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  1. #1
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    Steering Question

    This is probably a dumb or obvious question. I am coming from a hardtail with 690mm bars and a longish stem and also a steep head tube angle to a slack (67.5) headtube with 780mm bars and a short stem. I rode the hardtail for several years and became pretty used to its handling characteristics, I guess.

    On the new bike, I am finding steering to be kind of twitchy, I guess. In straight lines and shallow turns, it's business as usual, but when things get tight or front wheel goes up or unweighted a little, it kind of feels like I'm all over the place. I feel like a steering spaz. And, the long bars make me overly conscious of things to the side, so I am more likely to make an abrupt-ish steering correction and have this "oversteer" condition.

    I understand that with slack geometry, the wheel/bars want to flop over at a certain deviation from center. Is this what I am experiencing? Have I become a spaz in my dotage? Is it the bars?

    I assume that I am going to get used to this at some point?

  2. #2
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    how tall are you? the bars could be a little too wide for optimal handling. if you narrow them, cut a tiny bit at a time, like 5mm from each end at a time.

    are you grips up high, or pretty low? that's subjective, but I feel like bar height has a bigger effect on handling than some think. I keep lowering my grips.

    it will also just take a while to get used to it.

  3. #3
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    I'm 6-1, kinda long-armed, but not freakishly, 35 shirt sleeve.

    The grips are pretty low, it's a pretty flat bar with more sweep than rise. Other bars were higher rise.

    I do feel like I like the "weight distribution" on the wide bars, but knocking off a half-inch or so doesn't seem like it would destroy that.

    There's one tree gate on an oft-ridden trail that the bars will not make it through, head on, by about 2." And I did clip one side on an early ride, no disaster, just came off the bike, but I am probably a bit too conscious of it. That is, I approach every "new" tree gate with caution and try to stay on my lines away from the edge of the trail and probably find myself looking at trees waaay too often.

  4. #4
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    67.5į hta is pretty steep...

    Move your controls & grips in 5mm each side and do a ride around the block, several times & see how it feels...

    Repeat as necessary until you find a width that feels comfortable ^^

    Then trim bars. Remember measure twice & cut once.

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  5. #5
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    Both lengthening the bars and slackening the HTA decreases the steering speed (opposite of twitchy). A slack HTA can feel unstable/floppy at really slow speeds but 67.5* isn't very slack. A shorter stem increases steering speed (twitchy) but unless it's a 35mm or shorter stem it's not terribly quick with a 780mm bar. My guess is that you're simply not used to the bike and if I rode it it'd feel fine.

  6. #6
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    Stop !!!

    Do not cut anything.

    780mm bars are probably the sweet spot for your size. (They are for my 35" sleeve.)


    The twitchiness you are feeling is completely normal and expected when you move away from narrow bars, long stem, and a steep HTA.

    Just ride the bike more.

    I can give you all sorts of advice on how to deal with the change but the best is to simply ride the bike more. This new geo is definitely a change for the better. Trust it and just give it time.


    OK, I can't hold back. Some advice...

    This new geo will always feel just a bit twitchy at low speed. You will adapt.

    At moderate to high speed turn the bike by leaning the bike to its side and looking where you want to go. Don't turn the bike by turning the bars.

  7. #7
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    Thanks all. Yes this last resonates. When I am able to lean a turn everything is groovy, but if I need to steer a turn it feels like everything goes to hell.

    And because of new things like the wide bars, I approach more things with caution, ie slow.

  8. #8
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    someone once told me to keep my elbow's in and weight forward when getting in slow uphill tech situations. Keeps the front wheel from wandering.
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  9. #9
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    Iím at the opposite end, Iíve been riding slackish bikes for a few years. I have a new xc bike thatís steep, I want to smash it to pieces! Joking, thereís a short adjustment period, then itís all good. Enjoy, the floppy feeling will subside.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Miker J View Post
    Stop !!!

    Do not cut anything.

    780mm bars are probably the sweet spot for your size. (They are for my 35" sleeve.)


    The twitchiness you are feeling is completely normal and expected when you move away from narrow bars, long stem, and a steep HTA.

