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  1. #1
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    Handlebars and Elbows

    I am an old runner, who use to bike a lot when I was younger (46 now), and I have returned to mtb biking for health; however, I love it, and I have been biking almost every day. I own a 2011 GT Avalanche 2.0 with bb7 brakes (upgrade), and a Rock Shox Recon Solo Air (upgrade).

    I have had a lot of tennis elbow pain. I have done some Physical Therapy, put on ergonomic grips, and shortened my handlebars down to 24 inches. I am wondering just how short handlebars should be. I understand how longer bars help for downhill stuff (28-30 inches), but I also read that cross country folks go as small as 22 inches. I ride some pavement, a lot of cross country, and some single track. Any thoughts?

    Side note: I love my upgraded GT. Every time I go into a bike shop, I get a lot of compliments.

  2. #2
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    Handlebars and Elbows

    Handlebars should be wider than your shoulders depending on stem length. It's hard to say how wide your handlebars should be without seeing your position on the bike.

  3. #3
    Professional Crastinator
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    Quote Originally Posted by sprunghunt View Post
    Handlebars should be wider than your shoulders depending on stem length. It's hard to say how wide your handlebars should be without seeing your position on the bike.
    I was going to say "as wide as", for off-road riding and good breathing...

    but I think it will do little to help your elbow.

    -F
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  4. #4
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    For me, that whole XC should have "X" wide bars and DH "X" wide bars is BS, you should have as wide a bar as is comfortable to you and the wider the better IMHO. I cut down my bar to 23" years ago for tight and tech trails and while it helped with the tight, it did not help with the technical, when I moved to wider bars (685mm) on my bikes, my technical skills and ability improved. When 1.5 years ago I went even wider (750mm+) with shorter stems again much better in the tech, much more control, bar doesn't get pulled/deflected by obstacles and the torque/control I have in the chunk is unreal.

    I say look at something else, maybe even that you bar is too narrow, but not too wide. Best starting point is to do a push up in a comfortable position that'll allow you to do 20 or more and measure to the outside of you hands, I'm betting that you'll be somewhere north of 27", prob closer to 28", 29", maybe even 30" depending on how tall you are. Right now I don't run a bar under 750mm wide and stems are under 90mm, I'm 6'2" with long arms.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by grandpaWill View Post

    I have had a lot of tennis elbow pain. I have done some Physical Therapy, put on ergonomic grips, and shortened my handlebars down to 24 inches. I am wondering just how short handlebars should be. I understand how longer bars help for downhill stuff (28-30 inches), but I also read that cross country folks go as small as 22 inches. I ride some pavement, a lot of cross country, and some single track. Any thoughts?

    Side note: I love my upgraded GT. Every time I go into a bike shop, I get a lot of compliments.
    Can you update on what happened? Did you go with a wider bar and if so, did it help alleviate the tennis elbow? I have run into the tennis elbow situation. I am 52 and ride with bars that are 685mm wide and am looking at purchasing some 750mm wide bars.
    So Cal Rod

  6. #6
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    realize you should also consider the right stem length; my original stem was too long (110 mm) and I found that going to a 70 mm stem made a world of difference in comfort.....
    Trifecta is Perfecta: 26" FSR Geared / 29er SS Rigid / 29er Ti Hardtail Geared

  7. #7
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    Your elbow pain might be caused by simply supporting too much weight on your hands. This could be due to to poor bike set-up or simply being lazy and using your bars for support (or a combination of both). When you ride, your back muscles should be doing most of the support of your upper body, not your arms, and pressure against the bars should be minimal.

    As far as handlebar width goes, I'm a proponent of using whatever feels most comfortable for you, and that has a lot to do with the type of riding you do.
    Screw the chairlift, I'm riding to the top. You're all worthless and weak!!!

  8. #8
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    ^^ exactly. Also make sure your seat angle is not tipped too far forward, which will cause too much pressure on your arms.

  9. #9
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    I've been battling Tennis Elbow for over a year and have tried everything, massage, acupuncture, cortisone shot (helped for a bit) and nothing seams to work, I just bought a Thera Band Flex Bar to try. I've only been using it for a week, but I'm already noticing a change. The reviews are like 99% positive and it was only 12 bucks on Amazon.

    Matt

  10. #10
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    I'm in the "ride whatever you're comfortable with" camp. I'm also a proponent of riding loose and riding light. Elbows should be loose and flexible at all times and your grip on your bars should be as light as possible. You should more guide your bars than steer them.

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