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  1. #1
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    Wide bars = shorter stem???

    I'm thinking about trying wider bars. Currently have 680mm risers with a 90mm stem. If I upsize to ~740mm risers is it recommended that I get a shorter stem as well? something in the 70-80mm range?

    Also what's to wide for XC/Trail riding in the SF Bay Area. My typical rides include the GAP, Rocky Ridge, Demo and Skeggs.

    Thanks.

  2. #2
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    I'll bite, although there is a lot of personal preference and potential flame bait in any "handle bar width/stem length" thread.

    General rule of thumb dictates that a wider bar goes with a shorter stem. What you listed for width and stem length sounds like a really good starting point. I have been riding Easton Haven bars that are 711 mm wide with a 90 mm stem. With grips on my bar measures ~720 mm wide and it seems perfect to me for bay area trails, although 740 mm shouldn't be a problem on local trails at all.

    Whenever I ride a bike with really wide bars (740+) it just feels too wide for my taste. There are times when the extra width feels great but too many situations where the extra width befuddles me. Body dimensions and personal preference should rule your decision, not what so and so said.

    Have fun with the new set up!

  3. #3
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    Biting...

    I jumped up to 720 on my SS a year ago, then eventually 780's on both bikes for the last 6 months (50 and 60mm stem). I'll probably cut them down a bit at some point, but I really like the cornering/handling that the wider bars offer. I think there's a calculator out there for figuring out equivalent set-ups (Sheldon Brown?).

    I ride all the trails that you mention except Rocky Ridge and haven't had any issues.**


    ** Well, I did tag a big log in Wilder yesterday, but I hit it with my middle knuckle, so probably only fixie bars would've saved me!
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  4. #4
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    From the math:

    Here are the assumptions:

    21.6 inches (550mm) from seat to center of bars (ignoring sweep).

    The pivot points of the hands will be 150mm narrower than the overall width of the bars.

    Overall bar width will be between 650 and 800mm.



    Captain Trig sez:
    For each 20mm width you add to the bars, you will need to shave 9.6mm off the stem, in order to have your body in the same position and angle as viewed from the side.


    Right Triangle Angle And Side Calculator

    PS. If you want to check my math, don't forget to use HALF the bar width to create a right triangle.

  5. #5
    I just wanna go fast...
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    It's all personal preference and I think body size and especially shoulder width play a big part....


    I'm 6'4" and I'm currently rocking 745mm bars with a 50mm stem. It feels great descending.

    If I had to do longer more xc-ish rides, I'd probably switch to a 70mm or 90mm stem.

  6. #6
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    I have been contemplating going with a shorter stem for some time now. Although my bike "fits" I feel a little hunched over riding on the flats. I think a shorter stem would sit me a touch more upright. I'm also looking into cutting my bars down a little from the 800mm stock demisions. That with a 70mm stem should balance me out...

    I got my bike, a 2012 Anthem X 29er 2, used but in outstanding, near new condition. The previous owner was about 2 inches taller than me, but it was all in his torso. I didn't need to adjust seat hight at all, but did move the seat forwad a touch to get myself lined up properly.

    I came from a road bike background so at first, my torso position didn't really bother me so much. But on my last longish ride, 36miles, I started to notice the hunch over combined with the wide grip was putting a lot of pressure on my wrists.

  7. #7
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    If you plan on giving wide bars and short stem a try, then I say just go all the way. 800plus bars and a stem around 40mm, you can always shorten the bar later on base on what you like.

    Only warning..800 will get you stuck in a few places at demo if you like to snoop around the "bonus" stuff.

  8. #8
    swag ho Administrator
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    As you widen your arm positions, your reach gets shorter as you form a wider triangle with your arms. So yes, wider bars go hand in hand with a shorter stem (on the same bike).

    Also, as you increase the travel on your bike, the bars get wider too to match the intended use of the bike.

    When you use wider bars, they will feel alien at first. Give them five rides before deciding if they are right or wrong for you.

    My first bike had a a 530 mm bar and 140mm stem. Today, I use a 750 mm bar with 70 stem on most bikes. It's probably the greatest area of bike geometry progress over the years.
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  9. #9
    Snowjnky McDreamy
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    wider = shorter
    Name:  TWSS.jpg
Views: 776
Size:  94.6 KB
    Glad I could help.
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  10. #10
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    I went from a 660/90mm to 70mm then to a 750/60mm set up. It makes a huge difference. You definitely need a shorter stem with the longer bars. I'm not a tall guy but I have monkey arms and I didn't realize how much more comfortable the big bars would be and how much easier it is to lean the bike. They are kinda clownish and you do worry about clipping trees.

    I don't think I'd go down to a 50 if you were used to running 680/90. Maybe try 70 or 60. The formula up there suggests a 60. Stems are fairly cheap (a really nice on one cnc is 30, 3d forged from ebay is 25) if you want to experiment and are easy to sell.

  11. #11
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    My Pokemans, let me show you them

    A similar question came up in another subforum not far back, and so I bored all those users to death with this python script.

    The specific question wasn't about body position but about steering 'speed.' The output of the script is disheartening if you want your new school wide bars / short stem to feel like your old school narrow bars / long stem.

