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  1. #1
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    Swept bars and hand positions

    Now that it's the off-season, weather is crappy and trails are in sad shape, I've been giving a lot of thought to handlebar sweep and cockpit optimization, for power, control, and comfort (and injury avoidance). Specifically for technical XC/AM riding on a single speed. There is a lot of good and bad information on the web, and I've been trying to sort through it all. Correct me if I'm off-base in my thinking here....

    Swept bars, or alt bars, or bars with 17 degrees or more of sweep (On One Mary 39-deg, Ragley Carnegie 25-deg, Jones H-bar 45-deg, Salsa Bend 17- and 23-deg, etc. etc.) offer greater comfort and power for steep, out-of-saddle hill climbing, especially on a SS, since the sweep pushes the elbows in and thus activates the biceps and shoulder muscles when climbing and pulling up on the bars. They also, arguably, provide greater comfort for pulling up on the bar for wheelies, manuals, lunges, etc. However, standard 5- to 9-deg bend bars provide for greater control on downhills and cornering, since the sweep allows the elbows to move out and the wrist to flatten (solid grip on bar). So it boils down to compromising climbing comfort and power vs. downhill control. No? You should be able to find a happy medium that allows for elbow-in climbing and elbow-out descending, no?

    Now, hand position on the bar and wrist comfort (injury avoidance). I've always understood that the optimal hand position on the bar is such that the bar crosses the hand as in the picture below. This offers the best control, but more importantly does not put stress on the wrist joints, thus avoiding injury (numbness, carpal tunnel, etc.).

    <iframe src="http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/11718192384/in/set-72157638831601034/player/" width="375" height="500" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen oallowfullscreen msallowfullscreen></iframe>

    <iframe src="http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/11718194204/in/set-72157638831601034/player/" width="375" height="500" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen oallowfullscreen msallowfullscreen></iframe>

    It seems to me that at certain positions, swept bars would require you to angle or cant the wrist outward, setting you up for wrist joint injury, or otherwise the bar would cross the hand as shown below, which may set you up for hand numbness or other injury, no?

    <iframe src="http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/11718198704/in/set-72157638831601034/player/" width="375" height="500" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen oallowfullscreen msallowfullscreen></iframe>

    <iframe src="http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/11718600996/in/set-72157638831601034/player/" width="375" height="500" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen oallowfullscreen msallowfullscreen></iframe>

    As you are riding, you are regularly changing your position on the bike (cruising - flat, standing - hill climb, low center-of-gravity - downhill) and thus changing the hand position on the bar. Seems to me what works well for one position won't work for another, so it's about compromise. These photos show Salsa Bend 23-degree bar.

    Cruising - flat
    <iframe src="http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/11721550183/in/set-72157638831601034/player/" width="375" height="500" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen oallowfullscreen msallowfullscreen></iframe>

    Standing - hill climb
    <iframe src="http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/11721284025/in/set-72157638831601034/player/" width="375" height="500" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen oallowfullscreen msallowfullscreen></iframe>

    Low center-of-gravity - downhill (look at right wrist, wrist closest to viewer)
    <iframe src="http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/11721552133/in/set-72157638831601034/player/" width="375" height="500" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen oallowfullscreen msallowfullscreen></iframe>

    It's the difference in hand position on the bar between the standing/hill climbing position and low COG/downhill that gives me concern regarding wrist position. The downhill position puts a lot of stress on the wrist unless I let the bar cross diagonally across my hand, which to me says that a lower sweep bar, like a 9-deg sweep, is the way to go. Less sweep means that you can adapt to multiple riding positions, i.e. optimized.

    Of course, there is always the bar end option. And there are also those cases where, due to whatever physiological condition (body shape, alignment, injury, etc.), swept bars just work better for some people.

    Thoughts??? Please chime in.....
    Last edited by BmoreKen; 01-03-2014 at 06:53 AM.

  2. #2
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    The other thing I forgot -- elbow alignment. I had tennis elbow issues when I was running a flat bar on my SS, which I attributed to pulling up hard on the bars while my elbows were "out". Switching to a Jones Loop H-bar helped that - no more tendonitis.

