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  1. #1
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    In praise of wide low bars and a short stem

    I have a Mojo SL which I do not ride often enough.

    When I do, this is around Wellington, NZ where the tracks are typically narrow clay+rocks, with frequent close banks and/or trees and/or drops over the side into prickly vegetation.

    Anyhow I am about 5ft 8, of normal proportions and ride a medium Mojo SL that fits me perfectly.
    Up until now I ran an 80mm stem and 670mm wide bars, set at about full XC saddle height.

    The bike itself felt better the harder I rode it, and the limits were always mine. Going up it was power, and going down it was skill ! The bike loved to rail corners, but Mojo owners know this already!

    Anyway I had read with gradually increasing interest that MTB skills trainers here in NZ, Europe and USA were all advocating wide low bars and short stems, even for normal trail riding.

    The logic being that the short stem and wide bars "counter" eachother, and by lowering the bars the bike will climb, descend and corner better. The negative could be clearance issues with trees and banks etc.


    After a bit of riding about I can say swapping to 60mm stem, and 725 bars mounted about 1.25" below the saddle at XC height has been a huge success.

    Seated climbing is uneffected as my shoulder position (and therefore riding position is the same, standing climbing is feels the same also.
    On the flat the bike feels agile (from the leverage goven by wide bars) and very neutral steering ( from the shorter stem )
    Down hills it is far more forgiving and agile.. and it settles into tight corners ( especially bermed ones) so quickly it is a delight to ride.
    I had been expecting to over-steer the bike but there was no sign, and braking downhill over rough stuff was so much nicer too.
    So, a win-win situation.

    Negatives?
    Well the new parts do cost $$, especially when trying to do the Mojo SL justice!
    I am using a 0.75" rise bar, a lower rise would be better, as it is as low as it can go (no spacers, stem flipped etc)

    The clearance issues not not materialise due to the increased agility and stability..

    So if you are considering such a move to the new paradigm riding position, I would say based on my experience to give it a go

  2. #2
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    Welcome to the club.
    I've got 60/725 (stem/bars) on my HD that I've been riding for the last 2 months. Just this weekend I took my regular Mojo with 70/700 for a ride and they felt too narrow and the stem felt long. I'm really digging the 60/725 setup. I may have to do that with the regular Mojo too.

  3. #3
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    A lot of people think that having the bars high is beneficial for dh riding, little do they know!

  4. #4
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    Wow, 725mm (28.5" by my calculations) seems so wide. I'm looking to go wider (than current 660mm or 26"), but seems like widening by over 2.5" would take some serious adjustment after many years of 26". Especially on some of the tight tree trails I ride. I was thinking 27" but now you have me thinking...

  5. #5
    aka dan51
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    Quote Originally Posted by getbusyliving
    Wow, 725mm (28.5" by my calculations) seems so wide. I'm looking to go wider (than current 660mm or 26"), but seems like widening by over 2.5" would take some serious adjustment after many years of 26". Especially on some of the tight tree trails I ride. I was thinking 27" but now you have me thinking...
    Get a 725 and try it. You can always move the grips in a little to simulate a narrow bar and not cut the ends off.
    When I first got a 725 it felt too wide and weird. So I moved the grips in to about 710 which felt better. I then tried cutting the ends off and wound up with a 700 bar. So I put that on my girlfriend's bike and got another 725 and just left it at 725. If you go wider also go with a shorter stem, they go hand in hand. A wider bar on your current stem may feel like you are leaned over way too far.

  6. #6
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    I'm playing this same game. Just went from 685mm carbon bars to 745mm aluminum. Haven't given them a thorough test on rough terrain yet, but after a handful of short local rides I'm totally used to them. Considering shortening my 90mm stem as well.

    What really cracks me up is that 18 years ago I was putting 22" bars on my bike.



    My Mojo has wings.

  7. #7
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    Oddly, I just had more success going the other way.

    I went from a very wide Easton EA 70 flat bar (I want to say 700mm - it is very wide, much wider than any other flat bar I've seen or read about) and an 80mm stem to a 580mm Richey WCS and a 100mm stem, and got a far more comfortable ride (in terms of hand/wrist angle) and faster too (because it takes less side-side motion to thread through trees at speed)

    I know there's a sort of movement towards short stem/wide bar, but I don't think that's a good generalisation. I think it is more a question of getting the right fit.

    This is an area where I think the road bike guys really have it, and mountain bike guys maybe not so much. You can get "fitted" to your road bike. A guy puts you on a stationary trainer and makes a number of measurements and observations about things like knee angles and if you bounce on the saddle at full power and whatnot. He then tweaks various options and adjustments on the bike to optimise the fit.

    I've done this three times on my road bike (they came with the purchase of the bike) The first time we changed out the stem length from stock to tweak the fit. Then, as I changed the seat (the stock seat was like sitting on an axe) and got fitter (so I could comfortably hold a more aero position) we flipped the stem and took out spacers to lower the cockpit and get my back flatter.

    The result is a bike I can hammer away on for hours with no pain. The bike fits me like a glove.

    I suspect that there should be a similar - but not identical - process for fitting a mountain bike. Some of the goals for an MTB riding position will be different than the goals for a road bike position (and XC vs downhill vs all-mountain will probably emphasise different fit aspects) and that means someone will have to work out some different fitting procedures. But the underlying concept I think is perfectly valid.

    DG

  8. #8
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    They key is using a short stem, and lowering the bars by about the difference in stem length. I went 20mm shorter and 25mm lower- my bars used to be at XC saddle eight.

    This places your shoulders at the same place when riding on the flat or uphill, so weighting the bike win these conditions is fine. The shorter stem means less steering flop up the very steep stuff too.

    The lower bar height works wonders tossing the bike around turns and down the steeper stuff. And the wider bars keep the front behaving on rough stuff too.

