Mountain Bike Reviews Forum banner
1 - 18 of 18 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
105 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I get the move to wider bars. They are a real improvement on narrow 680 bars, especially for rougher XC or All mountain riding (especially on the North Shore, where I do some riding).

But...

I'm going to do some multi-day stage racing, and some of the days will involve 6-10 hours in the saddle on mostly dirt roads, i.e., nothing too technical.

I just don't see riding days in a row with a 740-780 bars, which would create a parachute effect (wind resistance).

Anyone have any thoughts on what they'd use? By the way, I'm 6 foot one.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
703 Posts
Same as the bar width I use for shorter rides. All my bars are cut to 25.5 inches wide which is perfect for me. All of my bars are also carbon which is perfect for not beating me up as much even when I ride rigid. :) I am about 5 foot 7 or 8 on a good day.
 

·
Team Velveeta™
Joined
·
3,079 Posts
I get the move to wider bars. They are a real improvement on narrow 680 bars, especially for rougher XC or All mountain riding (especially on the North Shore, where I do some riding).

But...

I'm going to do some multi-day stage racing, and some of the days will involve 6-10 hours in the saddle on mostly dirt roads, i.e., nothing too technical.

I just don't see riding days in a row with a 740-780 bars, which would create a parachute effect (wind resistance).

Anyone have any thoughts on what they'd use? By the way, I'm 6 foot one.
Cycling, mountain and otherwise, has always (at least in my 40 years as a cyclist) had some dogmatic truisms (dogma: a principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true). These truisms change slowly over time, but some have always persisted. Many have to do with equipment. At one time, if you rode a road bike and didn't have a reverse rise (slammed) stem, you were a Fred. Period.

Handle bars on mountain bikes. When I started riding, if your bars weren't flat, 22 or so inches wide (560 mm), and quite a bit lower than your saddle, you were a Fred. Stems were often 135 mm, sometimes 150.

Now, gravity-oriented bikes and riders have declared that handlebars should be fuggin' A wide and stems have to be shorter than a baby's dick. Or you're a Fred.

Here's my $.02: Your bars should fit. Depending on discipline, bars might be better a little wider or narrower. Serious gravity calls for a wider bar than XC. I guess. I don't really ride gravity, other than descents while trail riding.

If you are taller with longer arms, you need relatively longer bars. If you are shorter... you get the picture.

Stem length should be used to fit your bike. Lots of people now will buy a bike and then get a shorter stem regardless of whether it will screw up their cockpit. Because you have to ride a short stem or you're a Fred. So they'll slide their saddle all the way back and screw up their pedaling position by being too far behind the cranks. So they'll get knee and hip pain and have reduced power. But they aren't a Fred!

Now, stems probably shouldn't be 135 mm, I'll grant that. And 22" bars feel awfully short, and uncomfortable to me now. But if you think you have to have a 80 mm or shorter stem, figure out what your cockpit length should be and then choose a frame that is long enough to support that.

As far as the original question, bar length, use what feels right given the kind of riding you do with a given bike. I am 6'1" and run a 680 handlebar. My grips are roughly level with my saddle, or a touch higher. My stem is I think currently 100 mm because that's what fits. My bike handles fine. My cockpit is perfect, my hands and arms feel like they are in the right place.

There are dude-brahs who will tell me I'm a Fred because my stem is too long and bars are too short. But nobody I've ever met who rides as far as I do would ever say that. They know that there aren't any rules that matter other than be comfortable, ride far.

My suggestion is to start with bars that feel too wide and slowly cut them down until they feel right. Don't worry about whether the number you eventually settle on seems short to the dude-brah set.

Watch out for dogma. Think for yourself.
 

·
Occasionally engaged…
Joined
·
1,785 Posts
Yeah, screw dogma! I even put barends on a riser bar. I'm in total agreement -- put the bars where they work best for you.

