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  1. #1
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    How's your handlebar drop?

    Just curious what level everyone's handlebars are compared to their seat. On my Tallboy LTc, they are pretty much dead even. I'm about to start toying with putting them a little lower to make climbing a little more awesome. I'm curious to hear others' stories on finding their happy spot in regards to handlebar/seat relationship.

  2. #2
    thecentralscrutinizer
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    Mine are between 1.5 and 2 inches. I ended up going with a 10 Thomson set negative to find the right balance and reach. It really improved overall feel of the bike for me.
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  3. #3
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    I've never measured, I think it's about 2 inches. I've pondered on going lower but never seem to get around to trying it. And yes that is a neg rise with lo rise bars, they came of my 26er where I needed the rise.

  4. #4
    1*14*29*2.1 & 1*1*29*2.4
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    I like to go as low as possible while still comfortable, which usually only means 1-2" lower than seat for me. It's quite personal really. I think that is a good place to start though.

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  6. #6
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    Bike fit takes into account the size of your feet, your legs total, your femur, your torso, your shoulder width, your arm length, your core strength, your back and neck flexibility. First, get proper saddle height and fore / aft set, then get proper cockpit length, then work on handlebar drop, and finally, brake lever placement. Asking what others do is like buying shoes based on a poll of other's shoe sizes. Fit the bike to YOU!
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by slocaus View Post
    Bike fit takes into account the size of your feet, your legs total, your femur, your torso, your shoulder width, your arm length, your core strength, your back and neck flexibility. First, get proper saddle height and fore / aft set, then get proper cockpit length, then work on handlebar drop, and finally, brake lever placement. Asking what others do is like buying shoes based on a poll of other's shoe sizes. Fit the bike to YOU!
    Why assume that I'm seeking advice as opposed to just looking for interesting experiences? For instance, it would be interesting to hear your story on how your efficiency, number of miles/year increased after your bike fit. Sharing some the changes that were made in your reach, saddle position, etc., would be interesting to read about. I've had fittings, I know the deal, I also believe they are a wise thing, etc... Just curious to hear peoples' stories.

  8. #8
    Zaf
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    Slightly exaggerated because the bike's downward sloping in photo.
    Last edited by Zaf; 02-27-2013 at 04:00 PM.

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    Re: How's your handlebar drop?

    Mines a couple of inches on an 18" trance x 26" wheels. I have the Seatpost at max and wish I could stop raise it about 5mm more. I like my leg pretty damn close to straight. I use the bike a lot more for xc stuff anyway. It's funny. The saddle to bar drop is a couple of inches with a huge spacers stack and a 70mm x +5* its as high as it'll go. The top tube always felt long on this bike too. I have freakishly long legs compared to my t-rex arms. It's so weird...
    There's something about those long grueling climbs that gets my front end all stiff... And I'm not talking about lockout...

  10. #10
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    How are you guys able to ride your bikes off road with your seats sky high and the bars down so low? I haven't rode trails in 10 years. Been riding freestyle bmx on a 20 inch bike at parks for the last decade, today bought me a 29er and I'm gonna start doing trails, I know how I want my bike to feel and it is different then most others, but if I'm on a trail the seat is slammed and the the bars have a high rise. I get more control that way, but I see someone posted a f/s bike with the seat a mile above the bars. Would you guys please explain this one. Thanks!

  11. #11
    Happy Trails
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    How's your handlebar drop?

    How's your handlebar drop?-imageuploadedbytapatalk1362025708.062150.jpg
    3-5/8 inches lower than saddle, but a little to low for me. I am switching from a -15 degree stem to -5 degree (adds 19mm) and from a flat bar to 20mm riser to add a total of 39mm or about half of the current spacing. 2 inches is a good starting point, I guess.

  12. #12
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    Close to the same height

    I just bought a Truvativ Boobar (30mm) riser so I won't be as slumped over on the downhill. My seat is just a tad bit higher, but I prefer the seat and Bars to be about the same height.

  13. #13
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    Okay, what's the effect of lower bars versus not so much lower bars ?

  14. #14
    Zaf
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    Quote Originally Posted by RezaKalimantan View Post
    Okay, what's the effect of lower bars versus not so much lower bars ?
    Riding position. Raised seat and lower bars shifts your weight forward and takes strain off the back for longer periods. Also puts more weight over the front wheel which can make your steering a bi nicer, and helps MASSIVELY in climbs.

