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  1. #1
    UpSideDownBiker
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    the handlebar mystery question

    Two questions.
    Why the different handlebar bends and why the different widths.
    Fit? Position? Personal preference?

    I've debated this with "fit gurus" mostly because they tell me I'm riding to wide of a bar on my road bike, 42vs44. When I say if that is the case what should I ride on my MTB. I'm told it doesn't matter because I spend more time on a road bike. Um, 6, 12, 24 hour races...

    Now I purchased a bike that has a 17 degree sweep bar. I can't figure out why they are 17 degree.

    My assumptions are. Bar width is based upon user preference and style of riding. Wider has more leverage to a certain point. (I don't understand some of the trend toward bars that are super wide). Sweep back is a function of positioning. Upright more sweep and as you lean forward less sweep.
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  2. #2
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    I Personaly like the 12 degree sweep i am using because just feels more natural.

  3. #3
    UpSideDownBiker
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    Mellowme17,

    Out of curiosity are you someone with a more upright position or a more forward leaning, lower bar position?
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  4. #4
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    it's all about preference. Although a good bike fitter can be a valuable resources don't let them push you to hard into something that just doesn't feel comfortable to you. They are sizing your road bars off your shoulder width as is the old school way of doing it. I would give there recommended bar width a shot and then decided. moving up/down a width isn't going to hurt you, just make you happy.

    For your fitter to say your MTB bar width doesn't matter is a red flag.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by UpSideDownBiker
    Two questions.
    Why the different handlebar bends and why the different widths.
    Fit? Position? Personal preference?
    Yes, yes, and yes.


    I've debated this with "fit gurus" mostly because they tell me I'm riding to wide of a bar on my road bike, 42vs44. When I say if that is the case what should I ride on my MTB. I'm told it doesn't matter because I spend more time on a road bike. Um, 6, 12, 24 hour races...

    Now I purchased a bike that has a 17 degree sweep bar. I can't figure out why they are 17 degree.

    My assumptions are. Bar width is based upon user preference and style of riding. Wider has more leverage to a certain point. (I don't understand some of the trend toward bars that are super wide). Sweep back is a function of positioning. Upright more sweep and as you lean forward less sweep.
    Not really. Sweep has to do with hand/wrist/elbow angle. You use what is comfortable for you. Some riders will tell you less sweep is needed for more technical riding, but it is not a hard and fast fact. Still all about personal preference and what you are use to.

    I can not comfortably use a bar with less than ~45 degrees of sweep for more than 15-20 minutes. I have been using flared dropbars offroad (all conditions and terrain) for nearly 25 years.

    My basic riding position is long and low. Top of the dropbar at or slightly below my saddle.

    Can not get comfortable with unflared road dropbars, either. I use flared drops on my road bikes.

    http://mtbtires.com/site2/features/3...-ride-dropbars
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  6. #6
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    The road bar width thing is a tired old myth from the days of white socks and friction shifting. On the road and MTB run whatever you want, I run a 46cm on my road bike and 27" on all my MTB's. I have been riding the road for 20 years and most of the guys I know have switched to wider bars as have most pros.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rivet
    The road bar width thing is a tired old myth from the days of white socks and friction shifting. On the road and MTB run whatever you want, I run a 46cm on my road bike and 27" on all my MTB's. I have been riding the road for 20 years and most of the guys I know have switched to wider bars as have most pros.
    I ride both road and trail. Wide handlebars on a road bike are a waste and only slow you down because you catch more wind. You don't need the leverage on the road.
    I am a big guy and ride 42cm bars on my roadbike. 40-44cm width is fine.

    If you want some perspective about handlebar sweep then read the recent thread where the OP was asking for a 12 deg bar. A lot of sweep on a mountain is generally not preferred for good reason. The objective of sweep from the origin of beach cruisers was to provide a more upright riding position for 'cruising'. This isn't the objective for off road riding and aggressive riding in particular.
    You want some weight over your front wheel so you can turn in the dirt. This is not accomplished with all your weight on the saddle. Most riders who prefer sweep on a mountain bike ride the bike more like a cruiser...which is fine if that is how they like to ride. Better riders prefer less sweep because their body moves more fore and aft on the bike and as your body moves forward your hands actually rotate toward 0 or negative sweep. This is why aggressive riders prefer less sweep than those out for a sunday ride.
    There is also the issue of frame size. A lot of sweep allows you to ride a larger mtb for the same relative body position. This isn't what you want on a mtb. You want to ride the smallest most nimble bike. You therefore don't need sweep on a small bike to move the bar closer to the rider where the hands are more parallel to the top tube.

    Most mtbs have bar sweep in the 0-11 degree range. There are outliars of course as there always are. But if the bike is sized properly, a low sweep handlebar suits the vast majority of riders off road.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by dirtrider7
    I ride both road and trail. Wide handlebars on a road bike are a waste and only slow you down because you catch more wind. You don't need the leverage on the road.
    I am a big guy and ride 42cm bars on my roadbike. 40-44cm width is fine.

    If you want some perspective about handlebar sweep then read the recent thread where the OP was asking for a 12 deg bar. A lot of sweep on a mountain is generally not preferred for good reason. The objective of sweep from the origin of beach cruisers was to provide a more upright riding position for 'cruising'. This isn't the objective for off road riding and aggressive riding in particular.
    You want some weight over your front wheel so you can turn in the dirt. This is not accomplished with all your weight on the saddle. Most riders who prefer sweep on a mountain bike ride the bike more like a cruiser...which is fine if that is how they like to ride. Better riders prefer less sweep because their body moves more fore and aft on the bike and as your body moves forward your hands actually rotate toward 0 or negative sweep. This is why aggressive riders prefer less sweep than those out for a sunday ride.
    There is also the issue of frame size. A lot of sweep allows you to ride a larger mtb for the same relative body position. This isn't what you want on a mtb. You want to ride the smallest most nimble bike. You therefore don't need sweep on a small bike to move the bar closer to the rider where the hands are more parallel to the top tube.