    Just ride the bike more.

    I can give you all sorts of advice on how to deal with the change but the best is to simply ride the bike more. This new geo is definitely a change for the better. Trust it and just give it time.


    OK, I can't hold back. Some advice...

    This new geo will always feel just a bit twitchy at low speed. You will adapt.

    At moderate to high speed turn the bike by leaning the bike to its side and looking where you want to go. Don't turn the bike by turning the bars.
    How do you know they are the sweet spot for your size?

  11. #11
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    I wouldn't cut anything, ride the bike for longer. Get used to how it handles and it steers before you make any changes. I'm 6'-1" and ride with 800mm bars.

  12. #12
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    I certainly didn't want to blame the bars but it is a very noticeable thing that kind of contributes to the problem if it isn't the cause of the problem.

    It's weird because it makes me feel like a completely incompetent rider again after having become only partially incompetent on the ht.

  13. #13
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    It could be a combination of things. Bars, stem, geo. riding style

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ducman View Post
    It could be a combination of things. Bars, stem, geo. riding style
    Probably a lot of rider. Today, for example, I rode a trail that has some steep, short, rooty climbs with close-in trees to either side. These have always challenged me , but I had more or less mastered them on the hardtail.

    Because of the phobia of trees and the bars, I bled off too much speed coming to them and then got pretty wobbly going over the roots, losing more speed, avoiding the trees, stalling out at the top, and just . . . felt . . . like . . . an . . . . idiot.

    I'll give it some more time in the saddle, that was probably the answer I was looking for, anyway.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by TwiceHorn View Post
    I certainly didn't want to blame the bars but it is a very noticeable thing that kind of contributes to the problem if it isn't the cause of the problem.

    It's weird because it makes me feel like a completely incompetent rider again after having become only partially incompetent on the ht.
    Still wait. My buddy who is an excellent rider went through the same thing. Bought a new Mojo 3 coming from a 2000 SWorks FSR it was a drastic change.
    He hated the wider bars, just like the advice you're getting I told him to wait and see, after a while he got used to it and loves them and glad he didn't cut them.
    Last edited by TwoTone; 07-22-2018 at 06:02 AM.
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  16. #16
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by ArizRider View Post
    How do you know they are the sweet spot for your size?
    I've tried sizes both longer and shorter.

    For pure DH I may end up at 800mm.

    For pure xc possibly 760mm.

    But for most riding 800mm is my sweet spot.

    Sweep also plays a role - Renthal bars are my go to.

  18. #18
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    Also, anyone have any suggestions for "drills" or things to speed up getting used to the twitch? I tend to like to ride figure 8s around a couple of trees as kind of a steering/balance practice. It seems like that might be helpful.

  19. #19
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    Usually, the low speed/climbing imprecise steering and wandering you experience with slack head tubes is referred to as floppy. The precise low speed/climbing handling you get from steeper head tubes is referred to as twitchy and scary as you pick up speed going down hill.
    What, me worry?

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lone Rager View Post
    Usually, the low speed/climbing imprecise steering and wandering you experience with slack head tubes is referred to as floppy. The precise low speed/climbing handling you get from steeper head tubes is referred to as twitchy and scary as you pick up speed going down hill.
    Fair enough, yeah, that makes sense. Regardless, it goes places I don't want it to!!