    There's still plenty of room between seat and arse in technical spots on the trail when you're up on the pedals at 3o'clock/9o'clock, although obviously less then what you'd usually have with a lower position. It limits technical a little, but generally needed for good leg position for delivering power.

  15. #15
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    Bars used to be 2 inches lower but I'm old so now they are pretty much even.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zaf View Post
    Riding position. Raised seat and lower bars shifts your weight forward and takes strain off the back for longer periods. Also puts more weight over the front wheel which can make your steering a bi nicer, and helps MASSIVELY in climbs.

    There's still plenty of room between seat and arse in technical spots on the trail when you're up on the pedals at 3o'clock/9o'clock, although obviously less then what you'd usually have with a lower position. It limits technical a little, but generally needed for good leg position for delivering power.
    How do you prevent yourself from going over your handlebars on trails? I would think you could ride so much harder off road if the cockpit was the other way around.

  17. #17
    little mad riding hood
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    Quote Originally Posted by wheeljack87 View Post
    How do you prevent yourself from going over your handlebars on trails? I would think you could ride so much harder off road if the cockpit was the other way around.
    drop your heels, relax your knees, shift your weight back into "attack position" with pedals at 3/9 o clock. If you have to manual the bike over ledges or logs on a downhill, then it's just like doing a manual on any other bike, kick your heels forward and "scoop" the bars back towards your chest. I personally feel a low bar position makes it massively easier / gives you more leverage to work with for this tbh. Otherwise maintain a neutral position with your heels down - the heels down prevents you from shifting too far forwards & launching over the bars.

    Weighting the front end properly into turns (not nose-heavy, just properly balanced) grants you a ton more traction and braking power, plus as a new convert to 29ers I notice that it offers you better control against the tendency for the front end to want to kite a bit in sharp turns. And for riding fast over rough ground or up steep climbs you really do have to get full power on your pedal stroke regardless of whether you're riding 26" or 29", and for that you need full leg extension which = a high saddle.

    to answer the OP, I currently have the seat and bars roughly level and I need to do a bit of tweaking to the cockpit and possibly go to a negative rise stem as I'm 5'4" on a Jet RDO, and have the stem slammed. I'm not quite there yet w/r/t cockpit being dialled, but otherwise the bike is great.

    source: 20+ years of riding and racing MTB cross-country

  18. #18
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    'Bout 2". 120mm forked hardtail. Long legs, short head tube, no spacers, zero rise stem, and a Niner bar run in the "upside down" configuration.
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  19. #19
    Zaf
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    Quote Originally Posted by wheeljack87 View Post
    How do you prevent yourself from going over your handlebars on trails? I would think you could ride so much harder off road if the cockpit was the other way around.
    Cockpit is suited to the rider. Mine looks a little more extreme because I have long legs (6'2" with a 35" inseam) but I can get my arse back over the saddle for anything really steep, I've never gone over the handlebars on that bike (yet, touch wood) and it's tackled some pretty steep and aggressive terrain.

  20. #20
    DLd
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    Quote Originally Posted by wheeljack87 View Post
    How do you prevent yourself from going over your handlebars on trails? I would think you could ride so much harder off road if the cockpit was the other way around.
    Well, whether you ride your handlebars low or high, the seat height is going to be the same, the two aren't related. You set seat height for proper leg extension for maximum power and less wear on the knees. You might drop it for the downhills or some features, but you generally don't ride around with your seat all low, as you'll just get tired really quick and also trash your knees.

    On to the completely separate subject of handlebar height, if you're just riding around the neighborhood, or have bad flexibility, excess weight, chronic back issues etc., you might just have to have the handlebars pretty high. The problem with that is out on the trail, you're not able to properly weight the front wheel to really rail through corners with maximum traction. Of course, you can just go slower, and many beginners go slow enough to not notice the lack of traction. They're simply not at the limit of traction anyway, or they're hitting that limit, and that's what's limiting their speed on the trail. The lower position also helps on climbs, where the bike is angled upward already, so high bars make it really difficult to keep any weight on the front end, and the wheel tends to wander. On steep enough climbs you can even find yourself doing some unintentional wheelies. About 1-2" lower than the saddle is optimal for most people doing aggressive all-mountain type riding, folks doing XC racing might even be a little lower, as the efficiency on the climbs for a lot of courses becomes the more important factor. But basically, having the handlebar lower is mostly for traction and power. You prevent yourself going OTB by properly shifting your weight on the bike at the right times. For example by extending your arms to throw the bike forward right at the bottom of a steep roll off, etc. Otherwise, as long you have some decent speed, and aren't ham-fisted with the brakes, going OTB isn't really that big of a concern. Nowadays, if you have a dropper post, you can lower it for the DH, and that helps get your CoG low and keeps you from going OTB, but also more importantly lets you lean the bike over more without the saddle hitting your legs. Of course the setup would be different if you're only rolling into half-pipes or something, but I'm talking about setup for aggressive trail riding.
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  21. #21
    Happy Trails
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    How's your handlebar drop?