    The good news is that you don't really want them to feel alike. Wide/short is good because it is different. And your chest, upper arms, forearms will all adopt new positions. Many missing data. So since it's not about finding an equivalent, doing any math is a bit of a waste. Educated trial and error will get you where you want to go.

    Buy the bar you like. I dig the "pretend you are doing a pushup" technique for approximate width. And almost any bar (but not a Truvativ Boobar!) can be cut down pretty far if need be. If your hella long XC stem provides rise, you'll likely have to make up for that w/ rise in the bar because short stems are often 0*.

    Borrow stems from friends. Try 40, 50, 60 mm. Fine tune if need be. Or just buy 50 and live w/ the new wonderfulness.

    Sample output
    Enter handlebar width in millimeters.
    > 680
    Enter stem length in millimeters.
    > 90
    Steering coefficient is:
    351.710107901
    The following table shows stem-bar combinations with the same steering coefficient.
    35 699.928567784
    40 698.856208386
    45 697.638875064
    50 696.275807421
    55 694.766147707
    60 693.108938047
    65 691.303117308
    70 689.347517585
    75 687.240860252
    80 684.981751582
    85 682.568677863
    90 680.0
    95 677.273947528
    100 674.388612003
    105 671.3419397
    Wide bars = shorter stem???-handlebar_py.png

  12. #12
    pvd
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    For trail riding in Marin, 700mm is as wide as you can go. Anything wider becomes a problem very quick on the tighter trails.
    Elsewhere, I'm testing some 750mm bars on the flow trail. 780mm was just too wide to feel confident in the tree section and I felt like my luck had been used up.
    If you ride mainly fire road or clear cut Livewire/A-line type stuff, you can run as wide as you like. 780mm seems about as wide as I would ever go (I use 42cm road bars).

  13. #13
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    Give shorter and wider a shot. I suggest going to the extreme and toning back from there. Start with a 50mm stem and 780-800mm bars.
    My experience has been too wide of a bar makes the bike difficult to maneuver. Your hands will feel too far apart and you won't be able to move around on the bike well.
    Too short of a stem sucks for climbing and cornering. It places your weight farther back, reducing traction on the front wheel.
    At 6'2", I find 750mm bars and 70mm stem to be good. I've been contemplating going up to an 80mm stem to improve cornering and better weight distribution.
    Another thing I have noticed is wide bars are causing me some wrist pain. The sweep and rise don't match the angle of my wrists further out.
    Once you get the perfect combo, the riding will be so much better.
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by squareback View Post
    From the math:

    Here are the assumptions:

    21.6 inches (550mm) from seat to center of bars (ignoring sweep).

    The pivot points of the hands will be 150mm narrower than the overall width of the bars.

    Overall bar width will be between 650 and 800mm.



    Captain Trig sez:
    For each 20mm width you add to the bars, you will need to shave 9.6mm off the stem, in order to have your body in the same position and angle as viewed from the side.


    Right Triangle Angle And Side Calculator

    PS. If you want to check my math, don't forget to use HALF the bar width to create a right triangle.
    This is correct. As you widen the bars, the increased width pulls you forward, which you then offset with a shorter stem. In my case, I went from 685 bars to 720 bars on one bike and from a 110 stem to 90mm. The overall reach stayed the same. On my other bike I went from 685 to 711 bars and from a 100 to 85mm stem, again the reach stayed the same.
    Riding slowly since 1977.

  15. #15
    I just wanna go fast...
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    So... I had this effed up dream last night where my wife had to come pick me up from the bars on a full squish tandem and I was deemed too drunk to be the captain for the gnarly dh we were going to hit back home.

    I blame this thread because for some reason she showed up on this tandem and it had like 830mm bars or some ridiculous width and like a 90mm stem and she could barely turn the bike without loosing her grip.

    I think maybe I think about bikes too much?

  16. #16
    swag ho Administrator
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    Just ride 20 inch wide bars and 150 stem with a 6 inch saddle to bar drop. Isn't it ALL personal preference?



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  17. #17
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    Yep, I learned the hard way about the wider bars require shorter stems rule.

    However, now that its properly set-up, the bike feels much better on the downhills.

  18. #18
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    i would stay under 70mm on ALL bikes. if you feel you need a bigger stem than that, maybe try a size larger frame with a longer top tube. longer top tubes and short stems will handle better any day because it keeps the CG of your body further behind the front tire contact patch (i.e. less lever arm on the moment created by your cg rotating about that axis)

  19. #19
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    I just made the jump from 680mm bars with a 90mm stem to 740mm bars. Initially after swapping the bars and leaving the 90mm stem I realized what everyone was talking about with the wider bar/shorter stem. With the 90mm stem that used to feel perfect, all of a sudden I was way more stretched out and it just felt off. I first swapped to an 80mm stem but still felt too stretched out, especially when climbing in the saddle, I could barely reach the bar around sharp slow speed turns and switchbacks. I ended up going to a 70 mm stem and cutting the bars down to 720mm. This seems like the perfect setup for my body and positioning on the bike. It feels really neutral and I can move around and manipulate the bike under me which has really improved the way the bike handles on the descents. I'm really happy with the switch and I definitely agree that as you go wider you really need to go shorter at the same time to balance out the fit and overall handling. Wish I did it sooner!!

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