Handlebar Width! 660mm/26 inches! How wide is too wide?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Handlebar Width! 660mm/26 inches! How wide is too wide?

    Ok, just got my new bike which is a Cannondale RZ 120-1 and it came with FSA XC-282 660mm, 18mm riser, 31.8mm. That is a wide measure just at 26 3/4 inches across.

    I do a lot of cross country riding on trails and singletrack. My OLD bike's handlebar width was only about 22 inches!

    Do most people cut these bars down so they don't hit a lot of trees on the track?! I just need to understand the advantages or disadvantages...

  2. #2
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    It does sound wide. My Specialized bars are 25 inches and I think I might have problems if they were wider.

    If you decide to cut them, make sure you will still have enough space at the ends to mount your grips, shifters, and brake levers. Most 31.8 mm bars are tapered at the ends to allow standard 25.4 mm mounting diameter.
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  3. #3
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    Bars on my singlespeed are 710mm works well for me at 6'5"

    Gotta be careful going between the trees otherwise ... ouch
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  4. #4
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    Bars are like saddles, it's a personal thing. I run 660mm flat bars with 17* sweep and I find the width to my liking. Anything under about 640mm would feel pretty narrow to me. On average given all other factors are the same (which they're usually not)

    Wider: More leverage, more stable at speed, slower low speed steering
    Narrower: Quicker and easier low speed steering, more "twitchy at high speed

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by billee

    If you decide to cut them, make sure you will still have enough space at the ends to mount your grips, shifters, and brake levers. Most 31.8 mm bars are tapered at the ends to allow standard 25.4 mm mounting diameter.
    Both 25.4 and 31.8 are measurements of the stem clamp area of the handlebar, both clamp size bars otherwise share the same 22.2 mm control mounting diameter.

    Bar width is somewhat related to your shoulder width (or maybe the width between trees on your trails ). I use bars ranging from 25-27.5" on various mountain bikes.
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  6. #6
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    Bigger bars open up your chest, makes it easier to breath
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  7. #7
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    Well I appreciate all the different viewpoints guys! I didn't think about some of these aspects and will have to see how many trees I smack. I know for a fact some of the trails I ride I'll have a problem getting through them! I'm not used to the wide bars.

  8. #8
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    I think that's pretty standard these days. My new bikes 26 incher looked deformed compared to the 22 inch flatbar on my 90s era Stumpjumper....But I could see the benefit from day 1. The wider bar feels more comfortable and stable....especially on technical stuff. As for the trees...I don't know...I only wish I lived in a place where I could ride through trees that close.

  9. #9
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    I cut my bars down to about 24". I have narrow shoulders and we have narrow gaps between the trees the trails. I also like my brakes a little more inboard than most, so the curved end of the lever is just at my index finger.

  10. #10
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    I have the same bar as the OP on my prophet and love it. When I get on my commuter that has a 24" bar I feel wierd after a few days on my trail bike. I'm a big tall guy 6'4" and really like the stability and increased leaverage from the wider bars.
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  11. #11
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    It's a personal preference thing... I'm 5'11" and when I bought an AM bike which came with 26" handlebars they felt huge compared to 23" inch bars that came with my XC bike. Over time, I got used to them and switched the wider bar to my XC bike. I find them more fun and a lot easier to keep the wheel tracked in my intended direction when it gets really bumpy due to the increased leverage.

    In short, keep the bars at 26 inches for a while. You'll know after a couple of rides if it's right for you or not. What worked for me won't necessarily be the same for you.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by emtnate
    I cut my bars down to about 24". I have narrow shoulders and we have narrow gaps between the trees the trails. I also like my brakes a little more inboard than most, so the curved end of the lever is just at my index finger.
    I'm sorry, I just couldn't resist pointing out that where your levers sit in relation to your index finger has nothing to do with how wide your bars are.

    To the OP, wider is nice, so long as your personal ergonomics and the trees in your area are amenable to that.