    Most mtbs have bar sweep in the 0-11 degree range. There are outliars of course as there always are. But if the bike is sized properly, a low sweep handlebar suits the vast majority of riders off road.
    Many things I disagree with here, but i'll just say that I like my mountain mustache bar on my single speed because it offers multiple hand positions, on my geared bike around an 11-17 sweep. I'm not a "better rider" but I ride the same trails they do and emulate them where possible and they don't necessarily resemble your take on fit with smaller is better.
    To the OP, you'll get many opinions here, lets not forget that's what they are. Bike fit is a whole different animal.
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  9. #9
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    Wide handlebars give you more leverage and slow the steering. On a 29er I prefer the longer bars to have better leverage and control over the large wheel in the front. Turning a larger heavier wheel requires more force due to the gyroscopic effects. Riser bars give you a more upright position and help relax the back. Some sweep is ok and changes the angle of arms, which is sometimes more comfortable as the bars get wider, but too much does give you that beach cruiser feel. A good starting point is to do a push up and find the most comfortable position for your hands. Measure from the edge of each palm and this should be the minimum handlebar width. Now too wide, you will create tension in your back, end up steering with your whole body, and struggle with tight passages between rocks and trees. My take is 700mm is my max and 660mm would be my minimum as a rider with a short torso and height of 5'10". At 6'5" or 7', I might need a wider bar.

    Generally what works in the lab and wind tunnel fails miserably in real life. The "ideal" position may not be anatomically correct if you have back or hip issues. Experiment for yourself. Listen to the experts. Read. Measure. Ride. Check comfort. Take the sum of everything you've learned and make up your own mind.
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  10. #10
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    Yes bar width is getting wider at least off road flats. Not so up on the road guys. More leverage, opens up your lungs to breath better and also moves your center of gravity forward which is good for climbing and corners.

    About 5 years ago I built up a bike with 710mm bars which was wide for then. My latest bike has bars 730mm wide. Except for having to watch out for narrow trees I have no issues with the bars and feel really cramped if I get on a bike that has the old 24" wide standard.

    I road WTB drops for years with an Ibis LD stem that had a lot of rise and a little reach to compensate for the drops. I figured if Charley Cunningham thought that was a good idea who was I to argue. I don't know if anyone is making a stem like this anymore. <Do They??> Ibis certainly doesn't and WTB stopped long ago even though they continue to sell their bars. The WTBs are 565mm at the end of the drops center to center. Eventually I made my own bars that replicate the hand position of the WTBs but without the drop and that also use standard mountain bike brake levers and shifters. They are 480 to 620mm wide depending on where you grip the bar. Like I have said in other posts I built them somewhere around 1995 way before Jones. My bend is different. I sent him some pictures about 5 years ago and every time he revamps his design they look a little more like mine but they are still different and come from his own thoughts I assume.

    Personally I like my bars and straight bars. The drops are on a vintage bike that doesn't get ridden any more. It is actually good to switch it out because initially I assumed my bars or dirt drops were better on my wrists, which they might be, but I noticed that if I only road with them repetitive stress came up again and at that point flats felt better. So now I have my bars on lighter bikes and flats on heavy bikes.
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  11. #11
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    After riding the industry's idea of a standard handle bar for years, I switched 5 years ago to 45 deg. sweeps on the mtn bike and 46 cm on the road bike. I did the road switch on the advice of my fitter. This guy fits some of the best riders in the SW. His wife is a multi time national champion.

    I'd ignore dirtrider7's advice and do what works for you. If you're comfortable, you'll be able to go longer and harder.
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  12. #12
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    Actually for/to me the biggest benefit of a wider bar is a more controlled feel of steering in tight tech stuff and more stable at speed. Also opens up the chest a bit to help breathing. Used to run as narrow as 23" years ago, then slowly moved to 25" and now 27" and just can't believe I used to run 23" - no wonder the really tight, techy stuff used to give me so much grief. Right now running 27" flat bars (plural) with a 9 degree sweep and think it's about the perfect compromise between width for control and not being too wide to negate the benefits on tight trails.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by azjonboy
    I'd ignore dirtrider7's advice and do what works for you. If you're comfortable, you'll be able to go longer and harder.
    Exactly, he's been pushing HIS AGENDA on several forums and the general consensus is that he is clearly mistaken...which I agree with.

    Sweep and rise have nothing to do with your riding position, it only has to do with your hand position. You can just as easily set up a big sweep bar with a long and low position as you can set up a flat bar with a short and upright position. What is most important is that your hands are in a comfortable position for YOU and YOU ONLY. That may be a narrow strait bar with 3-5 degree sweep, a wide flat or riser with 8-17 degree sweep, an "alt bar" with 25-45 degree sweep, or something like a mountain drop bar.

    For years I preferred riser bars with ~9 degree sweep, but as I have gotten older I have developed hand pain. I spent many years playing with saddle to hand position and also spent time playing with grips. Every relative solution had a compromise, until I went with an alt bar setup with 40 degree sweep. My saddle to hand position is the same as with a 9 degree sweep bar (unlike dirtrider7's phony claims of beach cruiser positioning) and I use standard grips. It has taken some getting used to, but hand pain is gone.

  14. #14
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    May seem weird, but I now ride a 31 inch handlebar on my XC bike - felt weird at first, but now I'm certain I'll never go back, my next purchase will probably be the DH bar:

    http://www.envecomposites.com/handlebars/mtb.aspx

  15. #15
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    Sorry if this is a noobish question, but I'm sot sure I've seen a bar with a 45 degree sweep. Most I've personally seen is 8-12 degree. Does somebody have a pic of a bar with that much sweep.