    You may note that my equivocal wording in the OP kind of indicated that I was unsure of even the proper terminology. "Oversteer" kind of best describes, I think, what I am experiencing: when I deviate from the line a sufficient amount, it flops, or goes too far, and I get into this kind of correction loop where I feel very uncertain. In the final analysis, I don't think it actually directs me where I don't want to go, but it makes me lack confidence about the whole thing. It's kind of disconcerting to experience several years into MTB riding.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by targnik View Post
    67.5į hta is pretty steep...
    For a 29er that is already more stable than a 26 or 27.5? I call BS on that. I recently just did an angleset for my RFX and the effects are all negative IMO, steering slower, flops around and comes off the ground easier during climbs, and doesn't really add anything at high speed downhill (enduro race). My XC 29er is much steeper, steeper than 68.5 and steeper than I'd want on an all-around bike, but it's also not horrible to descend on in this respect and makes fast line-changes, which are very fun. If you need a 67.5 on an 29er to prevent endos, you need to buy some skills. Otherwise I'll take the more responsive steering much of the time.
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    For a 29er that is already more stable than a 26 or 27.5? I call BS on that. I recently just did an angleset for my RFX and the effects are all negative IMO, steering slower, flops around and comes off the ground easier during climbs, and doesn't really add anything at high speed downhill (enduro race). My XC 29er is much steeper, steeper than 68.5 and steeper than I'd want on an all-around bike, but it's also not horrible to descend on in this respect and makes fast line-changes, which are very fun. If you need a 67.5 on an 29er to prevent endos, you need to buy some skills. Otherwise I'll take the more responsive steering much of the time.
    Gotta agree with most of this. I can't say the exact number where a slacker HTA becomes too much of a good thing, but we are probably getting carried away with the slacker HTAs on trail bikes at least.

    IMO the overly slack bike coddles the distorted idea that we spend the majority of time careening down super long rugged high speed descents. Even if we did run a modest HTA on such terrain its not that detrimental like J said above. Those super slack HTAs are probably "more necessary" for the pro who's riding DH/enduro at breakneck speeds. On the other hand slow speed tech and tech climbing suffer horribly when there is too much flop.

    On a recent trip to Moab I really dug the DH prowess of the bike I rode when on Hazzard. But climbing up Burro (top drop off was snowed in) the bike was far less than ideal, as it was on the tech ups on Mag 7. I would have given up an inch of DH prowess for a foot of techy uphill benefit with a slightly less slack HTA.

    Its rare I'm getting smoked on the DH with my rig, but if I had a dollar for every time I saw a rider on a slacked out bike choking a climb....

  23. #23
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    I am riding a 67.5 degree 29er hardtail with 800mm bars (Transition Vanquish) and it has zero steering flop.

    Hereís where it gets interesting.

    My other bike is a 65 degree 27.5 enduro bike, also with 800mm bars (YT Capra), I get steering flop on it exactly as you describe.

    Stack and reach numbers are very close, the Capra has a steeper seat tube angle, itís 10mm closer from the seat to the headset cap. Bars have The same sweep and length. Stem length and bar rise are close but not identical.

    I really think itís just finding the right adjustment to fit your body, between bars, stem, headset spacers, to get your body and hands in the correct natural position. I think the slacker head tube angle makes the issue more prominent but is not the cause of it.

  24. #24
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    Now that I kind of know what it is, I'm carrying more speed around and getting used to it. I've also been through most of my standby trails and know which tree gates pose problems, so I don't have to be so skittish about that.

  25. #25
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    I think that I know where you ride and depending on if I'm right, shorter bars can be an asset. But there are only a few local trails where that can really come into play.
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  26. #26
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    Steering Question

    Iím 6í and using a 700mm bar, 20mm rise and 60mm long stem on my intense. No steering issues on tight switchbacks.



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  27. #27
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    Obsession with bar width...

    Ride what is comfortable. I know some very fast riders who stole roll sub 700mm bars.

    Itís not all about arm span. In reality, its about how your hands contact the grips and upper body/extremity angulation.

    Donít cut you brand new bars until you settle on a length that works for you.

    Try borrowing some take off bars from your LBS, go up/ down in increments of 20mm until you find a preferred width.

    Wider is not better, itís just wider.

    Also try adjusting your riding style. Rest your hands on the bars, see if you can get comfortable riding open handed, avoid pulling/death gripping the bars.

    More than likely the handling twitchiness is your response to how the bike handles. Let the bike roll, donít overcontrol.
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  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nurse Ben View Post
    Obsession with bar width...

    Let the bike roll, donít overcontrol.
    Good advice!
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  29. #29
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    For me, bar width is secondary (I'm 6'2" with long-ish arms and torso, and have settled in around 760 or 80) but I absolutely HATE the twitchiness of short stems. My current ride came with a 60 and I gave it the old college try for a full month, then slapped an 80 on and all was immediately good in the world -- up, down and around.
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