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  13. #13
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    i just got a 660 salsa flatish bar and it worked fine today at my race but I will have to get used to it. I am coming from a 620 and they are definitely different. I am a clydesdale and the extra width is nice with my larger top.

    I will let you know when i get a lot of mileage in.

  14. #14
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    For me, wider is better. On my 29er I run 28" 26er FS 26" I'm thinking about buying 28" for the 26er. I like the control the wider bars give me. On some super tight trails wide bars can become a problem but still worth it. I'm only 5'7".

  15. #15
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    Yeah, compared to the 24" bars I used to have the 27" one feel much more natural to me.
    Next I want to try some 30" bars.
    IMO, Wider = Better, especially if your taller. For reference I'm 6' 3"
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  16. #16
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    i prefer mine on my prophet to be right around 700mm the bike when i got it last year has sheittily cut bars that were narrrrrrow and i actually hit more trees with the narrow bars than the wider ones!

    edit: yea barhopper im 5'-12" and wider is better! i had 30 inchers on my DH bike they were pretty wide and nearly gored me once on a botched landing...
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  17. #17
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    Narrow

    All my bars are 550-560mm, stock.
    I can't imagine riding with a bar wider than 580ish
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  18. #18
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    I cut my bars down about 1/2 inch on either side mid-season last year. Huge mistake--I lost a big chunk of my "pulling" power on climbs.

    But, if you're used to a narrower bar, I suppose you won't feel a difference.
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  19. #19
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    over 31" i think would be pushing it for me. i used to have 26" on my specialized but just got 30" and i love it. opens up my shoulders. easier to get low on the bike. makes a few of the tight tree sections extra scarey but for me at least totally worth it. makes climbing alot easier too. im 6'2"
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  20. #20
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    For my new bike I got some a bar that was 685mm and I love it.... so much better then what was on my old xc bike. it definitely feels like it opens up my chest more, helping me to breath easier.

  21. #21
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  22. #22
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    get in ur push-up position that is most comfortable. then, measure from pinky to pinky. get that size bar except little bit bigger. (just incase u want to cut them down).

  23. #23
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    Um, thanks for the advice on a 3 year old thread. Average bar width has gotten WAY bigger since the inception of this thread. BTW, the distance between my pinkies in push up position is FAR smaller than the bars on any of my bikes. (780mm on the trail bike and 300mm on the dj and dh bikes).

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by whodaphuck View Post
    BTW, the distance between my pinkies in push up position is FAR smaller than the bars on any of my bikes. (780mm on the trail bike and 300mm on the dj and dh bikes).
    Then you're just making your bikes more difficult to handle. You're actually losing leverage.

  25. #25
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    Enlighten me. How do you lose leverage going to a longer lever arm?

  26. #26
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    The bars will offer the potential for more leverage, but you lose power with your arms at a certain point. Can you do as many pushups with your hands much wider than your shoulders as you can with them at about shoulder width? It's also more difficult to steer a bar that's too wide, because it requires more shoulder and body rotation than a narrower bar. Maybe it's not a matter of less leverage as it is less usable leverage.

  27. #27
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    Re: Handlebar Width! 660mm/26 inches! How wide is too wide?

    It depends on the rider size. 710mm to wide, 660mm is good for Me

  28. #28
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    It's too wide is when you can't fit it through your doorways. I'm running 700mm to 735mm on my bikes, I did try 785 for a short while but that was definitely too wide.