    I know it's all personal preference, but what are the general reasons for going with a bar with that much sweep? Also would you need a longer stem since it would effectively move your hands slightly farther back.

    Again sorry for the dumb questions, just a new concept to me.

  16. #16
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    Once your intial fit was all right, then yes to get your hands and the cockpit back to the same you'd need a longer stem. I tried one a while back, sadly it wasn't a very wide bar so didn't last long, if it was wider I might have kept using it. I went from a 110mm stem to a 140mm to compensate, seemed to work fine.

    As to why, as a few others have said, personal preference on what feels comfortable to YOU. Bio-Mechanically most humans arms hang down by their side with their thumbs almost pointing straight forward (if they are "perfect" specimens), so in theory an alt bar should keep your hands fairly close to your natural orientation, but we've all got muscle imbalances and different posture etc, so not everyone will like the same bend in their bars. To test drop your arms down your side and look where you thumb is, then without moving your elbows raise your hands up like you would do riding, now look at the natural position formed, it's about 45 degrees.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rock Climber
    Sorry if this is a noobish question, but I'm sot sure I've seen a bar with a 45 degree sweep. Most I've personally seen is 8-12 degree. Does somebody have a pic of a bar with that much sweep.

    I know it's all personal preference, but what are the general reasons for going with a bar with that much sweep? Also would you need a longer stem since it would effectively move your hands slightly farther back.

    Again sorry for the dumb questions, just a new concept to me.
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  17. #17
    Don't be a sheep
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    Quote Originally Posted by dirtrider7
    I ride both road and trail. Wide handlebars on a road bike are a waste and only slow you down because you catch more wind. You don't need the leverage on the road.
    I am a big guy and ride 42cm bars on my roadbike. 40-44cm width is fine.
    Narrow bars constrict breathing. You can believe what you want but when the fastest guys in the world switch to a wider bar than was previously thought appropriate for their shoulder width they probably know what they are doing.
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rock Climber
    Sorry if this is a noobish question, but I'm sot sure I've seen a bar with a 45 degree sweep. Most I've personally seen is 8-12 degree. Does somebody have a pic of a bar with that much sweep.

    I know it's all personal preference, but what are the general reasons for going with a bar with that much sweep? Also would you need a longer stem since it would effectively move your hands slightly farther back.

    Again sorry for the dumb questions, just a new concept to me.

    Look up the On One Mary handlebar, it has 40 degrees of sweep. They bend the bar forward and then back to minimize the need for a longer stem. Also, check out the Jones H bar.

    It's all about personal preference and what works for you. Some people love extreme sweep bars. They don't work for me - my magical number is 11 degrees of sweep (Salsa Pro Moto).

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rock Climber
    Sorry if this is a noobish question, but I'm sot sure I've seen a bar with a 45 degree sweep. Most I've personally seen is 8-12 degree. Does somebody have a pic of a bar with that much sweep..
    some 25's here
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  20. #20
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    Thanks! I was picturing them completely differently in my head.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by LyNx
    To test drop your arms down your side and look where you thumb is, then without moving your elbows raise your hands up like you would do riding, now look at the natural position formed, it's about 45 degrees.
    What does this tell you?

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by craigsj
    What does this tell you?

    That more sweep is generally more comfortable via hand position at rest.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtnbiker72
    Exactly, he's been pushing HIS AGENDA on several forums and the general consensus is that he is clearly mistaken...which I agree with.

    Sweep and rise have nothing to do with your riding position, it only has to do with your hand position. You can just as easily set up a big sweep bar with a long and low position as you can set up a flat bar with a short and upright position. What is most important is that your hands are in a comfortable position for YOU and YOU ONLY. That may be a narrow strait bar with 3-5 degree sweep, a wide flat or riser with 8-17 degree sweep, an "alt bar" with 25-45 degree sweep, or something like a mountain drop bar.

    For years I preferred riser bars with ~9 degree sweep, but as I have gotten older I have developed hand pain. I spent many years playing with saddle to hand position and also spent time playing with grips. Every relative solution had a compromise, until I went with an alt bar setup with 40 degree sweep. My saddle to hand position is the same as with a 9 degree sweep bar (unlike dirtrider7's phony claims of beach cruiser positioning) and I use standard grips. It has taken some getting used to, but hand pain is gone.
    Not my agenda at all. I have no agenda. I am helping out those who have a contrarian view like yourself and the other small minority that comes to this forum who believes an alternative bar is a good thing. It isn't. An alternative bar is 'alternative' for a reason. It comprises a very small percentage of mtb riders for a reason. It is ergonomically wrong. Not quite as wrong as mounting a handlebar behind a rider instead of in front but still wrong. By contrast there is a reason why low sweep bars account for the vast majority of riders. They are ergonomically correct when your body is positioned properly on a mtb. This isn't the same position as a cruiser with bolt upright torso angle. Good riders get it and poor riders don't. Now there is a surprise...bad riders looking for a crutch. No top riders ride a handlebar with a lot of sweep.

