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  1. #1
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    Skeptical of wide bars...

    So I just joined the world of modern MTBs—my 10-year-old Gary Fisher 29er was stolen a few weeks ago—and I replaced it with a Giant Trance 29. Took it for my first ride yesterday (about 14 miles on a nice blue XC trail) and the bike was awesome.

    I definitely noticed an improvement in the suspension over my 10-year-old bike—not a night-and-day difference but clearly better.

    The one modern "innovation" I did NOT like (and remain skeptical of) are wide bars. The Giant Trance comes with (I think) 780mm bars—which just felt ridiculously wide to me. My old GF had 650mm bars—that's a difference of like 5-6"!

    I've heard the idea behind wider bars is greater leverage over the front wheel to help keep it tracking straight through rocks and sand. After 14 miles on an XC trail that had plenty of rocky, technical sections (the kind of rocks that throw your front wheel every which way) I noticed zero advantage of the wide bars. (Or put differently, I never had ANY problems whatsoever keeping my front wheel straight with my 650mm bars.)

    Ergonomically, I think bars that are closer to the width of your shoulders make a lot more sense because they don't force your wrists into unnatural angles. To be ergonomically "correct," ultra-wide bars need to have a lot of sweep to keep your wrists at a natural angle. My wrists actually hurt after my ride yesterday, which has *never* happened before.

    I'm curious to see what others think of the ultra-wide bar thing? Do you like them? Or did you cut your bars down?

    Scott
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  3. #3
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    Thanks—and yes, I should have done a search. Though that other thread has been beaten to death, LOL—maybe this new one should stand! ;-)
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    Three options- not one answer is better than the other (for you)

    1) give them a try to see if you adjust to them width designed around that bike
    2) cut them a little to adjust to your personal preference
    3) cut them down to the the narrow bars you are used to



    For me personally, I would not want to put the flat narrow bars from my 2000 bike on my 2016 bike (which is way bigger than the 2000 bike).

    Sounds like you either haven't adapted to the bar yet (which is normal) or the bars are too wide for your comfort in which case, cut them down. Just be sure cut in small increments. Maybe 1/2" per side to start then move down to 1/4" cutting increments.

    Eventually they will be too narrow, then you will have gone too far

    I'd say give them a try an adapt to the bike. It's is more capable (comfortable) than the old bike over some situations. As you hit chunk faster or descend faster or ride harder obstacles, the wider bars you may find to be suitable.

  5. #5
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    I wouldn't come to any hard conclusions after just one ride. You might want to try them for a week or so before moving the grips and/or trimming the bars.
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    Quote Originally Posted by SWriverstone View Post
    Ergonomically, I think bars that are closer to the width of your shoulders make a lot more sense because they don't force your wrists into unnatural position.

    I'm curious to see what others think of the ultra-wide bar thing? Do you like them? Or did you cut your bars down?

    Scott
    I could not agree more. Besides I find that super wide bars are not helping with breathing, they do not make steering easier (no matter how short the stem is) and they make clearing obstacles on tight single-tracks much more difficult. On the public road they increase chance of hitting review mirrors on cars.

    Even though my arms are very long, I had cut the bars on my last two bikes from 720mm to 700mm.


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  7. #7
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    My shoulders are 42 cm wide. I should use a 420mm bar?
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  8. #8
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    I'll leave the bars a lone for a few more rides—I agree it may take some getting used to. But a strong telltale sign was my sore writst after my first ride—IMO, they weren't sore because the bars were simply different; they were sore from being at an awkward angle—which is something nobody should get used to (or you're just effing up your wrists).

    I did notice an advantage to the wider bars when climbing—there was less wheel flop than on my 2009 bike—but it wasn't like my wheel was wobbling uncontrollably on my old bike.

    I read through most posts in that other mile-long thread...and the thing that nobody talked about was: were people really just out-of-control with 650-700mm bars? Did we all ride with narrower bars and constantly think "These bars are too damned narrow! They need to be wider!" I think the answer to both questions is "no." I rode thousands of fun miles on my 650mm bars. I think that's a pretty strong testimony for the fact that those bars were fine.

    A few people mentioned what I observed: my narrower bars were without a doubt "snappier" than the wide bars. I felt like all I had to do was *think* about a quick direction change and it happened effortlessly. This actually made navigating rock gardens easier, because it was easier and faster to make minute directional changes in the middle of the rocks with no advance notice.

    Wide bars seem to promote just plowing through everything, rocks be damned! LOL

    But again—I'll give 'em a chance, and as Forest Rider recommended, cut 'em down a half-inch for starters and see how that feels...

    Scott
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  9. #9
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    Put the saw down and give it a little time. Now that I’m used to 780mm bars, when I hop on a bike with narrower bars I do think, “These bars are too damned narrow. They need to be wider.” Many people before you have worked this one out already.

    People ride out of control no matter what gear they have. Who here has never crashed ever?

    You might not have noticed any difficulty keeping your front wheel straight with your narrower bars but your upper limit of performance was probably lower. You ride to the limit of your ability plus equipment and when you exceed one of those factors you crash or something breaks.

  10. #10
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    Wider bars are designed into the fit and geometry of modern bikes. Give it time, you will grow to love them.

    I've worked my way up from 720mm over the last few years. My last two handlebar purchases were 780 and 800, absolutely love them. It just feels right. Narrowest bar I own now is 760. (I'm 6'3" on tight, twisty, narrow, tree-lined east coast singletrack)

    Honestly narrow bars feel terrifying to ride when I jump on someone else's bike.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by SWriverstone View Post
    I'll leave the bars a lone for a few more rides—I agree it may take some getting used to. But a strong telltale sign was my sore writst after my first ride—IMO, they weren't sore because the bars were simply different; they were sore from being at an awkward angle—which is something nobody should get used to (or you're just effing up your wrists).

    I did notice an advantage to the wider bars when climbing—there was less wheel flop than on my 2009 bike—but it wasn't like my wheel was wobbling uncontrollably on my old bike.

    I read through most posts in that other mile-long thread...and the thing that nobody talked about was: were people really just out-of-control with 650-700mm bars? Did we all ride with narrower bars and constantly think "These bars are too damned narrow! They need to be wider!" I think the answer to both questions is "no." I rode thousands of fun miles on my 650mm bars. I think that's a pretty strong testimony for the fact that those bars were fine.
    You know what else was fine? 1" steerer tubes, 28mm stanchions, 9mm axles, solid non-i-beam or c-section cranksets, square taper BBs, 1.9" wide tires, and on and on.

    Like most improvements, the wider bars allow us to ride faster, or with more confidence/security, do bigger obstacles, etc. Even a slower rider will benefit from more confidence and control. Going from 640-780, yeah, that's a big difference and you can expect a big difference in control. Sometimes, improvements are very small and added together, might make a significant different, but they can be hard to nail down as helpful on their own. Sometimes, these offer only marginal gains, but that's not the case IME for modern bar widths. The idea that the bars should be as wide as your shoulders is ridiculous. These are not road bikes.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    My shoulders are 42 cm wide. I should use a 420mm bar?
    Obviously, you also need a 250mm Q-factor because that's most comfortable for standing...
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  13. #13
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    780 can be a bit much for someone coming from an older bike. But, if you cut them I bet 720 would be a good middle ground for you. I always thought 720 would be my limit but I recently switched to 760s and I like them quite a bit.

  14. #14
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    Nat said...
    You ride to the limit of your ability plus equipment and when you exceed one of those factors you crash or something breaks.
    ...and Jayem said...
    the wider bars allow us to ride faster, or with more confidence/security, do bigger obstacles, etc.
    This makes complete sense; I guess what bugs me is that changes like these are typically driven by people at the bleeding edge of the sport pushing the envelope. But the reality is that many of us (like me, who is 57 years old) have ZERO desire to ride faster, do bigger obstacles, or ride anywhere near the limits of my ability. My riding style hit a sweet spot for me years ago—and it's not going to change. That's not because I lack motivation or am mentally or physically limited, i'm just happy riding the trails I ride the way I ride them.

    I don't say any of this defensively, but simply to point out that in many gear industries for outdoor sports, changes are driven by the top 5-10% of participants and then (typically) forced on everyone else who will never need those changes.

    Sure, no question that MTB's overall have gotten better. My point is that some (not all) hardware on older bikes didn't need improving.

    For example, I weigh 220lbs and pounded the sh*t out of my old GF and it held up beautifully—and guess what? It didn't have a thru-axle. I don't have a problem with thru-axles, but that's yet another example of an "innovation" that was pointless for people who aren't hucking big air. My standard quick-release hubs lasted a decade with no sweat (and so did my Fox fork dropouts).

    Scott

    PS - Here's yet another example: years ago whitewater kayaks actually had some length and hull speed. Then the top 10% of boaters started running steep creeks and whitewater rodeos became big (again, for the top 10%). So the industry started making boats shorter and shorter to the point where the modern whitewater kayak has NO glide or hull speed whatsoever (this is a fact)—it's more like a big clorox bottle the paddler sits in—because that's what gets you down a steep creek most safely.

    But was this "better?" ONLY for the top 10% who wanted to run steep creeks. There are thousands of boaters who never run steep creeks—but after only a decade, the only choice for paddling most of them have are the clorox-bottle boats with no hull speed. They buy 'em, sure—but that's because they have no other options. And most whitewater paddlers today have no clue what paddling a boat with good glide is actually like.
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by SWriverstone View Post
    Nat said...


    ...and Jayem said...


    This makes complete sense; I guess what bugs me is that changes like these are typically driven by people at the bleeding edge of the sport pushing the envelope. But the reality is that many of us (like me, who is 57 years old) have ZERO desire to ride faster, do bigger obstacles, or ride anywhere near the limits of my ability. My riding style hit a sweet spot for me years ago—and it's not going to change. That's not because I lack motivation or am mentally or physically limited, i'm just happy riding the trails I ride the way I ride them.