  29. #29
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    760-780mm is a good all-mountain/trail distance now. There are several good lightweight carbon bars to choose from in that range. Slightly bigger for DH, slightly less maybe like 720 for XC racing, but otherwise, this is the new norm. With your hands further spread apart, it's a lot more comfortable, like when you were using bar ends, except you don't have to take your hands off their normal riding position to get the benefit. This has to be coupled with a short stem, but it makes for a pretty nice ride.
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  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by mountainbiker24 View Post
    The bars will offer the potential for more leverage, but you lose power with your arms at a certain point. Can you do as many pushups with your hands much wider than your shoulders as you can with them at about shoulder width?
    No, I can do more, as can most people. It's harder the closer your hands get. Realize that bar-ends do the same thing as the wider bars, only difference is you don't have to take your hands off the bar!
    "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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  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    No, I can do more, as can most people. It's harder the closer your hands get. Realize that bar-ends do the same thing as the wider bars, only difference is you don't have to take your hands off the bar!
    Have you ever done any pushups? It gets more difficult to do pushups when your hands get past a certain point in either direction. The sweet spot is just wider than shoulder width. That's why people bench press at about shoulder width, don't you think? I can bench press a lot more than I can lift on fly's. The same with bars that are too narrow. Bar-ends were great on bikes with 24" bars. Not quite as useful on the wider riser bars.

  32. #32
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    Would you AT LEAST give your stupid theories a try before you spout them Just for curiosity sake I just went into my normal push up position and guess what, it's right around 30-31" wide to the outside of my palms, if I bring my hands in any closer it gets much more difficult. Now maybe with your petite stature you have issues with your hands as wide as that, but don't take it out on the rest of the community with your assinine comments. BTW, what the fvck does doing a push up have to do with steering a bike anyways, completely different muscle usage
    Quote Originally Posted by mountainbiker24 View Post
    The bars will offer the potential for more leverage, but you lose power with your arms at a certain point. Can you do as many pushups with your hands much wider than your shoulders as you can with them at about shoulder width? It's also more difficult to steer a bar that's too wide, because it requires more shoulder and body rotation than a narrower bar. Maybe it's not a matter of less leverage as it is less usable leverage.
    Quote Originally Posted by Harold
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  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    Realize that bar-ends do the same thing as the wider bars, only difference is you don't have to take your hands off the bar!

    For me bar ends are not at all the same as wide bars because they position your hands and wrists in a completely different angle and add length to the stem.




    Quote Originally Posted by mountainbiker24 View Post
    It's also more difficult to steer a bar that's too wide, because it requires more shoulder and body rotation than a narrower bar. Maybe it's not a matter of less leverage as it is less usable leverage.

    It doesn't take much leverage to steer, I can turn my bike just fine with no handlebars, but leverage can add stability. I think there is a sweet spot for every rider and every bike and there is no one magic number.

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by mountainbiker24 View Post
    Have you ever done any pushups? It gets more difficult to do pushups when your hands get past a certain point in either direction. The sweet spot is just wider than shoulder width. That's why people bench press at about shoulder width, don't you think? I can bench press a lot more than I can lift on fly's. The same with bars that are too narrow. Bar-ends were great on bikes with 24" bars. Not quite as useful on the wider riser bars.
    No, it's just physically impossible to make my upper arms level before my face hits the floor, that takes care of the "problem" before the pushups ever get "too hard" by having the hands spread out. You might think that it's harder, but it's actually an easier muscle-group to utilize, rather than when your arms are closer, and then when you are limited by your face hitting the floor, it becomes very "easy", if you ignore the fact that it's now physically impossible to make your upper arms parallel with the ground (because your face is in the way). I do rock climbing, so yeah, I do pushups as part of my core routine.
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  35. #35
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    Handlebar Width! 660mm/26 inches! How wide is too wide?

    Quote Originally Posted by TritonBill View Post
    Ok, just got my new bike which is a Cannondale RZ 120-1 and it came with FSA XC-282 660mm, 18mm riser, 31.8mm. That is a wide measure just at 26 3/4 inches across.

    I do a lot of cross country riding on trails and singletrack. My OLD bike's handlebar width was only about 22 inches!

    Do most people cut these bars down so they don't hit a lot of trees on the track?! I just need to understand the advantages or disadvantages...
    I did a post a few weeks ago about "narrow" bars and got trashed. The AM/ Trail bike trend as many posts in this thread show is wide bars & short stem which work great descending with slack HTA, in wide open rocky terrain. I have one 650b with 5" of travel set up this way. Feels good on that bike, but I'll leave it to the experts to explain the theory.

