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I'm trying to get an idea of the width I should cut my handlebars to. I'm just over 5'4" and lightweight. Could some of you close to my size tell me the width of your handlebars?
 

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There are many theories on how to determine bar width. Many say it should be cut according to your shoulder width, others say it should be cut according to how wide you naturally place your hands when doing a push-up, others believe wider is always better to add to stability when descending and for more precise steering (I fall into this camp), others believe narrow is always better because of the faster steering and the ability to squeeze in between tight trees. I'm sure type of bike, the head angle, and type of riding terrain also come into play when deciding what bar width works best for you. edit: you also need to take into account individual preference.

There doesn't seem to be one accepted rule. I say, leave them wide, ride for a while. If they feel too wide cut them a bit at a time until you find a size you're comfortable with. You can always make bars more narrow, but you can never make them wider.

Ant
 

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On my XC bike, I like them cut short (1/2-1" on each side) so I don't hit a tree and endo (I have done this), but on my DH bike, I like the standard width for DH bars, it feels like I have more control. but I agree, it's your own personal preference.
 

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Luvz2Ridez said:
On my XC bike, I like them cut short (1/2-1" on each side) so I don't hit a tree and endo (I have done this), but on my DH bike, I like the standard width for DH bars, it feels like I have more control. but I agree, it's your own personal preference.
I was doing that for a while, but then realized I didn't like changing back and forth and I put DH bars on everything. I like that better- much more stable.

Regardless, make sure you try what you've got before cutting!
 

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connie said:
I was doing that for a while, but then realized I didn't like changing back and forth and I put DH bars on everything. I like that better- much more stable.

Regardless, make sure you try what you've got before cutting!
haha good point. When I bought my avid juicy's for the XC bike, they won't go in far enough, so I'm stuck with having to buy shorter levers!
 

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All mine are 24" wide. Used to run them shorter, then got some wider bars and didn't have time to cut them down before a ride--ended up liking the extra width a LOT. So they stayed at the wider length. :)
 

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Think about Strength & Grips at the Gym

I cut my DH like my flat. Anything too wide changes the optimum muscle usage to less effecient. Think about how hard it is doing wde-arm push ups compaired to shoulder-width ones. Also: wide grip seated rows, next to close grip. Think about your grips at the gym & you will see what I mean.
 

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Venus, you can't compare the pulling or pushing of a static bar to the twisting of a bar around a fixed pivot-point. Wider bars allow more leverage when turning the handlebar, always making it easier to steer through the rough regardless of your shoulder width.

Ant
 

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Width

If you ride wide bars in really tight, twisty single track with a lot of trees, the learning curve can be pretty steep. Even ticking the end of the handle bar against a tree will leave you wadded up on the trail. If you ride a lot of wide open single track, width might be less critical. If you have wide bars (or something that fees wide to you), move everythig inboard an inch or two and ride around for a few minutes to get a sense of how it feels before you commit to cutting your handlebars down. I'm preety tall, and my handle bars are 23.5"
Be careful!

"Dang! Cut it twice and its still too short."
 

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jckid said:
I'm trying to get an idea of the width I should cut my handlebars to. I'm just over 5'4" and lightweight. Could some of you close to my size tell me the width of your handlebars?
i'm 5'1" with fairly broad shoulders and i cut my flat bars down to about 21.5". i ride in some tight trees and also find the shorter bars more comfortable.

but, as others have said, it really comes down to personal preference. i rode my bars at the stock width (24") for about a year before i decided to cut them down.

rt
 

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My wife is 5'3" and we started off with 660mmbars and trimmed them down for her a bit at a time, with her doing a couple of rides each time. It's easy to take length off, but impossible to put it back ;-) She found that taking off 25mm (I think that would work out to a little over 24") made them exactly right for her. It's a very personal thing but if you go too narrow, you lose a bit of control.
 

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I'm about 5'7" and pretty average build. Currently I ride 25" bars and find that I could possibly go a little bit wider (hands naturally sit to the edge of the grips).
I think the biggest bars I had a taste of was 27" truvativ with 2" rise, I liked them but since I keep the bike inside you had to watch it when going through doorways!

The hand width when doing push ups would put my bar width at less than 24" and I can't see myself being comfortable with bars that narrow. The shoulder width plus 6" says they should be about 27".

Sounds like you're starting with wider bars than you need, take note where your hands end up most of the time & cut accordingly. Or move your grips in to where you think is right and do a few rides to make sure.

Some people will like wide bars regardless of their size as a person and vice versa as well.

You could try wrenchscience which may give you a rough guide.

http://www.wrenchscience.com/
 

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Another data point, FWIW

NuMexDonna went from a "standard" 23" bar to a Titec Hellbent Flat-tracker last year and has never looked back. The Titec is 25.6" and she's running some small carbon bar ends that effectively reduce the width to maybe 24.3" She's 5'8" with an average frame (although I should hasten to add there's nothing average about her!), and does more sit&spin climbing than SS-style stand-up climbing where even wider bars are common.
- Joe

jckid said:
I'm trying to get an idea of the width I should cut my handlebars to. I'm just over 5'4" and lightweight. Could some of you close to my size tell me the width of your handlebars?
 

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antonio said:
Venus, you can't compare the pulling or pushing of a static bar to the twisting of a bar around a fixed pivot-point. Wider bars allow more leverage when turning the handlebar, always making it easier to steer through the rough regardless of your shoulder width.

Ant
Yes I can - as I use my upper body as much as lower in technical riding. I balance my weight between my legs & arms & can keep up w/ most college gymnasts on the bars. But that is just me & how I ride…
 

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More on handlebar width

A bit more on handle bar width and how that works (From Mountain Bike Action Web site: Ask RC column)

Q. Hi R.C. My question is about handlebar width. I have recently purchased some Monkey Light carbon riser bars. I previously ran a pair of aluminum straight bars with ends (22" wide). Are riser bars typically set up to the same width as straight bars or they meant to be run wider? The stock width of my new bars is about 5 inches wider then my current bars. My bike is a steel framed cross country ride with R7 platinum forks. Thanks in advance. Chris
Chris/mbaction.com - 1/25/2007 6:04:06 PM

A. RC: The current trend for riser handleabrs is ultra wide--too wide for my tastes. A riser bar must be slightly wider (about two inches) to allow room for the shift and braking controls to get past the outside bend. The rule of thumb (discounting foolish fashion) is that the longer the stem, the narrower the bars need to be. The reason has to do with leverage. The length of the stem is added to the width of the handlebar. This is why older XC bikes with 135 millimeter stems rode fairly well with 22-inch bars--and why downhillers, with tiny 50-millimeter stems feel more in control with 27 inch bars. The downside of wide handlebars is that once you get past 25 or 26 inches, your upper body becones "coupled" with the bike. Any large bounce the deflects the bike to the side will twist your torso and cause you to unwillingly steer the bike. I cut my bars down to about 26 inches--or to the point where my upper body--and the bike's steering-- feels uncoupled from lateral impacts. Bars are made extra wide because they can't be made longer with a hack saw. Unless you actually are a monkey, you might consider trimming your bars--you'll actually gain control.
 
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