    Have a look below. The rider is in perfect position. The sweep on his bars appears to be about 5 degrees or so give or take...not unlike the vast majority of mtb handlebars sold. This isn't my agenda. It is the agenda of good riders whose position is a good model to emulate.
    When the bar is positioned closer to the rider where it should be for control and leverage...this can even work for a lower level rider with much less back angle...the elbows are slightly away from the body to allow the torso to articulate about the hips freely. It is similar to a push up position which is naturally the strongest for controlling the torso. In doing so, the hands are pretty much positioned parallel to the body...not with an angle. This is not a contrived hand position. This is natural. I hope some get this and not the limited few who gravitate to alternative bars because they don't.
    Is there a small range of sweep acceptable which deviates slightly from the norm? Of course. As a rule, better riders will prefer less sweep because their torso is more over the front wheel with more lean. When leaning to this degree, the hands naturally angle to 0 deg sweep as shown in the rider below.
    I hope the above actually resonates with those that passed high school geometry.
    Again, this isn't my view or agenda. It is only observance of why the norm for mountain bikes handlebars exist.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails the handlebar mystery question-volle.jpg  

    the handlebar mystery question-hand-carnegie.jpg  


  24. #24
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    Ergonomics from the theory book aside...

    Just ride what you like best. It seems simple, but it is not. Let me tell you about some of my personal bar 'battles':

    MTB bar with less than 7 degrees of sweep make my hands hurt. OK, up to a wider bar with 12 degrees of sweep. This makes some of my upper back muscles cramp. After some swapping of bars and stems it turns out that this goes away if I mount a longer stem. Great. Now I am pain free and in control. No matter what weird bar / stem you like to mount, this is what the aim should be.

    On my CX bike, the battle had to do with handlebar reach, tilt and brifter angle. Again I experimented a lot to find the combination of comfort and control that works for me. Being a mountainbiker, I started with a wider bar (44cm C-C for me) and stuck with it.

    Dirtrider7 gets bashed a bit, but there is some sense in what he is saying. I rode with an alt. bar rider who complained he just could not do turns as fast as the rest of us. After watching him, we found out that had a lot to do with him not being able to actively load the front wheel with the way he mounted his bars. The bars did put him in a 'cruising' position, that made it harder for him to move around and actively ride the bike.

    With the risk that I get bashed myself: I doubted that you could ever find a way to pump the front wheel as effectively as with 'normal' bars. Maybe there is ... I just do not know!

    What I am trying to say is... sometimes a rider just does not need some sort of 'holy grail' of a bar with dimensions way out of the ordinary to achieve a happy ride. That said, if you need to follow some sort of alternative trend to happily ride with your alternative trend following bearded friends, that is the way to go.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by JeroenK
    Ergonomics from the theory book aside...

    Just ride what you like best. It seems simple, but it is not. Let me tell you about some of my personal bar 'battles':

    MTB bar with less than 7 degrees of sweep make my hands hurt. OK, up to a wider bar with 12 degrees of sweep. This makes some of my upper back muscles cramp. After some swapping of bars and stems it turns out that this goes away if I mount a longer stem. Great. Now I am pain free and in control. No matter what weird bar / stem you like to mount, this is what the aim should be.

    On my CX bike, the battle had to do with handlebar reach, tilt and brifter angle. Again I experimented a lot to find the combination of comfort and control that works for me. Being a mountainbiker, I started with a wider bar (44cm C-C for me) and stuck with it.

    Dirtrider7 gets bashed a bit, but there is some sense in what he is saying. I rode with an alt. bar rider who complained he just could not do turns as fast as the rest of us. After watching him, we found out that had a lot to do with him not being able to actively load the front wheel with the way he mounted his bars. The bars did put him in a 'cruising' position, that made it harder for him to move around and actively ride the bike.

    With the risk that I get bashed myself: I doubted that you could ever find a way to pump the front wheel as effectively as with 'normal' bars. Maybe there is ... I just do not know!

    What I am trying to say is... sometimes a rider just does not need some sort of 'holy grail' of a bar with dimensions way out of the ordinary to achieve a happy ride. That said, if you need to follow some sort of alternative trend to happily ride with your alternative trend following bearded friends, that is the way to go.
    Since you are a sensible man ...I can comment further on your Cx bike in particular.
    Proper fit on a CX bike is like that of a road bike with drop bars. Many migrate to a wider bar because they buy into the myth that a wide bar on a CX or road bike opens up ones breathing...which is a myth. What are the fastest bicycles in the world with the greatest emphasis on breathing? Tri bikes where speeds average 30 mph. Bars are narrow for aero dynamics. Proper breathing is a function of correct posture on the bike and not handlebar width. Further...you can easily perform this experiment. Place your hands out in front of you an move them apart and closer together. With your hands further apart your traps become pinched in back. Further, with a wide drop bar, you rely more on your musculature to hold up the weight of your torso than your skeleton. As I wrote earlier, wide bars on a drop bar bike are a waste and you only catch more air. The only advantage to a wider bar is...if climbing a lot out of the saddle and rocking the bike to create thrust. You can apply more leverage with a wider bar. For typical road riding however, you will be faster and more comfortable with again a conventional bar width in the 40-44 cm width. One of my fastest riding buddies who is about as fast as any amateur rider I know prefers 38 cm bars and he is 6' at 200 lbs.

    As to mountain bike bars. Conventions are honed from exhaustive trial and error based upon a huge population of experimentation. That is how they become conventions. There isn't 'some sense' to what I write. I simply write the truth which many here cannot concede because they are too ignorant to concede it. There is no mistake when it comes to convention. People can and do buck these conventions...but typically they do so out of ignorance of not understanding why conventions evolve. There is nothing contrarian about my posts. I am basically speaking to the flat earth society...lol.
    The people that argue with me are just denying convention.
    You said is well. Instead of embracing convention, many look for an alternative holy grail. Fit is quite subtle and therefore elusive to the uninitiated and why I come here to offer some advice.. 10mm of cockpit change which also includes handlebar height, completely changes fit. The great Lance Armstrong is said to be able to feel a 1 mm difference in the cockpit of his bikes. I can feel a difference of 3mm for sure. I will say it again, most that seek an alternative handlebar, never learned to set up a conventional handlebar properly.
    Btw, Lance Armstrong the great road racer also prefers mountain bike handlebars with low sweep...as do all racers.
    Last edited by dirtrider7; 12-29-2010 at 04:17 AM.