    For XC in narrow tree lined single track over 30" is lethal to me: banged fingers and worse, wheel spun around 90deg to trail from catching overhanging brush with the bar. Having said that, 22 inches is extreme in the other direction. Hard to imagine balance and steering on a bar that narrow.Cut my current XC bar from over 30" to about 25". This is a good compromise for my style on my trails. I also replaced 70mm stem with 90mm for XC bike.

    At 26" you are still on the narrow end of the spectrum. Only way to tell is ride and ride some more before you do anything drastic like cutting it.
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  36. #36
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    1000mm is starting to get a bit wide...

    <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/8375115114/" title="syncros_2 by BBcamerata, on Flickr"><img src="https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8186/8375115114_1c75b965b6_z.jpg" width="590" height="393" alt="syncros_2"></a>

    I don't live on the moon or in the desert, so narrow tree lined singletrack is the norm for XC riding where a bar that is too wide becomes a handicap. I enjoy the balance of control and width at 660mm. Even then, I run into tight tree lined moments that increases the pucker factor.

    It's all personal preference, terrain, bike oriented stuff. What works for one, may not for another. I don't really buy the "opens up your chest" argument BS considering the widths of road bike bars and riders that could crush all of us when it comes to producing power and inhaling oxygen with narrow bars with no difficulty in breathing using 380-440mm wide bars.

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtnbiker72 View Post
    Bars are like saddles, it's a personal thing.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ktse View Post
    It's a personal preference thing...
    Quote Originally Posted by BruceBrown View Post
    It's all personal preference, terrain, bike oriented stuff.
    Three years old, but these are the only things that contain absolute accuracy.

    Sure there are recommendations that can be made, but ... If bars were a "One Size Fits All" thing, this thread would not exist.

  38. #38
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    Just a word of advice - don't blindly follow the wide bar trend. I am short, 5'5", and slapped on a 660 mm wide bar on a hardtail and then proceeded to ride for 3 1/2 hours. I re-injured my AC joint - shoulder injury that I have dislocated in the past, this time it was just a strain. I am certain the wide bars contributed to my injury, but so did all the yard work and the slightly too big Lemond road bike.

    This wide of a bar had my arms at an awkward bend. That sort of position might be OK for pure mountain biking or shorter rides, but in this case I was biking from home, on the road, to the trailhead, riding the trail, then back on the road. A lot of road miles where you tend to stay in one position longer - so that position counts more.
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    ^^^ Wishing you a speedy recovery.

    Never do that again
    A few weeks ago,
    I spent a week taking it easy after doing almost the same thing, and aggravating a long ago broken wrist issue.

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikeabuser View Post
    ^^^ Wishing you a speedy recovery.

    Never do that again
    A few weeks ago,
    I spent a week taking it easy after doing almost the same thing, and aggravating a long ago broken wrist issue.
    It hasn't been a speedy recovery. That ride was two months ago. I have mostly stayed off the bike, and started physical therapy after I realized what I had done. Bought a new road bike! At my wife's urging. Also just cut down those bars last week on that hardtail.

    Just getting back into riding over the last couple weeks. Of course, a landscape project at our house was really not helping anything either.

    Thanks though...
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  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by LyNx View Post
    Would you AT LEAST give your stupid theories a try before you spout them Just for curiosity sake I just went into my normal push up position and guess what, it's right around 30-31" wide to the outside of my palms, if I bring my hands in any closer it gets much more difficult. Now maybe with your petite stature you have issues with your hands as wide as that, but don't take it out on the rest of the community with your assinine comments. BTW, what the fvck does doing a push up have to do with steering a bike anyways, completely different muscle usage
    Alright, since you're too dense to figure this out, I'll spell it out for you. Obviously, a narrow bar that is narrower than your shoulders will give you less leverage. If your hands are too wide, it makes steering more difficult, given the angles involved. As for the connection between pushups and mountain biking, I thought it was obvious. When you're pumping, landing, and generally riding your bike, you use muscles in your upper body. Generally, the more muscle you can apply to the bike, the better. Efficiency is everything. If your bars are too narrow, you won't get the leverage on jumps, drops, and yes, even steering, that you could with wider bars. If your bars are too wide, you won't get the proper angles for proper steering, and it will actually make absorbing hard impacts a little more difficult. Maybe you should try riding your bike before insulting my intelligence.

