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  1. #1
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    Bars: How wide is too wide or too narrow?

    Have a new bike that came with 785mm bars. My first instinct is to chop them around 585mm similar to my other bikes. But after a few rides with unadulterated bars I do notice some advantages, mainly with weight distribution when the wheels come off the ground and over very difficult terrain. Doing the push-up test, anything up to 850mm would be good, but then I have never seen the need for more leverage. I have already found trails where 785mm is a no go just due to clearance between immovable objects, so the only question is how much they will get chopped.

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    Move the grips in before cutting until you find what you like then cut.

    My friend's Mojo 3 came with 760mm bars and at first he was going to cut them down and after a few rides he's glad he didn't.
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by sapva View Post
    Have a new bike that came with 785mm bars. My first instinct is to chop them around 585mm similar to my other bikes. But after a few rides with unadulterated bars I do notice some advantages, mainly with weight distribution when the wheels come off the ground and over very difficult terrain. Doing the push-up test, anything up to 850mm would be good, but then I have never seen the need for more leverage. I have already found trails where 785mm is a no go just due to clearance between immovable objects, so the only question is how much they will get chopped.
    I wouldn't touch them....ride them for a while at 785 and get used to them, and those advantages you notice will get bigger....and far outweigh the couple of times per ride max where they are too wide.

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    I found the old skinny straight bars (580 or so) on my old SJ were too narrow for comfort riding home from the trails, so I found a 680- huge difference in comfort.
    Trying to ride a brand-new bike with the fashionably wide bars felt silly, and trees are an issue where I live. Got a great deal on an unfashionable 720 carbon bar, and I'm back in my happy zone.

    If you've decided to cut, I'd recommend whittling 10/side rather than hacking the lot.

  5. #5
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    In my opinion It's all personal preference.
    I run 720mm for my XC bikes and 750 for my play bikes.
    I used to run about a 820 on my 160mm travel bike but ended up dropping down to 780
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  6. #6
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    As said, give them some time, at least 4 or 5 good rides, slow down when it gets tight, appreciate the huge benefits they provide when it gets rough/tech, if you want to try narrower, move the grips and controls in before cutting, but seriously, 4 or 5 good rides first.
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  7. #7
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    The push-up test is BS, it just shows where you've built up your muscles, for most people that haven't developed the chest muscles much, wider is better, because it gives you a bigger lever for the push-up.

    Generally wider bars with shorter stems gives you more leverage over the handlebars. A few interesting things happen, your brain "knows" where your hands are, so it as long as they are outside on the end of the bars it's difficult to clip a tree. Second, even if you do, again you have a bigger lever, so there's less chance it'll actually throw you off line. It gives you more leverage sprinting out of the saddle. Gets your weight back a bit, etc. Going back to skinny bars just feels goofy after a while on modern-length bars. Usually said skinny bars are paired with longer stems and the entire setup is pretty unstable.

    I think there's also a psychological issue, like people that can't ride "exposure" trails, even when the actual trail surface is plenty wide where you can just put a foot down at any time. I think people that ride in "close proximity" to trees assume they have to have narrow bars, as they are deathly afraid of clipping a tree, which in real-life just doesn't happen almost ever, due to the brain knowing where the hands are, like I mentioned above.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    I think people that ride in "close proximity" to trees assume they have to have narrow bars, as they are deathly afraid of clipping a tree, which in real-life just doesn't happen almost ever, due to the brain knowing where the hands are, like I mentioned above.
    You're right about one thing, the brain does know. Fortunately I stopped, because the bars were at least two inches more than would have fit. After two weeks I've found a few places like that, and have yet to even hit all the local areas.

  9. #9
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    Right beside my post, coincidentally, noticed a promo for this article...
    Are narrow handlebars the next big thing? - Mtbr.com

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    Quote Originally Posted by TwoTone View Post
    Move the grips in before cutting until you find what you like then cut.
    Think I will do just that. And give it a month or so before I chop.

