Ok ladies, how wide are your handlebars?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
    Dudette
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    Ok ladies, how wide are your handlebars?

    This has probably been beaten to death, but I don't recall this ever coming up on the women's forum before, though I've found plenty of other articles - always from a man's perspective and much taller than I am. We all know the trend is wide handlebars and short stems, with the understanding that wider bars give you more leverage and control. But, at some point there is too wide. Women typically have narrower shoulders and shorter reaches, so what might feel great to a guy, may just be too much for a woman. I recently bought some Deity Black Label bars for my new bike (I'll admit - it was a color, pimp out my ride decision). They measure just about 800mm. I haven't cut them down because I wanted to see how they felt for a while first. And, I wanted to see if the wider bars gave me more of an advantage. But, I was out riding around in the yard after the snow finally melted, working on track stands and wheelies, and just felt ridiculous - like these are too long. What's more, my shoulders hurt. I should also mention the bike is an XS GG Shred Dogg.
    I also have a small 2015 Salsa Mukluk. That bike is a bit long for me and I decided to give some alt bars a try (I do have Jones H-loops for it too, for touring/bikepacking). I got some Salsa Bend 2 bars that have a 23 degree sweep and are only 710mm wide. They go forward before bending back a bit so you should be able to run the same stem. And I freaking love them. My shoulders are happy, my wrists and hands are happy. But, I don't know how something like that would work on an aggressive trail or an Enduro bike. And they're narrow.
    So, I'm likely going to cut my bars down, but I'm curious, what do you ladies run?
    I'm 5'4", and my wingspan is the same. I read about the plant/push-up method for determining bar width and tried that last
    night. My "happy" place seems about 680mm wide! I ride xs or small bikes. How tall are you, what size bike do you ride, what type of bike do you have, and how wide are your bars? Do you have a width where you go, nope, just too wide? And have you noticed anything with your bike's handling (good or bad)? I know this is all kind of subjective, and yeah, you should ride what works for you, regardless of the "standards", but I'm genuinely curious. Thanks in advance!
    RideGG, Cycle-CNY

  2. #2
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    I'm 5'2.5" and ride a small Ibis HD3. When I was demoing bikes last year looking for the perfect ride I did test out some bikes with 800mm bars and remarked in my notes how wide they felt.

    When I bought the HD3 I went from 640mm on my old bike to 760mm on the new. At first 760mm seemed way too wide, but I got used to it pretty quickly. Having said that, I did set the controls slightly inboard and didn't grasp the grips at the end. I also felt like the bike was wandering a little bit on steep uphills, so when I tensed up my core to get those really tough pushes in the bars were moving as well which made the front wheel fidget.

    I wanted some bars with a bit more rise because I was getting some hand fatigue on flat sections and long, seated cruiser downhills (those sections where you don't have to be particularly active on the bike), so when I bought new bars I went with the 740mm width and 30mm vs 10mm of rise. I also went from a 50mm to a 40mm stem. This setup feels about right... my hands are now at the ends of the bars and the controls are snug up against the inside of the grips. The front wheel wandering is slightly improved, though the front end does still feel light on steep, seated uphill spins, I think as a consequence of having slightly higher bars and my less than perfect technique!

    I would suggest a bit of experimentation... cut off 10mm from each side, go riding and see how it feels. Repeat until you find the right width

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  3. #3
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    My standard reccomendation for either sex is to start too wide and move your controls and grips inwards. Experiment with different widths and when in doubt leave them a little too wide. They gan always be trimmed more but you can't glue it back on.
    Formerly Travis Bickle

    Team Robot. "modulation is code for I suck at brake control. Heres a free tip: get better."

  4. #4
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    I should add something I recently did with an older bar that I used on a recent build. I had a nice carbon bar that was a bit too short. I read that with grips that have a just one inner clamp you can install the so they stick out beyond the handlebar end to add a bit of length. Just the single clamp grips gave me the bit of extra width I wanted. Apparently you can add extend 10mm on each end without ill effect so you kind of can glue it back on.
    Formerly Travis Bickle

    Team Robot. "modulation is code for I suck at brake control. Heres a free tip: get better."

  5. #5
    Dudette
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    I plan on slowly trimming my bars back. I'm mostly curious if people find at some point the bars are too wide to be beneficial, or even if they find narrower bars (by today's standards) still work well. Also wanted to relate it to size of the rider.
    RideGG, Cycle-CNY

  6. #6
    Always in the wrong gear
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    I'm not surprised 800mm was too much. I'm 5'9" with a 5'10" span and 800's feel too big for me. I bet you feel like a kid pretending to be an airplane.

