1. The most important thing about buying a new bike is to make sure it fits. The only way you'll know if the bike is right for you is to size up the bike and make sure that the bike's geometry matches your body's geometry. Ask questions and do some research.
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2. If possible, try to find a shop that will let you demo the bike on real dirt. Five minutes in a parking lot won't cut it. You wouldn't buy a car without a real world test drive, and a bike should be no different.
3. Don't belive the hype. Just because your favorite rider or best friend rides a certain bike, that doesn't mean that's the best one for you. Have an open mind and be realistic about your needs and ability.
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  1. #1
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    Handle bar width?

    My racer X has riser bars that are 25 1/2 inches wide. They feel to wide to me when I'm riding especially in techy spots. Is it common to cut the bars down and is there a rule of thumb as to how much? Does shoulder width have anything to do with it?
    Disclaimer: Always get a second opinion cause I'm just guessing

  2. #2
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    Unusual - most people find widers bars to feel more secure in technical situations, and for good reason (wider bars = slower steering = more control over deflection).

    25.5 inches (or roughly 640mm) is not particularly wide, though you could always try moving your controls inwards a little (without cutting) to see whether you prefer the narrower feel and then cut down, so that if you don't like it narrower atleast you have nothing to lose. Make sure the ends are pluged (as always) though, since the risk of unpleasent cookie-cutter injuries is not worth taking, even on a short test-ride.


    Out of interest, what are you hoping to achieve by making your bars narrower?

  3. #3
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    When I moved my controls inward I liked the steering better. It IMO felt like the steering was slower. The Bike really feels twitchy when I'm pedaling hard through a tech spot on the trails. Can't seem to keep it straight and are jerking the bars around unnessasarily. To much action going on. My other bike seems to be smooth through the same spots. The bars are the same width by the way. I was hoping the shorter bars would help this feeling.
    Disclaimer: Always get a second opinion cause I'm just guessing

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by 00sable
    When I moved my controls inward I liked the steering better. It IMO felt like the steering was slower. The Bike really feels twitchy when I'm pedaling hard through a tech spot on the trails. Can't seem to keep it straight and are jerking the bars around unnessasarily. To much action going on. My other bike seems to be smooth through the same spots. The bars are the same width by the way. I was hoping the shorter bars would help this feeling.

    There are plenty of things that could be causing the problem - pics of the bike as currently set up (ideally with you onboard) might help identify the problem.

    A few possibilities...
    - Stem too short (possible solutions: buy a longer one...)
    - Bars too high (possible solutions: lower the stem, invert stem, lower rise bars)

    As for vs your other bike, differences in geometry can make bikes outfitted with the same components (eg: exact same bar and stem) ride very differently, for example: generally speaking a slacker headangle will feel more secure through the rough (and fwiw, your spec is several degrees slacker than your RX - 68.5 vs 71 if mfg specsheets are accurate).
    Last edited by EnglishT; 04-07-2010 at 03:24 PM.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by 00sable
    When I moved my controls inward I liked the steering better. It IMO felt like the steering was slower. The Bike really feels twitchy when I'm pedaling hard through a tech spot on the trails. Can't seem to keep it straight and are jerking the bars around unnessasarily. To much action going on. My other bike seems to be smooth through the same spots. The bars are the same width by the way. I was hoping the shorter bars would help this feeling.
    I wonder if it is a head angle thing?
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  6. #6
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    Nice explanation EnglishT. I second your responses.

    Some riders prefer the bars to be the same width on all bikes - others optimize per bike. I am definitely in the second category. All the more as my bikes are optimized for different purposes... DH sled is one extreme (wide 690mm), commuter XC the other (540mm).
    "Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit." - And I agree.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kaba Klaus
    Nice explanation EnglishT. I second your responses.

    Some riders prefer the bars to be the same width on all bikes - others optimize per bike. I am definitely in the second category. All the more as my bikes are optimized for different purposes... DH sled is one extreme (wide 690mm), commuter XC the other (540mm).
    Cheers.