    I don't say any of this defensively, but simply to point out that in many gear industries for outdoor sports, changes are driven by the top 5-10% of participants and then (typically) forced on everyone else who will never need those changes.

    Sure, no question that MTB's overall have gotten better. My point is that some (not all) hardware on older bikes didn't need improving.

    For example, I weigh 220lbs and pounded the sh*t out of my old GF and it held up beautifully—and guess what? It didn't have a thru-axle. I don't have a problem with thru-axles, but that's yet another example of an "innovation" that was pointless for people who aren't hucking big air. My standard quick-release hubs lasted a decade with no sweat (and so did my Fox fork dropouts).

    Scott
    You've got ONE ride on the new bike, one. How do you propose to draw any firm conclusions about what you need or want out of the new bike?

    Great, you've formed a first impression, but coming in here and telling people that all these modern "improvements" aren't necessary is pretty ridiculous.

    There are people here that have been pounding on these new products for years, and have remained on the newest, latest greatest stuff consistently, not to mention owning multiple bikes with various new technologies. I don't see why you think after one ride you can draw such firm conclusions that there is no benefit to the new technology.

    There are tangible benefits from thru axles, tapered head tubes, 1x drivetrains, droppers, tubeless tires, etc. Just because you don't recognize that after ONE RIDE doesn't mean it's not real.

    No you don't need to be one of the 5% to benefit from this stuff either.

    Don't like the new bike? Go buy a 10 year old GF, there's plenty available.
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    Quote Originally Posted by SWriverstone View Post
    So I just joined the world of modern MTBs—my 10-year-old Gary Fisher 29er was stolen a few weeks ago—and I replaced it with a Giant Trance 29. Took it for my first ride yesterday (about 14 miles on a nice blue XC trail) and the bike was awesome.

    I definitely noticed an improvement in the suspension over my 10-year-old bike—not a night-and-day difference but clearly better.

    The one modern "innovation" I did NOT like (and remain skeptical of) are wide bars. The Giant Trance comes with (I think) 780mm bars—which just felt ridiculously wide to me. My old GF had 650mm bars—that's a difference of like 5-6"!

    I've heard the idea behind wider bars is greater leverage over the front wheel to help keep it tracking straight through rocks and sand. After 14 miles on an XC trail that had plenty of rocky, technical sections (the kind of rocks that throw your front wheel every which way) I noticed zero advantage of the wide bars. (Or put differently, I never had ANY problems whatsoever keeping my front wheel straight with my 650mm bars.)

    Ergonomically, I think bars that are closer to the width of your shoulders make a lot more sense because they don't force your wrists into unnatural angles. To be ergonomically "correct," ultra-wide bars need to have a lot of sweep to keep your wrists at a natural angle. My wrists actually hurt after my ride yesterday, which has *never* happened before.

    I'm curious to see what others think of the ultra-wide bar thing? Do you like them? Or did you cut your bars down?

    Scott
    I agree, and for the same reasons. I was fine with wide bars on my normal shorter high intensity rides where I am only on the bike for 30-40 minutes at a time. But when I did some longer rides of 2-4 hours, I was experiencing significant wrist pain that wouldn’t go away. Lasted for weeks while I tried to ride thru it. Tried some adjustments, but what worked, and immediately, was moving my controls and grips in til I liked it.
    Then cut the bars. Ended up at 28”. I have since then demoed several bikes with wide bars. Don’t like ‘em. While a warranty issue was being taken care of, I had a loaner bike with wide bars. Had it for nearly 6 weeks. Rode it a lot. Probably at least 35 hours.
    Still didn’t like wide bars.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by SWriverstone View Post
    So I just joined the world of modern MTBs—my 10-year-old Gary Fisher 29er was stolen a few weeks ago—and I replaced it with a Giant Trance 29. Took it for my first ride yesterday (about 14 miles on a nice blue XC trail) and the bike was awesome.

    I definitely noticed an improvement in the suspension over my 10-year-old bike—not a night-and-day difference but clearly better.

    The one modern "innovation" I did NOT like (and remain skeptical of) are wide bars. The Giant Trance comes with (I think) 780mm bars—which just felt ridiculously wide to me. My old GF had 650mm bars—that's a difference of like 5-6"!

    I've heard the idea behind wider bars is greater leverage over the front wheel to help keep it tracking straight through rocks and sand. After 14 miles on an XC trail that had plenty of rocky, technical sections (the kind of rocks that throw your front wheel every which way) I noticed zero advantage of the wide bars. (Or put differently, I never had ANY problems whatsoever keeping my front wheel straight with my 650mm bars.)

    Ergonomically, I think bars that are closer to the width of your shoulders make a lot more sense because they don't force your wrists into unnatural angles. To be ergonomically "correct," ultra-wide bars need to have a lot of sweep to keep your wrists at a natural angle. My wrists actually hurt after my ride yesterday, which has *never* happened before.

    I'm curious to see what others think of the ultra-wide bar thing? Do you like them? Or did you cut your bars down?

    Scott
    Cut them down; 650-780 is a huge jump in bar width. I’m 6’1” and I’m running 740mm. If I’m not careful, I’ll still catch them on trees sometimes...well, what’s left of the trees. Many local trails have been modified/trees cut down, to make room for people with bars too wide

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    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    My shoulders are 42 cm wide. I should use a 420mm bar?
    My bars are a wider than my shoulders. I run 700mm cause I have experimented with widths from 720mm to about 600mm. I did noticed better handling when going wider, but after 700mm it just began to feel unnatural.

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    Quote Originally Posted by downcountry View Post
    But when I did some longer rides of 2-4 hours, I was experiencing significant wrist pain that wouldn’t go away.
    Have you experimented with different grips? I am aware that some guys hate those "ergon type" grips, but if they allow you to run bar width that is otherwise ideal for you, then why not?

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    Dude... Through axles are the greatest thing since disk brakes. And the greatest thing that ever happened to disk brakes!

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    For downhill, I usually cut bars width based on my pushup width which is 780 max for me. Usually run 750-760 for my trail bike.

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    Quote Originally Posted by griz View Post
    Cut them down; 650-780 is a huge jump in bar width. I’m 6’1” and I’m running 740mm. If I’m not careful, I’ll still catch them on trees sometimes...well, what’s left of the trees. Many local trails have been modified/trees cut down, to make room for people with bars too wide
    Scott, do NOT cut them down, at least not yet. We live in the same neighborhood and I know exactly where you ride. We don't have many tight trees to worry about. We have lots of wide open terrain: Peterson Ridge, Maston, Horse Ridge, Horse Butte, Phil's, etc. Give it a chance.

    BTW, I don't consider myself at the bleeding edge of the sport. I'm only a few years younger than you and I have a day job that doesn't involve bikes but I still am able to appreciate the benefits of wider bars.

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    ^ How can you be sure it's not just clever marketing??
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    Those 650mm bars were probably run with a 100+mm stem, while the wide bars on your new bike are more likely on 40-50. Wide bars moderate the steering inputs to short stems; long stems moderate the steering inputs of narrow bars. Today's bikes are literally built from the ground up to run wider bars. You might not want to stay at 780 or whatever, but I wouldn't be in a big hurry to cut too much off of them.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by *OneSpeed* View Post
    ^ How can you be sure it's not just clever marketing??
    ...because I've used them.

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    Downside to wide bars is that it restricts movement on your bike ( side to side and moving back). Yes they provide nice leverage but at the cost of movement. For me at 6 feet with normal length arms I find 750/760 perfect length.

    I suggest try moving in your grips and levers, and experiment with different lengths before cutting them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by In2falling View Post
    Downside to wide bars is that it restricts movement on your bike ( side to side and moving back).
    How so? I feel my control of the bike is better than ever and much of it has to do with the wider handlebars. Modern geo pairs wide bars with short stems which doesn't significantly change the ETT/Reach compared to old school geo with narrow handlebars and long stems.

    It only improves control and gives the rider a greater ability to maneuver the bike. The handlebar should be paired appropriately with the stem. With the right setup, there is no problem getting "back" on the bike, especially with a dropper.

    There is no "restriction" unless it's perceived or a limit of your skills. Otherwise pro's and high level riders would all be using narrower handlebars.
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    Something to consider with a wider bar -wider used loosely and for each individual.

    If a rider has a narrow grip, their arms aren't necessarily in the correct position to absorb the hit like they would be on a wider bar.

    "elbows up" comes to mind. If you tuck your elbows into your sides (of your body), can you easily absorb a hit with your shoulders. Probably can but will be less than 'easy', I think.

    Taking the hit of chunk on a wider bar will send the hit through your arms so your elbows flex and your shoulders take the hit. I'm not saying it is the best, bu in theory, it is better.
    Also as mentioned early on, the narrow bar feels more playful (or twitchy). Twitchy isn't a good term when going fast through rough stuff.
    Slow it down a bit, sure no problem an wider bars will have a minimum effect.

    No right answer here.
    Again, if you decide to cut them down after a few rides, cut 1/2" to 3/4" off to start. Could be a good starting point for you if you are definitely looking for more narrow.

    Consider purchasing a cheap 31.8mm stem -bars are cheaper than 35mm bars and if the cutting goes bad you haven't ruined an expensive set of bars.

