Handlebar & stem length- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Apr 2007

    Handlebar & stem length

    Hey everyone, Im Lauren and I'm posting under my husbands account, hopefully that is ok.
    Last year he bought me a Trek Roscoe 6 size small (I'm 5'3") for my first real mountain bike. I am a beginner and haven't rode any hard trails yet but I'm working my way there.

    I am having an issue with steering, it feels like the handlebars are too wide and too far away and I cant turn fast enough.

    What are you girls around my size riding as far as handlebar length and stem length?

    If I can get some lengths to go off of I can have him cut them down.


  2. #2
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Jul 2019
    Some of this also depends on your arm wingspan. If you can I'd suggest taking your bike to a local shop that has does fitment so you can get the seat height, stem angle/length, and bars just right? What is the length and angle of your stem currently?

  3. #3
    Moderator Moderator
    Reputation: mtbxplorer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    ^^ A fit would be great! Hi Lauren, if a fit is not possible, I would consider cutting the bars back to 720mm, which is what the XS Roscoe 6 comes with.

  4. #4
    mtbr member
    Reputation: RS VR6's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Bar width...stem length...also the saddle position can make the bar feel like it's far away. If you haven't...try sliding the saddle a bit forward. If you have lock on grips...you can slide them in along with the levers and see if the steering improves.

  5. #5
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    Most bikes come with bars that are too wide in general. It was a marketing ploy and lowered costs by only having to inventory one size bar during production. I'm 5'7" and I switched my bar to 640mm. My 4'11" G.F. is using 620mm bar.

    Do a couple push ups and have your husband measured the outside width of your hands and that is an approximate guide to properly size the bars based upon your shoulder width.

    I then move the grips to that measurement and adjust the brake levers, etc from there. Ride it a few days and if it feels good, then either cut the bar or buy a new narrow bar on Amazon. (They have good carbon fiber bars for $30) If you feel the grips are still too wide or maybe too narrow, adjust a little, 10mm at a time until it feels perfect. Then cut it or buy a new one.

  6. #6
    mtbr member
    Reputation: mLeier's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    I am 5'2" tall. The first thing I do when I get a new bike is to buy the shortest stem possible.

    As for bars, my bike came with bars that were 760 mm and I was finding that my shoulders were suddenly sore all of the time. Rather than cut the bars immediately, I "cheated" them for a while to see if it would help. This means moving all of your levers in towards the middle of the bar. This forces you to place your hands further in on the grips and effectively shortens the width of the bars without actually cutting them. I was easily able to move them in 10 mm on each side. I found that this felt really great. It immediately got rid of my shoulder pains and made the steering respond better as well so I took the leap and cut them down to 740 mm. You could do this a few times until you find the right width. Move them in 10 mm, try it out, cut the bars, move them in 10 mm, try them out... keep going until you like the bar width. Don't go too short to fast though! Give them a chance before cutting too much off. I hopped on my old bike the other day and couldn't believe how narrow(and terrible!) the bars felt. I like the feeling of the width of my bars on my new bike so much better. I measured the old bars and they were only 690 mm!

  7. #7
    Reputation: mahgnillig's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    I'm about your size and run a 40mm stem with 740mm bars on my trail bike. The bike originally came with 780mm bars (10mm rise) and they felt too wide and flat, so I did the same trick as some of the others here and moved the controls inboard until I figured out the right width. Then I ordered some bars with 30mm rise and 740mm width, dropped from a 50mm stem to 40mm, and everything now fits really well. This is all on my trail bike. For my DH bike I stuck with 800mm bars as the extra leverage is nice and doesn't bother me when I'm not sitting and climbing for hours at a time.

    I wouldn't go too short all in one go either. Cut the bars down gradually until you feel comfortable, because if you go too narrow you'll give up too much control when turns get fast and bumpy. If you haven't already, really try to work on your turning technique when going fast... you want to be leaning the bike over and using a combo of your bodyweight and lean angle to make the bike turn, rather than steering alone. This is where the wide bars really shine because you have more stability. If you cut them down gradually you'll be able to find the perfect balance between stability for high speed cornering and maneuverability for slow speed cornering.
    Ride like a girl! :cornut:

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