  11. #11
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    I've demo'd a few bikes with 760+ bars. They didn't feel outrageous. I have 740mm bars on my own (I'm 5' 7" and skinny). Used to have 711mm bars, 660 before that, and the usual 560 range before that. Never felt an urge to go wider than 740mm, even after trying wider bars on demo bike, but have on rare occasion felt like I should trim them narrower due to clearance issues. My hand doesn't even rest on the outer edge, leaving 15-20mm of bar unused, and that's using grips without any outside clamp. I have some 725mm bars, might try those. 740mm is a bit wider than the width I place my hands for push-ups and pull-ups (when intending to do the most reps); I figure I can better leverage that strength by mimicking the width.

    My brain doesn't know where my hands exactly are. If I try to ride along a sidewalks curb, trying to squeeze between signage, utility posts, etc. and the edge of the curb, I sometimes hit. Can't overcompensate without falling off the curb. If I close my eyes and try to poke points on my other hand, it's typically off by more than an inch, unless I concentrate and take my time, which I won't have the luxury of doing on the trail.

  12. #12
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    My bars were 760 (30") new. I tried them for awhile, but they felt awkward. I trimmed off ~1/2" (10-12mm) from each end at a time. When I got close to what felt "normal" or comfortable I moved the (lock-on) grips inward and decided I would take another 5mm off each end, thus avoiding over-doing it. Very glad I didn't just whack 'em.

    btw - in the course of determining my optimum bar length (710mm or 28"), I hit a LOT of trees. Only once did it knock me off the bike (high speed, heavy braking, loose surfaces, no escape route).

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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by sapva View Post
    Right beside my post, coincidentally, noticed a promo for this article...
    Are narrow handlebars the next big thing? - Mtbr.com
    By narrow they mean 740mm, just to put that in perspective.
    I got some bad ideas in my head.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    The push-up test is BS, it just shows where you've built up your muscles, for most people that haven't developed the chest muscles much, wider is better, because it gives you a bigger lever for the push-up.
    I don't know. If you ride with your hands out farther than you can comfortably do a push-up, I'm pretty sure your bars are too wide. If you ride with your hands further in, your bars are probably too narrow, although too narrow is probably better for your body than too wide. The push-up test, while not gospel, will at least give you some sort of range to work in.

    Physically, it doesn't make sense to go wider than what's ideal for your body. Here's some food for thought: Are your mountain bike handlebars too wide? ? Revo Physiotherapy & Sports Performance.

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    Only thing I learn from threads like this is that everyone's different. Do what feels right for you.

    Last time I tried listening to others, I went and tried out 200mm/180mm rotors over my 180/160 usual setup, following advice like, "there's no reason not to use larger rotors." I tried hard to get used to them, but they were making me lose control whenever I barely touched them. I was forced to brake faaarrrrr smarter, like in the smooth parts where I have good traction before turns, but panic braking to avoid collision or going off trail was unavoidable and I just couldn't tolerate the feeling of almost crashing so many times. This was after a winter of heavy rain and the trails were all eroded and grown over, and the lines not being well defined. I learned that since I weigh 135, ride a bike that's 25 lbs with smaller wheels, and terrain is a bit slippery even with grippy tires, I should go back to what works. Main reason for change is that I recall almost colliding with traffic going in the other direction, and I couldn't slow to a stop fast enough to yield to uphill traffic.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    I think there's also a psychological issue, like people that can't ride "exposure" trails, even when the actual trail surface is plenty wide where you can just put a foot down at any time. I think people that ride in "close proximity" to trees assume they have to have narrow bars, as they are deathly afraid of clipping a tree, which in real-life just doesn't happen almost ever, due to the brain knowing where the hands are, like I mentioned above.
    Some of us actually do have trails that are too tight for "modern" bars. It's not all psychology. I've clipped BOTH ends of a 780mm bar at the same time. Luckily in that case all that happened was I left a little notch in each of the trees' bark. If that particular bar had been any longer, bad news. Clearly my brain hadn't quite caught onto the fact that sometimes there's a limit to what can fit through a gap between two immovable objects. So now my bars don't go much past 680mm (gives me ~40-50mm to play with for each side). My brain is happy with that and so are my fingers.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by noapathy View Post
    Some of us actually do have trails that are too tight for "modern" bars. It's not all psychology. I've clipped BOTH ends of a 780mm bar at the same time. Luckily in that case all that happened was I left a little notch in each of the trees' bark. If that particular bar had been any longer, bad news. Clearly my brain hadn't quite caught onto the fact that sometimes there's a limit to what can fit through a gap between two immovable objects. So now my bars don't go much past 680mm (gives me ~40-50mm to play with for each side). My brain is happy with that and so are my fingers.
    I clip trees no matter what bar width. Maybe my brain compensates for my hand position (never clipped my hand that I can recall), but that 1mm sticking out at the end of my bar is enough to throw it for a loop. I run 760mm now. It gets tight in a few spots, but not bad. I've also clipped trees with the back of my shoulder, so maybe I just like cutting it close.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    The push-up test is BS, it just shows where you've built up your muscles, for most people that haven't developed the chest muscles much, wider is better, because it gives you a bigger lever for the push-up.

