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super light bars breaking(6 posts)

super light bars breakingishmael
May 30, 2001 8:51 PM
i wrote before about if it was a good idea to replace the stem and bars and the three responses i got were that it wasnt necessary, but, just the other day my friend's bars broke...his stuff is ultra light but i dont know what model and brand but maybe it was too light..has this happend to anyone else and what can i do to avoid it..
re: super light bars breakingpeloton
May 30, 2001 10:52 PM
I do believe in replacing your handlebars every year or two depending on how much mileage you put in, and on what terrain. Aluminum has a limited fatigue life, and it will break after being exposed to a finite amount of abuse. Now, replacing your handlebars might set you back a couple of bucks. Not replacing them, and having them fail can cost you your health, and a large deal of money. It's cheap insurance. Anyone who has ever broken a bar will tell you it is not a good experience. Isn't it worth it to have some insurance that your bars won't break and deposit you in a heap on the tarmac?

This is even more true with super light componentry. Lighter components, like handlebars, aren't usually as strong as their heavier counterparts. You have to be smart in your application of super light parts. A 190 lbs. sprinter isn't the best guy in the world to be torquing on a 200 gram handlebar made of ultralitanium. So, it also depends on the application of the tool for the task. Be aware though that lighter usually means that less of a beating will cause the product to fail, so the quicker the maintainance schedule must be- ie, more frequent replacement.

I would advise you to pick handlebars that are strong enough for your demands, and replace them before failure becomes an issue. Cheap insurance. I replace my 260 grams bars every year. I wouldn't want them any older, or lighter for my application.
A question?PaulCL
May 31, 2001 9:02 AM
In my particular case, my stem is five years old. My handlebars are about 3 years old. Is it the age or the mileage?? I put about 2500-3000 miles per year (plus 1500 ytd). From your post, I am long overdue to swap them out. Is there anything to look for? As in terms of cracks, stress points, etc...Or are they fine one day then faceplant the next?

A further query..I have a threaded headset. If I were to swap out the bars/stem, is it worth the effort converting to threadless?? My "old" quill stem works just fine and I don't care if I'm up on the latest cycling "fashion". What is the advantage of threadless?? Weight, style, ???
re: further query (converting to threadless)bill
May 31, 2001 9:19 AM
The advantages of threadless supposedly include weight (and style) -- I guess you eliminate the overlap between the quill stem and the standard steerer, replaced with the threadless stem bolted right on to the steerer, with the spacers adding minimal weight. If you don't need a new fork, my guess is that the advantages are minimal to meaningless, and all that those converters do is allow you to use a threadless stem because you have one. You lose the weight advantage.
I kind of like the adjustability of the quill stem, and I prefer the look. Some say that we won't be able to find quill stems before too long, but what's "too long?" Heck, you could still build up a seven or eight sp. if you really wanted to, and that stuff is old old old (you know, three years old at least). In any case, I'm really not too worried about finding parts for a while.
A question?peloton
May 31, 2001 10:06 AM
I look at my bars and stem frequently, and check the bolts weekly. I look for stress lines or other abnormalities when I do my weekly cleaning. Stress lines on the bars typically form near the stem. Anytime that I notice anything that could be a signal of failure, I replace the part. This isn't too often though. Sometimes though, you might not notice anything. I know someone who bent a superlight handlebar on it's third ride with no warning at all. I would consider wear on parts to be based more on mileage than I would age. Mileage is what fatigues parts as they absorb road shock.

For a five year old stem, and a three year old handlebars with your mileage I would be thinking about a replacement. I would rather err on the side of being conservative, than to risk a failure at speed. It depends some on the models that you are running too. I would definitly replace the handlebar if it were on my bike, probably the stem too. IMHO

Threadless to threaded? Your call there. You would need a new stem, headset, and fork to make that one work so there would be some cost invovled. The biggest advantage of threadless that I can see is the ease of adjustability on the road. You can tighten a threadless headset with a 5mm allen key which you probably have in your saddlebag. Threaded require large headset spanners that no one would carry on the road. Threadless systems are also easier and quicker to adjust, and lighter as well. A quill stem has a little advantage in adjustability in setting your bike up. You can move the stem up and down. On a new threadless system, I just leave some steerer with some extra spacers when the bike is new. That way, I can switch things around until I find where I want to be with stack height. Then, I cut the steerer to the proper length and forget about it. I find once I have a bike set up the way I like it, I am hesitant to change the position so I never used to adjust my threaded system that much anyway. I think the threadless systems are better, but it isn't anything to worry about if you are happy with your threaded system.
A cautionary taleMeDotOrg
May 31, 2001 2:38 PM
My 2000 Bianchi Veloce with 4500 miles on it developed a cracked stem this past weekend. I'm not an exceptionally big or strong rider. Checking my stem is now a part of my bike inspection when I ride.