  3. #3
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    I don't have answers.

    I know my Carnegie bar has never quite felt right - it's comfy, but always feels either a little too sweepy, or not quite sweepy enough. But my sweepier Mary bar just feels "right".

    One thing you didn't mention is brakelever position. I've got mine set a little higher than in your photos, and I choose the angle entirely based on what feels best for descending. I think that I drop my hands behind the bar a bit on descents, which changes the grip? I don't really know what's going on, but after plenty of experimentation it's what I find works best.

    Edited to add two more thoughts:

    The issues I've had aren't with my wrist, but are actually related to the thumb joint and how I grip the bar. A sweepier bar might cause my wrist to cant outwards, but it actually straightens my thumb joint. For me anyway, I think that's a benefit.

    And I think wrist angle and grip angle might be a bit of a red herring, because riding isn't static. I think a factor that's important is how your wrist acts as a shock absorber. With a straight bar your arm is being pushed into your wrist, and your wrist just flexes up and down. With a sweepy bar your arm isn't directly inline with your wrist, and the wrist moves left and right more, as well as up and down.

  4. #4
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    OP, your thread reminded me of this old thread that I stumbled onto long ago:

    http://forums.mtbr.com/29er-bikes/wh...rs-287222.html

  5. #5
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    Ken,

    Another thing you'll need to add to your list of analysis is the type and size of grips you choose to use. I know that switching from the stock Bontrager or even ruffian ODI lock-on grips to a larger/chunkier OURY grip did wonders for me with regard to hand and wrist comfort. I was experiencing numbness in my hands with the smaller thinner grips, but it all went away by going with the OURY. I know you run those on your Niner, not sure what you rock on the Salsa. I don't have any answers, but I wanted to make sure you are factoring that in as you dil in the fit.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by newfangled View Post
    I don't have answers.

    I know my Carnegie bar has never quite felt right - it's comfy, but always feels either a little too sweepy, or not quite sweepy enough. But my sweepier Mary bar just feels "right".

    One thing you didn't mention is brakelever position. I've got mine set a little higher than in your photos, and I choose the angle entirely based on what feels best for descending. I think that I drop my hands behind the bar a bit on descents, which changes the grip? I don't really know what's going on, but after plenty of experimentation it's what I find works best.

    Edited to add two more thoughts:

    The issues I've had aren't with my wrist, but are actually related to the thumb joint and how I grip the bar. A sweepier bar might cause my wrist to cant outwards, but it actually straightens my thumb joint. For me anyway, I think that's a benefit.

    And I think wrist angle and grip angle might be a bit of a red herring, because riding isn't static. I think a factor that's important is how your wrist acts as a shock absorber. With a straight bar your arm is being pushed into your wrist, and your wrist just flexes up and down. With a sweepy bar your arm isn't directly inline with your wrist, and the wrist moves left and right more, as well as up and down.
    I'm trying to wrap my head around the differences in going from 25-ish degree sweep to 45-ish degree sweep. When I first tried swept bars, I tried the Carnegies, but didn't like them, yet was shocked how much I immediately liked the Jones H-bars.

    Good point about brake lever position - I've been moving that around. Bad position can set you up for wrist injury.

    While I agree that riding isn't static, for the most part those occasions when I am shocking the wrist the bar is straight. Landing drops, hitting rocks and roots, trail chatter, etc. I'm thinking that by having the wrist canted you're easily setup to overextend at the joint, vs. having the wrist oriented straight means that you have movement before you reach overextension.

    Quote Originally Posted by Slow Danger View Post
    OP, your thread reminded me of this old thread that I stumbled onto long ago:

    http://forums.mtbr.com/29er-bikes/wh...rs-287222.html
    Thanks for the link, that's a great thread.