    Generally wider bars with shorter stems gives you more leverage over the handlebars. A few interesting things happen, your brain "knows" where your hands are, so it as long as they are outside on the end of the bars it's difficult to clip a tree. Second, even if you do, again you have a bigger lever, so there's less chance it'll actually throw you off line. It gives you more leverage sprinting out of the saddle. Gets your weight back a bit, etc. Going back to skinny bars just feels goofy after a while on modern-length bars. Usually said skinny bars are paired with longer stems and the entire setup is pretty unstable.

    I think there's also a psychological issue, like people that can't ride "exposure" trails, even when the actual trail surface is plenty wide where you can just put a foot down at any time. I think people that ride in "close proximity" to trees assume they have to have narrow bars, as they are deathly afraid of clipping a tree, which in real-life just doesn't happen almost ever, due to the brain knowing where the hands are, like I mentioned above.
    Measuring from pinky finger to pinky figure in a push up position worked good for me.

    Your bar/stem also reflect your reach and fitment.
    I know a guy that runs like 650mm bars. I can hardly ride that thing around the parking lot and he hands me my ass on the trail.
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  19. #19
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    I rode 660mm bars since...well, since a LONG time ago.

    My thinking was that this width was perfect...for me.

    When I was test riding my Niner RKT, I was thinking I would nee to cut the bars from 710 to 660.

    Then, I thought about it a bit. The 710's aren't really that much wider.

    I've clipped a couple of trees but only on one side. Slowly learning how close I can get to the trees...

    No plans to go wider than 710 due to how tight the local trails are in spots.
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  20. #20
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    If you do the pushup test, and cut your bars, how do you know if it's right? Best might be longer, and the only way to know is to start too wide and work your way in. Everything else is just speculation.
    I got some bad ideas in my head.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by noapathy View Post
    Some of us actually do have trails that are too tight for "modern" bars. It's not all psychology. I've clipped BOTH ends of a 780mm bar at the same time.
    I have trails where I have to "weave" my 780 bars through, some spots that are "just" about 780mm apart, one pair of trees I call ".8 Meter Trees", but too close to ride? I'd love to see videos of this. For everyone that claims this, I've yet to see any real good videos of it.

    This little spot is definitely less than 780, but I'd love to see some similar videos (of what is too narrow).



    Given that I do ride tight trails with lots of trees, sharp turns, narrow spots, I'd like to see others to compare. I've also ridden in places that cram a bunch of miles of trail into a relatively small land plot, trails that turn back on themselves so many times that you can simply step a few feet off the trail and pick up another section that may or may not be miles from where you just were (if you ride ON the trail). Just curious.
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    I only tighten one of my stem bolts and keep an allen wrench locked in the other bolt. That way, when I near a tight spot I can loosen the remaining bolt while riding, turn the bars independently of the fork, and thread the needle between trees. There's a little bit of a learning curve, but this method works great as long as you can figure out how to straighten the bars again and avoid getting skewered by the bar.









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    Lmao I was Thinking this guy is nuts until I read the bottom lol

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    I learned that I shouldn't speak about bar width!

    Hooked a good sized vine on yesterday's ride and slammed the ground hard. Luckily, I landed on my back and slammed my head into the ground
    , instead of breaking my collar bone!

    I now need a new helmet...

    Maybe I'm too old for bars wider than 660mm???
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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    This little spot is definitely less than 780, but I'd love to see some similar videos (of what is too narrow).

    Yep, got several spots a lot like that not including the one I already mentioned. I noticed whoever took the video had to slow considerably to make it through. I mean I could slow down, too, and make it through no problem, but I'd really rather not. As is, I can shimmy through stuff like that no problem.