  26. #26
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    OK, I only browsed Dirt7s post BTW, that dude is a pro racer and is not in the "ideal" MTB position, quite the contrare actually In looking at his lovely pic with the super imposed hand, draw a line along the knuckles of the hand and you will see that they are actually closer in alignment on the alt-bar than the "straight" one, except for the index finger, which we don't use to grip anyways. The problem is if you try a narrow alt bar it will feel like crap, you need a relatively wide one compared to a normal bar to feel right - I'd say anywhere from 27"> For those without paint or other access I drew the line for you. FYI, a lesser sweep bar actually causes you to round your shoulders which helps to make it easier to engage those muscles to help loft the front end etc, alt bars do not do this, but instead keep those muscles relaxed by keeping your body in a more natural position, so not a crutch like Dirt7 thinks, actually harder but ergonomically better - just think of it for a minute and you'll understand.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails the handlebar mystery question-hand-carnegie.jpg  

    Quote Originally Posted by Harold
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  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by LyNx
    OK, I only browsed Dirt7s post BTW, that dude is a pro racer and is not in the "ideal" MTB position, quite the contrare actually In looking at his lovely pic with the super imposed hand, draw a line along the knuckles of the hand and you will see that they are actually closer in alignment on the alt-bar than the "straight" one, except for the index finger, which we don't use to grip anyways. The problem is if you try a narrow alt bar it will feel like crap, you need a relatively wide one compared to a normal bar to feel right - I'd say anywhere from 27"> For those without paint or other access I drew the line for you. FYI, a lesser sweep bar actually causes you to round your shoulders which helps to make it easier to engage those muscles to help loft the front end etc, alt bars do not do this, but instead keep those muscles relaxed by keeping your body in a more natural position, so not a crutch like Dirt7 thinks, actually harder but ergonomically better - just think of it for a minute and you'll understand.
    The pic of the hand is my photoshop...lol. Gotta love it.
    More proof? Lance below on a GF 29er. Perfect position that illustrates why sweep is not wanted. Look at his hands. Same as the pro racer above. Elbows flexed to account for torso lean and weight forward, hands rotate inward toward 'negative' and not positive sweep the closer the bar becomes to his torso....same as with all riders.
    His position on a mtb is quite ordinary and common.
    I think a trend has emerged we may even be able to call a convention. Can we take a poll? Do all that espouse the virtues of alternative handlebars fail 8th grade Geometry?
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    Last edited by dirtrider7; 12-29-2010 at 04:53 AM.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by dirtrider7
    I simply write the truth
    Dude... advice is only as good as the reception of it. I do like to mock the alternative a bit sometimes, but with a wink.

    No rider is the same and no bar is either. I never ruled out the possibility that non-conventional bars fit a certain rider just fine. There are more effective ways to steer a bike: On the same trails, I like my road bars on my CX bike as much as the low rizer on my MTB.

    You may borrow some of my sensibility, if you like, but not now. I need all of mine during the holiday season .

  29. #29
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    These work for me. I 'found' the right bars through trial and error, growing as a rider and having a clear, defined endstate in mind. Carnegies/Titec J-bars are perfect for me, on this bike.

    Happiness depends more on the inward disposition of mind than on outward circumstances. Benjamin Franklin

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by UpSideDownBiker
    Two questions.
    Why the different handlebar bends and why the different widths.
    Fit? Position? Personal preference?
    .

    By simply removing the question marks( and placing one after the first question), you then have a question and an answer

    Why the different handlebar bends and why the different widths.?
    Fit
    Position
    Personal preference


    Sorry, couldn't resist being a smart ass.

  31. #31
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    The reason you shouldn't just "ride (or do) what's comfortable" is that its a good way to develop bad habits. Go try learning how to swing a golf club just doing what's comfortable.

    In my expert opinion (I have several degrees in expertology) swept back bars are a gimmick that permeates an ideology that easily works them into the warm blanket of rationalization.

    Nothing refreshes the desire to ride like putting something new on your bike and then rationalizing its necessity by coming on the internet to have others justify your decision.

    If you are out there on a rigid 29er looking for bars that will let you ride 150miles in a 12hr race solo and pain free, well, you are going to go through a LOT of handlebars.

    My philosophy: emulate the pros as much as your fat ass will let you. It is truly their job and the people-who-support-them's job to make sure they are as efficient, nimble and comfortable as possible. When I see a world cup winner riding a Mary bar, well, I'll still just claim it was just swapped out for the pictures to please the sponsors.
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    Quote Originally Posted by MisterC
    ...If you are out there on a rigid 29er looking for bars that will let you ride 150miles in a 12hr race solo and pain free, well, you are going to go through a LOT of handlebars...
    except for the 29er part, that is why I use drop bars.
    I did this 25years ago and it lets me spend the most time on the bike on all terrain with the most control and least amount of discomfort.
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  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by MisterC
    The reason you shouldn't just "ride (or do) what's comfortable" is that its a good way to develop bad habits. Go try learning how to swing a golf club just doing what's comfortable.

    In my expert opinion (I have several degrees in expertology) swept back bars are a gimmick that permeates an ideology that easily works them into the warm blanket of rationalization.

    Nothing refreshes the desire to ride like putting something new on your bike and then rationalizing its necessity by coming on the internet to have others justify your decision.

    If you are out there on a rigid 29er looking for bars that will let you ride 150miles in a 12hr race solo and pain free, well, you are going to go through a LOT of handlebars.

