Can my handlebars be damaged by my tie-downs?
Yes. If the metal hoop on your tie-downs scratch the outer surface of your aluminum handlebars it creates a hot spot in the aluminum grain structure. Even a small scratch can create a stress riser which will focus energy to that spot (which on an oversize, crossbarless, aluminum handlebars just happens to be at the point of most flex). This can germinate into a crack. It is best to use the kind of tie-down that incorporates a nylon strap against the bar surface instead of the metal hook. Or at the very least, make sure that the hooks are rubber-covered.
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