Help buying solid handlebars - I keep breaking stuff and it breaks me.

Hey all, so long story short I need recommendations for bulletproof bullhorns and a new stem to clamp it. I’ve managed to snap 2 in my 5 years of fixed gear riding and I’m really tired of getting fucked up because of my shit breaking.

I switched from a POS $300 ride to a surly steamroller and kept it fairly original till I felt the need for variable riding positions. I prefer bullhorns over all else because I love the time trial position, forward in my saddle, head low and arms extended to the horn tips. It’s a compromise because I also like having the option to ride out of the seat and hammer up hills. I can’t get that with drops sans hoods and when I mean “hammer” I mean hammer. I busted the original bottom bracket tackling the road up around manly just past the spit bridge and 2 days ago, I cranked a bit too much and the right side of my bull horns gave way and I rolled hip first onto the ground at 25km/h. It’s not been fun for me.

I’ve tried my best to watch the tightening torque on the stem clamp, but judging from the break, it looks to have been wear and tear that finally did it in. Without sounding conceded, I’m not a twig. I came from a background of powerlifting but fell in love riding fixed in urban environments for the acceleration and control. I only do short 30 minute rides to work and back during the week, so I like to maximise my gains and give it 120% every ride. I managed to crunch all the bearings in the bottom bracket for my first ride as well as break the handle bar, warp the crankset and disintegrate the free-wheel (that’s how I got into fixed gear…) all in 6 months.

The surly has been rock solid and I can’t fault it much but I’ve been compromising on aftermarket parts quality and I’ve suffered as a result. I need parts that can handle large amounts of power and daily abuse. Wiggle have some carbon fibre options and I don’t really care about cost. I just don’t want to go through another accident because I punched myself in the face with a broken piece of metal…

This was the first break (it was a terrible bike anyway)

i can’t recommend any bullhorns because i haven’t ridden any for ages but i looks like you have a fatigue crack at least half way through that bar before it snapped. it’s the discolored are on the lower half of the fracture face of the bit of the bar still wrapped in tape.
I’d imagine the crack would have been visible to the naked eye for a while before final overload failure (if not hidden by the stem clamp of course)
if you get a removable face plate stem you can remove the bars easily and check for similar cracks in future before they get to the"punched myself in the face with a broken piece of metal" stage.
a nice wide clamp bolt stem is a good idea as the single pinch bolt or two bolt styles can lead to stress concentrations

it’s worth giving you bike a clean and inspecting it for other cracks as well on a regular basis

EDIT:Re: second pic, break is outsie teh clamp and also looks fatigue-ey probably woulda been visible before failure as well. as per HMC’s comment below replacing your bars with new once a year is also a perfectly valid strategy when dealing with (time or more correctly load cycles dependent) fatigue failures

Not really sure where to start with this but I would suggest not wrenching so hard on the bars with your arms - you can go fast without carrying on. Second point is maybe just chill out a bit on your commutes. Third point is solid bars don’t exist, but you could probably invest in some better quality ones. Fourth point, if you really are a beast, just replace your bars once a year to avoid the cause of the problem which is (I think, Blakey can fix me here) repeated stress and break.

Are you able to post pics of yourself? You sound like a bike destroying monster #notastalker

Steel bars? Soma El Toro? Rather than alloy, at least might give you a bit more warning before they snap

Yea, I had bar tape over that part, so I would never have seen it :frowning: Maintenance seems to be the answer. I just hate that lack of security where I know that the part will last.

as for me… uhhh Yea I wasn’t exactly sober in this picture, but you can tell from the legs

Try buying nice trousers with these. They’re a curse:

bike destroying brute status: confirmed. Holy fuck, how far do you ride in your 30 min commute? You def should consider the El toro bars, although the angles are heaps sharper than the bar you have destroyed

use your legs to ride, not your arms. definitely a technique issue here, the fastest gate starters on the planet wouldn’t break this many bars.

if you want to learn how to use your arms less go and buy some rollers.

Maybe you should take equipment and wardrobe advice from Robert Forstermann

“If you snap aluminum bullhorns with regularity, you may need to step to El Toro.”

There are more of you?!

haha yes. I’m considering signing up to a club and taking on the velodrome this year to keep up fitness. This is my average morning route: My goal isn’t really efficiency, it’s max effort. So I don’t mind stopping at lights because it lets me squeeze the hell out of my legs to accelerate. That’s where the damage gets done I think.

with tecnique, I can see that if you keep the core engaged and the butt static (low and near the seat rather than bobbing up and down), you can focus a lot of the power down past the hips. For me, a lot of the upper body effort is when I’m in city traffic and accelerating at stop lights. I’m normally track standing and when I go, I sharply move my center of gravity forward past my handle bars, then lean back and start applying power through the legs and use my arms to keep my torso stable and stop it from bobbing.

I’d like to get some formal training, it’d be fun to really direct power correctly.

can i suggest to you that you might be overthinking what is in fact just riding to work.

That’s the mindset you get from powerlifting :slight_smile: I don’t actually think that while riding. I normally just see another fixie or messenger and plant in my mind that I have to race… I might have met a few of the guys on this forum that way actually.

Just get some carbon track drops and #yolo

that’s fair. I wish you luck. A genuine SOTB crisis!


Use that muscle for good not evil!
It’s wasted on the commute, go and smash it around the track or at the crits!!

And all that part about technique etc etc!!!

A bit side tracked, but seriously, where should I start? I live in Erskineville, should I join a uni club and rock up to the velo at tempe?

back on track… given a choice between $100 steel or $150 carbon fiber handlebars, which would be more suitable for the kind of riding I do?

Also, my stems are standard surly 25.4mm clamp size. would a larger diameter mean greater strength?

  1. post in the sydney subforum, there are plenty of regular track racers there to give you some tips

  2. IMHO, steel. Might have better fatigue resistance (and damage tolerance)

  3. greater stiffness (but only in the area that’s 31/8mm. Not necessarily any strength increase at all, so don’t worry about that.

I’m no engineer, but would most of this type of damage be torsional stress/fatigue from the nature of the cantilevered bullhorn and the position that your body weight is applied when riding from stationary?

If this is such an issue (and coupled with the desire to get into track racing) maybe it’s time to buy some compact drop bars instead as the hand position/shape of the bars would be less likely to fatigue in that way. I’d get a 31.8 stem too.