Carbon bars from the East

by Nixster   February 19, 2014  

I am contemplating buying some carbon compact drop bars from China as they are (allegedly)

-A pleasing shape
-Have a place to route cables
-Painted in a colour that matches my stem
-May prove more comfortable than my existing alloy bars

I have no illusions that they will be identical in all respects to a similar product from a well-known Italian company who also sources their products in China and anyway I intend to wrap them so that no logos are visible.

I am a skinny sort and not likely to become the next Mark Cavendish so imagine that I won't be troubling their ultimate structural capacity. Leaving aside debates about ethics, the value of intellectual property, human rights and global outsourcing, does this sound like a good idea?

Opinions welcomed!

12 user comments

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Keith Bontrager put it best: 'Cheap, light, strong. Pick two.'

posted by andym999 [16 posts]
19th February 2014 - 13:52

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I'm not sure of the significance of this - it's not as simplistic as just "Don't buy Chinese" 'cos they make so many widgets for so many things that perform perfectly fine, and many of them with trusted brands, but even so.....

Dunno, if a safety critical part from a big brand fails then at least there's legislation in place for redress.

Ya pays ya money etc etc

All that said, doesn't carbon tend to fail progressively rather than catastrophically?

posted by allez neg [4 posts]
19th February 2014 - 14:55

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Many people confuse the fact that because some carbon items and frames are sourced from the same place as named companies and even from the same mould on occasion that they must be the same as said named items. Not necessarily, it's the manufacturing process and safety standard that counts.

No safety standard? No thanks.

posted by ajmarshal1 [257 posts]
19th February 2014 - 14:58

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I know it's around bikes, but the same applies really.

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posted by glynr36 [276 posts]
19th February 2014 - 16:47

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They'll be fine for how you ride, just maybe don't start using it as a tricks bike...
The usual new 4th Cat blog with some stuff about Pros too.

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posted by mtm_01 [90 posts]
19th February 2014 - 17:04

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You would probably find that their are multiple brands around the world using these exact same products (Moulds) and claiming them as their own...

posted by RoboRider21 [6 posts]
21st February 2014 - 10:08

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RoboRider21 wrote:
You would probably find that their are multiple brands around the world using these exact same products (Moulds) and claiming them as their own...

Yes... but there are four things required to make a carbon fibre part. A mould, the carbon fibre fabric, the resin, and the skill of the person making it. Remember that 'carbon fibre' is actually 'carbon fibre reinforced plastic'.

Cheap carbon fibre fabric, laid up by a low-paid low-skilled operator, and coated in low-quality resin could be dangerous and you might as well fill the mould with cheese. Or it could be that the same factory which made a batch of 'genuine' products kept making the same product using the same quality materials and so on, but isn't paying the fee to the 'brand'. You pays yer money and you takes your... chances.

Boardman CX Team '14 | Cannondale CAAD8 '12 (written off, SMIDSY) | Scott Sportster '08

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posted by Gizmo_ [751 posts]
21st February 2014 - 15:03

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velonista, how about a link to these bars? That reach and drop is exactly what i am looking for. For balance, could you also let me know who/which the original bars are please?

posted by Welsh boy [102 posts]
24th February 2014 - 20:02

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The only way is ethics.....

posted by allez neg [4 posts]
24th February 2014 - 22:34

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I have bought bars directly from China and have had no problem with them.

My 2 rules; 1 do not buy anything with a logo on, it's just bad manners. And second, don't buy the cheapest. Look for sellers with good, solid reputation. Like everything else, when it comes to China you get what you pay for.

posted by Gordy748 [74 posts]
24th February 2014 - 23:31

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This time last year, I bought my compact carbon handlebars from a Chinese wholesale supplier. They are a reverse-engineered, red-striped model of an alliteratively-named brand of Turin origin. My Chinese-sourced 420 mm bar weighed in at 185 grams (the claimed weight for the "authorized" model is 198 grams). Before I installed them, I took them into a local bike store that is an authorized dealer to have them check the drop and reach measurements.

Holding them up end-to-end to an original unit, they are a mirror image. Neither the salesman nor I could see any difference between his and mine. He confirmed what I had already measured (and what the Chinese supplier advertised): 123 mm drop/77 mm reach.

They've survived my bike slamming to a dead stop with extraordinary G-force into an "urban crater"; immediately followed by a bone-shakingly-hard, DOMS-inducing fall right onto the outer-side of the forward-jutting curve of the bar's tops.

To sum it up, these things take a lickin' and keep on tickin'! You can rest assured that anybody who tells you anything to the contrary will fall into one or more of the following camps:

  1. Never owned a pair of Chinese-sourced reverse-engineered bars, and are therefore only regurgitating all the other groundless horror stories out there...
  2. Paid full retail price (a.k.a. "up to four times as much" or "marked-up 800%") and therefore begrudges others for spending less on products that - for all intents and purposes - are structurally, functionally and visually indistinguishable...
  3. Somehow profits from selling you identical product at full retail price...
  4. Embittered because selling "prestige" products at "commodity" product prices, somehow robs them of that sheen of exclusivity that prestige-oriented marketing bestows on consumers' perceptions of a product's intangible value...
  5. Collecting brownie points to earn a Junior G-Man badge...

posted by velonista [7 posts]
26th February 2014 - 3:11

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I'm glad your interest was piqued, Welsh boy.

However - not wanting to come off as a shill - I'd rather stay on topic and not post links to a specific vendor or manufacturer. The topic being, 'opinions on carbon bars from the east'.

Attentive readers will agree that I give away plenty in my first post though. It's an individual's own call whatever they choose to do with what I've shared.

posted by velonista [7 posts]
26th February 2014 - 3:13

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