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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    Wider bars and a shorter stem...

    Hey All,

    I've been riding my Trek 4500 which has a 635mm handlebar and a 100mm stem. I recently rode a 29er with much wider bars (roughly 740mm) that my friend rented. It felt pretty amazing...yes it was a $2500+ FS 29er which will feel very different from my $700 HT, but regardless the experience made very interested in getting wider bars to (hopefully) give me a bit more stability going downhill and over drops.

    First off, I had to choose a brand. I'm looking at truvativ or crank brothers. I'm sure I could throw a dart at a board of names and be making a much more educated choice, but if anyone has recommendations speak up!

    Second is the setup....aside from the width of the bars, I feel good about the sweep and position of my body on my bike. I read in an article that if I go with wider bars, I should compensate by getting a shorter stem. Thoughts on this idea?

    Current setup:

    Bontrager SSR:
    25mm rise bar
    6mm bend on the bars
    100mm stem length
    10 degree stem (rise angle?)

    What I'm looking at:

    Truvativ AKA riser bar:
    $57.34 on Amazon
    710mm wide
    25mm rise
    31.8mm clamp diameter

    OR

    Crank Brothers Iodine 2:
    $45 on Amazon
    720mm wide
    rise 30mm
    31.8mm clamp diameter

    AND

    Truvativ AKA Stem:
    $36.99 on Amazon
    60mm length
    5 degree (rise angle?)

    I'm pretty new to mountain biking, so I don't need anything super light or expensive. I just want to try wider bars and don't want to overthink or overspend. Thanks for the help in advance!

    -mark

  2. #2
    Flow like water
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    I just bought a Truvative Boo bar 780mm wide, and a 50mm stem to go with it. It is definitely different. I am just getting used to it, but like it so far. I have another bar on another bike which is a moustache bar about 700mm wide. I use that one with a 100mm stem.

    Low and wide works for me.

  3. #3
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    Hey, Ive been looking into a similar setup. Since I ride a Marlin, and was also looking into the CB Iodine setup, that makes us best friends or something... odd. I have spent quite a bit of time looking shortest stem out there. But whichever direction you decide to go,let us know how it works, I would be stoked to hear about the difference.
    Last edited by GreenCanoe; 11-03-2012 at 05:41 PM.
    "Faster, Faster until the thrill of speed overcomes the fear of death." - Hunter S. Thompson

  4. #4
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    I have also switched from 685mm wide bars to 745 and from 90 to 60mm stem. Improvement is great. It helps alot while descending, wider bars are great help for stability, and shorter stem too. I would never return back to narrow bars.

    Sent from my GT-I9100

  5. #5
    Ohh Gnarly!!
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    I'm thinking of doing the same with my '91 Kona.Stock stem is 100mm and bars are about 680mm.Not sure what sizes to switch to though.

    Thinking about a 75mm stem and staying with a 15 degree rise.

  6. #6
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    When I did my bar switch I went with Funn's Fatboy riser bar. 750mm I believe. I love the wider bars. I didn't even switch out my stem and I have so much more room in the cockpit and more stability in the rough stuff. My one bit of advice is go as wide as your budget will allow. You can always cut them down. I also read in another thread, don't remember where, that a rider used open ended grips and moved them in and out on the bars at different widths until he found the width that he liked. Then cut the bars after he rode it that way for a while. I think that is a great idea because as soon as you make that first cut there is no going back.

    Edit: I just thought of this but you may just want to change one at a time. Bars first then stem later. I'm just thinking that if you change both at the same time you aren't really going to know where the difference was made whether it was the new bars or new stem. Just my thought. More experiend riders may have better input.

  7. #7
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    I just bought the Nashbar Black ops bar for 19.99. Its 740mm wide, 8 deg sweep, no upsweep. You have to rotate them forward a bit to gain some upsweep. They are marked for cutting should you decide they're too long. Good cheap way to try it out if unsure.

  8. #8
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    Thanks for all the responses! I just ordered the Truvativ AKA 60mm Stem and the Crank Brothers Iodine 2 720mm handlebars. Total was $90 after shipping. I'll be sure to post how they work out when they arrive!