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    Put your arms straight out ahead of you with your hands gripping an imaginary handlebar. Now start spreading your arms apart while turning your wrists in to keep your hands on the bar. At some point, your wrists start to hurt. And that point is going to be different for everyone.
    Obviously, bar sweep is going to take care of some of that, so there must be some experimentation before you decide what is the correct width for you.
    Think of wide bars as a place to start,
    not the destination.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by *OneSpeed* View Post
    You've got ONE ride on the new bike, one. How do you propose to draw any firm conclusions about what you need or want out of the new bike?
    This. After riding the same bike for a decade I expect anyone who jumps on a modern bike to feel uneasy with it at first. When I jumped from 730mm to 787mm, I thought the wider bars were cumbersome at first. I ride 800mm+ bars now.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Forest Rider View Post
    Something to consider with a wider bar -wider used loosely and for each individual.

    If a rider has a narrow grip, their arms aren't necessarily in the correct position to absorb the hit like they would be on a wider bar.

    "elbows up" comes to mind. If you tuck your elbows into your sides (of your body), can you easily absorb a hit with your shoulders. Probably can but will be less than 'easy', I think.
    780mm

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  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by downcountry View Post
    Put your arms straight out ahead of you with your hands gripping an imaginary handlebar. Now start spreading your arms apart while turning your wrists in to keep your hands on the bar. At some point, your wrists start to hurt.
    Your test doesn't work because you're not bending your elbows like you would on an actual bike. If you ride with your elbows straight then you have a technique problem.

  33. #33
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    OP, rather than cutting your bar down, maybe you can pick up a shorter bar to try. Then you can hang onto the longer bar in case you decide to go longer, or you can sell the longer bar. Around here I keep seeing 700-760mm bars for sale at very reasonable prices on craigslist and facebook marketplace because people are replacing them with 780+ mm bars and tryi,g to unload the shorter ones.

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    First thing to try is a shorter stem. There are LOTS of 35mm stems and a few shorter options, but chances are you have something longer than 35mm, so that's usually a good place to start, before cutting bars down.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nat View Post
    Your test doesn't work because you're not bending your elbows like you would on an actual bike. If you ride with your elbows straight then you have a technique problem.
    Jeez, really? Been doing this since 1992, have ridden a lot of different terrain in a lot of different areas of the country, and you know my technique is a problem??
    It doesn’t matter whether your elbows are bent , straight, twisted, crooked, or what the heck ever, different folks will have different requirements or wants for bar width.

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    First- as said ride them for a while. Had a good friend go from a 2000 Sworks FSR to a Mojo 3. First ride he complained about the wide bars. I suggested waiting to cut and after a few rides he ended up loving them.

    I'll throw a slightly different suggestion out there for you.

    https://shop.hayesperformance.com/co...mm-width-black

    I have the original 720 wide ones and thought they had been discontinued because of the way the website was rearranged. I have the new wider ones on my Xmas list.

    Love the sweep. If after some time to get used to the wider bars you still have wrist pain, give these a shot.
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    Scott,

    With lock-on grips, can you try just sliding your grips and controls inwards an inch for a ride or two before cutting? Looks dorky, and not terribly safe, but just a ride or two before cutting.

    I'm at least big-ish, and 760 works for me. You're inarguably correct in your observation that the wider you go, the more oddly your wrists get "cocked".

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  39. #39
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    i went from narrow to 760 incrementally, but i remember experimenting with 800 in the middle and it just didnt work for me at the time. now 700 seems too narrow. it will take adjustment but you might eventually like it.
    for wrist pain - try bar with more back sweep. there are a few good choices at 12 degrees and some at 16. i use both

  40. #40
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    When I owned a 2005 Yeti 575, I put wider bars on it even then. In fact, it's an exercise bike for my wife and has old 720mm bars on it. So I wouldn't say that the widening of bars is a "new thing". Geometry has been evolving though, and wider bars as part of that has evolved as well. I also have a T29 and run 770mm bars on it. That works for me, at 5'8" tall.
    Ride it a few times and then try moving the grips in, incrementally. When you get to a position you like, cut them. I'd be very surprised if you get to the point where you like 650mm on that bike, but who knows?

  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by downcountry View Post
    Jeez, really? Been doing this since 1992, have ridden a lot of different terrain in a lot of different areas of the country, and you know my technique is a problem??
    It doesn’t matter whether your elbows are bent , straight, twisted, crooked, or what the heck ever, different folks will have different requirements or wants for bar width.
    I've been doing this longer than you. I agree that different folks will have different requirements but no one should ride with their elbows locked out stiff-armed. That would just be weird and wrong. You have to flex them a little so they can move. "Elbows out."

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    Quote Originally Posted by SWriverstone View Post
    ...For example, I weigh 220lbs and pounded the sh*t out of my old GF...
    Wait, what?
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  43. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtnbkrmike View Post
    Wait, what?
    Hahahhaaaa!

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    I used to ride an L bike with 720mm. Replaced the bike with an XL, 780mm. First impulse, I cut the bar to 720mm. Felt good after I had adapted to the new geometry.

    Then bought another XL bike (now a hardtail), with 800mm. Told to myself "I'll cut this bar first thing". Glad I didn't. Riding with 800mm was so much better than I ever thought would be. Result: spent another $80 for a new 800mm bar to replace the bar I cut in the first place.

    I guess it depends on the way people ride. I do some technical climbs and some jumps. Wider definitively improved a lot in some of these aspects. But I understand that different scenarios require different geometries. To me, wide bars are a blessing.

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    If a proper sized handlebar on a modern mountain bike (720-800mm for most adults) feels awkward for your wrists, adjust the angle of the handlebar or the brake lever and shifter position. Riding a wide-ish handlebar is just as logical and natural as anything else on a modern mountain bike. If you have to chop it down to little stubs like in the '90s, something is amiss with your bike fit.

    That said, I am 5'9", average proportions with a 760mm handlebar. I don't want it any wider than that, but I could stand to have it just a smidge narrower. It's a SQLabs x30 bar with 12° of backsweep. I could ride a more standard 8-9° backsweep, but the little bit of extra bend feels better on long rides.

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    A lot of people are and were skeptical of:
    Suspension in general
    Dropper posts
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    Carbon fiber anything
    29ers
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    And the heliocentric model of our solar system

    If you wanna be a tinfoil hat-wearing look with a stubby handlebar on your bike, go for it. Just keep the kookiness to yourself at this point. The rest of the world has evolved and moved on.

  47. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by SWriverstone View Post
    I'm curious to see what others think of the ultra-wide bar thing? Do you like them? Or did you cut your bars down?
    I've been slower with this trend than many here on mtbr. I rode an older geo bike for a long time. I don't even know how wide the bars on that bike were, but they were definitely narrower than 700mm. It was "fine" on that bike. Then I bought a new bike and had 720mm bars. It took a little getting used to, but since the jump wasn't as big, wasn't such a big deal. I rode that bike for years with those bars, and they were "fine" also...until they weren't. I moved and had access to a totally different type of trail, and then I became very aware that those 720mm bars were simply too narrow for my riding and I was noticing the reduced control. Then I crashed and damaged those bars (not related to bar width/stability), and I put 780mm bars on. They felt a little weird again, but I noticed immediate improvements in handling stability. Then I built a new bike this spring, and put 780mm bars on it, too.

    650-780mm is a big jump. It'll take time to get accustomed to. But it works. You may choose to trim them a touch. That's fine. But they're not made to lop massive amounts off. You'll probably find somewhere in some product literature about how much is safe to chop off. My wife is small and her bike came with big, wide bars. She took it slow and we slowly trimmed off maybe 10mm at a time. She settled at 740mm.

    Regarding the wrist pain, new geometries are built around a more active riding position where you've got your "elbows out" which will straighten your wrists. Really sweepy bars work for different riding positions, and tend to be favored by bikepacker types and for bar bikes and such with a more casual riding focus. They're available in different lengths, too.

    Quote Originally Posted by SWriverstone View Post
    My riding style hit a sweet spot for me years ago—and it's not going to change. That's not because I lack motivation or am mentally or physically limited, i'm just happy riding the trails I ride the way I ride them.
    This is a sad place to be. Just because you found the place you like to be with riding your bike doesn't mean you can't still appreciate changes to bikes, and doesn't mean that you don't seek improvements to your riding. If my riding became static, I'd probably stop riding altogether because then it would be boring. You don't have to be bleeding edge, either. All you need is to want to ride a little faster, or a little farther, or to ride this technical spot that's challenging (but attainable) to you. You don't have to suddenly want to hit 20ft gap jumps and change your riding style drastically.

  48. #48
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    The trend of wider bars has been advancing for over a decade. Why are we still discussing this as if it's a new thing?

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    Quote Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post
    The trend of wider bars has been advancing for over a decade. Why are we still discussing this as if it's a new thing?
    Because the OP is riding a newer bike, with a wider bar?
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  50. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post
    The trend of wider bars has been advancing for over a decade. Why are we still discussing this as if it's a new thing?
    It's new to OP (obviously).

    I'm always behind on trends because 3-5 year old stuff is way more affordable...and I tend to keep stuff a while rather than changing every year. Consequently, I only got on board with the longer bar concept a few years ago when I got a semi-modern bike (2014 Trance) that had them on it.

    I promptly started to feel the advantages, but also had some issues. Coming from ~650mm and not too long prior 580mm, I'd smack trees pretty often and felt like I had to take a step back and re-learn how to handle a bike. After a particularly hard hit to my pinkie I chopped them down to 760mm from 800mm and that felt much closer to "right" without losing any noticeable amount of control. Over the last year I've pretty much settled on 740mm and that's about right. For me. What OP does has to be what's right for him, but I agree with the others that it's going to take some time to adjust.
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    Quote Originally Posted by be1 View Post
    i went from narrow to 760 incrementally, but i remember experimenting with 800 in the middle and it just didnt work for me at the time. now 700 seems too narrow. it will take adjustment but you might eventually like it.
    for wrist pain - try bar with more back sweep. there are a few good choices at 12 degrees and some at 16. i use both
    As an FYI the ones I linked above are 20 if you want more.
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  52. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post
    The trend of wider bars has been advancing for over a decade. Why are we still discussing this as if it's a new thing?
    To MTBR everything that happened in the last 15 years is new. That's what happens when you get older.