    Quote Originally Posted by RezaKalimantan View Post
    Okay, what's the effect of lower bars versus not so much lower bars ?
    Aching back and sore neck. And 36 seconds faster per 16 mile loop. So I come in 19th of 37 in AG instead of 23rd.

  22. #22
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    Good point, very informative!
    Quote Originally Posted by DLd View Post
    Well, whether you ride your handlebars low or high, the seat height is going to be the same, the two aren't related. You set seat height for proper leg extension for maximum power and less wear on the knees. You might drop it for the downhills or some features, but you generally don't ride around with your seat all low, as you'll just get tired really quick and also trash your knees.

    On to the completely separate subject of handlebar height, if you're just riding around the neighborhood, or have bad flexibility, excess weight, chronic back issues etc., you might just have to have the handlebars pretty high. The problem with that is out on the trail, you're not able to properly weight the front wheel to really rail through corners with maximum traction. Of course, you can just go slower, and many beginners go slow enough to not notice the lack of traction. They're simply not at the limit of traction anyway, or they're hitting that limit, and that's what's limiting their speed on the trail. The lower position also helps on climbs, where the bike is angled upward already, so high bars make it really difficult to keep any weight on the front end, and the wheel tends to wander. On steep enough climbs you can even find yourself doing some unintentional wheelies. About 1-2" lower than the saddle is optimal for most people doing aggressive all-mountain type riding, folks doing XC racing might even be a little lower, as the efficiency on the climbs for a lot of courses becomes the more important factor. But basically, having the handlebar lower is mostly for traction and power. You prevent yourself going OTB by properly shifting your weight on the bike at the right times. For example by extending your arms to throw the bike forward right at the bottom of a steep roll off, etc. Otherwise, as long you have some decent speed, and aren't ham-fisted with the brakes, going OTB isn't really that big of a concern. Nowadays, if you have a dropper post, you can lower it for the DH, and that helps get your CoG low and keeps you from going OTB, but also more importantly lets you lean the bike over more without the saddle hitting your legs. Of course the setup would be different if you're only rolling into half-pipes or something, but I'm talking about setup for aggressive trail riding.

  23. #23
    DLd
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott In MD View Post
    Aching back and sore neck. And 36 seconds faster per 16 mile loop. So I come in 19th of 37 in AG instead of 23rd.
    Yeah, definitely. If you don't get the whole bike fitted properly, or aren't stretching, or go lower than your body can handle, that can be the result. Of course when your bars end up lower than the seat as the result of a comprehensive bike fitting, the result is more comfort on rides, back pain disappearing, and more power. Lower bars aren't the goal, comfort and performance are the goal. Lower bars are just the way to reach that goal for some people. For others it will be higher bars than what they have currently. There aren't any contests for who has the lowest bars (that I know of...)
    "Great things are not accomplished by those who yield to trends and fads and popular opinion."-Jack Kerouac

  24. #24
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    The top of the bar is an inch higher than the saddle, but I ride mostly in the drops on trails. So, probably 2 or 3 inches of drop to the hooks.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by wheeljack87 View Post
    How are you guys able to ride your bikes off road with your seats sky high and the bars down so low? I haven't rode trails in 10 years. Been riding freestyle bmx on a 20 inch bike at parks for the last decade, today bought me a 29er and I'm gonna start doing trails, I know how I want my bike to feel and it is different then most others, but if I'm on a trail the seat is slammed and the the bars have a high rise. I get more control that way, but I see someone posted a f/s bike with the seat a mile above the bars. Would you guys please explain this one. Thanks!
    it all depends on riding style. sounds like you come from a background of doing a lot of jumping and tricks as opposed to speed. Many guys riding xc are looking for speed. seat up high gives you better pedal stroke for speed. Also, many people run dropper posts nowadays so when they are descending they can drop the seat down low like you mentioned.

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