But the OP is right about the parachute effect -- I see that happening all the time in endurance races that have lots of double track or gravel road. But you can still have your cake (wide bars) and eat it too (aero positioning). Even with my 635 mm bars -- not wide by almost anyone's measure -- I bring my hands in towards the stem on smoother trail. I make sure there's a place to put my hands (no bells/lockouts/computers) that are about 12" apart, roll my shoulders down into an aero road position and grind away. Of course you can't do that on rough terrain but then the aerodynamic drag of a wide hand position is almost never limiting your speed. I have a friend that even puts a section of road bar tape on the inner hand positions because he uses it so much. The reach won't be optimum if you've set your cockpit up for the wide-hand position, but it will be good enough. Roadies do this all the time -- hands come into the center of the bar (almost no space between them) when they're out in the wind. YMMV
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
91 Posts
My bars are 630mm wide. I ride XC on a 29 SS in the rocky mtn states, most rides are in the 40-60 mile range. At a lanky 6'3", 170 lbs, my bars are plenty wide and provide more than enough leverage for my 'girl' arms.

That said, I wouldn't sweat over it much. A gorilla grip on the bar for 6+ hours is going to result in fatigue, move your hands around on long rides. Inboard, outboard, open palms resting on the bar, etc. Over the course of a long ride, I move my hands to several different positions.
 

·
Now broadcasting from CO
Joined
·
1,225 Posts
Use whatever makes you happy/comfortable. I have 700 mm bars on my bike now and race the same events as everyone else here. On smooth road sections I do what PeT does and move my hands inward for better aerodynamics. I sometimes just go right to resting my forearms on the bars and TT away. I would probably go as wide as 740 mm on my XC bike, but no wider than that.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,094 Posts
It always makes me nervous when I have to overtake someone with such a mega bar. Wider bars are certainly nicer for a 29er when compared to the typical 90s/00s race bike (cet. par.) but above a certain width they are just impractical. I participate mainly in 4- 6 hr events. Thus, starts are still important but many mountain bikers lack "peloton skills". These mega bars don't help either.
 

·
.44
Joined
·
1,252 Posts
Barends mounted towards the middle of the bar could provide another hand position and more aero positioning. I've experimented with various bars over the years. (Note, I only ride a SS). 550mm carbon bars were a little too narrow for me. Moved to 685. Then got caught up with superwide moto bar trend and went 800 for a few months. Got rid of that and now I'm at 710mm. I think the sweet spot for me is around 650-700.

If I were riding a geared bike, I would get a set of JJ Loop bars.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,577 Posts
I ride shoulder width. I cut my bars according to that. I don't even bother to measure how wide they are so I don't know how wide they are. This is what I've been doing for the almost 30 years I've been mountain biking and have found it's still the most comfortable. I experimented with the whole wide bar thing and even after a couple weeks it still felt like I was driving a truck.

All that said, experiment for yourself and find what works best for you.
 

·
I like mtn biking, too
Joined
·
3,267 Posts
lol - I thought in the XC race scene, you were pretty much considered a "Fred" if you didn't have narrow bars? Have things changed that quickly that wider bars are the XC norm now?

Anyway, it's easy enough to just try out different bar lengths and see if they do anything for you. If wider bars don't help, then I'd say don't worry about it. Who cares if other people think you're a Fred? It's all about performance. :) And for ultra-long distances, comfort.

Recently I put 750mm carbon Easton Havoc bars on my all-mountain rig with 50mm stem, (I'm 5'5"), and I do plan to put them on my XC race bike as well. Here's what I experienced: More leverage to put more power to the pedals, better control on descents & better cornering. SS riders tend to report that they like wider bars for the leverage aspect as well. On an endurance-length MTB race, (or any mtb race), I'm not typically hitting speeds where wind resistance is a significant issue (> 20 mph), except going downhill where control and cornering are more key. Maybe if the terrain was solely flat-ish smooth gravel or dirt roads, wind would be a consideration, but arguably, if that's what you're primarily riding you don't even need a mountain bike - cx bike would be better.

Downsides - tight trees are a little more tricky.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,449 Posts
Not really width pertinent but I use origin 8 spacebar carbon. It's a swayback like the Mary bar. Makes my anthem look like a beach cruiser but man they are easier on the hands, wrists, arms and shoulders.
 

·
Armature speller
Unit, Anthem, Stumpy, Secteur
Joined
·
4,723 Posts
After moving my grips/levers around on a set of 780mm bars, I settled on 750mm as the most comfortable width for me. However I've gone to 680 with bar ends for XC as the bar ends give me extra leverage and more hand positions but less chance of hitting things.
 
1 - 18 of 18 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top