    My philosophy: emulate the pros as much as your fat ass will let you. It is truly their job and the people-who-support-them's job to make sure they are as efficient, nimble and comfortable as possible. When I see a world cup winner riding a Mary bar, well, I'll still just claim it was just swapped out for the pictures to please the sponsors.
    Exactly. To embellish on the golf metaphor, alternative bar users are like 18 handicappers looking to buy that magic driver that will hit the ball 280 yards when they have a clubhead speed of 80 mph. How would alternative bar users improve? Shunning their contrarian adherance, embracing convention, gettting in better physical condition and emulating a pro riding position...or at least closer to one. You don't have to ride with a torso angle 30 deg. to horizontal to have a low sweep bar be comfortable...just get the bar in the right position relative to your body.

  34. #34
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    I'm tryin to picture Jeff Schalk winning another 100mi race on his Top Fuel with big wide titanium jones bars and not laugh.
    Last edited by MisterC; 12-29-2010 at 07:29 AM.
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  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by shiggy
    except for the 29er part, that is why I use drop bars.
    I did this 25years ago and it lets me spend the most time on the bike on all terrain with the most control and least amount of discomfort.
    Yup...if there is a viable alternative bar on a mtb, it is a drop bar. Drop bars have a following on manyy genres of bikes including touring. Some may ask why.
    Best reason is...multiple hand positions helps tremendously to mitigate overuse hand injuries. This is another advantage of a low backsweep bar...bar ends...which don't work on a big sweep bar.
    Lance was asked in an interview why he didn't ride a drop bar on his mtb at Leadville....seeming a natural transition coming from the road. Answer? Too scarey when descending....for him at least. Lance likes to run with a relatively high handlebar position.
    One of the top 5 at Leadville did run a drop bar however and Leadville is like a long mountain road bike tour stage only on dirt. Drop bars on the dirt isn't much of a stretch...as a 29er is like a CX bike on steroids.

  36. #36
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    Edit: Not fair.

    Not only have I never tried drop bars, I've never even seen them on our trails unless they were on a CX bike. And I know Mr. CX was miserable.

    I race CX every year but none of the courses come close to what I would think of as a MTB course.

    Sometimes I can't tell if I take for granted the trails that I ride on. Racing in the Mid Atlantic/Northeast seems pretty tough to me and I have never seen drop bars at any race I have done in any class. Maybe I just missed them.

    But they are out there:

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  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by JeroenK
    [LEFT]Dude... advice is only as good as the reception of it.[/LEFT] I do like to mock the alternative a bit sometimes, but with a wink.

    No rider is the same and no bar is either. I never ruled out the possibility that non-conventional bars fit a certain rider just fine. There are more effective ways to steer a bike: On the same trails, I like my road bars on my CX bike as much as the low rizer on my MTB.

    You may borrow some of my sensibility, if you like, but not now. I need all of mine during the holiday season .
    Doood...sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings in this holiday season but that is a gross mis-statement as well.
    I am the truth police....kidding.
    What you see happening in this thread is a changing of the guard. Finally those that embrace conventional bars are speaking up. It took a while. Truth is often lost on the less enlightened.
    Sweep bars have their place. If you are Julie Andrews riding along on their cruiser than a lot of backsweep makes sense. Anybody have a picture?

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by dirtrider7
    Drop bars have a following on many genres of bikes including touring. Some may ask why. Best reason is...multiple hand positions helps tremendously to mitigate overuse hand injuries.
    Interesting that you should say that. I predict it won't be Shiggy's argument...if he offers one.

  39. #39
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    5 uncomfortable hand positions < 1 comfortable and correct hand position.
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  40. #40
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    in deference to the drop bars here are few from a mountain biker back in the day:





    so anyone that says that Drop bars are not off road or technical riding capable just needs to shut it. Notice that those are not dirt drops either.

    For me, riding a full rigid bike the alt mary bars made a huge difference on my ability to ride everything on my local trails as it seems to create less fatigue in my arms which means I have more available strength when it comes time for crux moves on my long technical arizona descents and climbs. Plus I can ride 24 races, 8 hr epics, etc without any hand fatigue, buzzing nerves, etc. which is a near impossibility for me on a straight bar, even mounted with ergon grips (which I felt lessened my ability to ride technical sections and made them more dangerous).

    so obviously your mileage may vary.
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  41. #41
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    ^ +1.
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  42. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by MisterC
    My philosophy: emulate the pros as much as your fat ass will let you. It is truly their job and the people-who-support-them's job to make sure they are as efficient, nimble and comfortable as possible. When I see a world cup winner riding a Mary bar, well, I'll still just claim it was just swapped out for the pictures to please the sponsors.
    Interesting perspective in that the average recreational rider has very little in common with a professional rider in terms of goals or capabilities. I will emulate the pros when my goal is to ride as fast as possible while riding 20 to 30 hours per week. Until then, I will figure out what works for me and my goals and wants.
    "Fact is only what you believe; fact and fiction work as a team." Jack Johnson

  43. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by dirtrider7
    As to mountain bike bars. Conventions are honed from exhaustive trial and error based upon a huge population of experimentation. That is how they become conventions. There isn't 'some sense' to what I write. I simply write the truth which many here cannot concede because they are too ignorant to concede it. There is no mistake when it comes to convention. People can and do buck these conventions...but typically they do so out of ignorance of not understanding why conventions evolve. There is nothing contrarian about my posts. I am basically speaking to the flat earth society...lol.
    The people that argue with me are just denying convention.
    You said is well. Instead of embracing convention, many look for an alternative holy grail. Fit is quite subtle and therefore elusive to the uninitiated and why I come here to offer some advice.. 10mm of cockpit change which also includes handlebar height, completely changes fit. The great Lance Armstrong is said to be able to feel a 1 mm difference in the cockpit of his bikes. I can feel a difference of 3mm for sure. I will say it again, most that seek an alternative handlebar, never learned to set up a conventional handlebar properly.
    Btw, Lance Armstrong the great road racer also prefers mountain bike handlebars with low sweep...as do all racers.
    You seem to be saying that conventional wisdom is always right? And you use the analogy of the flat earth society to support your case? Do you also use words like blasphemy on Sunday?
    Last edited by pureslop; 12-29-2010 at 02:55 PM.