  53. #53
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    Wow, lots to absorb here, but good comments from everyone–thanks!

    FIRST: I plan to keep my 780mm bars for the time being and see if I adapt to them. As others have said, going from 650mm to 780mm is a big jump. (That's 25.5" to almost 31".) I went for a ride last night (@Nat) on a local trail system near Eugene (Whypass) that's all twisty forest trail with lots of narrow slots between trees. I "braced for impact" on several of the tree slots but actually never hit my bar ends, so that's a plus!

    SECOND: Riding with elbows up/out does change your wrist angle—so the point made above about modern bikes being built for that riding style is a good one. Except...that's also a perfect example of the top 10% "dictating" riding style to everyone else: you only need to ride elbows out on trail sections where you're absorbing a lot of hits—I definitely don't ride elbows out 100% of the time. Much of the time (especially on smooth flow trails) I'm in a much less aggressive position and it works beautifully. So for manufacturers to assume everyone will ride elbows up/out all the time is kinda dumb.

    THIRD: It's a fact of neuroscience that our brains adapt VERY quickly to changes. Because of this (and to address the point "How can you judge after riding something just once?"), the first time you experience a change is actually the BEST time to evaluate that change—because your brain is "unbiased" since it hasn't adapted yet to the change. The longer I ride with a change like the wider bars, the more my brain adapts to them—which does NOT necessarily mean they're better—it just means my brain is doing what it evolved to do: cope with the change!

    Put differently, I guarantee you that if—in some alternate universe—we were going from wide bars in the 90s to narrower bars today, everyone here would be saying exactly the same things: "Dude, the narrower bars are SO much better–they feel weird at first, but give them a chance—you'll get used to them!"

    My point? It's impossible to claim that just because you adapt to a change, that change is by default "better." Our minds and bodies are supremely adaptable. It's why we survive.

    Scott

    PS - Good point made above about stem length too—yes, my old GF had a much longer stem (to go with the 650mm bars). And yes, the Giant Trance 29 has a 35mm stem. So I get it—it's not optimal to just slap 650mm bars on a 35mm stem.
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    We all "used to" ride shorter bars, so you're not alone.

    I'm a decent sized guy and I'm used to wide bars, but 780mm is too wide for me.

    Since the stock bars are inexpensive aluminum, I'd cut those down from 780 to something more like 740mm, ride them for a while, then gradually decrease bar width until you find a happy place.

    Pipe cutter and a file.

    I'm 6', wide shoulders, and I run 740-750.

    EDIT: A couple more things to consider: Wide bars are more likely to interfere with trees and rocks. Wide bars can be a negative, increasing hand pressure to the thumb and inner palm.

    There's no rule, that's why you just play with it. Take off bars are cheap, get a set cut to 720mm.

    There's also the old guy thing; I assume you're not twenty, so you may find the wider bar position harder to manage due to reduced flexibility and a desire to be more upright when riding.
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  55. #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nurse Ben View Post
    ......Pipe cutter and a file

    Maybe, but since the op is moving from a 10 y/o bike with bars that were 100mm narrower it might be a good idea to get 10-20 hours of trail time in as-is before making any decisions to cut.
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  56. #56
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    Quote Originally Posted by SWriverstone View Post
    SECOND: Riding with elbows up/out does change your wrist angle—so the point made above about modern bikes being built for that riding style is a good one. Except...that's also a perfect example of the top 10% "dictating" riding style to everyone else: you only need to ride elbows out on trail sections where you're absorbing a lot of hits—I definitely don't ride elbows out 100% of the time. Much of the time (especially on smooth flow trails) I'm in a much less aggressive position and it works beautifully. So for manufacturers to assume everyone will ride elbows up/out all the time is kinda dumb.
    What makes you think it's a "top 10%" thing? It's very true that not everybody rides the same way, and that's why there are lots of different bikes and lots of different handlebars. But, the Trance is designed to be ridden that way. If you don't like the riding position, maybe you should have looked for a bike with a slightly different purpose in mind? You DO have the ability to vote with your dollars, and there are manufacturers who cater to different styles of riding, if not wholly with multiple models, sometimes with at least one model for a different style of riding.

    And for that matter, you can still go buy sweepier handlebars to put on your new Trance if they suit your riding position and riding style better, and what you seek is only a subtle change in the fit of the bike.

  57. #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    Maybe, but since the op is moving from a 10 y/o bike with bars that were 100mm narrower it might be a good idea to get 10-20 hours of trail time in as-is before making any decisions to cut.
    Umm, not really, esp if he develops a use injury from changing his hand position so drastically.

    The main concern with making a large change in fit is that the body doesn't have time to adjust. Like increasing seat height, reach, bar height, etc... making changes in small increments is always the right choice.

    Even dropping to a 720mm bar is still 40mm wider than he's ridden ever, nearly an inch on either side.
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  58. #58
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    Quote Originally Posted by SWriverstone View Post
    Good point made above about stem length too—yes, my old GF had a much longer stem (to go with the 650mm bars). And yes, the Giant Trance 29 has a 35mm stem. So I get it—it's not optimal to just slap 650mm bars on a 35mm stem.
    It's stem length & bar length, but def more. People mentioned sweep and rise. Then throw in different head angle and reach, among other changes to the frame. And riding with a dropper if you haven't - it really is a lot to try and process and not just the bar, which is the most obvious/visible change.

    Last time my wrists hurt for "no reason" was when I forgot to open up the fork after a climb. Derp! Not saying that's what you did, but couldn't hurt to look at the fork and make sure everything is dialed or at least "close enough".
    :nono: :thumbsup:

  59. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    What makes you think it's a "top 10%" thing? It's very true that not everybody rides the same way, and that's why there are lots of different bikes and lots of different handlebars. But, the Trance is designed to be ridden that way. If you don't like the riding position, maybe you should have looked for a bike with a slightly different purpose in mind? You DO have the ability to vote with your dollars, and there are manufacturers who cater to different styles of riding, if not wholly with multiple models, sometimes with at least one model for a different style of riding.

    And for that matter, you can still go buy sweepier handlebars to put on your new Trance if they suit your riding position and riding style better, and what you seek is only a subtle change in the fit of the bike.
    Good points Harold. My "10%" comment was exaggerated...but I do still believe that the hardcore elite in any sport receive a proportionately greater amount of attention from manufacturers than the "average schlubs." And I believe that what the hardcore/elite riders want hugely influences entire product lines from any given manufacturer.

    I'm not sure why, because as you point out, we can vote with dollars. But it's a fact that the retail industry is extremely monkey see-monkey do. One manufacturer puts wide bars on all their bikes, everyone else will too—leaving the average rider with little choice.

    And my purely unscientific observation has been that the majority of bars on modern MTBs are well over the 700mm width.

    I just checked and the 2019 Giant Anthem—which is an XC bike—still has 780mm bars. I'd have to look around more to see if *any* modern midrange MTBs come stock with bars 700mm or less?

    I also found this article from 2017, which cracked me up...
    https://www.bikeradar.com/news/giant...ndlebar-width/

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  60. #60
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    Quote Originally Posted by SWriverstone View Post
    ... but actually never hit my bar ends, so that's a plus!
    Wait ... whut? Your bar ends?

    Quote Originally Posted by SWriverstone View Post
    And yes, the Giant Trance 29 has a 35mm stem. So I get it—it's not optimal to just slap 650mm bars on a 35mm stem.
    The 35mm is the clamp diameter, not the stem length. I think most of the Trances shipped with 50s if memory serves.

    Really, man, you don't have to buy what you seem to feel the industry is shoving down your throat. Take a hacksaw to those bars and stop complaining about the "Top 10%." And don't forget those bar ends ...
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  61. #61
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    Quote Originally Posted by SWriverstone View Post
    Put differently, I guarantee you that if—in some alternate universe—we were going from wide bars in the 90s to narrower bars today, everyone here would be saying exactly the same things: "Dude, the narrower bars are SO much better–they feel weird at first, but give them a chance—you'll get used to them!"
    That doesn't really exist though. Don't overthink this. Just ride the bike for awhile and see.

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    Tried a few different sizes. Decided that 700mm work the best for me. But I think that some 10+ years ago that would be considered wide.
    Anyway I always had problem with wider bars cause I live in the city with many narrow streets.


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  63. #63
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    30 years of riding so I was right with the 'retro' bars! I remember getting my first FS in 2001 (GT iDrive!) and the bars were a bit wider than my previous bike. All my buddies were like 'cut those bars you're gonna clip trees' so I immediately cut them. As I got new bikes over the years they all came with bars that were wider and wider and I resisted cutting them until I got at least a dozen rides in. I never ended up cutting bars again. Over time I've grown to like them at around 760-780. I'm 6'4" and ride tight New England singletrack (with LOTS of trees!).
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    Ya nope was riding a friend's 2012 wahoo with like 640mm bars on a 29er.
    Best way to describe is it felt like a clown bike. Little bitty bars to turn a big ole wheel.

    That being said I was on 800mm for a while and they felt fine but we're a pain on my old school natural trails. Kept hitting them on trees or having to slow down. I don't like slowing down I got koms to get bro.

    So I cut them to 740mm and they feel a touch narrow but just about perfect for my tree squeezes. Definitely snappier turning.

    I think there's a perfect width for everyone depending on trail system bike and rider.

    It's best to experiment I think.

  65. #65
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    *actually I decided to delete this last comment - that may have been a little too neanderthal*
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    Quote Originally Posted by SWriverstone View Post
    Wow, lots to absorb here, but good comments from everyone–thanks!