  26. #26
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    Well, I'll gladly slow down for the few sections like that for the amount of control wide bars give me in the really rough stuff, even the slow tight stuff is worth it because you have so much leverage

    Quote Originally Posted by noapathy View Post
    Yep, got several spots a lot like that not including the one I already mentioned. I noticed whoever took the video had to slow considerably to make it through. I mean I could slow down, too, and make it through no problem, but I'd really rather not. As is, I can shimmy through stuff like that no problem.
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  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by LyNx View Post
    Well, I'll gladly slow down for the few sections like that for the amount of control wide bars give me in the really rough stuff, even the slow tight stuff is worth it because you have so much leverage
    I feel I have enough control without bars so wide they give the feeling like I'm spreading my wings to fly.

    Bars: How wide is too wide or too narrow?-wide.jpg

  28. #28
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    I cut my bars from 740 to 710 and it was a huge difference, until I realized that 740 felt too wide because the reach was a too long. Good thing it was just a cheap aluminum bar.

    With the proper saddle setback, and stem length, I think 740-760 is just right for me.

  29. #29
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    Well good for you Peter No one I have "nudged" to wider bars have had any complaints, just mainly, "damn" moments of like why didn't I do this sooner
    Quote Originally Posted by noapathy View Post
    I feel I have enough control without bars so wide they give the feeling like I'm spreading my wings to fly.

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  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by DM-SC View Post
    I learned that I shouldn't speak about bar width!

    Hooked a good sized vine on yesterday's ride and slammed the ground hard. Luckily, I landed on my back and slammed my head into the ground
    , instead of breaking my collar bone!

    I now need a new helmet...

    Maybe I'm too old for bars wider than 660mm???
    My trails overgrown with weeds, thanks to the winter downpours. I swear they're trying to take me down, as my handlebar tries to plow through.

    Speaking of helmets, wish they were less round. They seem to be made for "butterball" types, and "oval" types, rather than skinnier types. They think it's okay if the retention system and pads work, but the amount of excess helmet on the side of my head is silly looking, and it tips from left-to-right easily.

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    How long is your stem ?

    It's very important . Longer bar , shorter stem .

    If you wanna try that 785 bar , try it with a 50mm or shorter stem as well . Maybe 785 is a lil bit too much , but wide bar will give you a fun ride

    On my opinion , I'm happy with my 800 bar and 50 stem

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by zooey View Post
    My trails overgrown with weeds, thanks to the winter downpours. I swear they're trying to take me down, as my handlebar tries to plow through.

    Speaking of helmets, wish they were less round. They seem to be made for "butterball" types, and "oval" types, rather than skinnier types. They think it's okay if the retention system and pads work, but the amount of excess helmet on the side of my head is silly looking, and it tips from left-to-right easily.
    Ours get grown over sometimes, too. Today it was just a few thorn bushes hanging out toward the middle of the trail. A few stuck into the grip (luckily moved my hand first).

    As far as the helmet fit issue, some come with sets of thick/thin pads so in your case thin ones up top and thicker on the sides should help some. If yours didn't come with these, maybe you can come up with a DIY version.

  33. #33
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    I am 5'10" but have a broad chest/shoulder width - my sweet spot for bars is always about 760-780mm with a 50mm stem (I ride AM/DH) depending on the bike. After damaging the bars on my 'mini DH' bike in a crash late last year. I got a Renthal Fatbar as a replacement - they came in at 800mm.

    I've not cut them down yet, and am using the 'move grips inwards method atm' for determining the width. Atm, I'd be going for 1cm off each side, bringing them to 780, but for the hassle of cutting them I may leave them 'as is'. I rode an XC bike with 660mm bars/90mm stem at the weekend, and the different in perceived stability was night/day.
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  34. #34
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    Some tight trails here too. I'm often pushing the bars through overgrowth that can snag them to various degrees. The longer bars have more leverage for the overgrowth too. I was just riding a new bike with 780 bars compared to my other bike with 700 bars and it was quite a difference. I crashed a couple of time snagging stuff with the wider bars.
    Do the math.

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    The push-up test is BS, it just shows where you've built up your muscles, for most people that haven't developed the chest muscles much, wider is better, because it gives you a bigger lever for the push-up.