  44. #44
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    If conventional wisdom always prevails and should never be ignored. What are you doing on the 29-er board?

  45. #45
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    It's weird to see:

    "I like alt bars with big backsweep."
    DR7, "No you don't, and even if you do, you can't because of teh maths and teh physiolioligies, and also because of teh world cups and teh Lance Armstrongs!"

    here. Subsitute 29er wheels for alt bars. Are we back in 1998?
    Why can't people like what they like?
    Also, Jeff Jones rides pretty aggressively on a beach cruiser
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/chrisrbailey/2839839251/

  46. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by rockcrusher
    in deference to the drop bars here are few from a mountain biker back in the day:





    so anyone that says that Drop bars are not off road or technical riding capable just needs to shut it. Notice that those are not dirt drops either.

    For me, riding a full rigid bike the alt mary bars made a huge difference on my ability to ride everything on my local trails as it seems to create less fatigue in my arms which means I have more available strength when it comes time for crux moves on my long technical arizona descents and climbs. Plus I can ride 24 races, 8 hr epics, etc without any hand fatigue, buzzing nerves, etc. which is a near impossibility for me on a straight bar, even mounted with ergon grips (which I felt lessened my ability to ride technical sections and made them more dangerous).

    so obviously your mileage may vary.
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  47. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hellav8ted
    It's weird to see:

    "I like alt bars with big backsweep."
    DR7, "No you don't, and even if you do, you can't because of teh maths and teh physiolioligies, and also because of teh world cups and teh Lance Armstrongs!"

    here. Subsitute 29er wheels for alt bars. Are we back in 1998?
    Why can't people like what they like?Also, Jeff Jones rides pretty aggressively on a beach cruiser
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/chrisrbailey/2839839251/
    They can. I am just busting the big sweepers because its fun. Alt bar users are contrarian is the point. Riding a mtb should be fun....even with an alt bar while carrying an umbrella. ...sorry couldn't resist.
    All in good fun guys..Ride safe.

  48. #48
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    Well I am no Lance Armstrong nor will I ever ride like him. What I do know is that once I went to 17 degree pro moto bars my hand a wrist pain disappeared. So while I may not have the perfect "race" position for a mountain bike racer, my ride times and enjoyment are way up due to lack of hand pain. Good enough for me.
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  49. #49
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    We should emulate the pros Well when I, and the rest of us get paid to ride whatever the manufacturer tells us to ride, ride 30+ hours a week, have an at hand masseur, physio and doc all available after every ride and then personal yoga, nutritionist, coach etc, then I'll consider being like them. That photo of Lance is emulated by the whopping maybe 5% of MTBrs who race XC, other than that, not even I was so bent over even when I had my bars dropped several inches below my saddle.

    You who believe that the pros ride what they want, well, I have a bridge over in London and a tower in Paris to sell you

    Do yourself a favour and do the little physics experimentation I suggested and see what actually feels better in terms of posture and comfort and you will find that more sweep will bring your should blades closer together, decreasing strain on your back and shoulders. But I guess suggesting you take someone elses ideas as maybe, possibly right, I know is like sacrelidge to you.

    BTW, that was the last meal for the trolls....enjoy.
    Quote Originally Posted by Harold
    You're doing mtbr wrong, you're supposed to get increasingly offended by the implications that you're doing ANYTHING wrong.

  50. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by LyNx
    We should emulate the pros Well when I, and the rest of us get paid to ride whatever the manufacturer tells us to ride, ride 30+ hours a week, have an at hand masseur, physio and doc all available after every ride and then personal yoga, nutritionist, coach etc, then I'll consider being like them. That photo of Lance is emulated by the whopping maybe 5% of MTBrs who race XC, other than that, not even I was so bent over even when I had my bars dropped several inches below my saddle.

    You who believe that the pros ride what they want, well, I have a bridge over in London and a tower in Paris to sell you

    Do yourself a favour and do the little physics experimentation I suggested and see what actually feels better in terms of posture and comfort and you will find that more sweep will bring your should blades closer together, decreasing strain on your back and shoulders. But I guess suggesting you take someone elses ideas as maybe, possibly right, I know is like sacrelidge to you.

    BTW, that was the last meal for the trolls....enjoy.
    Sadly...it is you that are trolling. It is you who are contrarian in support of 'alternative' handlebars which by definition is against the grain of convention.
    Since you are out, I will try to be kind. But it is hard to be delicate with guys like you when speaking the truth as you are wrong on so many levels including your contrarian embrace of alt bars. Being wrong and contrarian is typical although not always the case as conventions morph. Since you frame the opinion of many alt bar supporters, I will rebut a couple of your comments.

    Being paid to ride a given bike has nothing to do with bar sweep. Your comment about Lance's riding position is absurd. Lance of all successful mountain bike racers rides perhaps the most pedestrian of setups on the dirt. Bars position about the same height as his saddle....just like Joe six pack. His set up is close to 95% of all that ride XC and not the 5% you mention...why I show him in particular...a man who has had much more success on the road but who is a very strong XC rider.

    Having your shoulder blades closer to together in back is bad...not good. Same for using a wide handlebar on a road bike. Trap pinching in fact is a major source of neck and shoulder stress and inhibits neck extension.

