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I am constantly playing with my position on my bike. MTBing is about compremises, you set the bike up to climb and it interfers with descending or vice versa.

Bar-ends are one of those things that come on and off my bike. I love them for climbing, particularly climbing out of the saddle. It just feels right. However I dislike how much they narrow the cock-pit. I could run wider bars, but it hard to find wide flat bars with minimal sweep. (Lots of sweep and bar-end is a bad combination).

Right now I am loving the bar-ends. They will stay on my bike until I crash or have a near crash because my bars too narrow. At that point I will probably compremise my bike for descending, the bar-end and the flat bars will be taken off and the riser thrown back on.

The crazy thing is I know I will love having the riser bar on, except of course, on the climbs.
 

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I guess using or not using bar ends is pretty much personal preference on non-racing bikes. Racing XC is a bit different, and if you look World Cup races, pretty much everyone, except Americans, are using them. But even here, I don't think there's much more then just how they got used to ride in all those years. If you compare some Kabush and Absolon, they both do good, one with the other one without bar-ends. And I don't think bar-ends are reason why Absolon wins more. :)
Personally I can't imagine being without them. I don't have problems with "narrow" bar, since I have extremely narrow one anyway, and I somehow can't get used to idea of having wide riser bar. But as I wrote, I guess quite lot of it is just personal preference, and something you got used to... one way or another.
 
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