    FIRST: I plan to keep my 780mm bars for the time being and see if I adapt to them. As others have said, going from 650mm to 780mm is a big jump. (That's 25.5" to almost 31".) I went for a ride last night (@Nat) on a local trail system near Eugene (Whypass) that's all twisty forest trail with lots of narrow slots between trees. I "braced for impact" on several of the tree slots but actually never hit my bar ends, so that's a plus!

    SECOND: Riding with elbows up/out does change your wrist angle—so the point made above about modern bikes being built for that riding style is a good one. Except...that's also a perfect example of the top 10% "dictating" riding style to everyone else: you only need to ride elbows out on trail sections where you're absorbing a lot of hits—I definitely don't ride elbows out 100% of the time. Much of the time (especially on smooth flow trails) I'm in a much less aggressive position and it works beautifully. So for manufacturers to assume everyone will ride elbows up/out all the time is kinda dumb.

    THIRD: It's a fact of neuroscience that our brains adapt VERY quickly to changes. Because of this (and to address the point "How can you judge after riding something just once?"), the first time you experience a change is actually the BEST time to evaluate that change—because your brain is "unbiased" since it hasn't adapted yet to the change. The longer I ride with a change like the wider bars, the more my brain adapts to them—which does NOT necessarily mean they're better—it just means my brain is doing what it evolved to do: cope with the change!

    Put differently, I guarantee you that if—in some alternate universe—we were going from wide bars in the 90s to narrower bars today, everyone here would be saying exactly the same things: "Dude, the narrower bars are SO much better–they feel weird at first, but give them a chance—you'll get used to them!"

    My point? It's impossible to claim that just because you adapt to a change, that change is by default "better." Our minds and bodies are supremely adaptable. It's why we survive.


    Scott

    PS - Good point made above about stem length too—yes, my old GF had a much longer stem (to go with the 650mm bars). And yes, the Giant Trance 29 has a 35mm stem. So I get it—it's not optimal to just slap 650mm bars on a 35mm stem.
    If this was directed at me, I apologize. I mislead you.

    I mean the handler bar clamping surface. The newer bikes tend to come standard with a 35mm handle bar. They are more expensive to replace. Purchasing a cheap stem and handlebar with 31.8mm diameter is a cheaper way in case you end up messing up!

    My 2016 Stumpjumper has a 60mm stem length (I believe) and the 2019 Chamelon is stock with a 50mm stem length. Chameleon has 35mm bars (larger clamping surface requiring less torque on the clamp bolts and the bar has more rigidity at the clamp)

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    OK, flame suit on, zipped, and pressure tested....

    Elbows out? Rubbish. That comes from a moment in absorbing time captured by a really good photographer. It looks bad a$$.

    But if your starting position is elbows out, you've used up most of your absorption before you hit the first bump.
    Whining is not a strategy.

  68. #68
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    Its a whole new world. Bike geometry is completely different from 10 years ago. Components are totally different too. Elsewhere in MTBR, the OP mentions "proper technique for dropper post use'" This says it all.

    The OP needs to spend a good bit of time learning to adjust his/her riding technique to make maximum use of all the new geometry and components on the new breed of bikes. It is sort of like stepping off of a 1990's ski and onto a 2019 all mountain ski. Everything about them both are different.

    OP, take time to learn about your new bikes capabilities and capacities, as they will increase yours.

    This all said, there are some part sizes which should be in relation to the size of the rider. They need to be proportional, but in keeping with the design intention. Bike manufacturers employ some of the top designers and pro athletes to test their equipment. They really do know what they are doing and while interested in "style," they are making stuff to fulfill "fades." They make stuff to make riders faster and have more control at these new riding speeds.

    I had a GF 10 years ago and all of the new bikes make that thing feel like a boat anchor in comparison.

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    The nice thing is you can cut them down. 780 is way to wide for me. I've found 720-740 to be the sweet spot for me.

  70. #70
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    Quote Originally Posted by kosmo View Post
    OK, flame suit on, zipped, and pressure tested....

    Elbows out? Rubbish. That comes from a moment in absorbing time captured by a really good photographer. It looks bad a$$.

    But if your starting position is elbows out, you've used up most of your absorption before you hit the first bump.
    Are you picturing a full-attack position with elbows bent close to 90 degrees? You're right, you wouldn't cruise around like that. You can flex them just a little, even 10 degrees, but they're still pointed outward instead of back towards your hips. That's still "elbows out." Just don't lock them out and ride stiff-armed.

    Check out the dude in the orange shirt on the home page image of the following website. He has his elbows out but still has plenty of room for movement and shock absorption if he were to hit a big bump. https://www.visitrenotahoe.com/thing...vities/biking/
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    This rider also has her elbows out and has plenty of room for shock absorption:
    Skeptical of wide bars...-bike-annika-superjumbo.jpg

    Try not to do any of these (at least not for very long):

    Skeptical of wide bars...-cycling-mountainbiking-vrsic.jpg

    Skeptical of wide bars...-0310e1802e8b581a83e4bedbce345258_biking19-870-475-c.jpg

    Skeptical of wide bars...-636282925897246115-mountain-biking.jpg

  71. #71
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    ok, I'll help beat the dead and mutilated horse some more

    I'm not keen on much over 720-730mm bars and at least some of the trails I ride (including some bridge crossings, etc.) will lead to hand smashes in the 760+ range.

    Don't really like the idea of cutting carbon or titanium bars either.

    Note: none of my 29er frames are newer than maybe 2015 so geometry on them is not the same as the new fangled slacked out teeny stem setups. On those sorts of geo's, wider bars are more appropriate.
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  72. #72
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    Quote Originally Posted by kosmo View Post
    Elbows out? Rubbish.
    Good point. I prefer to tuck my elbows into my camelbak straps so they don't flop around so much. It's been suggested I do some strength training but I don't wanna lose flexibility.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kosmo View Post
    OK, flame suit on, zipped, and pressure tested....

    Elbows out? Rubbish. That comes from a moment in absorbing time captured by a really good photographer. It looks bad a$$.

    But if your starting position is elbows out, you've used up most of your absorption before you hit the first bump.
    It is not rubbish...

    elbows out comes from motocross background... if attacking any downhill sections, elbows should always be out and pressuring outside of palms so you are not death gripping the handle bars/grips... to minimize arm pump and/or strain on the fingers.

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    I think elbows out make sense when riding technical stuff and big jumps. For XC its better to go a bit narrower.


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    Quote Originally Posted by SWriverstone View Post
    I'm curious to see what others think of the ultra-wide bar thing? Do you like them? Or did you cut your bars down?
    7 years ago I was on 680mm bars. I have tried as wide as 800mm, but that caused me elbow pain now I'm back down to 760mm and that feels pretty good. There is no wrong answer. If you want to run narrower bars do it. You can cut your current bars a fair bit and just see what happens.
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  76. #76
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nat View Post

    Try not to do any of these (at least not for very long):

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	cycling-mountainbiking-vrsic.jpg 
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    ]
    Ouch, that hurts just looking at it!
    This post is a natural product. Variances in spelling & grammar should be appreciated as part of its character & beauty.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dc40 View Post
    It is not rubbish...

    elbows out comes from motocross background... if attacking any downhill sections, elbows should always be out and pressuring outside of palms so you are not death gripping the handle bars/grips... to minimize arm pump and/or strain on the fingers.
    True, when you're actually absorbing, but not the static starting position.

    There is an old Ricky Carmichael video that puts the lie to that. Out there somewhere....
    Whining is not a strategy.

  78. #78
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    OP: For many years, riders immediately had to replace stock bars on a brand new bike with wider ones of their choice. That was an extra, unnecessary expense after the cost of a complete bike. After all these years of riders and magazines complaining about it, bike brands finally spec their models with 760-800 bars.

    That's a win on all levels. Stock width suits you? Perfect! Too wide? Cutting them shorter costs nothing!

    On bike fit/handling, it may be true that 780mm is too wide for you. Nothing wrong with that, your equipment should help you, not hinder you. Just don't rush and cut off too much. For me, 5mm from either side was enough to feel a noticeable improvement. I'm only 163cm (thats about 5'4" or 5'5") and both my bikes have 750mm bars. 740 feels too narrow. I can ride 760 to 780, but it's not ideal.

    Also, I come from a place with very narrow gaps between trees, and wider bars have resulted in less little finger to tree contact than before. Steering with wider bars is calmer, more precise, so you can point your front exactly where you want it. Twitchier narrow bars were far worse in that regard, at least according to my personal experience.

    Keep in mind that your new bike may affect the way you tackle trail obstacles. Modern geo is very good at going over stuff safely. I have found that in many cases, that's both the faster and safer option. You really have to do something wrong to go OTB these days. Dropper posts help a lot in that regard too.

    It seems that your new bike has brought a lot of changes at once for you. Give it some time, ride familiar trails, maybe take a trip to some new trails, give yourself time to learn your bike and adjust. You can fine tune things if you feel you need to, just spend some time on the bike first. I made a similar leap 3 yrs ago, from a 2007 XC to a 2016 AM hardtail. I needed around 8 months before I could really feel one with the bike.

  79. #79
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    Prefer 780mm here. Tried to go to narrower 740mm bars and immediately went back to the 780's.

    You have plenty of info here for sure! Keep us posted on where you end up!

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    Hand position on the grip can affect bar width too. Some grab the middle of the grip...and some the end of the grip. If you grab mid grip and have a 780...it might be the same as someone grabbing the ends of the grips on a 760. I happen to grab the very end on the grips.

    Bar height can also change how bar width feels. I'm running 760 on both my bikes...but I'm not feeling the 760 on the bike with the lower bar position. The bike with the lower bar had a 720. I've been riding it for a couple months and trying to decide if I want to trim it down to 740. It started at 780mm.

