Flat Bars vs Riser Bars- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Flat Bars vs Riser Bars

    Does anyone have any thoughts as to why XC racers (Pros) tend to favour flat bars rather than risers ? I put a riser on my XC steed for comfort purposes but now it feels like I'm free-riding all the time. It "felt" faster with the flat bar - maybe it's better to bent over more. Not sure.
    "Atomic batteries to power. Turbines to speed."

  2. #2
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    You sit bent over further on flat bars which =

    more aerodynamic (of questionable value at slower xc speeds but still..)
    more weight on the front wheel during climbing
    you can run bar ends without the fashion police arresting you

    Atomic batteries & turbines... batman, right?

  3. #3
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    good question

    I think the steering would be faster with a flat bar (hands closer together).

    Regarding barends these don't seem to be very popular. I see the pros use them but not many other racers. What's the deal?

    Quote Originally Posted by rpmrob
    Does anyone have any thoughts as to why XC racers (Pros) tend to favour flat bars rather than risers ? I put a riser on my XC steed for comfort purposes but now it feels like I'm free-riding all the time. It "felt" faster with the flat bar - maybe it's better to bent over more. Not sure.
    M

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    More power!

    Quote Originally Posted by rpmrob
    Does anyone have any thoughts as to why XC racers (Pros) tend to favour flat bars rather than risers ? I put a riser on my XC steed for comfort purposes but now it feels like I'm free-riding all the time. It "felt" faster with the flat bar - maybe it's better to bent over more. Not sure.

    Some years ago, early in my mountainbike riding career, I went to riser bars to help eliminate stiff neck and lower back discomfort. The risers didn't seem to compromise the climbing or single track enough to bother me and they actually gave me a bit more confidence on the descents. I concluded the risers were a good thing. Over the years I put risers on all my new mountainbikes. As I became more involved in racing I began to analyze my weak areas and have always noted that on flat sections I seem to lose time with respect to the competition. This winter while riding a stationary bike at the gym prior to a weight room session I noticed a curious thing. The stationary bike allows you to sit upright (riser style) or assume a more forward position as with flat bars. The curious thing I noticed was that I was able to maintain a higher power output (the stationary bike had a watt meter, cadence, and all that crap built in) in the more forward flat bar position. In the upright position my legs would fatigue more rapidly at the higher power output. I was building a new bike over the winter and put flat bars on it. I haven't done conclusive testing but the more forward position seems to be more conducive to putting out higher power at a constant rate as you do on flat sections. I think that the loss of power with the more upright postion isn't noticed on the single track where there's considerable body motion and movement involved. When you settle into cranking out power on a flat section, at least for me, the body position seems to have a lot of influence on the rate of fatigue.

  5. #5
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    I wonder if this effect you've noticed is because as you lean over your buttocks come into play producing pedalling power, vs just your quads when you sit relatively upright. And for that matter, perhaps the butt produces more power than the quads with less lactic buildup? I have no idea, I'm not a physiologist, but a priori it seems so.

    re: bar ends.. no idea, they fell out of fashion a few years ago and now they're viewed with something akin to roadie goods. I like them and use them on all my xc bikes. I find I can't climb without them and my hands get tired in only one position for long periods.

    Quote Originally Posted by AndrewMcD
    Some years ago, early in my mountainbike riding career, I went to riser bars to help eliminate stiff neck and lower back discomfort. The risers didn't seem to compromise the climbing or single track enough to bother me and they actually gave me a bit more confidence on the descents. I concluded the risers were a good thing. Over the years I put risers on all my new mountainbikes. As I became more involved in racing I began to analyze my weak areas and have always noted that on flat sections I seem to lose time with respect to the competition. This winter while riding a stationary bike at the gym prior to a weight room session I noticed a curious thing. The stationary bike allows you to sit upright (riser style) or assume a more forward position as with flat bars. The curious thing I noticed was that I was able to maintain a higher power output (the stationary bike had a watt meter, cadence, and all that crap built in) in the more forward flat bar position. In the upright position my legs would fatigue more rapidly at the higher power output. I was building a new bike over the winter and put flat bars on it. I haven't done conclusive testing but the more forward position seems to be more conducive to putting out higher power at a constant rate as you do on flat sections. I think that the loss of power with the more upright postion isn't noticed on the single track where there's considerable body motion and movement involved. When you settle into cranking out power on a flat section, at least for me, the body position seems to have a lot of influence on the rate of fatigue.

