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Should I upgrade to lightweight carbon handlebars?

If you are considering upgrading your handlebars and wondering whether to spend the extra money on carbon fibre then there are two key questions you’ll want to think about to help you decide.

Litebike x Pro lightweight carbon handlebars

Do lightweight carbon handlebars make a difference to performance?

Carbon handlebars start off life as a plastic called polyacrylonitrile before going through a chemical process. During the process these plastic fibres are heated at 1000-3000°C in a pressurised furnace causing the non-carbon atoms to break down. The carbon atoms that stay start bonding tightly in crystals along the fibres of the plastic.

These bonds are what give carbon its ridiculous strength. A pair of carbon handlebars are five-times stronger than steel and twice as stiff. This is perfect for a cyclist. Because the stiffness of the handlebars means the power you want to put down isn’t wasted in the arms and shoulders, and instead goes through the pedal. This is the efficiency you want. You reap the rewards of your effort.

The second big benefit you’ll get from a pair of carbon handlebars is the weight. Carbon handlebars are ultra lightweight. For example, our Litebike x Pro lightweight handlebars come in at 176g. This means you’re saving about 150g in weight on a pair of regular alloy handlebars. That’s a big margin in cycling terms. Availability is limited but you can find them here. You can also read more about how they are made here.

There’s also road noise absorption to consider. There is plenty of research out there (see e.g. Zhong Yan et al,  2019) on the damping properties of carbon fibre. Upgrade  your bike with carbon handlebars and you’ve got the perfect component for soaking up noise vibrations from the road making your ride smoother and more comfortable. And we all know this is what counts over longer distances. If you’re trying to cycle your first 100km, 200km or even planning to tour over a couple of days, a pair of lightweight carbon handlebars will make a big difference.

Are carbon handlebars worth it?

So we’ve established that carbon makes a difference. But are carbon handlebars really worth it? If you are like us and are cycling on a budget then this is the key question.

Short answer. Yes. Longer answer: it depends on how much you spend because like with everything there are diminishing returns. This is at the heart of our cycling philosophy and why we are so focussed on perfecting the balance between weight, quality and affordability.

Say you have a typical, alloy handlebar that costs £50 and weighs 400g. Upgrading to carbon can make a big difference. For example, for an extra £75 you can get our lightweight carbon handlebars saving you 220g. That’s about a 3g saving for every £1 spent.

But spend more and you won't get the same return on investment. The absolute lightest handlebars out there weigh 150g but cost upward of £600. Quite often you end up just paying extra for branding when you would be better off investing it elsewhere.

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If you're after the very best lightweight bike parts you're in the right place. Ultra light carbon handlebars, seatposts, stem, pedals, waxed chains etc all rigorously tested by us and a small team of cyclists. Click here to see more.


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