  9. #9
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    Hi there, I have gone a whole circle on this matter.

    I used to have Gary Fisher Hoo Koo E Koo, with if I remember right 680 mm wide bar. Than I got a Trek Superfly 2012, took the original handlebar off, and got some carbon, narrow handle bar. Yes during some of my training, Im talking about workouts with the club, its good to have it narrow.

    But on narrow tracks / trails I have to admitt that I prefer the wider one much more !

  10. #10
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    It's all preference of course, but if you climb ALOT, stick with a 100mm or longer imo.
    I like wider bar myself, but have a few places on my local trail that I cant get between
    trees with them lol.

  11. #11
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    I'm currently using a Easton EC90 SL with a Sunline xc1 stem.

  12. #12
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    interesting thread. would be nice to see some pics. I don't get these spares locally in my country and it would be helpful for me to decide. hope its not an inconvenience. thanks in advance

  13. #13
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    I'll definitely try and post some pics once the new bars arrive!

  14. #14
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    So that parts came in and I rushed home early from work to get them installed in hopes of riding before it got dark...

    Turns out I had ordered a stem that would fit a 1.5" headtube which was WRONG. I have a 1 1/8 in headtube.

    I ran out and checked my LBS, and they had a truvativ Hussefelt stem in stock! 60mm long with no rise that fit perfect on my bike! And it was only $30...! LBS for the win!

    I got everything installed (Hussefelt stem & Crank Brothers Iodine 2 720mm bars), but it was getting dark, the headlamp I borrowed from my friend was practically dead and I didn't have the charger. My friend's new bars had come in yesterday too, so he got them on about an hour later, and hit me up for a night ride. So against better judgement I hit up the trails, he led the way and I followed with my dying light

    The new setup was Awesome! I couldn't really let myself go in the dark with poor light, but the bike felt much more stable, and I just felt in control. If you notice in the pics, I pushed my controls in from the grips about an 3/4 of an inch--this puts my hands right over the center of the grips with my two fingers placed perfectly on the brakes. I like that flexibility.

    All in all an excellent upgrade IMO, although a longer daylight ride is in order to feel the full effect!

    A note on my friend's setup -- he only upgraded his bars, going from roughly 610mm to 710mm. His stem stayed at 100mm, and I rode his before and after putting on the new bars. While I loved the feeling of the wider bars, I highly recommended that he get a shorter stem, it felt like I was leaning waay to far over to ride comfortably. I think were gonna try using my new stem on his just so he can feel it out.

    Hope this info is useful!
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Wider bars and a shorter stem...-photobefore.jpg  

    Wider bars and a shorter stem...-photoafter.jpg  


  15. #15
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    My monkey bars are 685mm and I thought that was pretty wide.

  16. #16
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    I'm wondering if beginners should consider their terrain before deciding whether or not to run wider bars. I run 660mm bars an run into situations where that seem really wide.

    Below is an example picture. It's hard to tell but there is only few inches on either side...if you look, you can see mark on either tree where they have been truck by bars. You really have o be steady and come in at. Slight angle.


  17. #17
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    If you like the width of the bars and and there is only a few tight spots then I would keep them and have fun pulling up and turning the wheel a bit for fun. But some like real narrow bars. Since I dont race I like a slightly wider bar and will go even more wide on a SS>

  18. #18
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    I went from a 650 race face bar that came on my 09 trance with a 100mm 10* stem to black market bada boom 787 bars, with a 50mm 0* degree stem. I have pretty broad shoulders and the original set up was very uncomfortable. This made a huge difference but it does make it hard to fit through some narrow spots lol. I do what feels right.

  19. #19
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    I'm experimenting with different setups. I currently have a Renthal KX85 handlebar and a 50mm BMX stem on my 12' Trance X2. The bar is 29-1/2"W, 3-3/4" rise, and 2-3/4 pullback which makes the cockpit feel a little cramped but this setup is much more stable and easier to manual and pedal wheelie as needed in technical sections and really boosts the confidence for technical downhill descents. I may try a 35mm 0 degree answer stem and my OEM low rise bars but I'll give up 3" in width.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Wider bars and a shorter stem...-12-giant-trance-x2-mx-handlebars-2.jpg  

    Wider bars and a shorter stem...-12-giant-trance-x2-mx-handlebars-3.jpg  

    Wider bars and a shorter stem...-12-giant-trance-x2-mx-handlebars.jpg  

    Last edited by fis681; 11-18-2012 at 12:53 PM. Reason: Shortened text and added pictures.