    Generally wider bars with shorter stems gives you more leverage over the handlebars. A few interesting things happen, your brain "knows" where your hands are, so it as long as they are outside on the end of the bars it's difficult to clip a tree. Second, even if you do, again you have a bigger lever, so there's less chance it'll actually throw you off line. It gives you more leverage sprinting out of the saddle. Gets your weight back a bit, etc. Going back to skinny bars just feels goofy after a while on modern-length bars. Usually said skinny bars are paired with longer stems and the entire setup is pretty unstable.

    I think there's also a psychological issue, like people that can't ride "exposure" trails, even when the actual trail surface is plenty wide where you can just put a foot down at any time. I think people that ride in "close proximity" to trees assume they have to have narrow bars, as they are deathly afraid of clipping a tree, which in real-life just doesn't happen almost ever, due to the brain knowing where the hands are, like I mentioned above.
    100% agree.

    If you say you can't fit wide bars on your trails, then pics of a few spots on your trail, or it didn't happen.
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    Have been riding with 750-780 bars for a couple of years. As an experiment I moved my hands inward by putting index finger over inside collar of grip (700-720ish width) to see how it feels. Difference was huge. I always have a problem of having too much weight on the inside when cornering. Realise that the wide bar has been dragging me across when leaning the bike over making it hard to keep the body upright and weight to the outside. Certainly doesn't feel as controlled as the wider bar but weighting the bike and front to back balance is much easier to find. I'm 5'10" making this narrow by general standards. Going to do the shift the grips around to find a sweet spot. Might just feel normal after a few rides and never go back.

  37. #37
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    What length stem are you running? Sounds like maybe overall your cockpit is too long for you, so maybe split the difference and go 10-20mm shorter on the stem and then similar on the bar

    Quote Originally Posted by Mackmountain View Post
    Have been riding with 750-780 bars for a couple of years. As an experiment I moved my hands inward by putting index finger over inside collar of grip (700-720ish width) to see how it feels. Difference was huge. I always have a problem of having too much weight on the inside when cornering. Realise that the wide bar has been dragging me across when leaning the bike over making it hard to keep the body upright and weight to the outside. Certainly doesn't feel as controlled as the wider bar but weighting the bike and front to back balance is much easier to find. I'm 5'10" making this narrow by general standards. Going to do the shift the grips around to find a sweet spot. Might just feel normal after a few rides and never go back.
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    Have two bikes and even on the 2015 rocky instinct with the shorter top tube than most similar bikes its age and 45mm stem makes no difference. Intense primer has 50mm stem with 770 bars and drags me over just the same (longer top tube on the primer). Think I might just have short arms for my height. I have tried everything imaginable in the last 18 months to get the balance i have discovered by using a narrower grip. Not even by test riding nearly every bike in town of all sizes did it feel as good. Narrower bars are definitely doing something different for me. As someone else referred to earlier in the thread, he couldn't keep up with his mate on a 680 bar, maybe im a freak like him too lol.

  39. #39
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    Yeah, but you're saying you're going to 700mm, don't understand the extreme, especially when you admit the control/power in tech suffers. Don't be such an extremist is all I'm saying, 30mm in width is huge, so try a 740mm bar first, everything's a compromise, try to figure out exactly where that point is to make it on both sides of the scale instead of biased to one side.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mackmountain View Post
    Have two bikes and even on the 2015 rocky instinct with the shorter top tube than most similar bikes its age and 45mm stem makes no difference. Intense primer has 50mm stem with 770 bars and drags me over just the same (longer top tube on the primer). Think I might just have short arms for my height. I have tried everything imaginable in the last 18 months to get the balance i have discovered by using a narrower grip. Not even by test riding nearly every bike in town of all sizes did it feel as good. Narrower bars are definitely doing something different for me. As someone else referred to earlier in the thread, he couldn't keep up with his mate on a 680 bar, maybe im a freak like him too lol.
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  40. #40
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    I rode 810mm for about a year. I had to ride slower cause of trees. I chopped them to 780 and life is good. I'll never go smaller.
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  41. #41
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    everyone is different. I am 5'9", medium build. ride XC on a hardtail, mostly singlespeed, and have trails with some tech but no hucking, downhill, stuff. just wrangling over rock gardens and weaving through trees. central Texas has a lot of exposed rocks, ledgy stuff.

