Handlebar position for DH?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Handlebar position for DH?

    OK, it's fairly clear to me that for lots of climbing such as XC MTB and road bikes, you want a high seat and a low handlebar, far out in front.

    But for DH and the DH parts of enduro, I'm not so sure. Obviously, you want the seat lower so you don't bang your abdomen into it when you're low and back in the steeps. But what about the handlebars? Should they also be as low and far forward as climbing bikes? I've got to think not. Seems like a little higher and not as far forward might be better unless you are a really long armed rider.

    -Peter

  2. #2
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    Is this a trick question?

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    Quote Originally Posted by MSU Alum View Post
    Is this a trick question?
    Nope. A newbie question. Is there some kind of sticky with this info that I should have read before asking? I didn't see it.

    -Peter

  4. #4
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    Yes, you want as short of a stem as possible without messing up the "reach" for your body type. Height depends on a few factors including the stack height of the frame and axle to crown length of the fork. Some DH bikes have ridiculously long forks or stack heights so they run flat bars to keep weight on the front tire. Others run risers upwards of 75-100mm and there are direct mount stem spacers to allow for even more adjustment. From personal experience I find it best to play around with different heights until you find what feels and works best. The stem shortness thing is not something you want to mess with on a DH bike as the shorter the better as you will have better control over drops and jumps. Personally I don't think anyone needs a stem longer than 40mm on a DH bike; if that feels too short then you need the next size up bike (that's why modern bikes are going with longer reach frames).

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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by pcrussell50 View Post
    OK, it's fairly clear to me that for lots of climbing such as XC MTB and road bikes, you want a high seat and a low handlebar, far out in front.

    But for DH and the DH parts of enduro, I'm not so sure. Obviously, you want the seat lower so you don't bang your abdomen into it when you're low and back in the steeps. But what about the handlebars? Should they also be as low and far forward as climbing bikes? I've got to think not. Seems like a little higher and not as far forward might be better unless you are a really long armed rider.

    -Peter
    This is a legit question.

    And guess what, it depends. And I would not say it is a no-brainer type of decision.

    Stem length. As suggested above, it is not something to be adjusted as much as a xc or trail bike but it is not totally a non-issue. For example, Neko runs a "long" 50mm stem/clamp on his DH bike say that it helps to balance his weight.



    Much likely depends on the terrain. I've tried both a low, medium, and high bar set up on my DH rig. On my trail or xc bikes I'm definitely a high bar guys as long hours in the saddle with my very long inseam and heavier upper body command high bars for comfort.

    On my DH bike I've found the lowest set bars possible works best. Our local DH is very old school. While super steep and rocky the turns are very tight and rarely bermed. So, getting that front tire to dig in and hook up requires more than average weighting of the front end, and low bars help with that. I've tried high bars there and was blowing through turns left and right (pun intended). For sculpted, bermed, jumpy, park riding I think I, and most riders, would do better with a high bar set up.

    I've read about pros' set up in the past, aside from Neko's, and some have said if you want to corner harder and faster keep your bars as low as possible on your DH bike. I'm not saying that is best for everyone. Just pointing out that where one sets their bars on their DH rig is not a no-brainer, and depends on the rider and terrain.
    Last edited by Miker J; 04-28-2018 at 03:12 PM.

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    Very thoughtful answers, guys. I'm learning bits from all of them.

    I've got a big travel big brakes enduro (180/180 suspension), (205/185 brakes), that I pretty much only shuttle and hike a bike the steeps with, and am getting ready to get my first DH'er.

    And I struggle with tight, no berm turns with loose rocks on top of dirt. Don't know if I have to stones (pun intended) to try to force the front down for more bite... Yet...

    -Peter
    Last edited by pcrussell50; 04-28-2018 at 02:04 PM. Reason: Addendum

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by pcrussell50 View Post
    Very thoughtful answers, guys. I'm learning bits from all of them.

    I've got a big travel big brakes enduro (180/180 suspension), (205/185 brakes), that I pretty much only shuttle and hike a bike the steeps with, and am getting ready to get my first DH'er.

    And I struggle with tight, no berm turns with loose rocks on top of dirt. Don't know if I have to stones (pun intended) to try to force the front down for more bite... Yet...

    -Peter
    The most important thing to hard tight turns is not low bars and weighting the front end, but it helps. Looking where you want to go and looking at the inside end of the turn makes a big difference, as does leaning the bike.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by pcrussell50 View Post

    And I struggle with tight, no berm turns with loose rocks on top of dirt. Don't know if I have to stones (pun intended) to try to force the front down for more bite... Yet...

    -Peter
    Like Miker J pointed out, looking around to the exit of the turn and leaning the bike to the inside of the turn are super important.

    Weighting the front end and leaning go hand in hand. In low traction situations, a lot of riders are afraid to weight the front end, because it feels like the front end will wash out, which it will since you've got no weight on the front tire.

    Definitely counter-intuitive. More weight on front means more traction. You don't want all of your weight on front of course, but more balanced between front/rear weight distribution. But, if you don't lean the bike and keep your body upright (outside foot down/weight over the bottom bracket) you'll go down like a sack of potatoes on a slippery turn if you weight the front.

    If you've got the lean down and your weight distributed properly (centered fore/aft and far enough to the outside of the turn that your weight stays over the contact patches of your tires), if you lose traction, the bike will go into a drift rather than slipping out from under you. If the bike slides out from under you and you fall to the inside, you likely had your weight too far to the inside. If your front tire washes, you had your weight too far back (and likely too far to the inside).
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Miker J View Post
    Looking where you want to go and looking at the inside end of the turn makes a big difference, as does leaning the bike.
    Definitely. I took a lesson up Highland a couple years ago, and it was well worth it for this kind of thing. A lot of what the instructor focused on was getting your center of gravity so that when you rip through a corner, your weight pushes the bike/tread into the dirt and therefore you end up with more grip.

    I'm doing an awful job re-articulating it, but it was fantastic advice that definitely made me faster.
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  10. #10
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    Great stuff, guys. I'll definitely fight the urge to stay back and work on the front to rear weighting in the tight turns on loose stuff.

    -Peter

  11. #11
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    whatever you feel is comfortable is most important...that being said people like shorter stems and lower bars....myself I run a little higher bar with a short stem ...but to each his own....do what feels best for you
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