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    Skeptical of wide bars...

    Quote Originally Posted by RS VR6 View Post
    Hand position on the grip can affect bar width too. Some grab the middle of the grip...and some the end of the grip. If you grab mid grip and have a 780...it might be the same as someone grabbing the ends of the grips on a 760. I happen to grab the very end on the grips.
    Good point. I tend to grip the very end on my 700mm. I have tried wider bars before, but it did not worked for me. Now I’m seriously considering mounting bar ends, even though I was against the idea for years.
    Perhaps some people would benefit more from bar ends than wider bars, but are against bar ends for various reasons.


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    Quote Originally Posted by SWriverstone View Post
    Put differently, I guarantee you that if—in some alternate universe—we were going from wide bars in the 90s to narrower bars today, everyone here would be saying exactly the same things: "Dude, the narrower bars are SO much better–they feel weird at first, but give them a chance—you'll get used to them!"
    No, mtb has basically evolved from road bike geo to geometry more optimized for handling. Having long stems and narrow bars is objectively inferior for bike handling. That's why the scenario you've described hasn't happened in motocross or bmx. Motocross bars are typically as wide as mtb bars. BMX has always had short stems and their bars have gotten wider as reach increased. The reason for this has to do with leverage rate and hand position relative to the steering axis. The effective lever arm needs to be at a length long enough to provide stability but not so long that steering is too slow (not as big of an issue in mtb and motocross). You could accomplish that with a long stem and narrow bars but that puts your hands further out of line with the steering axis. This results in less control for the same reason race car drivers place their hands in line with the steering wheel axis ( 9 and 3 o'clock).

    Skeptical of wide bars...-m-1552593812.jpg
    Most modern race cars don't even have the option of placing your hands anywhere else. That's because your going to have more leverage over the controls (wheel or bars) with your hands placed the furthest apart and turning about the same arc as the steering axis. You wouldn't try to drive a car around a racetrack with your hands together at the top of the steering wheel, you wouldn't try to open a wheel valve like that or hold a shovel like that.

  83. #83
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeremy3220 View Post
    No, mtb has basically evolved from road bike geo to geometry more optimized for handling. Having long stems and narrow bars is objectively inferior for bike handling. That's why the scenario you've described hasn't happened in motocross or bmx. Motocross bars are typically as wide as mtb bars. BMX has always had short stems and their bars have gotten wider as reach increased.
    I remember this well. Go look at photos of BMX bikes in the mid/late '90s (mine included). We cut our handlebars down as narrow as we could get them, just wide enough that a full-length ODI Longneck would reach the bend or stop before the crossbar weld. Some people heated up their brake lever blades and bent them so they could be clamped on that bend and not bottom out on the grip. Others just removed their brakes and used their shoes to stop, myself also included.

    21" wide (530mm) and 7" tall bars were common. Fast forward a few years, and most BMX bikes have 9-10" high bars in 30" or 760mm. Sometimes for practical reasons, but more likely for fashion, no one dares cut down their handlebar.

    I don't think it's a coincidence that handlebar's on both BMX and mountain bikes got higher and wider along the same timeline.

    BMX stems have always been around 50mm in my memory. I wonder if there's a reason that, and further wonder if mountain bike riders and designers stumbled upon that concept more recently.

    Also relevant- Naked's framebuilder notes on a prototype

  84. #84
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeremy3220 View Post
    You wouldn't try to drive a car around a racetrack with your hands together at the top of the steering wheel
    My wife's hand position on the steering wheel is 11 and 1. She steers by yanking down with both hands either direction and it makes the car all herky-jerky. The last time I said something about proper hand position she just about bit my head off.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post
    I remember this well. Go look at photos of BMX bikes in the mid/late '90s (mine included). We cut our handlebars down as narrow as we could get them, just wide enough that a full-length ODI Longneck would reach the bend or stop before the crossbar weld. Some people heated up their brake lever blades and bent them so they could be clamped on that bend and not bottom out on the grip. Others just removed their brakes and used their shoes to stop, myself also included.

    21" wide (530mm) and 7" tall bars were common. Fast forward a few years, and most BMX bikes have 9-10" high bars in 30" or 760mm. Sometimes for practical reasons, but more likely for fashion, no one dares cut down their handlebar.

    I don't think it's a coincidence that handlebar's on both BMX and mountain bikes got higher and wider along the same timeline.

    BMX stems have always been around 50mm in my memory. I wonder if there's a reason that, and further wonder if mountain bike riders and designers stumbled upon that concept more recently.

    Also relevant- Naked's framebuilder notes on a prototype
    Yeah, I rode in that era. My bike was also way too small and twitchy but you can't do barspins if the bars are hitting your knees. The stems were and are short because long stems are just wrong, the bars were narrow out of necessity (from what I remember).


    Quote Originally Posted by Nat View Post
    My wife's hand position on the steering wheel is 11 and 1. She steers by yanking down with both hands either direction and it makes the car all herky-jerky. The last time I said something about proper hand position she just about bit my head off.
    Yeah, it's ok to argue about bar width and steering wheel grip online but don't even hint that your wife's driving is less than perfect...just close your eyes and pray.

  86. #86
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeremy3220 View Post
    Yeah, it's ok to argue about bar width and steering wheel grip online but don't even hint that your wife's driving is less than perfect...just close your eyes and pray.
    "THAT'S JUST HOW I DO IT!!! I'm not going to change."

    One of our daughters confessed to me recently that mom's driving scares her. "I know, honey. I know..."

  87. #87
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeremy3220 View Post
    My bike was also way too small and twitchy but you can't do barspins if the bars are hitting your knees. The stems were and are short because long stems are just wrong, the bars were narrow out of necessity (from what I remember).
    1. I am confident that the 50mm stem length on BMX bikes works for some physical reason other than it's "just right." I recall flatland bikes with 35mm stems (and a few with zero offset!) but almost no one ever wanted anything longer than 60mm. It's not just aesthetic.

    2. Not sure if you've kept up, but modern BMX riders manage to throw up-rail grinds to double truck drivers and similar insanity with 30" bars these days. Tiny bars made barspins seem easier, but it's a compromise for other aspects of riding to use a wider bar. If you just want to stand in one spot and do barspins all the time, a narrow bar makes sense, but no one does that.

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    I would rather be chained to a computer for the rest of my life arguing with the rest of these numbskulls about handlebar width and pedals for the rest of my days than critique my wife's driving once.

  89. #89
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    If we're still talking elbows - I notice that on wider bars my elbows naturally bend. It's not something i think about. I remember on narrower bars that I had to consciously make the effort to bend them. I believe this also caused a good bit of hand pain that I don't have anymore.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post
    1. I am confident that the 50mm stem length on BMX bikes works for some physical reason other than it's "just right." I recall flatland bikes with 35mm stems (and a few with zero offset!) but almost no one ever wanted anything longer than 60mm. It's not just aesthetic.

    2. Not sure if you've kept up, but modern BMX riders manage to throw up-rail grinds to double truck drivers and similar insanity with 30" bars these days. Tiny bars made barspins seem easier, but it's a compromise for other aspects of riding to use a wider bar. If you just want to stand in one spot and do barspins all the time, a narrow bar makes sense, but no one does that.
    But BMX bikes from what I have seen have got a little longer at least compared to mid-school era. It seems like lots of people were running 19.5 to 20in tt versus now you see 21in tt and longer more often.

    29in width seems to be the most common and at least from what I have seen people will slightly cut them down if the bar won't clear from a bar spin.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nat View Post
    My wife's hand position on the steering wheel is 11 and 1. She steers by yanking down with both hands either direction and it makes the car all herky-jerky. The last time I said something about proper hand position she just about bit my head off.
    I think this is more about marriage problems than mtb. But I hear you brother. My logic - if you can live with her driving, keep the opinion for yourself. If you are not ok, don’t let her drive you. That’s how I solve problems. In the beginning it goes rocky, but with time people in your life accept it, or you surround yourself with other people. Cheers


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    Quote Originally Posted by 93EXCivic View Post
    But BMX bikes from what I have seen have got a little longer at least compared to mid-school era. It seems like lots of people were running 19.5 to 20in tt versus now you see 21in tt and longer more often.

    29in width seems to be the most common and at least from what I have seen people will slightly cut them down if the bar won't clear from a bar spin.
    For flatland bikes, yes. All of my friends were riding 20.5-21" tt bikes, although the sizing designations for BMX bikes was bogus. I don't think anyone had a real, objective way of measuring frame sizes. I don't think they have that now, either.

    My first few frames were short because I was focused on flatland- Morales, S&M Sabbath, then I got longer fees as I focused on street more. My friends around 1996-98 were riding Holmes and Standard Lengthy, Hoffman Taj and the like- long bikes for dirt, street, and skatepark riding.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post
    For flatland bikes, yes. All of my friends were riding 20.5-21" tt bikes, although the sizing designations for BMX bikes was bogus. I don't think anyone had a real, objective way of measuring frame sizes. I don't think they have that now, either.

    My first few frames were short because I was focused on flatland- Morales, S&M Sabbath, then I got longer fees as I focused on street more. My friends around 1996-98 were riding Holmes and Standard Lengthy, Hoffman Taj and the like- long bikes for dirt, street, and skatepark riding.
    I could have sworn I saw something talking about how pros used to run shorter frames back in the day. But I wasn't into BMX then so I'll take your word on it. Flatland is still using short frames.

    I have cut my bars down to 28in from 29in as it helped with x-up manuals.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post
    1. I am confident that the 50mm stem length on BMX bikes works for some physical reason other than it's "just right." I recall flatland bikes with 35mm stems (and a few with zero offset!) but almost no one ever wanted anything longer than 60mm. It's not just aesthetic.
    Right, short stems work because they put your hands more inline with the steering axis. With a long stem the center of the bars follows an arc around the steering axis rather than rotating in the steering axis. It's like trying to steer your bike with a steering wheel knob.