  42. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    It doesn't take much leverage to steer, I can turn my bike just fine with no handlebars, but leverage can add stability. I think there is a sweet spot for every rider and every bike and there is no one magic number.
    No it doesn't, but the greatest stability for handling the bike and absorbing impacts is about shoulder width. Much wider than that, and you are forced to steer more with your body. Much narrower than that, and you lose stability and leverage.

  43. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    No, it's just physically impossible to make my upper arms level before my face hits the floor, that takes care of the "problem" before the pushups ever get "too hard" by having the hands spread out. You might think that it's harder, but it's actually an easier muscle-group to utilize, rather than when your arms are closer, and then when you are limited by your face hitting the floor, it becomes very "easy", if you ignore the fact that it's now physically impossible to make your upper arms parallel with the ground (because your face is in the way). I do rock climbing, so yeah, I do pushups as part of my core routine.
    Who said make your arms parallel to the ground? That's the extreme example, just like doing a pushup with your arms straight and perpendicular to the ground. Obviously, the best width is somewhere in between those extremes. Everybody has there own preference, but if you're looking for the most efficient for absorbing impacts and handling the bike, it's about shoulder width.

  44. #44
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    just wanted to chime in with my experience. i have a shoulder width of 450mm and had a 650mm handlebar. i haven't been riding that long and just started loving mtbing. i've had a slight feeling of pain on the outside of my wrists which meant i had to tweak on my handlebar positions. had a few crashes that might have aggravated the pain, too. took my chance at a sale on pricepoint and got a 720mm AM handlebar (Answer ProTaper) and it immediately felt awesome. i saw the advice on doing the push-up position and tried if that works and surprisingly, here's what i found:

    i laid down a tape measure and assumed the mid push-up position (halfway through the stroke). at 650mm (my old handlebar), i felt the usual pain in my wrists. at 780mm and 750mm, the pain diminished but still noticeable. at 720mm, i didn't feel pain at all or at least unnoticeable. i guess i was lucky to have found that sweet spot exactly without having to cut the handlebar. i have pretty narrow shoulders and my old handle bar was considerably wider than my shoulders but ended up not being wide enough. on the other hand, 780 and 750 would have been too wide. i have yet to see if i'll be cutting the handlebar but for now, i'm extremely happy with the huge improvement i felt going with 720mm.

  45. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by jonny boy View Post
    Just a word of advice - don't blindly follow the wide bar trend. I am short, 5'5", and slapped on a 660 mm wide bar on a hardtail and then proceeded to ride for 3 1/2 hours.
    660 is a wide bar?

  46. #46
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    Here's me riding in between trees narrower than my 780mm bars:

    "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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  47. #47
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    It's nice to see an old thread dug up that's actually interesting. This is like a handlebar time capsule.
    Worked at Trek/Fisher dealer 2008-2013. Only a little biased.

  48. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    Here's me riding in between trees narrower than my 780mm bars:

    Congratulations! You can lean your bike while going slow...

  49. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by rsilvers View Post
    660 is a wide bar?
    Old thread is old!

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    Quote Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post
    Old thread is old!
    It is kind of an interesting time capsule! What is missing is the relationship bar width with stem length (and reach). You cannot put a 780 bar on a bike that is correctly set up for a 620 bar: need to shorten the stem (a lot in that case) to do so!