    Quote Originally Posted by jboyd122 View Post
    Ken,

    Another thing you'll need to add to your list of analysis is the type and size of grips you choose to use. I know that switching from the stock Bontrager or even ruffian ODI lock-on grips to a larger/chunkier OURY grip did wonders for me with regard to hand and wrist comfort. I was experiencing numbness in my hands with the smaller thinner grips, but it all went away by going with the OURY. I know you run those on your Niner, not sure what you rock on the Salsa. I don't have any answers, but I wanted to make sure you are factoring that in as you dil in the fit.
    Back in my earlier years of mtb'ing I road flat bars and suffered hand numbness due to a combination of death grip on the bars and allowing the bars to cross diagonally across my palms hitting the meaty part between the wrist bone and the start of the pinky. Switching to ergons fixed this by both enforcing proper bar position across the palm and reinforcing a looser grip. I've since been using Ourys but the better habit of a looser grip is more ingrained.

    This is why I'm concerned about allowing the bar to cross the palm when in a low center-of-gravity attack position.

  7. #7
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    Without being scientific, I go with what feels right. I have an on-one inbred 29er bike that is like a chameleon. I regularly change it up from a XC hardtail, to full rigid SS, to monstercross with drops. Here is what I found (ymmv)

    When it's set up rigid, it has the Mary bar. I find it offers the best position and comfort, especially when running it SS. When it has the suspension fork, its back to the fleegle bar, wider with much less sweep. Like I said, there is no science behind my decision. It just works that way for me.
    Grit, spit, and a whole lot of duct tape!

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by BmoreKen View Post
    I'm trying to wrap my head around the differences in going from 25-ish degree sweep to 45-ish degree sweep.
    That's a mystery to me too, because I love the Mary and am iffier on the Carnegie. But it's also very complicated - stem length, stem height, bar angle, flipping the bar, brake lever angle, and grips... I've played with all of those with my Carnegie and some setups I absolutely hate, and some I like a lot. I've even written down my two favorite setups so I can try to recreate them when needed:

    90mm +6 deg stem, bar flipped, bar angle aimed at rear dropouts, chunky odi grips
    60mm -6 deg stem, bar upright, bar angled less than toptube, ergon GA1 grips

    Those two setups have nothing in common, but they're the ones that work fairly well for me (although I still prefer the Mary)

    Quote Originally Posted by BmoreKen View Post
    While I agree that riding isn't static, for the most part those occasions when I am shocking the wrist the bar is straight. Landing drops, hitting rocks and roots, trail chatter, etc. I'm thinking that by having the wrist canted you're easily setup to overextend at the joint, vs. having the wrist oriented straight means that you have movement before you reach overextension.
    By static, I guess I meant that I don't think photos can tell the whole story.

    I'm sitting here at my desk holding my arms out infront of me looking like an idiot and pretending that I'm holding a bar.

    With my hands straight like with a riser bar, if I sort of bounce my shoulders a lot of motion naturally gets transferred to the wrists.

    With my hands canted out like with a Mary, when I bounce my shoulders the motion naturally moves to the elbows instead and my wrists are a lot more passive.

    I think the Carnegie might be the worst of both worlds - not angled enough to really engage the elbows, but angled enough to do weird things to the wrists.

  9. #9
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    "It's the difference in hand position on the bar between the standing/hill climbing position and low COG/downhill that gives me concern regarding wrist position. The downhill position puts a lot of stress on the wrist unless I let the bar cross diagonally across my hand, which to me says that a lower sweep bar, like a 9-deg sweep, is the way to go. Less sweep means that you can adapt to multiple riding positions, i.e. optimized.

    Of course, there is always the bar end option. And there are also those cases where, due to whatever physiological condition (body shape, alignment, injury, etc.), swept bars just work better for some people."


    I believe you are correct in much of your analysis regarding pro's / con's of bar sweep, type etc. I ride a 700 / 9 deg sweep flat bar (with an M shape to allow different stem config) and really like it.

