's Forum Archives - Components

Archive Home >> Components(1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 )

What's the reason for oversize handlebar diameter?(14 posts)

What's the reason for oversize handlebar diameter?dgangi
Oct 18, 2003 11:16 AM
My 2003 Fuji Team has Ritchey Pro handlebars that are very comfortable. I am really enjoying how they feel in the drops.

The problem is the diameter of the bars at the stem is oversized -- 31mm. That has caused me a LOT of headaches over the past few weeks, as things that fit on all of my other bikes do not fit on the Fuji -- head light, computer...basically anything that clamps to the handlebar.

So what's the deal with an oversized diameter bar? Is the oversized diameter for stregth? Or something else?

Both of my mountain bikes have standard diameter bars, even at the stem, and you would think that if anything would require extra strength, it would be an MTB bar. But the MTB bars I have are skinny (Salsa bars). I don't get it...

To be honest, had I known what a PITA the oversized bar was going to be, I would have swapped it out for a standard diameter bar when I purchased the bike. It's a little too late now for that...oh well.

Oct 18, 2003 11:27 AM
I thought they were theoretically "stiffer"- but mainly I think it is marketing.
It depends..divve
Oct 18, 2003 1:15 PM
...on the manufacturer or model you have. Some are actually stiffer and nicer, ITM SuperOver Carbon for instance, others are flexy, 3T Zepp XL for instance. Regarding MTB, there are systems out there that are ultra stiff and really make a difference in feel/control. See image below of the Syntace VRO Carbon system. There's simply no comparison between that and an Easton EC70 or 90 MTB Carbon bar combined with a single clamp stem or a good oversized road bar for that matter.
re: What's the reason for oversize handlebar diameter?russw19
Oct 18, 2003 7:19 PM
It allows for a bar manufacturer to build a lighter bar and still have it stiff enough to ride. The other advantage is that it allows for stiffer bars in general. But the stiffer bars are not the lightweight bars. An example would be Deda bars. The Newton is super light (I think it's the lightest aluminium bar) but the Magic, which is about 30 grams heavier is significantly stiffer. It's so stiff that it was the most popular handlebar this year among pros who weren't sponsored to use a particular bar (and some that were simply removed the graphics.)

And about MTB bars... that is the current trend for lighter cross country bars is to use the same 31.6mm oversized clamp. Deda has a MTB bar out that is 110 grams that is as strong as an old Hyperlight bar (it never failed in the fatigue tests... they gave up after 1,000,000 stress cycles in the testing)

Many newer bars will go to this standard... but you have to give computer and light companies a little while to catch up.

That's what I thought...dgangi
Oct 18, 2003 9:33 PM
I figured the oversized dimension had something to do with stiffness and weight. Just like an aluminum frame, you can stiffen up anything my making the diameter of the tube oversized yet thin the walls to keep the weight the same (or less). That is the game that has been played forever with AL frames, and I was curious if that is the same engineering being used for handlebars.

Ritchey has a good reputation so I figured there was a point in the design.

That's what I thought...divve
Oct 18, 2003 11:06 PM
Actually, Ritchey fails every fatigue test they throw at them consistently. They are one if not the worst handlebars and stem components both in MTB and road.
Ritchey barsdgangi
Oct 19, 2003 6:08 AM
That's interesting -- Ritchey bars get a high rating on this board as well as Either your information is incorrect or people that write these reviews don't know what they are talking about.

Ritchey equipment is very popular. Many people I know ride their bars/stems and nobody has had a problem, including MTB's.

As far as I know, the oversized bars/stems that Ritchey makes are new to 2003 (or 2002). Even the 2 LBS's near me recommend Ritchey. That's why I kept the Ritchey equipment on my new bike.

I've always been partial to Salsa or Easton bars myself as that is what you will find on my moutain bikes. But given the positive comments everybody has told me about Ritchey bars, I see no reason to worry about that part of my bike.