    PS I ride a Renthal Fat Bar Lite: 740 with a 50 mm stem. Renthal downhill bars are 780

  51. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by mountainbiker24 View Post
    Congratulations! You can lean your bike while going slow...
    Just to counter the old "i can't possible ride with handlebars wider than 500mm because where I ride is tight and narrow!"
    "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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  52. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by TritonBill View Post
    Ok, just got my new bike which is a Cannondale RZ 120-1 and it came with FSA XC-282 660mm, 18mm riser, 31.8mm. That is a wide measure just at 26 3/4 inches across.

    I do a lot of cross country riding on trails and singletrack. My OLD bike's handlebar width was only about 22 inches!

    Do most people cut these bars down so they don't hit a lot of trees on the track?! I just need to understand the advantages or disadvantages...
    My 2nd bike had the bars cut to about 20" by the shop before I picked up the bike without asking. They just did it to all the bikes sold and assumed it was best. I new next to nothing and just got used to being scabbed up.
    Formerly Travis Bickle

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  53. #53
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    Exactly, when I saw it pop up this AM in my control panel I was like, "What". Interesting to look back and see what was considered wide and I was in this camp, coupled with a "normal" length 120mm stem Thankfully we have moved further away from the road bikes and their passed down/over fit, cannot even imagine riding a bike with a 685mm bar now, would have no control in rough/chunk.

    It took me expecting the Prime pre-production frame end of 2011 and taking Keith Scott's word on it needing a shorter than I was accustomed to, even my "short" 90mm would be too long and wider than my moved to 685mm "wide" bars, so I bought a 750mm bar and a couple cheap stems from 60-90mm. The Prime was delayed and so I threw the 750mm bar on my Paradox and an 80mm stem from 685mm bar/110mm stem I was running and it was an eye opener, a total epiphany and so ordered another, wider 785mm bar for the Prime when it arrived as there was no way I'd ever run anything under 750mm again.

    My "base" setup for any bike that is the "right" size for someone for fun trail riding is a 60 or 70mm stem and 720-785mm bar depending on their height and arms length. I consider if you need a stem longer than 75mm, you are on the wrong size frame.

    Quote Originally Posted by Davide View Post
    It is kind of an interesting time capsule! What is missing is the relationship bar width with stem length (and reach). You cannot put a 780 bar on a bike that is correctly set up for a 620 bar: need to shorten the stem (a lot in that case) to do so!

    PS I ride a Renthal Fat Bar Lite: 740 with a 50 mm stem. Renthal downhill bars are 780
    Quote Originally Posted by Harold
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  54. #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    Just to counter the old "i can't possible ride with handlebars wider than 500mm because where I ride is tight and narrow!"
    Try it going 20 mph when you don't know the trees are that tight.

  55. #55
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    Instead of cutting bars, learn to tip the bike away from the tree while still going in a straight line. If the trees are to close together, pull a wheelie and tilt to fit the front of the bike through the gap. Only having been on 7 different trail system I've not seen any tree obstacles that were closer together than 24". However, I never measured, so give take a few inches.
    Goodbye '95 ZJ. Just so you know, transfering box of left behind womens panties to next truck. Thank you ZJ!

  56. #56
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    Quote Originally Posted by pdxmark View Post
    Instead of cutting bars, learn to tip the bike away from the tree while still going in a straight line. If the trees are to close together, pull a wheelie and tilt to fit the front of the bike through the gap. Only having been on 7 different trail system I've not seen any tree obstacles that were closer together than 24". However, I never measured, so give take a few inches.
    I'm not risking that at 20mph, or even 10...

  57. #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by mountainbiker24 View Post
    I'm not risking that at 20mph, or even 10...
    With 720mm bars, I leaned it. Now it's almost instinctual. The risk are there, can't argue against that, but that's why starting new techniques slowly is key to learning these types of maneuvers.
    Goodbye '95 ZJ. Just so you know, transfering box of left behind womens panties to next truck. Thank you ZJ!

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