    I tried to like "wide" bars in the 30" range, but I am starting to think I really don't need anything wider than 28". I have a 70mm stem, if that means anything.

    absent from this discussion is backsweep and upsweep. a bar with X and Y degees of back and up sweep that is 780mm wide is going to put your wrists in a different position than a bar with the same angles but 690mm wide.

    I find that I am having a difficult time finding the sweet spot with my flat bars. thought experiment: a flat bar with 9d backsweep has 9d of backsweep when set up flat, if you want upsweep, you can angle them up, but that changes the amoung of horizontal backsweep.

    I want my bars low but with some upsweep, and most 20mm risers make getting that height correct due to the rise. I think some low-rise "flat top" bars might be in my future.
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  42. #42
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    About 5 years ago I was riding the old 110mm stem & 680mm bars, loved em.

    Just for fun I swapped out to 85mm stem & 750mm bars... I was amazed.

    Now 40mm-50mm stem and 775mm is about as wide as I can see myself going and I love it.

    Just a heads up for anyone interested in swapping over to wide bars on the cheap... $30 for 787mm Deity black label bars here... essentially 66% off, same rise and sweep as many of the most popular new bars but 2 year old graphics, they are supurb : Deity black label 25 bars $29.95 @ Back country

  43. #43
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    Ride whatever works ^^

    If your trails require short bars, do it ;-)

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  44. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by TwoTone View Post
    Move the grips in before cutting until you find what you like then cut.

    My friend's Mojo 3 came with 760mm bars and at first he was going to cut them down and after a few rides he's glad he didn't.
    Do this everytime. Even chopped the last inch off my woodchippers after a month of testing.
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  45. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by eshew View Post
    Just a heads up for anyone interested in swapping over to wide bars on the cheap... $30 for 787mm Deity black label bars here... essentially 66% off, same rise and sweep as many of the most popular new bars but 2 year old graphics, they are supurb : Deity black label 25 bars $29.95 @ Back country
    I just bought the Deity bars with a 35MM rise to replace my stock bars that were 4" narrower. I'm 6'2" with a 6.5' wingspan, so maybe I'm finally closer to my sweet spot.

    I took my first ride with them and really liked the overall feel of wider bars. Better control, less jerky in tight turns. The rise/sweep put me further back in the cockpit which is exactly what I really wanted. I did feel a little achy in the hands and wrists a few times, so I may rotate the bars in the stem to find the optimal hand position for me. I believe my stock stem is 110MM and I may look into a shorter one.
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  46. #46
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    In addition to the "everyone is different" statement, I've noticed that I prefer different width bars on different bikes with different purposes.
    I'm 5'9" and pretty squarely built, so my arm span is about the same.

    The more gravity oriented, the wider I want- I really like about 780 with a moderate backsweep. All the leverage, keep the core low.

    On a long-ride XC bike, I want about 700-720 with good backweep. hands more under me, less upper body fatigue when you're out for 6-8 hours.

    On my Singlespeed, I want 740. Just a little wider for more leverage, but going all the way out to 780 and I can't get enough body english when cranking on the bars to help with putting power to the cranks.

    I spent a lot of money on bars that didn't work for me to find out what does.
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  47. #47
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    Some of my trails aren't exactly narrow, like going through trees, but a lot of cliff faces. I haven't ridden them yet on my enduro which has really wide bars, but it can get sketchy on my XC with medium width bars (never bother measuring, as the number is meaningless).

    My confusion is why this is a 29'er specific question...

  48. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewalk View Post
    My confusion is why this is a 29'er specific question...

    100% 29 silliness.
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  49. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by sapva View Post
    You're right about one thing, the brain does know. Fortunately I stopped, because the bars were at least two inches more than would have fit. After two weeks I've found a few places like that, and have yet to even hit all the local areas.
    You can definitely ride between tree openings that are narrower than your bars.

  50. #50
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    Would replacing 720mm flat bars with 100mm stem on a xc bike with 760mm riser bars and 50mm stem impact the geometry too much?

    The bike is a BMC fs01 so has 100mm front shocks and 70.5 head angle

  51. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by wired00 View Post
    Would replacing 720mm flat bars with 100mm stem on a xc bike with 760mm riser bars and 50mm stem impact the geometry too much?