    My beginner-skilled 5'5" wife found that when she moved from a 660 bar with an 80mm stem to a 720mm bar with a 60mm stem she suddenly felt like the bike went exactly where she pointed it, and stayed planted. Much confidence. She's ridden my bike with a 760/60 combo and commented on how they felt way too wide and reach-y for her.

    I don't know if this helps you, but it's a data point.
    It should also be noted we live in the desert, so no trail-width conflicts, and her skill-level keeps her off the steep stuff, but her reaction to a mid-width/semi-short combo was instant and undeniable in the techy (for her) parts.
    As Travis mentioned above- I've always done the same thing regarding setting up bars. I have some ODI's I popped the caps off of, and I just keep sliding them (and the brakes/shifter) inward until my hands are too close, then back out til I find the sweet spot. The end of the bars stick way out beyond the grips but they don't hurt anything until you cut em off.
    Shiftin' jumps and huckin' gears

  7. #7
    Pinehurst NC
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    My wife is 5', rides a 15" Orbea and a 30mm stem with 25mm riser bars at 720 were perfect
    ------------------------------------------------------
    "Loud hubs save lives!"

  8. #8
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    Im 52 and my after some experimenting Im at 735mm with a 40mm stem, it feels wide and stable without feeling uncontrollable and Im able to get through any tight spots between trees fine

  9. #9
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    I have a small SantaCruz 5010 with 750 bars. I'm 5'3"- 4". I can't say that I really experimented with them, I went with the shop's recommendation, but I like them. It is easier to clip a tree. My previous bike was 15 years old, so the bars were much narrower. Last year my 2011 fatbike bars felt too narrow since I had gotten used to the wider ones on the Santa Cruz. I keep narrower ones on the commuter mtb to reduce the effect of headwinds.

  10. #10
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    From a males perspective who is 6'2", but also owns bikes from SM 26" up to XL 29ers for guided riding tours. I myself have tried 800mm bars, a couple different ones I bought on sale with different sweep/rise and while they felt nice riding about, on our trails in sections with close trees, after my off in 2016 where I clipped a tree with the end of my hand, they feel quite un-settling on the nerves. I can ride anywhere from 760-785mm wide and stems range from 40-70mm with those widths, depending on the bike.

    So that's my "tall guy" perspective on 800mm bars, now my thoughts for shorter riders and how I have my fleet made up.......

    On my L & XL frames, I run 780 & 760mm wide bars, on my M frames I run 740mm wide bars and on my SMs I run 710mm wide bars. I take people out varying in skill level from never really tried mountain biking to very experienced semi-pros and so far, no one has complained about the widths, actually most of the more experienced riders are very surprised to find bikes with suitably wide bars in a small island. I have noticed that newer to MTB riders will hold the bars in of the end of the grips, but that is to be expected because quite honestly, wide bars do take some time to acclimate to if you're accustomed to riding bikes with bars in the <680mm range and some of it is the grips are just a bit long for the smaller hands to reach the brake levers properly for good one finger braking and for the real beginners, 2 finger braking. I run the same Ergon GA2 grips on all bikes because they are very comfortable.
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  11. #11
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    I'm 5'5" and have long legs and super short arms/upper body (built like a t-rex or something). I run 700 mm bars on my Pivot Mach 4 and on my Salsa fatbike. I recently bought a hardtail and I'm currently running 720 because I didn't want them too short, but I'll probably cut them down to 700 as well. Much wider than that and I start to get some serious neck/shoulder/wrist pain, and also find it hard to actually reach on sharp switchbacks (i.e. my outside arm is too far out when I'm turning for my body position to be right). I think that height/size might give you a good starting point, but I think arm length and reach will affect this a lot among riders even of the same height.

  12. #12
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    5'3", wingspan about an inch+ longer. I have relatively broad shoulders for my build, I guess?

    Running 750 flat bars with a 7 degree sweep and a 40mm stem on my small Evil Calling. Love the way it handles.

    I cut the bars on my XC bike down to 680 or maybe narrower, I think, because Lee McCormick is on this narrower bars kick, and I took a clinic with him a few years ago and he told me my bars were way too wide. I don't think it was a good choice. He has a shoulder injury which I think colors his view of the bar width issue, when in reality, just because he should be going narrower doesn't mean everyone should.

    Which is all to say it's pretty personal. I have a great range of motion and good shoulder strength, and even with a touchy shoulder, I don't have an issue with wide bars.

    Anywho.

    I demoed this with Stripes earlier today, but my VIDA coach showed us a drill re: bar width. It's funnier if you see it, but in a pushup position, plant your hands and bend your elbows like you're doing a chaturanga pushup, and have a friend push you over. Then plant your hands wide enough so that you have a 90 degree bend in your elbows and have a friend push you over. See the difference... Then relate that to body position, control, and stability on the bike.