  6. #6
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    my bike (Giant Rainier) came with a riser bar and I like it but I am thinking about flipping the stem over to lower myself a little to see if that position feels better. if so, I will get a flat bar. Last bike I owned was stolen 6 years ago, it had a flat bar but it was so long ago that I can't remember what it felt like compared to this riser bar (only 2 months since i started riding again).

    I like the more upright position the riser bar gives for descents but I do seem to find myself leaning forward on climbs where I don't think I would with a flat bar. I'm not a maniac on the descents anyway so I think, in the long run, that it might be better for me to use a flat bar to assist on the climbs/flats. Wish it was easier to swap out a bar, i could try them both out in close succession to get a better idea....grips slow down the conversion process too much.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vecsus
    Wish it was easier to swap out a bar, i could try them both out in close succession to get a better idea....grips slow down the conversion process too much.
    I put my grips on with hairspray. When it's time to swap I get a syringe (big plastic one, not a needle kind, although that would work too, I don't have those lying around) and inject water under the grip which disolves the hairspray and allows them to slide off easily. Give it a try.

  8. #8
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    If you have an air compressor the grips go on and off in seconds. Just a blow nozzle is all thats needed. Just point it toward the grip from the inside. It will flutter and shoot off the bar, no matter whether its a carbon bar, foam grips, et all. To put them back on, place the grip on the end of the bar..place your palm on the end of it...blow towards it from inside again(from the stem side)...and it will flutter/slide back on. Takes like 10 seconds to do both grips. No water, alchohol, hair spray..nothing. I swap out bars/grips every few weeks, just cause I'm crazy like that.

  9. #9
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    Check out "BIKE" Mag this month...

    Quote Originally Posted by rpmrob
    Does anyone have any thoughts as to why XC racers (Pros) tend to favour flat bars rather than risers ? I put a riser on my XC steed for comfort purposes but now it feels like I'm free-riding all the time. It "felt" faster with the flat bar - maybe it's better to bent over more. Not sure.
    They have a great Opinion-editorial regarding Flats vs. Risers "Pump" by Rob Story pg 98 ...just behind the rear cover.

    an interesting perspective from died in the wool convert.
    Faster is better, even when it's not.

  10. #10

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    Flats or risers...depends on how u want ur bike setup. You can have your handlebars at the same height with either bar. The difference comes in with the width of the bar and how swept back it is. I use a riser on my racer because of a stem height deficiency and use a flat bar on my training bike. I really don't notice a difference between the 2. My riser bar is a 26" Easton Monkeylite C/F. The straight bars I have are a 24" specialized wideboy aluminum bar. I don't really find a difference in handling or anything between the 2 bars.
    And if aesthetics are a concern flat bars tend to look more "normal". I run avenir titanium bar ends on my C/F riser bars and it works/looks good. I'm always getting good comments about it. Might be my XTR dual control levers too.

  11. #11
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    I was hardcore into the flat bar/bar end thing for awhile. Last summer i broke my fisher sugar, and decided that I wasn't an XC racer, and wanted some stuff that was durable and fun. Sold my warranty'd frame and bought a Spec'd Enduro with risers. WAY more comfortable, way more control, way more fun. I found that the bar position really hasn't hurt my climbing now that i've gotten used to it.

  12. #12
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    Duck - that method with the grips only works if you haven't slashed the ends off to make room for bar ends.

  13. #13
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    No way dude. All of my grips have the ends cut off so I can run bar plugs, beig weight the issue. Works just the same. One just sorta pulls the grip away from the bar while doing said flutter action. No problem.

  14. #14
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    Cool, sounds like a plan. I'll give it a try. The guy at the bike shop does it all the time - I don't have an air nozzle at home though so I hadn't tried it. Have to get one. On my race bikes I've got cinelli bar tape around the bar. Provides a small amount of padding and it's very light. 16g. And it's cheap too. 1 box does 4 grips.

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