Condensed answer: Lock-on grips can be installed on carbon handlebars. To avoid damage to the bars, it’s necessary to use a torque wrench and tighten the clamps to the recommended settings.
Having said that, some manufacturers recommend against the use of lock-on grips, especially on their light models.
To be on the safe side, check the manufacturer’s recommendations before proceeding.
Carbon has poor resistance to compression. If a component is overtightened, it can crush a set of non-reinforced carbon bars.
The measures to prevent this outcome are:
- Use a torque wrench to tighten the clamps to the settings recommended by the manufacturers.
- Apply a light layer of carbon paste on the handlebars to increase the friction between the bars and the lock-on grips.
- To make the torque reading more accurate, one can also apply grease onto the clamp-on bolt.
- Make sure that there are no burrs anywhere on the clamp because they may damage the bars upon tightening.
The Benefits Of Clamp-on Grips
- Secure in the wet
In wet conditions, slip-on grips often start to rotate. Conversely, bolt-on grips stay secure even on rainy days.
- Easy installation and removal
Slip-on grips are difficult to install and remove without using tricks (e.g., hair spray, zip-ties under the grips…etc.) whereas clamp-on grips require solely a 2.5mm or 3mm Allen key.
FAQ: Up to how many Newton-metres (Nm) should lock-on grips be tightened to?
The default answer is to check the manufacturer’s specifications and never exceed that number. In general, the range is 2-4Nm.
Having said that, if the user greases the clamp bolt and applies carbon assembly paste, it may be possible to get the grip secure with less force than the manufacturer’s indications. That’s fine and even beneficial because the stress on the bars will be minimized.
If neither the grips nor the bars have torque indications, it’s best to stick with low settings (2-3Nm) to avoid damage to the bars.
A Note On Bar-ends/End Plugs
The paragraph below refers to the type of bar-ends that slide into the handlebars rather than the bar-ends added for extra hand positions.
Some lock-on grips come with bar-ends that slide into the ends of the handlebars. Then, the user makes them expand and grab onto the inner part of the bars by tightening them.
Those bar-ends/expand plugs can damage carbon handlebars (especially light ones) when overtightened.
The damage is more likely to occur when the clamps of the grips are also tightened above the necessary torque.
In that case, the carbon walls of the bars are crushed in an artificially created vise.
FAQ: Can I install bar-ends on carbon handlebars?
Yes, but only if the manufacturers of both components have explicitly specified the compatibility between the two. For more information on the topic, check out the dedicated post.
Summary: What You Need To Know
- Lock-on grips are compatible with carbon handlebars, but one should be careful not to overtighten them.
- If the bars are very light, it’s possible that the manufacturer recommends against clamp-on grips.
- The installation process requires the use of a torque wrench to adequately measure the torque applied to the clamp bolt.
- Greasing the clamp bolt and applying carbon assembly paste to the bars for extra friction reduces the torque needed to secure the bars and subsequently the stress on the bars too.