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  1. #1
    mtbr member
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    Feb 2004

    Thoughts on bar height

    Got a chance to spend some time on a buddy’s newer Pivot 429 SL the other day. I was able to get the bike set up to my liking before we took off (could have let just a little bit more air out of the fork though). Out on the trail, I felt like I was sitting “in” the bike too much. Also didn’t have much confidence in the corners-feeling little confidence in the front tire even though it hadn’t washed out and was more aggressive than the RoRos that I run. After a little while, I figured out that the bar was pretty darn high-roughly 2” above the seat and fairly high for me. We finished the loop and while back at the truck, I lowered the bar about ¾”. The next loop felt better. More confidence going into the corners and not as worried about the front end washing out.
    So I was thinking 2 things-well 3 actually. First being that it was all in my head. Anyhow, one thought was the lower bar had me in a more aggressive position with a slightly lower center of gravity. I was also thinking that I had a little more weight on the front which helped with keeping the front wheel hooked up. Again, the tire never actually washed out on me earlier, it just gave me the feeling I was on the edge.
    So later at the bar I brought up the differences I felt with the bar height adjustments and my theory on why it felt better lower. When I mentioned what I thought about weighting the front end, one of the guys (who happens to be pretty darn fast in the corners) said that he unweights the front end more in the corners, as doing so creates more over steer which is what you want while too much weight over the front creates more understeer. He rides a rigid single speed.
    Any thoughts on all this?

  2. #2
    mtbr member
    Reputation: RS VR6's Avatar
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    Mar 2007
    I like my bar fairly low. As low as I can for the given terrain. I see people ride with their back near vertical. I don't see how one can ride in that position. To each his own I guess.

    With the bar low, I can weight the front end more. It aids in climbing and cornering. With a high bar position it feels like my front wheel is going to wash out in a turn.

  3. #3
    RAKC Industries
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    My bars or about even with my seat.

    Riding higher the front is fairly twitchy feeling to me, lower it gets hard to get the front up.

    That's the thing with higher bars, easier to get the front tire off the ground. Not so good for cornering.

    And that dude on the SS is a bit off. Think he was being an ass IMHO

    Oversteer is much like self steer us on fat bike deal with. As soon as you lean the tire pulls into the corner harder. A little is helpful as the tire is clawing harder to hold the line.

    Understeer is washing out the front. That just sucks.

    Un-weighting the front reduces traction, causes understeer.

    Over weighing the front will cause oversteer that doesn't end well.

    These only applies when leaning corners, riding a berm is different because your still basically riding a flat surface, centrifugal force is doing the job of gravity instead. So in a berm it's likely your slightly unweighted just like you would be dealing with speed on not so smooth flat straight ground.

    Really easy way to understand all this, ride around on pavement leaning the bike to make turns. Front will feel sketchy un weighted, too much weight and your oversteering/creating self steer.

    Then go do it at speed in grass (since it's softer to land on) you'll find out real fast what happens with too little weight or too much if oversteer gets away from you.

    Sent from my XT1565 using Tapatalk
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  4. #4
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    With that 70-ish* HTA (I have a 429SL, too), the bar being above the saddle at all is gonna be problematic when cornering IMO. I keep mine level or a half-inch below the saddle depending on which fork I'm running. I had to get a Syntace Flat Force stem (about -20* rise) to get the bar low enough, before that the bar was an inch above the saddle and it cornered like doodoo till I was able to drop the bar with the stem.
    You can't buy happiness. But you can buy a bike. And that's pretty close.

  5. #5
    Formerly of Kent
    Reputation: Le Duke's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Quote Originally Posted by BmanInTheD View Post
    With that 70-ish* HTA (I have a 429SL, too), the bar being above the saddle at all is gonna be problematic when cornering IMO. I keep mine level or a half-inch below the saddle depending on which fork I'm running. I had to get a Syntace Flat Force stem (about -20* rise) to get the bar low enough, before that the bar was an inch above the saddle and it cornered like doodoo till I was able to drop the bar with the stem.

    I have three FlatForce stems. Great product.

    Sent from my XT1585 using Tapatalk
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  6. #6
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    I'm not sure why you'd want to create oversteer, this isn't drifting. Any real over/under-steer and you're just about going down. In a car maximum grip occurs at about 10% slip angle iirc (tire not quite going where it's pointed but not sliding), I don't think bike would be more, and in the less than ideal conditions we are most often in, I doubt there's any induced slip angle at all (no slip angle = no over/under steer).
    I would think you'd want roughly even weight on each contact patch.
    Simon at Fluidride has some good cornering videos, I think cornering is what we're talking about now. I took a clinic with him last year, it was good.

  7. #7
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Cornering has never been one of my strong points. Having actually ridden the bike both with the bar higher and lower was pretty interesting. One thing I didn't mention was noticing the efficiency difference. Not trying to be Captain Obvious or anything, but with the bar lower, sure felt like I was carrying more speed through and out of the corners without any additional effort-braking less, and not having to do as much accelerating.
    After reading some of the responses, ( I like the fat bike analogy) I can see that there is a point were the bar could be to low as well or maybe, to much weight over the front.

    My 13 Camber EVO is currently disassembled for a little TLC and getting the shock pushed, but I can't wait to play with the bar height on it. If I remember, the bar is set just a little higher than the seat now.

  8. #8
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Saddle to bar drop is often a function of physiology as well. I'm what you might refer fo as "lanky"... all leg. Because of my build, every bike I have ever owned has at least a couple of inches of saddle to bar drop. I'd have to have a super slacked out bike withh like 5 inches of spacers (ok slight exaggerstion) to have my bars higher than my saddle.

  9. #9
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    I run about 50mm drop from saddle to bar, I find it much better for cornering and climbing where i can dig the front wheel in. Its fine on all but the steepest descents where i may wish for a bit less drop. If i ran a dropper post this would remove that problem but we don't really race on enought techy terrain to justify one yet.
    On the road bike i run about 120mm drop very comfortably, will depend on flexibility and what you are used to/ feel comfortable with.
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  10. #10
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    I like them fairly low. I think the whole premise of measuring based on saddle to bar is a bit funny since all of us vary so much in flexibility and body measurements.

    My personal opinion is it should be relative to BB which should be roughly the same for most folks...which is why I think, generally speaking, you see tall riders with huge drop and shorter riders with a lot less.

    Most guys can touch the ground or come near enough....doesn't matter if they are 6-4 or 5-5, most 'athletic' guys I know have roughly the same flexibility. Stands to reason then that BB to bar height should be about the same for most guys.

    So while 3-4" works for me @ 6-4, not going to work for a guy 5-5.

    I find raising the bars makes the front wash out with the added benefit of easier for dropping, bunnyhoping and jumping. Bars really low help the front stick and seems to be more precise through corners, with obvious limitations when things get steep or technical. I've experimented with flat bars and -17 degree stem slammed, not bad, but that's getting into the realm of having more negatives than positives IMO.

  11. #11
    mtbr member
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    Apr 2014
    Different corners require different techniques and different bar heights would benefit certain situations and hinder others. Depending on your trails, bike setup will change. My local trails have steeper than normal sections and a lot of rocky terrain so a bar height 10-15mm higher than "normal" is quite useful. It does force you to move your hips fore and aft more than normal, but it's worth it. I will move spacers around depending on the trail if I'm trying to go fast, if I'm just riding for fitness or fun I keep them as high as they'll go.
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