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    BMX riders who focused on lip tricks and more technical riding sometimes gravitate towards smaller frames. I recall a rider in the past few years (Nathan Williams, perhaps?) using a 35mm stem or something because he said it was better for nose manuals.

    On that note, go watch Courage Adams ride!

  96. #96
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    A wider bar is just one component of mountain bike geometry that has evolved to promote an athletic 'ready' stance. It's a definite improvement in stability and safety from the old Tron light cycle body position. That benefits all riders, especially those who are risk-adverse.

    I disagree that this was driven by a focus on an elite 10%. I remember friends proudly showing off new high-end bikes or skis and bragging on the fact that they were race-worthy. Now most people recognize that they don't actually want race-focused gear, and there is plenty of high-end equipment available that is honed for user experience rather than a podium result. That was the best thing about the development of all-mountain bikes in the last 10+ years. It's a recognition that elite racing equipment isn't the best choice for the average rider - or skier, since it's a skiing term that comes from a parallel development in that world. Despite all the complaining about the name on these forums, it's intuitive in the original skiing context.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post
    On that note, go watch Courage Adams ride!
    That dude can manual on anything. So of his IG clips are mind bending.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post
    I remember this well. Go look at photos of BMX bikes in the mid/late '90s (mine included). We cut our handlebars down as narrow as we could get them, just wide enough that a full-length ODI Longneck would reach the bend or stop before the crossbar weld. Some people heated up their brake lever blades and bent them so they could be clamped on that bend and not bottom out on the grip. Others just removed their brakes and used their shoes to stop, myself also included.

    21" wide (530mm) and 7" tall bars were common. Fast forward a few years, and most BMX bikes have 9-10" high bars in 30" or 760mm. Sometimes for practical reasons, but more likely for fashion, no one dares cut down their handlebar.

    I don't think it's a coincidence that handlebar's on both BMX and mountain bikes got higher and wider along the same timeline.

    BMX stems have always been around 50mm in my memory. I wonder if there's a reason that, and further wonder if mountain bike riders and designers stumbled upon that concept more recently.

    Also relevant- Naked's framebuilder notes on a prototype
    Golly gee, was BMX still a thing in the 90's?

    I rode BMX in the 70's, you youngsters and your short bars
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  99. #99
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tristan Wolf View Post
    I think this is more about marriage problems than mtb. But I hear you brother. My logic - if you can live with her driving, keep the opinion for yourself. If you are not ok, don’t let her drive you. That’s how I solve problems. In the beginning it goes rocky, but with time people in your life accept it, or you surround yourself with other people. Cheers
    In other words, you're telling me to shut up? LOL.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nat View Post
    In other words, you're telling me to shut up? LOL.
    Well, it's either that or get a longer "bar", I know a couple surgeons ...
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  101. #101
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nurse Ben View Post
    Well, it's either that or get a longer "bar", I know a couple surgeons ...
    Ha!

    Wait -- I thought we were talking about wider bars...

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    Quote Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post
    I would rather be chained to a computer for the rest of my life arguing with the rest of these numbskulls about handlebar width and pedals for the rest of my days than critique my wife's driving once.
    My Ex G/F couldn't function without her phone. Crossing yellow lines. On the shoulder, forgetting to go when the light turned green.
    But she hated my driving. I was scared to be in the car with her.


    Also, her newest MTB came with bars too wide for her small body.
    Juliana for a 5'4" rider.

  103. #103
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    Quote Originally Posted by Forest Rider View Post
    Also, her newest MTB came with bars too wide for her small body.
    Juliana for a 5'4" rider.
    Just like fork steerer tubes and seatposts, most components come " too big" for most riders out of the box. That's why bike components are adjustable and bike shops are equipped with hacksaws. If her bike came with a narrower bar, I can guarantee you that half of the people who buy them would complain that the bar is too narrow. Easier to cut a wide bar smaller than make a narrow bar wider.

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    I recently changed from 740mm bars to 800mm bars when i switched bikes.
    I'm pretty sure i'm not going to stick with the longer bars and may cut them down to 760mm and try that out.

  105. #105
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    I just thought of something. The OP (who might not even be monitoring this thread any more?) sounds like he enjoys kayaking. When I learned to get through tight trees someone told me to imagine the bars as a kayak oar and that I'm "rowing" my way through the tight spots. I realized that I still use that mental exercise sometimes. Row my way through the trees.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Benjohn86 View Post
    I recently changed from 740mm bars to 800mm bars when i switched bikes.
    I'm pretty sure i'm not going to stick with the longer bars and may cut them down to 760mm and try that out.
    You might just slide the brakes in a bit and test before cutting.

  107. #107
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nat View Post
    I just thought of something. The OP (who might not even be monitoring this thread any more?) sounds like he enjoys kayaking. When I learned to get through tight trees someone told me to imagine the bars as a kayak oar and that I'm "rowing" my way through the tight spots. I realized that I still use that mental exercise sometimes. Row my way through the trees.
    If your grip extends to the end of your bars, you’ll rarely strike them. Even with a few millimeters to spare. Your brain subconsciously knows where your hands are.

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    Yeah, but in whitewater boating the progression is toward shorter paddles and less offset, so kinda in reverse, my first paddle was a 200/60 deg straight shaft, ten years later I was paddling a 191/30 bent shaft.

    I still think there is a limit to how wide bars can be before they are creating problems like bad body position, poor ergonomics, reduced efficient, and obstacle clearance.

    In the southeast, wide bars simply won’t fit between the trees lining the trails.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nat View Post
    I just thought of something. The OP (who might not even be monitoring this thread any more?) sounds like he enjoys kayaking. When I learned to get through tight trees someone told me to imagine the bars as a kayak oar and that I'm "rowing" my way through the tight spots. I realized that I still use that mental exercise sometimes. Row my way through the trees.
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    Bull site! That’s like saying I never bump my knee, smack my hand, or smash my knuckles because “my brain knows where my parts are”.

    Everyone has tipped a rock or tree with the end of their bar, if you havent then you ride in the Great Plains.

    Quote Originally Posted by evasive View Post
    If your grip extends to the end of your bars, you’ll rarely strike them. Even with a few millimeters to spare. Your brain subconsciously knows where your hands are.
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  110. #110
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nurse Ben View Post
    Yeah, but in whitewater boating the progression is toward shorter paddles and less offset, so kinda in reverse, my first paddle was a 200/60 deg straight shaft, ten years later I was paddling a 191/30 bent shaft.
    I'm not a kayaker so I don't know what any of that means. I picture a generalized rowing motion. It's probably the worst paddling form on the planet, haha.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nurse Ben View Post
    I still think there is a limit to how wide bars can be before they are creating problems like bad body position, poor ergonomics, reduced efficient, and obstacle clearance.
    Agreed. After only one ride on his new bike the OP mentioned thinking his bars should be "closer to the width of the shoulders." Picture your arms straight out in front of you. Odd, right? For me that would be somewhere around 600mm. You can always cut more off but you can't cut more on.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nurse Ben View Post
    In the southeast, wide bars simply won’t fit between the trees lining the trails.
    I've never ridden in the SE so I don't know what it's like. If the trees are too narrow to fit wide handlebars how does one lean the bike over in a turn without hitting anything?

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    I was riding no-handed down a piece of asphalt trail near the end of tonights ride.
    I rode really straight. I think the wider bars made it pretty stable.

  112. #112
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nurse Ben View Post
    Bull site! That’s like saying I never bump my knee, smack my hand, or smash my knuckles because “my brain knows where my parts are”.

    Everyone has tipped a rock or tree with the end of their bar, if you havent then you ride in the Great Plains.
    First of all, I wrote “rarely” not “never”. If you’re going to critique my point, pay attention to what I wrote. Second, when you bash an extremity like that, it’s often in a situation where you’re not paying attention to the hard object- unlike with a trailside tree that you know is there and are trying to avoid.

    I live in Montana and there are plenty of trees on our trails. I’ve had exactly two crashes from bar strikes in the last 13 years. I blame one on bar ends, which supports my point.

    I’ve ridden this tree gap dozens if not hundreds of times before the trees were cut down a few years ago:



    There’s about a quarter inch on either side of the end caps. I usually went through it at 15-20 mph. I grazed it a few times, but never went down.

  113. #113
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    Bars got wider and wider for a couple years, 800...820...
    Now it's mostly stabilized and the vast majority of people who pay attention to this type of think are running bars in the 750-770 range, including the EWS riders. Seems only very tall people are running 780 or more and only very short people are running 740 or less.

    It's a function of how the bike fits you overall, as well as a preference thing. It's not something to be "convinced" of.
    That said it's also not just a fashion statement. If it didn't work better as a system including reach and stem length, the guys racing on the world stage would not be running them.

    If you want to run sub 740 or so, just keep an eye on fit and steering feel. You'll probably want a 60mm or 70mm stem at some point. Yeah that's sorta defeating the purpose of how the bike was designed in the case of a modern bike, but seems and handlebars are pretty cheap in the grand scheme of things.
    I'm 5'11" with pretty average length arms and shoulder width, I like 760 with a short stem and a reasonably long reach.

    To my previous point, bars for experimental purposes can be had pretty cheap. Play around but keep an open mind and get a few rides in on a length before making a change.

  114. #114
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    Quote Originally Posted by evasive View Post
    I’ve ridden this tree gap dozens if not hundreds of times before the trees were cut down a few years ago:



    There’s about a quarter inch on either side of the end caps. I usually went through it at 15-20 mph. I grazed it a few times, but never went down.



