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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been riding on flat bars on my 2000 trek 6000 for well... 9 years now, as I'm growing older I've taken notice that my back is starting to hurt more and more after long rides. I'm looking to replace the bars with Easton Monkey Lites (seem to be the most popular) and notice that there are low rise and high rise, and just wanted to ask how big of a difference the two are. Which one would make it a bit more comfortable on the back? The 2008 carbon models seem to be a great price to buy right now...
 

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No good in rock gardens..
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There could be a cheaper way to lift your existing bars higher, if there is room enough on the steerer to add a couple of spacers under the stem. It may take as little as 15 - 20mm to make a noticeable difference.
 

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R.I.P. DogFriend
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Stems on bikes of that era tended to be on the long side, so if it is one of those long dogs, you may want to get something in the 100mm range. That will also take some stress off your lower back as it allows you to sit more upright.

I also would see if you can maybe move your saddle forward on the seatpost. A little goes a long way here, so do it in small increments.

The slippery slope here is that all these cockpit adjustments are a compromise one way or another and it is a give & take sort of thing and you have to find the fit with the compromises that suit you best.

It may be a good idea to start at ground zero by making sure you have the saddle in the best spot for you before making any permanent/costly changes to the stem and bars.

I recently built up a hardtail and was having lower back pain. I ditched the Easton seatpost that had a pretty decent setback in favor of a Thomson (that has zero setback) which allowed me to move the saddle further forward and the back issues went away. Just something to consider...
 

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handle bars/spacers

mf1171 said:
hey thanks, I never thought about that. where can I get spacers for that?
There's a good chance you have no room for spacers.Back in 2000 they cut steerer tubes just to fit what ever stem.You could go with a shorter more steeply angled stem.Like say 15 degrees or so.That and a low riser bar would be a very noticeable difference.As for carbon,they just feel better.Well to me.Also riser bars with the up and back sweep are more comfortable than flat bars.They tend to run wider,more control.Flat bars and 0 degree rise long stems are old school x-c racing.
 

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I like bacon... (clyde)
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Make sure your saddle fore/aft is adjusted correctly (knee cap over pedal spindle @ 3 o'clock) along with the tilt (nearly level +/- a few degrees for personal preference). From there, if you feel like you are leaning over too far for you back to handle, go for a riser bar. Its hard to say how much rise you need and you will probably only find that through trial and error. However, the higher the rise the more upright you will be sitting.

Also remember that your back should be slightly bowed and relaxed, not straight and stiff. It should flex to soak up the trail bumps rather than rigidly jar and absorb them. I was just thinking of that because maybe your back could handle the shock when you were younger, but not anymore. I saw this on a website but I can't remember exactly where. Possibly sheldonbrown?
 

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No good in rock gardens..
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OK, well there may or may not be room for spacers under the stem - you'd need to take the top cap off the stem and see. If the steerer is close to the top of the stem you may well be able to fit 10 - 15mm of spacers (often they are 5mm thick). Often the LBS will have them - or you can find carbon bling ones on eBay. ;) It's a cheap thing to try out anyway.

If not, by all means try a riser bar. Low rise cross country bars will be 3/4" to 1" rise, while more DH oriented bars will be 2" or more. Risers will also be wider than flats - which does feel odd to start with, but you can trim most of them to a width you want (with the possible exception of some carbon models which will have alloy plugs in the end.

How high you go will depend on the feel you want and if you can get by with a higher front end - the higher the front end the harder steep climbs can be as the front will lift and wander. Wider bars can also slow down the low speed handling and make the steering feel "lazy".
 

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Never trust a fart
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You probably won't be able to raise the stem any higher by adding spacers under the stem. Most of the bikes available now come with the steerer tubes cut to an exact size. Bikes come with a few spacers under the stem from the manufacturers to give a little bit of adjustability, but nothing that you are looking for.

There are a couple of different ways of doing things.

1. New stem with a higher degree of rise.
2. Riser handlebars
3. New stem and riser handlebars
4. Adjustable stem. The Ritchey adjustables are around $70 but they are high quality.
 

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Sideknob said:
Risers will also be wider than flats - which does feel odd to start with, but you can trim most of them to a width you want (with the possible exception of some carbon models which will have alloy plugs in the end.
Also, if you want to cut down a bar, check first that your levers will still fit.
 

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Live, Freeze, and Ride
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I have two Monkeylites, love'em. They've each been moved to my current fav numerous times.
I would go for the bar with more rise.
I started out in a more 'road' like stance - flat bars & long stem, stretched me out and hurt my back on real long rides.
The Monkeylites were the start of my awakening to riding w/o back pain, it wasn't that Easton was so great or the bars were carbon, it was the rise and sweep.
I was immediately riding with lots less pain - hands, wrists, shoulders, and BACK.
Ultimately this urged me to start messing with bar/stem length combos.
I now ride with the shortest stem I can. I found this length by climbing the steepest ridable thing I could find. The perfect length for me is when the front wheel gets light but doesn't lose traction on that steep, while pedaling in the saddle.

Sorry about the verbosity, too much coffee on Sunday mornings when it's snowing.
 

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I was having back & neck pain on long rides with my 2001 Trek 4900, and much prefered the bar/seat position on an all mountain bike I was using (way higher bars). I first swapped one of the 5mm spacers for a 10mm. Like others said, my steer tube is too short to really add any more height that way. I then swapped bars for a set of ubber cheap "All mountain" bars from Jenson USA. I painted over them, so I don't recall exactly what they were, but I believe spec was ~3/4" more rise than the original bars. I cut them down a bit as they were really wide.

These two little things made a big difference for me. I still would like to add a little more height, as I seem to be most comfortable on other bikes with the bars a little higher than the seat, right now mine are dead level. I didn't want to spend big money on parts trying to see if I could make this work, all together I think I put about $11 in it. A buck for a spacer, I think it was $10 for the bars, and about 1cent worth of flat black from an old can in the garage (bike is all black and red, bars were grey).
 

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might want to look into some alternate bars while your at it... i put some origin8 spacebars (on one mary copy)... they are old alu versions and they are AWESOME... i won't use them off road due to my weight and reading of them snapping... but i've ordered a titec H bar (another high sweep bar with rise)

if i find the titec has to much sweep i'll back it off and go with a Groovy Luv handle.

but like mentioned... 10mm of spacers makes a HUGE difference... thankfuly whoever built my karate monkey left a good bit of steer tube for me to play with moving the stem up and down...

anyway... this is a fun little java program to figure how stack height, stem length and angles effect reach and drop... you can use 2 very different stems (or stem/bar combo) and get the same effect
http://alex.phred.org/stemchart/Default.aspx
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
thanks for the replies guys. I went ahead a bought the Monkeybar EA70 high mid rise handle bars. I'll head to the LBS and try to get a small riser and get them cut up a bit, might be too wide. I think I will really enjoy the change from flat bars. In the end I saved about $45 for going ea70 and not carbon so I'm happy. Threw in some Lizard skin Peatys lock-on too boot!
 

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kenja said:
That's great! I've been using old-school trig but I love the visual component.
ya it's a nice QUICK tool to figure out changes with even minor changes in the bar height... i had a riser bar with a flat bar and it was perfect... had to shorten my stack height by a bit when i got the new fork (pre-cut)... i've been fighting to get myself back up where I was... amazing what a little change does grr...
 
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