    The only issue I had was hurting hamstrings from crouching 1.5" lower on the bike than I was used to.

    The stem length should be a control adjustment, not a reach adjustment

  9. #9
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    I just put 31" bars on my Switchblade, and all I can say is WOW! I smashed into a few shrubs, but the benefits far outweigh the few times I needed to slow down and negotiate some tight spots. Getting a pair for the 29er soon!

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robo SD
    I'm playing this same game. Just went from 685mm carbon bars to 745mm aluminum. Haven't given them a thorough test on rough terrain yet, but after a handful of short local rides I'm totally used to them. Considering shortening my 90mm stem as well.

    What really cracks me up is that 18 years ago I was putting 22" bars on my bike.



    My Mojo has wings.
    Drop the stem spacers, and go shorter also

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robo SD
    What really cracks me up is that 18 years ago I was putting 22" bars on my bike.
    Yeah, no *****.... same here, with 150mm stems. If the trend ever reverses (not likely) and 150mm stems are in vogue again, I'm set! I've got a box with at least 8 of them in it.

    Well, I'm gonna bite too.... just mounted a 60mm 0 rise raceface stem and will give it a try....sounds crazy with as much steep tech uphills as downs around here... but it sure looks cool.

  12. #12
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    I looks like Carbon bars max out at about 28.5". Is that because of strength issues?

    I'm wishing my Monkey Lite DH's were a bit wider.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by scepticshock
    I looks like Carbon bars max out at about 28.5". Is that because of strength issues?

    I'm wishing my Monkey Lite DH's were a bit wider.

    Check out these Easton Carbon Havocs at 750mm (29.5"):
    http://www.eastoncycling.com/en-us/m...s/havoc-carbon

  14. #14
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    Thanks for the tip. those look nice!

  15. #15
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    Syntace make a Vector in low rise, carbon, and 680 or 740mm width.

    The latter is a bit harder to find, I am going to order some

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yody
    Drop the stem spacers, and go shorter also

    Yep, go 20mm shorter and 20mm lower at the same time.

    Your climbing position will be the same, (as your shoulders are in the same place) but descending= better, railing corners= better, even standing climbs are better.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by robbieracer
    Yep, go 20mm shorter and 20mm lower at the same time.

    Your climbing position will be the same, (as your shoulders are in the same place) but descending= better, railing corners= better, even standing climbs are better.


    Yeah good point on standing climbs. I went to a 760 bar on my DH bike and couldn't believe the change to pedalling. More leverage.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by bajaracer1501
    Check out these Easton Carbon Havocs at 750mm (29.5"):
    http://www.eastoncycling.com/en-us/m...s/havoc-carbon
    Great looking bars. The old 710mm Easton DH with 70mm Ibis stem is working well for me. I was just thinking while riding today I'd have to get off and walk a few cliffs and trees on my local loop if it was any wider. Maybe it would be worth the hiking. Wider sure is more powerful.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by robbieracer
    Yep, go 20mm shorter and 20mm lower at the same time.

    Your climbing position will be the same, (as your shoulders are in the same place) but descending= better, railing corners= better, even standing climbs are better.
    Although I'm noticing the amount of seatpost showing, maybe the frame is a tad small and so is the headtube so its possible he needs all those spacers ?

  20. #20
    Mojo0115
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    Wider bars and shorter stems often leads to other changes in your mojo....

    This is mine yesterday about to turn down 401.
    In praise of wide low bars and a short stem-img_0450.jpg

    Today it was enjoying the fruits of Doctor Park.
    In praise of wide low bars and a short stem-doctorpark.jpg

  21. #21
    MPI
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    I use Syncros Bulk Carbon Got it from sale.
    Just perfect for me. Stems are between 50-70mm depends on type of riding.
    Last edited by MPI; 09-12-2010 at 11:50 PM.
    http://www.kiva.org - Loans That Change Lives

  22. #22
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    The 725mm width suits me well, and there are plenty of narrow trails with trees where I ride.
    However I would only pair wide bars with a short, low stem.

    The positive steering more than negates the lesser clearance. Which is a good thing!

  23. #23
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    I am digging my race face carbon SIXCs at 725mm but would try those Havoc Carbons if I were buying new.

    Edit: It looks like Edge/Enve has a 225g 800mm Downhill bar now. This takes the cake for light and wide. http://www.envecomposites.com/handlebars/mtb.aspx
    Last edited by smithrider; 09-27-2010 at 06:07 PM.

  24. #24
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    That bar looks very spanky..

    As does the Syntace Vector:

    740 mm: 209 g, 10mm rise. 8 or 12 sweep.

    Decisions
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails In praise of wide low bars and a short stem-10mm-rise-740-wide-12-deg-sweep.jpg  


  25. #25
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    totally love my bars/stem.

    RaceFace Deus 3/4 Inch Rise
    HOPE 25deg. 70mm

    and don't worry...the cable routing is much better now. this was taken when the bike was first built.

    ride more. work less.
    2010 ibis mojo sl
    2010 motobecane fantom 29er SS
    2009 kilo tt fixed gear

  26. #26
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    we got too many trees around here to run wide bars. I did flip my stem to get the -6 degree.

  27. #27
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    Where I ride I used to almost hit a tree every 500 metres or so of trail, with 670mm bars set at saddle height, and an 80mm stem .

    A bigger risk is hitting a bar end on an embankement, as this pitches a rider dierctly over the side!

    Now with the increased stability of the 725mm bars, ( with a 60mm stem and the bars set about 1.25" below saddle height) , I still almost hit a tree every 500 metres or so of trail

    And as I get more used to the setup I am sure this will only improve.

    The extra stability and feedback from the setup makes the bike, for me, a lot more natural to control. This offsets the obvious width difference.

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