    The bike is a BMC fs01 so has 100mm front shocks and 70.5 head angle
    From previous experience steep head angles don't match short stems. Yes, you can go shorter than 100mm but there's a limit and the result past this limit is twitchy steering and possibly less traction on the front wheel. The extra width of the handlebars will compensate for the lack of stem length, but only up to a point.

    It depends on the bike and rider of course but for me 60-70mm is the shorter I'd go for a head angle around 70 degrees. I suggest getting a stem with 5 or 6 degrees of rise so you can flip it to tune the height if necessary.

  52. #52
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    Great thanks, yah I was thinking 70mm was probably minimum too. I just wondered about 50mm because I have a set of bars and stem already

  53. #53
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    That's great, then give the short/wide set a try to see how it actually feels on the bike before going to something in between. Or just swap the stubby stem with a 70mm one. Lots of people going shorter, I bet it's not going to be hard to find someone who wants to trade.

  54. #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by justwan naride View Post
    From previous experience steep head angles don't match short stems. Yes, you can go shorter than 100mm but there's a limit and the result past this limit is twitchy steering and possibly less traction on the front wheel. The extra width of the handlebars will compensate for the lack of stem length, but only up to a point.
    this is good stuff, thank you for offering an alternative position. I am riding a hardtail with generally conservative geometry, with a long top tube, 100mm squish or rigid fork, and a "steep" 69-70 degree HA and I have been wanting to try a super-short stem and super-wide bars. I just can't make myself do it. 29" wide bars is plenty wide with a 70-80mm stem.

    people offer the "short stem/ wide bars" thing as if it's Gospel, butI don't think it is appropriate for all riders, all bikes, and all terrain. it probably does work well for progressive mid-long travel FS bikes that are pointed downhill at fast speeds most of the time, but that's not how I ride.

    I have a 45mm stem and I don't think I'll be using them very much. I'll give it a go at least once.
    Last edited by mack_turtle; 10-25-2017 at 08:43 PM.
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  55. #55
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    Honestly, it all depends. Me personally, I ride a 70-80mm with 760mm wide bar on my '08 rigid Monkey with a HTA of I think 71* stock, slacked out a tad running it B+/29+ and a Reach of around 445mm, if it had 20mm more reach, I would definitely give a 50mm stem a go for the type of riding I am now giving a go on it. But because the reach has always been a tad too short for me, I've always had to use a longer stem, even with an 800mm bar can't go shorter than 70mm, have loads more control with a wider bar though, lots more leverage to keep things steady.

    Quote Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post
    this is good stuff, thank you for offering an alternative position. I am riding a hardtail with generally conservative geometry, with a long top tube, 100mm squish or rigid fork, and a "steep" 69-70 degree HA and I have been wanting to try a super-short stem and super-wide bars. I just can't make myself do it. 29" wide bars is plenty wide with a 70-80mm stem.

    people offer the "short stem/ wide bars" thing as if it's Gospel, butI don't think it is appropriate for all riders, all bikes, and all terrain. it probably does work well for progressive mid-long travel FS bikes that are pointed downhill at fast speeds most of the time, but that's not how I ride.

    I have a 45mm stem and two sets of 760mm bars in my rotation and I don't think I'll be using them very much.
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  56. #56
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    Quote Originally Posted by brent701 View Post
    I run 720mm for my XC bikes and 750 for my play bikes.
    Me too

  57. #57
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    One thing not mentioned often is that shorter stems tend to have less or no rise. Going from a 100mm 8 degree stem to a 50mm 0 degree stem does not reduce the reach by 50 mm. This is also dictated by HTA. This stem comparison tool tells you how much reach and rise differences there are between different stem dimensions based on your HTA... Stem Comparison Tool | yojimg.net

    Quote Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post

    people offer the "short stem/ wide bars" thing as if it's Gospel, butI don't think it is appropriate for all riders, all bikes, and all terrain. it probably does work well for progressive mid-long travel FS bikes that are pointed downhill at fast speeds most of the time, but that's not how I ride.
    It works fine for my HT trail bike too. I went from 730mm wide bars + 80mm stem to 787mm wide bars + 60mm stem...and it climbs better with the wider bars. Mostly due to bar height being lower (12mm drop due to stem change) but the wider bars also keep your weight forward. I'd think you'd be surprised how well it works for general trail riding.