  13. #13
    always licking the glass
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lucy Juice View Post
    5'3", wingspan about an inch+ longer. I have relatively broad shoulders for my build, I guess?

    Running 750 flat bars with a 7 degree sweep and a 40mm stem on my small Evil Calling. Love the way it handles.

    I cut the bars on my XC bike down to 680 or maybe narrower, I think, because Lee McCormick is on this narrower bars kick, and I took a clinic with him a few years ago and he told me my bars were way too wide. I don't think it was a good choice. He has a shoulder injury which I think colors his view of the bar width issue, when in reality, just because he should be going narrower doesn't mean everyone should.

    Which is all to say it's pretty personal. I have a great range of motion and good shoulder strength, and even with a touchy shoulder, I don't have an issue with wide bars.

    Anywho.

    I demoed this with Stripes earlier today, but my VIDA coach showed us a drill re: bar width. It's funnier if you see it, but in a pushup position, plant your hands and bend your elbows like you're doing a chaturanga pushup, and have a friend push you over. Then plant your hands wide enough so that you have a 90 degree bend in your elbows and have a friend push you over. See the difference... Then relate that to body position, control, and stability on the bike.
    Yes, this was way awesome. I wish I would have gotten a video of it. It makes a lot of sense, and I think a lot of people can learn from that.

    Petey: is it my fault you started this thread?

    I'm 5'4", and my bars are at 760mm for all my bikes (DH, plus hardtail, all-mountain/trail). They all have 50mm stems. I found that works best for me for control and general comfort. They all have different rises, depending on either hwo much I chopped down the steerer, or if I need to adjust for stack.

    I picked up wider bars only a few months ago. I was running 740mm based on a coach's crappy recommendation, and it made my chest hurt and my handling was suffering. So was my confidence.

    I have spent way too much in bars this past 6 months, but I think I'm good now

    I've had fitters and coaches disagree with this, as well as racers, but \/\/hatever. It's my bike, I'm the one riding it.

    Oh, Petey sent me a video earlier today showing how to fit handlebars, and it's the best one I've seen because when you're adjusting your hands, your feeling for comfort and pain. This is lost on a lot of people, even coaches. Watch this video (petey please share).

    I went through the guy's drill and guess what? I measure a 760mm bar.

  14. #14
    Dudette
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    Here's the video Stripes was referring to:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kb6u_44pYWM

    So I started this whole conversation because I was genuinely curious about bike fit and handlebar length. It seems to me handlebar length should be more proportionate to your size. I mean, how much good is an 800mm bar going to do on a XS bike? And yeah, what Stacers said above - the long bar really made turning feel extremely awkward. I didn't initially cut down my bars because I was afraid maybe I was somehow missing out on the benefits the media and experts have been touting. That's not to say that there aren't benefits - I can appreciate that. So I wanted to see what you all were actually riding and what you found comfortable and to work for you.
    RideGG, Cycle-CNY

  15. #15
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    I'm 5' and have been riding since 83' All of my bars have been 560mm-590mm It a physical and personal preference....

  16. #16
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    My girlfriend just started riding. Her bike had 800mm bars. She's very new so we're doing all xc level stuff.

    She's 5'10", long arms, narrow shoulders.

    800 was pretty uncomfortable for her. I just watched her ride and looked at where her hands went... Way in board of the ends.

    Cut it down to 750. She's much happier. She wanted to go narrower, but as ever, you can't put it back once it's off!

    I am 2" shorter, and much broader. I also go 750mm, fwiw.

    Sent from my Moto G (5) Plus using Tapatalk

  17. #17
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    680 and 720 on my two XC bikes. I don't know what my fat bike and trail bike have, but I do know they're wider and they hurt my bum shoulder after awhile. I'm 5'10", very narrow shoulders (I ride a 40cm road bar, I'm itty bitty on top).

    We have a lot of rock features and bridges on my local trails where anything more than a 720 will not fit, which is also another consideration.

  18. #18
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    My GF is 5'6".

    She's got a small EMD 9 with a 80mm stem and a 710mm bar. She also has a medium Stumpjumper 6F with a 50mm stem and a 760mm bar. Her road bike has a 80mm stem and a 40cm bar.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by petey15 View Post
    Here's the video Stripes was referring to:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kb6u_44pYWM
    I'm trying to figure this out now because my bars are too wide.

    Great video, but then how do you measure? Inside to inside where his tape is? Outside of hands to outside? Or add a specific amount to the inside measurement?

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