    Third, you are totally wrong about Pros not riding what they want. It is because of Lance that Trek offers many of the products they do. Pros don't make a living unless they ride what is fastest. It isn't the other way around. Lance doesn't ride what Trek wants, Lance rides what Lance wants. Bontrager and Trek who are joined at the hip offer parts that makes Lance the fastest determined by exhaustive testing.

    But there is more. Riding an alt bar is OK if riding a mountain bike like Mary Poppins with the predominance of weight on the saddle and upright because there is little pressure on the hands. But riding an alt bar set up more aggressively is not good for hand health if riding competitively. If it were better for hand health and more proper ergonomics, you would see more pros riding high backsweep bars. Why? For the simple fact that pros only make a living if they are healthy enough to ride. Guess what is in the top five of injuries for mountain bike racers? Hand injuries because to be fast, you must pressurize your hands.
    So, you take the most vigilant group of riders who make their living being healthy and who all choose a low backsweep handlebar over a higher sweep bar and unless you live under a rock it starts to become clear. When you press hard on a handlebar and the bar slopes back toward the outboard base of your hand where the guyon's canal and ulnar nerve reside, this geometry is most conducive to hand injuries. Ulnar nerve damage is the no.1 root cause for hand issues...often referred to as handlebar palsy.

    The purpose for writing this other than debate is...IF any of you that ride an alternative handlebar and in particular those of you that ride somewhat aggressively and you suffer with hand pain, change your set up. Hand injuries are very difficult to reverse and poor ergonomics is the no.1 reason why all riders hurt their hands. Its also why Ergon grips exist, greater distribution of hand pressure to minimize injury. My suggestion is...raise your handlebar and/or move it closer to you to reduce your back angle..but most importantly, install a low sweep handlebar that moves the handle end more in the base of your fingers away from the outboard heel of your hand that causes ulnar nerve impingement.
    Cheers.
    Last edited by dirtrider7; 12-30-2010 at 04:40 AM.

  51. #51
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    I'm emulating pro rider JHK. He used an alt-bar at the SSWC.



    Can we discuss something with more merit.....like the value of shaving your legs, which helmet cools better, why Fo wears a skate lid, or the ubiquitous baggies vs. lycra conundrum?
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  52. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by GreenLightGo
    I'm emulating pro rider JHK. He used an alt-bar at the SSWC.



    Can we discuss something with more merit.....like the value of shaving your legs, which helmet cools better, why Fo wears a skate lid, or the ubiquitous baggies vs. lycra conundrum?
    Rigid fork...goofy redundant convex top tube and not a speck on the tires.
    Alt bars kind of go with that theme. Sure that isn't a display bike?
    More like for cruising around the parking lot...lol.
    You better have a talk with him.

    For the record, below is a pic of JHK's race bike...a GF Superfly. Note the handlebars...virtually no rearward sweep.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails the handlebar mystery question-jhks-race-bike.jpg  

    Last edited by dirtrider7; 12-30-2010 at 06:31 AM.

  53. #53
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    Wow, I just had a chance to check back here and it's going to take me a while to read through all these.

    There are some great replies. I guess the good thing here so far is that I haven't seen anyone say they still ride their bars cut down just big enough to fit their brake levers on so they can squeeze between the tight trees. That style has been taken up by the fixies. (no offense to fixie riders, I'm sure you have to fit between those cars on busy streets.)

    It makes me wonder if the manufactures follow the trends of riders or if riders follow the trend of manufactures.
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  54. #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by dirtrider7
    The pic of the hand is my photoshop...lol. Gotta love it.
    More proof? Lance below on a GF 29er. Perfect position that illustrates why sweep is not wanted. Look at his hands. Same as the pro racer above. Elbows flexed to account for torso lean and weight forward, hands rotate inward toward 'negative' and not positive sweep the closer the bar becomes to his torso....same as with all riders.
    His position on a mtb is quite ordinary and common.
    I think a trend has emerged we may even be able to call a convention. Can we take a poll? Do all that espouse the virtues of alternative handlebars fail 8th grade Geometry?
    What a silly thread. Anyway, I was thinking about it on my ride last night, and I don't really get your position on riding position. I have an Origin 8 Fleegle bar. When I ride in an aggresive position similar to the one in the Lance photo, my hands do not "rotate inward toward 'negative' and not positive sweep" as you suggest, unless I stick out my elbows really wide. The angle my hands would hold onto a bar just have some natural "sweep" to it. I could (and did for many years) use a zero sweep bar, but other than causing me to adjust my hand position and perhaps use my forearms more, I don't see any benefit. More fundamentally, I'm just really not convinced by your apparent assertion that human ergonomics is a one size fits all approach.
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  55. #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by mo0se
    -5 Not on my bike.

    oh I am sure. I would say that 99.9% of the riding population is not as talented as John Tomac was as a rider.

    Please also notice the rudimentary 1" travel Manitou Fork, the hardtail aluminum frame and the scary tioga tension disc wheel. Needless to say some people are fast no matter what they ride. Which is kinda the point.
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  56. #56
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    Quote Originally Posted by dirtrider7
    Rigid fork...goofy redundant convex top tube and not a speck on the tires.
    Alt bars kind of go with that theme. Sure that isn't a display bike?
    More like for cruising around the parking lot...lol.
    You better have a talk with him.

    For the record, below is a pic of JHK's race bike...a GF Superfly. Note the handlebars...virtually no rearward sweep.
    Too many gears on his proper race bike for the SSWC (SS being 'single speed' ) . Glad to know you find alt bars and rigid forks go together, like PB&J

    Now, let's discuss padded gloves vs. Gloves without padding, or which chamois creme is best.
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