Ritchey barsdivve
Oct 19, 2003 8:38 AM
The tests are both performed by "Bike" and "Tour", respectively the leading MTB and road bike magazines in Germany. One of the machines they use to test MTB bars can be seen in action below:

I'm of the opinion it's more objective and reliable than reviews from whomever spent money and bought the stuff. I've found that not many people like to admit they spent $$$$ on something that's not a good product. Not trying to start something here but the company Elsworth comes to mind. They get year long perfect scores for their stuff. Most know that's impossible especially in their case.
Oct 19, 2003 7:52 PM
I'd like to see some of these reviews you mention. Where are they posted?

In terms of testing, it is impossible for anybody to keep up with the amount of product out there. Even within a manufacturer, quality and other factors can change significantly from one year to the next. It would be impossible for a company to test every product by every vendor for every year.

That's why the only way to really understand what is good and what is not is to listen to the "street" -- read reviews, listed to shop owners, etc. You are correct that people generally don't like to admit that the $$ they spent on a product was for not, but if a product is widely used (such as Ritchey), you will find trends -- if there is a flaw in a product and enough people use it, that flaw will be revealed. You aren't going to find a "silver bullet" that says a product is great or not, so you look at trends.

The Ellsworth issue you mention is nothing new. Sure the initial reviews gloat over the bike. But read reviews on MTBR over the years and you will find plenty of people who claim they had a breakage with their frame. The same goes with various other products.

But you also have to take those reviews with a grain of salt. Lots of people complain about a product being "faulty" when they use it for what it was not intended (i.e. 7 foot drops with an XC MTB rim).

Anyway, I have yet to see anything bad about Ritchey Pro or WCS bars, stems, and seatposts in my years of riding. The shop owners I know all recommend the products, I have friends that use them with no complaints, and the reviews on this board and MTBR (with quite a lot of posts) show no "bad" trends. So either those tests you mention where Ritchey bars fail go beyond real world stresses or people just are not being true about the $50 they paid for a Ritchey bar (which I cannot see).

Oct 20, 2003 4:58 AM
Unfortunately the reviews aren't available on-line. You'd have to buy the magazines to see the reviews. If you know Nino from MTBR you could ask him to verify my statement. He reads the same stuff.

I don't blindly adhere to magazine reviews either, however elaborate their testing might be. Sometimes there're indeed flaws in the testing methodology. One thing however that's consistent is Ritchey bars and stems scoring low. It's indeed peculiar, but a number of other manufacturers do pass the exact same tests. If I recall correctly, the bar which Russ mentioned above for instance, scored the highest of them all, including the Magic stem.

Finally, one shouldn't discard how little the majority of people ride and how easy they usually are on their equipment. As a result they'll experience very little wear and tear on their bikes. That might also explain why tons of bad products, or better described as "non-race worthy" products, seem to stay around forever and keep on selling.
That's what I thought...xcmntgeek
Oct 20, 2003 6:39 AM
For me, the personal experiances of the guys (and gals) who I race with are more relevent than labratory tests. Many of the higher ranked (cat 2 +) guys I train with use Ritchey WCS bars and stems and love it (no sponsorship either). I've crashed four or five times hard on my current WCS bar/stem combo with no apparent damage (I remove the handlebar and tape after every crash to asses the damage) which is better than I can say for the 3T OS combo which broke on me. The lab may not back it up, but I trust real world conditions more.
lab backs up your 3T findings. nmdivve
Oct 20, 2003 6:54 AM
Correction: TTT Prima 199 is lighter than NewtonAJS
Oct 19, 2003 7:23 AM
I know, I've owned both bars in 46cm size. With the particular bars I had, the Prima 199 was lighter by 34 gms.
re: What's the reason for oversize handlebar diameter?Dangeruss
Oct 20, 2003 12:30 PM
From what I gather, it's a new standard introduces for both the stiffness / lightness reasons as well as an attempt to have a common standard for both road and mountain components. Anytime a manufacturer(s) can share common tooling to produce a wide range of products for multiple markets, then that makes good business sense - and hopefully lower pricing.