto the handlebar.
The disadvantages of XC mountain bike aluminum handlebars:
- Weight Penalty – (75-125 grams)
- Vibration – Aluminum is stiffer and tends be more prone to being a vibration conduit through your arms.
If you already have an XC mountain bicycle aluminum handlebar, keep it as a back up. Consider purchasing an XC mountain bike carbon handlebar and start reducing some of that nasty vibration. Obviously it goes without saying that an XC mountain bike carbon stem will help reduce a bit more as well.
Carbon technology is already trickling down from UCI World XC mountain bike racing and we are starting to see more XC mountain bicycle forks with carbon crowns and lowers. Complete Cross Country carbon bicycles really make a noticeable difference when it comes to vibration dampening.
Steel was much better for this, but obviously just way to heavy. While aluminum is strong and light, this is one of its drawbacks. Aluminum equals more rigidity that causes more vibration.
In life and no different when it comes to XC mountain biking making the decision to run an XC MTB bicycle aluminum handlebar vs. an XC mountain bike carbon handlebar has pros and cons.
Although the way I see it, carbon mountain bike component pricing has come way down, so go carbon, and save your aluminum as a backup, just in case.
Remember if you are not convinced of how strong a quality brand XC carbon mountain bike handlebar is, go to http://redbull.com and watch the entire UCI Worldcup XC Mountain Bike Racing series, and then tell me what you think?
Here are our best XC mountain bike carbon handlebars choices. Pick up one today and get it on your Cross Country Mountain Bike for you next race or training day:
XC Best Bike Review Articles