  58. #58
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    I should not have been so specific about FS bikes.

    Oddly enough, I had a 120mm "trail" ht at recently and I could not stand to ride it with 760mm bars and anything shorter than a 90mm stem. I am still not sure how that is, but a shorter stem was agonizing on my back, even with a slammed, neg rise stem and flat bars. I had to buy a longer frame and still need a 70mm stem with 730-760 bars. I rode a slammed 45mm stem with the flat bar briefly and all it did was make me feel like my bars are in my lap again. My spine said "no way, man!"

    I guess this bothers me because it seems to work for everyone else with such certainty, but it makes my bike feel like ass.
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  59. #59
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    Maybe the bars were too low?

    I'm 6'5" on a frame supposedly for people up to 6'4" and running a 60nm stem gave me no problems at all. I actually swapped out the 60mm stem for a 50mm a few days ago, seems good so far. My background is bmx so maybe that changes my perception of fit.

  60. #60
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    Mine came with 750mm bars and they felt too wide even though I have broad shoulders and a large wingspan. In addition to barely clearing trees I found that in tight technical stuff moving slow I had to rotate my shoulders and core much farther to get the same amount of turn that I could get with shorter bars. I only knocked 5mm off each side but feels like it made a major difference in keeping my upper body movements to a minimum and it seems to provide me better balance going slow. I think maybe if you are strong enough to move shorter bars through the technical stuff or whatever... Wider bars really aren't doing anything for you.

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  61. #61
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeremy3220 View Post
    Maybe the bars were too low?
    nope. I wrote pages and pages about this. I don't want to start another detailed conversation about this, but I know now what reach and height relative to my BB works for me. the width of the bar doesn't seem to make a difference in this regard, unless I went for something ridiculously narrow or wide. I fear that bringing the handlebar any closer to me is going to put me back where I was a few months ago- in so much pain I could not ride for a month.

    I have a 45, 70, and 90mm stem available. 2 x 760mm bars (flat 9 degree and 15 degree wiggly alt bar) and a 715mm riser bar. Perhaps the 45mm stem is just too short to be practical for any bar that "narrow"?
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  62. #62
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    I rode a short 10-mile loop on Saturday with 760mm -wide bars and a 70mm stem. then on Sunday, I kept everything as close as possible but with a 45mm stem. I don't know if it made a huge difference, but I did find the 45mm stem to be... tolerable. maybe there's something to this short stem/wide bars thing after all.
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  63. #63
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    Whatever works for you, and is comfortable. There's more to stem length and bar width than just those components' measurements. Haven't tried it, so don't really know how much difference it'd make, but I kinda wish my newer fork had less offset for shorter WB and to dull the handling a bit, since it's a bit on the "lively" side with the bar/stem combo that puts me in the position I want. Having stubby limbs keeps me from being comfortable with wider than 750mm bars. Overall, I consider that a good thing for where I live(gotta love the typical internet experts trying to tell other people what their trails are and aren't like, though!).
    Some, if not most, of the mtb trails around here started out as hiking trails, and occasionally have narrow spots that show no consideration for fitting a handlebar through. In some places, alternate lines have been made where there is more room, but in others, when the underbrush is overgrown, you might have vines or branches brushing your shoulders on both sides.
    One spot that immediately comes to mind has a smooth approach that lets you get some good speed, and has a tree on each side that both have grooves worn into their trunks from people hitting them with their bars. I've bumped a 720mm bar there a time or two, and definitely tightened up the first time I came off that ridge on the downhill side with my new 740mm bars. They fit, though. I've never wrecked there, but do always breathe a little sigh of relief after forcing myself to stay off the brake, relax, and just keep my wheel straight.
    Bars: How wide is too wide or too narrow?-20270142_10213189449953890_212992176_n.jpg
    This next spot's sketchy, because the only real line through the rocks doesn't let you set up for it. I rarely make it through that section without getting stood up 2-3 times, anyway, but have yet make this little gap a single time. The pic's where I WANT the bike to be, not where it ends up. I "know" how to clear it, just can't seem to actually do it...
    Name:  22264578_10213822421377780_378201876_n.jpg
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    Those are 720s, and my 740s fit through there just fine, too. Maybe someday, as I keep trying to get better at this stuff, but so far, fitting through and riding through have been two different things!

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