  20. #20
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    Thanks for the pics marken. I also have a trek 4500 - 2011 model. Which year is yours from and whats the fork that you have ? The preload knob on my fork (suntour xcm v3) is unusually tight and I just wanted to compare notes. thanks

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by 50calray View Post
    I'm wondering if beginners should consider their terrain before deciding whether or not to run wider bars. I run 660mm bars an run into situations where that seem really wide.

    Below is an example picture. It's hard to tell but there is only few inches on either side...if you look, you can see mark on either tree where they have been truck by bars. You really have o be steady and come in at. Slight angle.

    While I agree that some setups work better in some places than in others, I think people make too much of bar width and trees. Most trails have just a few pinch points and you can learn to handle them as they come. We have maybe half a dozen tight gaps in our trail network. The picture below is the tightest one. There is less than 1/2" on either side of my 780mm bars. We've run race segments and timed training laps down this trail, and while most of us slow down a bit for it, it's less than you'd think.

    Wider bars and a shorter stem...-imageuploadedbytapatalk1353289857.763789.jpg

    Beginners don't really have much more difficulty than anyone else on these, at least once they see they don't need to fear them. It's just a matter of riding in control so you don't get surprised by a tight spot or anything else, and then learning your trails. And the most important thing is looking straight ahead at where you want to go. If you're watching one tree or another when you come into a gap like this, odds are you'll clip a tree. If you already know that you have the clearance, do your best to ignore the trees, look well past the gap and hold your line. The more you do it, the easier it gets.

    Wider bars have some real benefits, but it's possible to overdo it. I'm 6'3" and my 760mm bars feel perfect, but I don't mind the 780s enough to trim them. Think about doing a bench press or a push-up - there's a sweet spot between too wide and too narrow, and it varies from person to person.
    "Back off, man. I'm a scientist." - Dr. Peter Venkman

    Riding in Helena? Everything you need to know, right here.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by evasive View Post
    Think about doing a bench press or a push-up - there's a sweet spot between too wide and too narrow, and it varies from person to person.
    When I decided to change my bars out this is exactly what I thought about. Where are my hands most comfortable while doing bench press and push-ups. I went as far as getting down in different push up positions and measuring from little finger to little finger to see where my hands were falling.

    Sent using my fat thumbs!

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by sanjayc View Post
    Thanks for the pics marken. I also have a trek 4500 - 2011 model. Which year is yours from and whats the fork that you have ? The preload knob on my fork (suntour xcm v3) is unusually tight and I just wanted to compare notes. thanks
    My bike is the 2010 trek 4500 with disc brakes. The fork is: Suntour SF10-XCM-PM-HLO

    Here's a link to my bike from Trek's archive:
    TrekBikes.com Bike Archive | 2010 4500

    I lost the lockout switch and didn't know what it was, so I ended up tearing my whole front fork apart to figure out why it was "locked". I haven't really adjusted the preload knob on mine, I figure I'm probably going to replace the fork next year...

    Still loving the wide bars though! It may be psychological, but I feel like there are steep downhills that I WOULD have bit it on if I didn't have the wider bars. As far as getting stuck between trees goes, I've always been cautious of the narrow sections, still am, and haven't found anywhere I could get stuck between trees yet. I did barely nick a tree with my bars today when I was out...but it was dark...that't my excuse.

  24. #24
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    Thats the best part about living in a desert, no trees!

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by MTBerNick View Post
    Thats the best part about living in a desert, no trees!
    I'd have thought it was year-round riding. We got 2 feet of snow a couple weeks ago and still have a wet 4-5" hanging around. Boo.
    "Back off, man. I'm a scientist." - Dr. Peter Venkman

    Riding in Helena? Everything you need to know, right here.

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