ASK MBA: DO CARBON HANDLEBARS REALLY HELP WITH ARM PUMP AND COMFORT?

Carbon handlebars are more than just expensive.

OneUp has optimized their bars to dampen impact force by tapering them to an oval shape near the stem on each side.

HANDLEBAR COMFORT

Q: I’ve been riding since the ‘90s and have always used aluminum handlebars on all my bikes throughout the years. I’ve always suffered from hand and arm pump, and some of my riding buddies swear to me that carbon bars will help with that. Is there any truth to that theory?

Nathan Parsons

Flagstaff, AZ

A: Carbon bars have been around for a long time and have seen many developments in technology. Take the OneUp Carbon handlebar as a prime example. OneUp Components designed the bar to taper to an oval shape near the bends of the bar to allow for more flex and vibration damping. With alloy bars, they can’t do much tuning in the bar itself because it’s just a piece of metal that has been formed into the right shape. With carbon, it’s easier to add or subtract diffent types and orientations of material as it’s being designed and built, making it much easier to tune for certain desirable characteristics. As a result, they often offer a ride that’s less harsh with less direct trail vibration going directly into your hands. How much this really helps arm pump is hard to say, but we can tell you what bars we prefer. When we have the option to go with carbon, we do. On many of our personal bikes that may have come with alloy bars, switching to carbon bars was one of the first upgrades we made. Those of us who ride bike parks regularly prefer carbon bars, because we believe we felt a difference in arm pump. Not all carbon bars are made the same – some are better than others, but there is certainly a chance that switching to carbon bars will help you, it’s just hard to say exactly how much.

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