    Two other comments: I've ridden a 3 deg 685 flat bar and could not get comfortable in regular riding position because of the lack of support on the outer hand / palm / pinkie. It was even more enhanced in downhill positions as my hand would fatigue badly, but going uphill was fine as the outer support was not needed. Anyhow, 9 degree fixed it....it makes sense for me that the hand is naturally inclined to having some bar sweep especially as the bar gets wider (put your hands out in front in fists and move them to the sides and you see the sweep needs to increase). I think that may play a part in how much sweep depends on how wide the bar.....and no sweep is bad, imo....

    Also, regarding downhill / attack positions I think it is always important to remember that downhill / attack needs to be ridden with the hips and legs rather than hands / arms. This is fundamental for any type of bar or sweep and most people are not in position to realize or feel this. IMO, the balance over the bike / leg and hip drive ought to cause the bar to press upwards on the hand giving the "relaxed hand grip" feel that everyone desires. If the bar is not creating this feel (and it is caused by proper positioning on the bike), then you get the white knuckled grip and the rider trying to say "relax, relax, relax" while being in a position that doesn't allow it.

    So the feel of having the bar "push up on the hand" while riding downhill is paramount for faster and looser riding and I think this is very important no matter what bar or hand position (I also see many riders that can't achieve it based on poor overall fit).

  10. #10
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    Take two dowels, hold one in each hand like the picture at the top of this thread.
    Sit down, shut your eyes and pretend you're riding for a minute or so.
    Open your eyes.
    Whatever angle the dowels are pointed at now is probably the angle your bars should have.
    I'll bet that's a lot more than 9 degrees.

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    Swept bars and hand positions

    Here's my current set-up with the Jones Loop H-bar. I'm really liking the ESI grips. These are the extra chunky version on a rigid 29er. The 45-deg sweep works well for me, and I actually keep my forearms and wrists aligned and in a neutral position. I don't feel that jolt in my wrists from a hard impact like I do when I run straighter bars. I've also found the slightest change in the angle of the bars makes a huge difference. I have mine tilted forward ever so slightly.




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    I really like my Jones Loop bars for the sweep, but I started having wrist issues on the right wrist. Could be any number of reasons, but I suspect the stiffness/rigidity of the Jones Loop with the crossbar might make for a harsher ride. Those bars don't flex. I've also thought about the angle issues. Not having settled on a bar, and liking the feel of sweep, I switched to a 31 degree, titanium bar recently. I've had two rides on the new ti bars. So far so good. Time will tell.
    Last edited by Slow Danger; 01-04-2014 at 12:19 AM.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by copylatte View Post
    Also, regarding downhill / attack positions I think it is always important to remember that downhill / attack needs to be ridden with the hips and legs rather than hands / arms. This is fundamental for any type of bar or sweep and most people are not in position to realize or feel this. IMO, the balance over the bike / leg and hip drive ought to cause the bar to press upwards on the hand giving the "relaxed hand grip" feel that everyone desires. If the bar is not creating this feel (and it is caused by proper positioning on the bike), then you get the white knuckled grip and the rider trying to say "relax, relax, relax" while being in a position that doesn't allow it.

    So the feel of having the bar "push up on the hand" while riding downhill is paramount for faster and looser riding and I think this is very important no matter what bar or hand position (I also see many riders that can't achieve it based on poor overall fit).
    Agreed. Good article discussing this, and others on the same site, here: Mountain Bike Handlebar

    I like most of what the betterride folks have to say, but I didn't completely agree with this article: Mountain Bike Handlebars that Hurt Your Bike Handling! - BetterRide.net But then again they aren't riding single speeds.

    Quote Originally Posted by jeffreyjhsu View Post
    Take two dowels, hold one in each hand like the picture at the top of this thread.
    Sit down, shut your eyes and pretend you're riding for a minute or so.
    Open your eyes.
    Whatever angle the dowels are pointed at now is probably the angle your bars should have.
    I'll bet that's a lot more than 9 degrees.
    Yeah, I've looked at this, and end up around 30 degrees. That's good for cruising. But I would angle my wrists differently for downhill or for climbing.