    I'd have to say I come into your second too - somehow the superwide bars on my hardtail just feel right (750mm, no less) while the ones on the fullsus feel pretty good on that bike (660 - haven't tried wider on it but it's really my #2 ride for most things now and since the 660 feels comfortable and controlled I see no real need to change them).

  8. #8
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    I run 710MM wide and on some real technical stuff. They work perfect for me.
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  9. #9
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    maybe theyre too narrow? do your arms tire on climbs at all?

  10. #10
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    I cut the bars on my bike. I'd cut them more, but they're 31.8mm clamp and I'd run out of room for my controls next to the taper. It's a pretty common modification, especially for smaller riders or XC bikes.

    Don't worry too much about how other people do it, or what the rule of thumb is. You can test-ride narrower bars by moving your controls and grips inward. When you find a location you like, and keep liking for a few rides, double check with a measuring tape to make sure they're even and then have at it. A pipe cutter ($13 tool at a hardware store) will do a clean job.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by b-kul
    maybe theyre too narrow? do your arms tire on climbs at all?
    No. The head angle is a big difference and I understand that. Slacker feels better downhill and kind of slappy side to side on climbs. Or maybe better said is light feeling front end. I have lowered the bars and did not like that effect on it. I lowered the XC bars and liked it. It handled better. I have ridden the X for a couple of days with the controls moved in and I think I like it better. Checked the headset last night and found that it was a little lose and tightened it up. That helped some with the twitchy feeling, but I believe I'm going ahead and cut the bars down. I use this bike on fireroads and light trail use anyway and if I later find I don't like the narrow bars I will chaulk it up to live and learn. Thanks guys for the advice.
    Disclaimer: Always get a second opinion cause I'm just guessing

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by 00sable
    No. The head angle is a big difference and I understand that. Slacker feels better downhill and kind of slappy side to side on climbs. Or maybe better said is light feeling front end. I have lowered the bars and did not like that effect on it. I lowered the XC bars and liked it. It handled better. I have ridden the X for a couple of days with the controls moved in and I think I like it better. Checked the headset last night and found that it was a little lose and tightened it up. That helped some with the twitchy feeling, but I believe I'm going ahead and cut the bars down. I use this bike on fireroads and light trail use anyway and if I later find I don't like the narrow bars I will chaulk it up to live and learn. Thanks guys for the advice.
    Fair enough - yes slacker feels lighter on the climbs, but that's often down to the shorter stems normally run on them (bringing weight distribution rearward, ie: less pressure driving the front wheel into the ground) as much as anything else.

    Maybe (maybe!) try a slightly longer stem if you have one available, 10mm can make a huge difference in this area (heck, even 5 can really help).

    < Note: Assuming your most recent picture is as-now... if you've fettled your cockpit a little since then this may not totally apply >
    Your saddle is right back on the rails, though considering you're on an inline post you may well not want to move it forwards (which would allow a slightly longer stem without stretching out the cockpit too much) by much if at all, it all depends on your pedalling position and whether you currently have enough weight over the rear wheel to keep it driving (weight too far forward means less weight holding the rear wheel down, resulting in less traction and potential for spinning the rear wheel out).
    Saddle position looks pretty neutral so that's unlikely to be causing any issues (leaned back too far can make the front end light by moving weight too far backward, leaned too far forward will place weight too far forward with most of it supported by the wrists which can result in some serious wrist pains).
    Bar height (ie: stem height and orientation) looks decent enough, assuming the saddle is in your riding position, but may well help the steering issues being a bit lower - this is a change that can take a couple of rides to get used to but may well be worth a try. Switching to a lower rise (or flat) bar without changing the stem height would have a similar effect and may also be worth considering.


    At any rate...
    Any of the advice above may help with twitchy steering issues, but if you're feeling comfortable with the bars narrower then by all means go for it. However, be aware that you are making your twitchy handling a little twitchier by doing so and be prepared to have to resort to other means to help correct it if you find yourself still struggling in future.

