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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    Handlebar sizing question

    I'm about to upgrade my bars to 700mm after coming from a 660mm bar. My current set up is 660mm bar and 100mm stem. However, the bike is just a little bit too big (the smaller size was way too small) so now I'm wondering what stem I should go with. I was thinking of a 70mm stem but I'm also considering a 60mm.
    If I go with 60mm then this will also give me room to go wider if I want, like 720 or 30mm.
    So now I'm wondering if I should stick with a 70mm stem or size it down to 60mm with a 700mm bar.

  2. #2
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    I can only offer my personal experience, but I held onto the notion that I 'needed' a 90mm stem to weight the front wheel, and that bars wider than 700 were too wide for my narrow shoulders for a long time.
    I recently crashed and was unsure if I had damaged the end of my 700mm carbon fiber bars, so I opted to swap them out before a big ride just to be sure they didn't ruin an epic weekend in Sedona. I put on the only bars I had in my garage, a pair of Crank Bros 790mm iodines, and a generic 50 mm stem found on CL for cheap.

    It was really weird for the first hour, re-learning how to balance my weight, especially climbing, but halfway into the first ride I knew I'd never go back to that 90mm stem or those 700mm bars.

    My point: go as wide and short as you can. It'll feel weird at first but once you get the feel of it, you'll be happier.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by ARandomBiker View Post
    I can only offer my personal experience, but I held onto the notion that I 'needed' a 90mm stem to weight the front wheel, and that bars wider than 700 were too wide for my narrow shoulders for a long time.
    I recently crashed and was unsure if I had damaged the end of my 700mm carbon fiber bars, so I opted to swap them out before a big ride just to be sure they didn't ruin an epic weekend in Sedona. I put on the only bars I had in my garage, a pair of Crank Bros 790mm iodines, and a generic 50 mm stem found on CL for cheap.

    It was really weird for the first hour, re-learning how to balance my weight, especially climbing, but halfway into the first ride I knew I'd never go back to that 90mm stem or those 700mm bars.

    My point: go as wide and short as you can. It'll feel weird at first but once you get the feel of it, you'll be happier.
    Well I would go wider, but my trails are full of very narrow trees where I'd have to do some bike gymnastics to fit bars that wide. 700mm or a little wider seems like the perfect medium, but I'll need to try some out to see where the sweet spot is.

  4. #4
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    Yeah, I can see that. If the trails are narrow, 800mm bars are less appealing.

    My only comment in response: your choices for a 60mm stem are pretty few. lots of 70mm, a huge pile of 50mm or less, but not many 60mm. I've actually looked, as this was my first choice for length.
    ...At least in what I would call a 'fiscally responsible' range. your opinion may differ. Race Face makes one -the 'Ride' at $25-30, but most are nearing up on the 'Benjamin' price tag. I really wanted the CB Iodine stem to match the bars, but not for $100.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by ARandomBiker View Post
    Yeah, I can see that. If the trails are narrow, 800mm bars are less appealing.

    My only comment in response: your choices for a 60mm stem are pretty few. lots of 70mm, a huge pile of 50mm or less, but not many 60mm. I've actually looked, as this was my first choice for length.
    ...At least in what I would call a 'fiscally responsible' range. your opinion may differ. Race Face makes one -the 'Ride' at $25-30, but most are nearing up on the 'Benjamin' price tag. I really wanted the CB Iodine stem to match the bars, but not for $100.
    I already know what I want for my stem, there are many size options for these:
    On-One Ultralight CNC Stem | On - One

  6. #6
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    Wow, those look nice. sweet find.

    Without knowing anything about you it's almost dangerously generalized advice, but I'd still go as short as you can.

  7. #7
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    Well, believe it or not, there can be a "too short" stem. Fitting issues aside, bikes with steep head tube angles (classic XC geo) allread have quick steering and an ultra short stem can make them super twitchy, regardless of bar width.

    I have settled for a 60mm stem after changing my stock 100mm to 80 and then 40. Also went to a 750mm bar and feel better than ever. The cockpit is stretched enough for long xc rides, the handling is confidence inspiring and there is enough front end bias to guarantee traction at all times.

    if you buy a new bar, get it wider than you think you need. Try it for a few rides, then decide whether to trim or not. You might be surprised...

  8. #8
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    I'd agree. I sort of addressed that with the caveat of 'dangerously generalized advice', and was sticking to the available lengths of the On-One stem he linked- 50-90mm.

    I suppose one could try a 35mm or whatever stem, but I think that falls in the same "unlikely to work" realm as a 130mm stem.

    OP: you really can't go wrong with either a 50 or 60, and the widest bars you can squeeze between the trees where you ride.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by justwan naride View Post
    if you buy a new bar, get it wider than you think you need. Try it for a few rides, then decide whether to trim or not. You might be surprised...
    Yup...you can always cut bars down. Tough to go the other way though.
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  10. #10
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    I am believer in short stems (as short as 40mm) and wide bars (730-800). Wide bars can be cut down, although once you get pastm 750mm, they might be too wide for some. I went from a 110mm stem with 660mm bars to a 40mm stem and 750mm wide bars and love it. You have to pay attention to the angle of the stem and the rise on the bars. Shorter stems will lower your bars. I went to a 3inch rise bar with the 40mm stem to keep them from getting to low for me. The goal is to find a good balance point on the bike and to not cramp your cockpit. I was too streched out, so that made what I changed to fit right.

  11. #11
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    I'm considering this as well due to the price and length... thing now I'm not sure whether I want to go 60 or 50mm. Like I said earlier, my bike is slightly too big and it has a stock stem so now I'm thinking I should shorten 10mm more to compensate.
    Chromag Fubars Acute Handlebar > Components > Handlebars and Stems > Mountain Bike Handlebars | Jenson USA

  12. #12
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    Re: Handlebar sizing question

    I see stem sizing as a fit thing and expect to have to mess around with it some, and maybe try a couple.

    100 mm is a really long stem by recent standards. I'm not sure how tall you are. I'm a little over 5'8" and mostly do XC; 90 mm is plenty long for me. Bikes at demo days often have shorter, though I don't necessarily agree with that.

    10 mm is a big change in stem length, IME. On the other hand, wider bars will pull you forward a bit too. I think 80 would be a good starting point. Or 70, like you were planning. But of you want balanced handling, you can overshoot.

    Buy an inexpensive stem. I used to paw through the bin at my local co-op. Ask your shop about takeoffs. If you have to, get the store-brand one from Nashbar. Just don't spend a lot of money, and if you feel like you might be happier longer or shorter, try that too. Go 10 mm at a time.

    You can always buy an expensive stem once you're settled on a size.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

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