    Here's another thing to consider. Try doing a double dumbbell bent over row. This mimics the motion of pulling up on the bars while standing and climbing a steep grunt, except that you're not actually pulling the bar all the way up to your chest.
    Name:  dumbbellbentoverrow.jpg
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    You see in the picture that the elbows are relatively close to the body and not away from the body. Here's a link to a description of the exercise: Dumbbell Bent Over Row | Global Fitness & Racquet Centre Kelowna

    I tried doing this and changing the angle of my wrists until I found the most comfortable angle. That angle was most certainly NOT 9 degrees

    <iframe src="http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/11743537574/player/" width="375" height="500" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen oallowfullscreen msallowfullscreen></iframe>

    Shown with the Jones H-Bars above, you can see that I end up just a bit short of 45 degrees. Interesting!

    Then I went back and only did the exercise halfway, like lifting the bars 6 inches instead of all the way up to my chest, and tried to twist my wrists as far "flat" as was comfortable. I then ended up with this:

    <iframe src="http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/11743605794/player/" width="375" height="500" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen oallowfullscreen msallowfullscreen></iframe>

    Which looks to me to be about 25 degrees or so. 45 degrees was the most comfortable, but 25 degrees was still OK. When I went to closer to 9 degrees it seemed my elbow felt some stress. Hmmm. So, If 25 is good for cruising, and 25 good for pulling up, then with a bar pointed roughly at the rear dropout, I'd end up with a sweep of around 30-35 degrees I believe. Huh... {strokes chin}

  14. #14
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    Most of the time I ride in position shown in your last picture. Except when I first start out or need a break to stretch out, am I with arms fully extended as pics 1 and 2. Try to keep your hands "light" on your bars and that will reduce the stress.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stupendous Man View Post
    Without being scientific, I go with what feels right. I have an on-one inbred 29er bike that is like a chameleon. I regularly change it up from a XC hardtail, to full rigid SS, to monstercross with drops. Here is what I found (ymmv)

    When it's set up rigid, it has the Mary bar. I find it offers the best position and comfort, especially when running it SS. When it has the suspension fork, its back to the fleegle bar, wider with much less sweep. Like I said, there is no science behind my decision. It just works that way for me.
    Couldn't agree more. Just go with what feels right, no need to complicate things.
    Last edited by Max24; 03-02-2015 at 06:31 PM.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Max24 View Post
    Couldn't agree more. Just go with what feels right, no need to complicate things.
    Wouldn't be the first time I've been accused of geeking-out a bit much over bike stuff

    Just trying to better understand bar sweep and it's impact on mtb. And I'd rather not bounce from bar to bar to bar, just figure out what I want/need and stick with it.

  17. #17
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    Swept bars and hand positions

    It's better practice to push up through for wheelies manuals etc and not yank up on the bars. just sayin...


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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brockwan View Post
    It's better practice to push up through for wheelies manuals etc and not yank up on the bars. just sayin...


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    Not sure exactly what you mean -- you mean compress then pedal stroke and pull back?

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by BmoreKen View Post
    Not sure exactly what you mean -- you mean compress then pedal stroke and pull back?
    He means lean back and push on the pedal to get the front wheel off the ground.

    Anyway, I don't use swept bars. They are too cruiserish. Flat and low riser bars are my style.
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by BmoreKen View Post
    Now that it's the off-season, weather is crappy and trails are in sad shape, I've been giving a lot of thought to handlebar sweep and cockpit optimization, for power, control, and comfort (and injury avoidance). Specifically for technical XC/AM riding on a single speed. There is a lot of good and bad information on the web, and I've been trying to sort through it all. Correct me if I'm off-base in my thinking here....

    Swept bars, or alt bars, or bars with 17 degrees or more of sweep (On One Mary 39-deg, Ragley Carnegie 25-deg, Jones H-bar 45-deg, Salsa Bend 17- and 23-deg, etc. etc.) offer greater comfort and power for steep, out-of-saddle hill climbing, especially on a SS, since the sweep pushes the elbows in and thus activates the biceps and shoulder muscles when climbing and pulling up on the bars. They also, arguably, provide greater comfort for pulling up on the bar for wheelies, manuals, lunges, etc. However, standard 5- to 9-deg bend bars provide for greater control on downhills and cornering, since the sweep allows the elbows to move out and the wrist to flatten (solid grip on bar). So it boils down to compromising climbing comfort and power vs. downhill control. No? You should be able to find a happy medium that allows for elbow-in climbing and elbow-out descending, no?