    1/4" clearance @ 15-20 mph? That is freaking nuts!
    I brake for stinkbugs

  115. #115
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    I’m not that fast- I’m sure others have ridden it much faster. We’ve used that trail for an enduro stage, and had Thursday night beer-league Freelap races on it.

    The way those two trunks were exactly parallel helped funnel you into it. The few times I grazed a bar end were self-correcting. The two times I’ve crashed because of a bar strike were in different places where one tree encroaches from the inside of a bend.

  116. #116
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    I've never considered myself particularly adverse to taking risks but you couldn't pay me $1,000 to attempt that. I'd be @ about 5mph through there.
    I brake for stinkbugs

  117. #117
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    Thankfully where I ride (TN mostly) tree gates are rare. Tree gates are maybe the worst trail feature so I wouldn't cut my bars for that anyway.

  118. #118
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    I've never considered myself particularly adverse to taking risks but you couldn't pay me $1,000 to attempt that. I'd be @ about 5mph through there.
    I get it, but you would probably find that repetition leads to progression. This is a feeder trail leading from a popular trailhead into a wider network, so we ride it a lot.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jeremy3220 View Post
    Thankfully where I ride (TN mostly) tree gates are rare. Tree gates are maybe the worst trail feature so I wouldn't cut my bars for that anyway.
    Yep my trails have some tree squeezes as I like to call them.
    I don't get it I guess its the same mentally as skinnies?

    To me they are speed/flow enders. I've had to cut my bars and I don't like it but whatever I don't have to slow down anymore.

  120. #120
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    I've never considered myself particularly adverse to taking risks but you couldn't pay me $1,000 to attempt that. I'd be @ about 5mph through there.
    Well, you can try to slalom your way through tight trees, padded knuckles are helpful, sometimes you slow down, and there are those times when you smack the tree and the tree smacks back.

    I lost to a tree last year and got a broken fibia and broken bike, clipped my bars at speed. Apparently my brain didn't know where my hand was ...
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    I've clipped a branch with my thigh, and broke it, it pulled me right off the bike, you just never know.
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    I made them pay. Last winter after a storm i was out of the trail, all looked white, i jumped without trying, the bump was hidden by snow and clipped a tree with my carbon bar. It was probably not too healthy. Falling in deep snow is cool.
    My kind of OTB.

  123. #123
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    Whew—piles of good (and hilarious) stuff above. Too much to reply to specifically, but I'll just say I'm not gonna do anything with the bars for a while and see how it goes.

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  124. #124
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    Quote Originally Posted by evasive View Post
    I get it, but you would probably find that repetition leads to progression. This is a feeder trail leading from a popular trailhead into a wider network, so we ride it a lot.


    I don't know, I haven't measured but there's a trail I ride with a gate that leaves maybe 8" or so on either side and it's terrifying for me to hit that at 20mph. Couldn't imagine doing it at that speed with any less clearance.
    I brake for stinkbugs

  125. #125
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    I just recently stepped into a new modern trail bike. It has the standard 780 mm bars. My hands naturally rest at the inside edge of the grips. Haven’t measured that yet.
    For fun i did measure my 02 GF Tassajara hardtail at 626 mm with bar ends, and my 09 FSR XC Comp at 638 mm. Both are 26" bikes.

    The hardtail is way more stable than the FSR. The trail bike is amazing. Tree gates are very common here though. Given my natural grip I’ll probably be trimming down the road.

  126. #126
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    I don't know, I haven't measured but there's a trail I ride with a gate that leaves maybe 8" or so on either side and it's terrifying for me to hit that at 20mph. Couldn't imagine doing it at that speed with any less clearance.
    Furthermore, you don't really need to go through the trees directly straight on. I put the front wheel through an S-pattern so I'm kind of leading into the gate with one end of the bar going first then flicking the rest of the bar through.

  127. #127
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nat View Post
    Furthermore, you don't really need to go through the trees directly straight on. I put the front wheel through an S-pattern so I'm kind of leading into the gate with one end of the bar going first then flicking the rest of the bar through.
    That's my "strategery" as well.....just not at more than about 5 mph.

  128. #128
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    In my area (South East Michigan) since the advent of wide handlebars there has been reroutes whenever the trails went between narrowly spaced trees. My shoulders are on the narrower end and my small wheeled bikes and the HT29er stand at 685 which I find perfectly adequate for the trails I ride. The only time that I feel I could use wider bars is on climbs where I lean forward.
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  129. #129
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    Quote Originally Posted by MSU Alum View Post
    That's my "strategery" as well.....just not at more than about 5 mph.
    There's this one tree gap nearby in which the two trees pitch outward (forming a V) and if you can ride a wheelie through them you don't need to break stride. If you were to mess up that wheelie though...

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    Quote Originally Posted by evasive View Post
    First of all, I wrote “rarely” not “never”. If you’re going to critique my point, pay attention to what I wrote. Second, when you bash an extremity like that, it’s often in a situation where you’re not paying attention to the hard object- unlike with a trailside tree that you know is there and are trying to avoid.

    I live in Montana and there are plenty of trees on our trails. I’ve had exactly two crashes from bar strikes in the last 13 years. I blame one on bar ends, which supports my point.

    I’ve ridden this tree gap dozens if not hundreds of times before the trees were cut down a few years ago:



    There’s about a quarter inch on either side of the end caps. I usually went through it at 15-20 mph. I grazed it a few times, but never went down.
    That would be cool to see a GoPro/etc. video of.

  131. #131
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    The beauty of wide bars is if you don't like them you can just keep cutting them shorter until you do.

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  132. #132
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffw-13 View Post
    The beauty of wide bars is if you don't like them you can just keep cutting them shorter until you do.

    Sent from my Pixel 3 using Tapatalk
    True, to a point. Some can only be cut so much. If someone is going to buy wide with the idea of cutting down, it would be a good idea to look at the degree to which the bars can be cut down.

  133. #133
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    Quote Originally Posted by robbnj View Post
    That would be cool to see a GoPro/etc. video of.
    I doubt I have any. I rode with one for a few months until I realized my footage isn’t that cool, and more importantly I don’t have any interest in learning video editing. What footage I had I dumped onto an external hard drive, and I don’t know where that one is now.

  134. #134
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    Quote Originally Posted by kk2 View Post
    In my area (South East Michigan) since the advent of wide handlebars there has been reroutes whenever the trails went between narrowly spaced trees.
    As a transplant to SE MI from New England, I've also noticed that folks in my area (50 miles north of Detroit) don't like to go between trees. I chalk this up to the generally low skill level I've observed on the trails.

    You may recall the Facebook controversy about a recurring trail braid around two "tightly spaced" trees at Stony Creek. Those trees were measured at more than 48" apart, with a dead straight, flat approach for at least 20 yards. They were a total non-issue at pretty much any speed. If you can't thread that "needle", if you're more than 8" off line for 60 feet, you are out of control and riding over your head.

    I realize this sounds harsh, and I don't really mean it to. It's just the trail systems in SE MI are pretty accessible by literally millions of people by virtue of being so close to a major urban area. As mountain biking becomes increasingly popular, those trails see more traffic from people whose last experience on a bike was on the sidewalk in their neighborhood. The fact that the SE MI MTB community seems to value going as fast as humanly possible more so than technical skill development compounds the problem as trail builders cater to this by building sanitized trails that are largely free of drops, roots, rocks, and tight trees.

    To the OP: I put a set of Renthal Fatbar Lite handlebars on my bike a few years ago. They're 760 mm wide. At first, they felt uncomfortably wide coming from the stock 680 mm bars, but I decided to give it a few rides to see how far I wanted to cut them down. I've got 5+ years on those bars now and still haven't cut them down. I really like the stability of the wider bars, especially when the bike is airborne.

  135. #135
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    Y'all are insane firstly. Secondly no one told the dude to maybe try other folks bar widths at the trailhead or swap bikes on some little loops to try sizes before cutting or buying anything. Test out some other bro bars, brah. And bring your metric tape measure.


    P.S. I haven't been here at all lately but some of these comments are plain mean to old guy. Settle.
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    Heh heh. Nothing wrong with a little fun/healthy debate now and then.
    Until people get butthurt or confused between what are feelings and what
    are facts...



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  137. #137
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    Quote Originally Posted by robbnj View Post
    Heh heh. Nothing wrong with a little fun/healthy debate now and then.
    Until people get butthurt or confused between what are feelings and what
    are facts...
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    How dare you not be sensitive to others feelings and the ramifications hurting them may have. Also, where have you been, there is no longer a difference between fact and feeling.
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  138. #138
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    Quote Originally Posted by SWriverstone View Post
    I don't have a problem with thru-axles, but that's yet another example of an "innovation" that was pointless for people who aren't hucking big air. My standard quick-release hubs lasted a decade with no sweat (and so did my Fox fork dropouts).
    OK, I'm not attacking you but that statement is just flat out ignorant. My hardtail has QR front and rear axles. Going through corners or turns with any sort of speed whatsoever (even on smooth trail) and I can feel flex and give. If I'm going fast enough -- and it doesn't take much -- it almost feels like I have a flat tire or something. The flex is noticeable. On my full suspension bike that has thru axle dropouts this is completely eliminated, allowing me to ride smoother and faster. I'm in my mid-40s with a bad back -- trust me, I do not jump or huck.

    While 780mm bars may be too wide for your body type and anatomy, let's not get carried away here. Saying the bikes from 10+ years ago are just as good as the bikes of today is completely false. Bikes today are FAR more capable, more advanced and better performing, all while weighing the same as trail bikes from 15 years ago.

    If the bars are too wide then cut them down a little. It's not rocket science.
    I hope you have a big trunk... 'cuz I'm puttin' my bike in it.

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