    Final word of advice...
    Ignore the previous poster with regards to pipe cutters. I don't know what bars you're using, but pipe cutters can crush bars pretty easily if tightened up too hard (and if not tightened up hard, are difficult to get a straight cut with).
    Mark with tape and cut (preferrably) from 3 or 4 angles (ie: 90's or 120's) rather than just straight through.

  13. #13
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    Will try and thanks again. Just may need to tinker a while with it. It might be the rider!
    Disclaimer: Always get a second opinion cause I'm just guessing

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by 00sable
    Will try and thanks again. Just may need to tinker a while with it. It might be the rider!
    Or just adjusting to changes.

    We've all been there.

    Final pointer (maybe?).
    Don't go overboard on changes. Change one thing at a time and don't be too drastic about it.
    A 10mm change in stem length can have a dramatic impact on handling, switching by (say) 20mm can have such a huge impact that you may end up with things feeling so wrong that you go straight back to the original, when a 5-10mm increase would have been perfect (but with you not having tried it to know).
    A 5-10mm change in bar height can have a pretty marked difference too, though it may take time to get around the "this feels wierd" sensation that you get at first and get down to working out whether it's helping your handling or not.

    It takes time to play around with such things. You can know roughly what you want and what things might help to improve it, but it takes quite a few rides of tinkering before you get it exactly where you want it.

    Good luck, and enjoy the playing

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by EnglishT
    Final word of advice...
    Ignore the previous poster with regards to pipe cutters. I don't know what bars you're using, but pipe cutters can crush bars pretty easily if tightened up too hard (and if not tightened up hard, are difficult to get a straight cut with).
    Mark with tape and cut (preferrably) from 3 or 4 angles (ie: 90's or 120's) rather than just straight through.
    What kind of pipe cutter were you using? I use one of these...



    You tighten the bolt slowly while spinning the cutter around the pipe. There's minimal pressure.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch
    What kind of pipe cutter were you using? I use one of these...



    You tighten the bolt slowly while spinning the cutter around the pipe. There's minimal pressure.
    Thats the type I was referring to as a bad idea.

    Just for the record, I've never cut bike bars with them, but know people that have (with mixed results) - have used them for plumbing though and dislike them (then again, copper piping does crush really easily...) as you require pressure to keep them cutting straight but too much pressure ill damage the pipe.

    To be honest, it depends a bit on the bar in question - a thin-walled lightweight alloy bar would be risky, while cheaper alloy bars with thicker walls would be less likely to crush.
    Personally, I wouldn't risk it mainly because the bars I buy tend to be expensive and fairly light.

  17. #17
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    I noticed last night that my Speshy bars have more backsweep to them(8 degrees). I might swap the bars to see if that could be part of the problem. They also are hi rise as compared to the Titus that has low rise bars. The Titus bars are Maxm and are almost straight across or very little backsweep.
    Disclaimer: Always get a second opinion cause I'm just guessing

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by 00sable
    I noticed last night that my Speshy bars have more backsweep to them(8 degrees). I might swap the bars to see if that could be part of the problem. They also are hi rise as compared to the Titus that has low rise bars. The Titus bars are Maxm and are almost straight across or very little backsweep.
    I would have thought the spec bars would make the handling more twitchy based on your description (assuming that they're the same width and that you leave the stem height the same).

    If you think it through based on weight-distribution (pointers above) you should see why.

    You could give it a go and see how it works out for you though - if you do this, you'd be better off lowering the stem a bit though (to counteract the change in rise atleast).

  19. #19
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    Having less backsweep made me think I might be more stretched out on the bike there fore pulling on the bars to much when in a rough spot. Its funny that I've had the bike for months and just noticed this problem.
    Disclaimer: Always get a second opinion cause I'm just guessing

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by 00sable
    Having less backsweep made me think I might be more stretched out on the bike there fore pulling on the bars to much when in a rough spot. Its funny that I've had the bike for months and just noticed this problem.
    Not really (though I see what you're thinking). More backsweep would rotate your weight a bit further backwards (though not massively it must be said) so you'd have less weight on the front wheel and it'd have a bit less grip.

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