    Now, hand position on the bar and wrist comfort (injury avoidance). I've always understood that the optimal hand position on the bar is such that the bar crosses the hand as in the picture below. This offers the best control, but more importantly does not put stress on the wrist joints, thus avoiding injury (numbness, carpal tunnel, etc.).

    <iframe src="http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/11718192384/in/set-72157638831601034/player/" width="375" height="500" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen oallowfullscreen msallowfullscreen></iframe>

    <iframe src="http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/11718194204/in/set-72157638831601034/player/" width="375" height="500" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen oallowfullscreen msallowfullscreen></iframe>

    It seems to me that at certain positions, swept bars would require you to angle or cant the wrist outward, setting you up for wrist joint injury, or otherwise the bar would cross the hand as shown below, which may set you up for hand numbness or other injury, no?

    <iframe src="http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/11718198704/in/set-72157638831601034/player/" width="375" height="500" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen oallowfullscreen msallowfullscreen></iframe>

    <iframe src="http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/11718600996/in/set-72157638831601034/player/" width="375" height="500" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen oallowfullscreen msallowfullscreen></iframe>

    As you are riding, you are regularly changing your position on the bike (cruising - flat, standing - hill climb, low center-of-gravity - downhill) and thus changing the hand position on the bar. Seems to me what works well for one position won't work for another, so it's about compromise. These photos show Salsa Bend 23-degree bar.

    Cruising - flat
    <iframe src="http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/11721550183/in/set-72157638831601034/player/" width="375" height="500" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen oallowfullscreen msallowfullscreen></iframe>

    Standing - hill climb
    <iframe src="http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/11721284025/in/set-72157638831601034/player/" width="375" height="500" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen oallowfullscreen msallowfullscreen></iframe>

    Low center-of-gravity - downhill (look at right wrist, wrist closest to viewer)
    <iframe src="http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/11721552133/in/set-72157638831601034/player/" width="375" height="500" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen oallowfullscreen msallowfullscreen></iframe>

    It's the difference in hand position on the bar between the standing/hill climbing position and low COG/downhill that gives me concern regarding wrist position. The downhill position puts a lot of stress on the wrist unless I let the bar cross diagonally across my hand, which to me says that a lower sweep bar, like a 9-deg sweep, is the way to go. Less sweep means that you can adapt to multiple riding positions, i.e. optimized.

    Of course, there is always the bar end option. And there are also those cases where, due to whatever physiological condition (body shape, alignment, injury, etc.), swept bars just work better for some people.

    Thoughts??? Please chime in.....
    My response is...you are correct. Ergonomics isn't art, its science. Bike geometry meet human anatomy. Top riders on the planet get it. Average bike riders...not so much. There is a tapestry of nerves that run through the Guyon canal....google it. The ulnar nerve is very sensitive to injury which is a common cycling injury. Simple place your arms in space out in front of you. This should translate to about a 5-9 degree sweep which is what good mtb'ers ride...virtually all top riders. A swept back bar is for a dutch style bike to move the handlebar back to comport with an upright riding position. If you put pressure on a bar like this, you will likely injury your wrists over time time because the grip runs to close to outboard base of the wrist. A lower bar generally translates to more pressure on the hand grips and more susceptibility to injury if bar sweep doesn't match with hand position.

    A further tip if you are experimenting....try some Ergon grips...they help distribute weight across the hand and also help reduce injury.

    Bicycle fit is a work in progress and never really solved. I am a dedicated roadie and have changed my position hundreds of times...same with off road position. I have tried every permutation of fit on many different types of bikes. I think avid riders are always searching for the holy grail of fit which translates to best performance and comfort and injury avoidance.
    Good luck in your search. You are well on your way with your inquisitive post.
    Last edited by dirtrider7; 01-05-2014 at 04:48 AM.

