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Thread: Handlebar width

  1. #1
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    New question here. Handlebar width

    I've been reading in a few books and a repair manual that your handlebar should be the same width as your shoulders or an inch or so longer. Does this sound right? Reason I ask is, I see people riding and the handlebar looks like 25 inches long, and they're arms are spread further than the shoulders gripping the handles.

    Do most people have a 25 inch shoulder width?

    LOC

  2. #2
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    I think most experienced mtb'ers ride what's comfortable and most efficient for their type of riding. I've seen small women on burly bikes using wide handlebars for the leverage through drops and tough terrain, and ripped dudes on skinny bars racing through tight, smooth Michigan trails. Best way to determine the right size for you is to experiment.

    Ant

  3. #3
    bang
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    sounds about right to me - figure out what works for you. narrower bars will give you more clearance through tight singletrack, but wider bars are more stable over most conditions. most riser bars are 25.5 inches wide; i'd start there and move each side in a half-inch at a time (just slide the controls in).

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cyco-Dude
    sounds about right to me - figure out what works for you. narrower bars will give you more clearance through tight singletrack, but wider bars are more stable over most conditions. most riser bars are 25.5 inches wide; i'd start there and move each side in a half-inch at a time (just slide the controls in).
    Clearance in technical singletrack isn't really an issue, i run 27 inch bars and rarely hit trees.
    Its more personal preference. Just slide the grip/shifter/brakes down a 1/2 inch at a time w/o cutting the bars. mess around with it a bit and see what you like best.
    Well, I was just riding along when...

  5. #5
    local trails rider
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    Handlebar width depends on riding style and personal preference.

    For easy trails, a light and short bar may be preferred. Cross Country racing is an example.

    For high speeds in technical terrain (like downhil racing) a wide bar gives more leverage for controlling the bike.

    My example: The 24" bar on my HT bike felt a little small. The 28" bar on my FS bike felt huge and sometimes I got stuck between trees...
    Now both bikes have bars that measure 64cm (around 25+")

  6. #6
    bang
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    Quote Originally Posted by EliM
    Clearance in technical singletrack isn't really an issue, i run 27 inch bars and rarely hit trees.
    heheh, ride the singletrack i do with those bars and you'll be hitting trees in no time!

  7. #7
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    It takes practice to aviod trees, but it's perfectly doable.
    Well, I was just riding along when...

  8. #8
    local trails rider
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    Quote Originally Posted by EliM
    It takes practice to aviod trees, but it's perfectly doable.
    In my area, trees occasionally grow less than 30" apart..., not to speak about lesser vegetation.

    (Our trails are all non-maintained and non-dedicated, and we usually do not bother to try getting the owner's permission to get rid of a tree.)

  9. #9
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    Bar width is almost....

    totally personal prference. The old "shoulder width" rule of thumb came about in the early days of moutian biking when flat bars and cross country were the menu of the day. My first real MTB had 23" wide flat bars and I hated them. Unfortunately back then it was tough to find anything wider than 24". With the rise in popularity of riser bars you have a ton more options, even flat bars can be found up to 25" wide if you look hard enough. My personal preference is for a 25 to 26" riser, depending on the back sweep of the bar. An XC type low riser with a sweep of around 4 degrees I'll go 25", a more DH oriented bar with a 8 or 9 degree sweep I'll go 26". The main reason is this is comfortable for me. Most bars now come wider than in the old days. Most XC risers come in 25" width and most other risers DH etc., come in 27 to 28" width and are designed with the idea in mind that the rider will cut them to his preference. Many even come with markings in 1/2 or 1/4" intervals from the end of the bar on either side to about 3" in to facilitate accurate cutting.

    You can find out what works for you in two ways. EliM's method works well and carries the least risk of cutting your bar too narrow. A method that I've found that works well is the sit and drop method. Mount the bar to the stem without grips, shifters, etc. installed. Then sit on the bike and put a foot on the pedal and start to push like you were going to take off, and drop to the bars. Don't look at the bars, look straight ahead and push and go for the bar. Then stop and take a look at where your hands fell naturally. This is where your grips should be. Have an assistant mark about 1/4" to 1/2" out from the outside edge of each hand and cut there. Of course you'll need to even it out as you will rarely put your hands on the bar in exactly the same spot on each side. There are time when this is not fool proof. But USE caution with this method. It will also tell you if your stem is too short or too long as well! If the stem is too short or long you may miss the bars completely! And that can HURT! I've used a combination of EliM's method and the sit and drop. Did the sit and drop, then installed all the hardware and rode it a couple of times before cutting just to make sure. Either way you're bar width should be what YOU are comfortable with, not what somebody writing a book "thinks" is best. You'll get used to your bar width and learn what you need to do to avoid obsticals etc., and what works best for you.

    Good Dirt
    "I do whatever my Rice Cripsies tell me to!"

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