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    Swept bars and hand positions

    I bought a Carver moustache Ti bar and you definitely feel more pressure on the outside of the palms when you lower your upper body on descents. Although when upright, the sweep feels more natural, when on the descents I immediately felt a disadvantage on control and increased pressure on the outside of the palms. I ultimately switched to a more AM style bar with less sweep.


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    Unless you're riding with your elbows completely bent (tucked in) and the stem touching the belly button and/or ride 47" wide bars, I don't see how the 25 to 45 degrees sweep put you in a better position. My joints hurt just thinking about it.

    And where's your leverage on the trail. What " dirtrider7" says is correct. I have Ergon as well on my Havoc Carbon. A good carbon bar with good grips that is set up for 98% of your riding (not 2%, so ditch the 26" bars) is what makes sense.

    But I ride really slow and my 29er is way too big for my weak 5'5" frame...

    Swept bars and hand positions-enduro-race-pic-800x533-.jpg
    Raven Photography

  23. #23
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    I'm pretty happy at 9deg sweep on a flat bar atm. Personally, I am finding as I condition for SS and need to really dig into steep climbs I need to get my front low and bend my elbows. Otherwise I can't engage my stomach muscles to drive the pedals enough. too upright and I just get a sore back. So in this lower position my elbows are out and my head closer to the stem, so hands are fairly straight. Other positions aren't so demanding on the hands, and I will ride this way a fair bit especially out of saddle while on the SS.

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    Swept bars and hand positions

    Quote Originally Posted by BmoreKen View Post
    Not sure exactly what you mean -- you mean compress then pedal stroke and pull back?
    It's about pumping through with your legs to bring the front wheel up and back wheel through as you do so you push your bars forward also. It leaves your body in a better position and is easier to control. If you simply yank on the bars it leaves your body over the front wheel which is the opposite of what you want.

    Here's a little section from a really good guide called "essential guide to mountain biking" it's made from the makers of mountain biking UK magazine. It's actually a brilliant guide for all standards written by the pros.

    Read from Coaster manual, it explains it and the advantage well.





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    I come from a motocross background and I just don't get the swept back bars. Seems completely unnatural to me. I would feel like I was riding a chopper. About 8-9 degree bend is the most I can take.
    "Either way it doesn't really matter, I just got back from a bike ride."
    > dbhammercycle

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by dirtrider7 View Post
    Ergonomics isn't art, its science. Bike geometry meet human anatomy.
    Yes, so good ergonomics in combination with good technique will make things "feel right".

    Quote Originally Posted by dirtrider7 View Post
    There is a tapestry of nerves that run through the Guyon canal....google it. The ulnar nerve is very sensitive to injury which is a common cycling injury.
    Guyon canal comes more into play with drop bars. In my experience with the 45-degree bar, the bar is still loosely held in alignment with the metacarpal joints because the hand is rotated. However, with the 25-degree bar, you'll end up with the bar crossing the hand as per the photo in the original post, which does not align with the metacarpal joints but rather hits the "meat" of the hand where the ulner nerve is, setting up potential for ulner nerve injury. Even with light hands ("heavy feet and light hands") and absorbing impacts with the arms, you'll still get impacts at the bar/hand interface, especially while braking and descending rough trail, and you don't want to repeatedly compress or impact that nerve area.

    Road biking you definitely have Guyon canal concerns when riding drop bars. Whether riding on the hoods or in the drops, you need to be conscious to not compress that soft area at the base of the hand lest suffer pinky and ring finger numbness. Been there, done that!

    Quote Originally Posted by dirtrider7 View Post
    A further tip if you are experimenting....try some Ergon grips...they help distribute weight across the hand and also help reduce injury.
    Ergons do protect against ulner nerve compression. They also help reinforce proper technique -- loose hands and proper hand position on the bar. Riding rigid also reinforces proper technique Ergons can compromise control of the bar for bunny hopping, jumps, etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by dirtrider7 View Post
    I think avid riders are always searching for the holy grail of fit which translates to best performance and comfort and injury avoidance.
    True dat! Especially as you age and become more sensitive to repetitive stress injuries and the like.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vic-20 View Post
    I bought a Carver moustache Ti bar and you definitely feel more pressure on the outside of the palms when you lower your upper body on descents. Although when upright, the sweep feels more natural, when on the descents I immediately felt a disadvantage on control and increased pressure on the outside of the palms. I ultimately switched to a more AM style bar with less sweep.
    Carver moustache Ti bar --- do you mean the MyTi, which is roughly similar to an On One Mary bar but with a 29-deg sweep and forward wiggle? Or do you mean a true mustache bar (like the Nitto)?

    For me, I am dialed in with the 45-deg Jones H-bar pointed somewhere between the rear dropout and the top of the rear wheel, as shown in the below photo. My hand is rotated a bit so the bar aligns with the metacarpal joints, and the position certainly has my elbows in. Others have the bar pointed higher, but I never found that comfortable as it canted my wrists outward. A bar with less sweep would point higher, i.e. closer to level. Once properly dialed, IMO riding a bar like the Jones reinforces balance and body english (since you're more reliant on proper form), and puts more emphasis on the core, and I think really improved my technical skills over the past year. But nevertheless control on descents and cornering seems compromised, especially when I'm trying to get my body weight out over the side of the bike while leaning the bike into a turn.

    <iframe src="http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/9487573459/in/set-72157635032481576/player/" width="500" height="375" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen oallowfullscreen msallowfullscreen></iframe>

    This is a good photo showing where the elbows are placed with the Jones bar, from the Jones site: Swept bars and hand positions-wip_biffgrunts_1.jpg

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by finch2 View Post
    I'm pretty happy at 9deg sweep on a flat bar atm. Personally, I am finding as I condition for SS and need to really dig into steep climbs I need to get my front low and bend my elbows. Otherwise I can't engage my stomach muscles to drive the pedals enough. too upright and I just get a sore back. So in this lower position my elbows are out and my head closer to the stem, so hands are fairly straight. Other positions aren't so demanding on the hands, and I will ride this way a fair bit especially out of saddle while on the SS.
    I agree for climbs that you can remain seated it is good to get your chest down and keep your arms in a loose position on the bar. When climbing up a steep pitch you're out of the saddle and can still keep hands/arms loose, but when REALLY grunting up a steep, rocky, rooty climb, you're pulling on the bars to eek more power out of each pedal stroke.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brockwan View Post
    It's about pumping through with your legs to bring the front wheel up and back wheel through as you do so you push your bars forward also. It leaves your body in a better position and is easier to control. If you simply yank on the bars it leaves your body over the front wheel which is the opposite of what you want.

    Here's a little section from a really good guide called "essential guide to mountain biking" it's made from the makers of mountain biking UK magazine. It's actually a brilliant guide for all standards written by the pros.

    Read from Coaster manual, it explains it and the advantage well.
    Cool. 80% I do a power pedal stroke to bring my front end up, in order to get over a log for example. But you're pointing out that shifting your weight back while simultaneously pumping through with the legs can bring the front end up with little pulling on the bar. I'll have to work on that.

    There are occasions where a pedal stroke is impractical and you need to simply pull up on the bar. Maybe you're saying not to "yank" on the bar but to pull "with the elbows", so to speak? Make sense?

    This video kinda says what I'm thinking. With weight back, pulling up is made easier, but you still need to pull up to get the wheel off the ground. ffwd to the 58 second point. Maybe it's bad technique?


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    Swept bars and hand positions

    Kinda yeah for most type of manual you can push forward literally, like a tree root.that will lift the front wheel up and with a bit of pedal power you can manual through.

    I was the same and I'm currently trying to change my ways after reading that article. It does make sense to shift your weight back. It is easier though to just power the front up by lifting the front up. I guess it decreases your stamina though. Same with all good practices I guess.


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