How to Choose the Best Mountain Bike Handlebars?
Ah the humble handlebar, so simple yet so crucial. What do all those numbers mean?
All those sweeps, up and back. Stay tuned as we take you through handlebar 101.
Bar geometry – now this has nothing to do with your favorite watering hole
However, geometry can get complicated after visit to your local hostelry
When it comes to handlebar geometry there are two main numbers to consider: Rise and
Sweep. The rise is essentially the height differential between the center of the
bar where it attaches to the stem and
the center of the 22.2 mm diameter just after the taper and the transitional bend.
Mountain bike handlebars are typically configured with zero rise, all the way up to 100 mil, roughly four inches.
After the rise, the next we need to think about is the bars sweep
There are two measurements of sweep: Up sweep and Back sweep.
Up Sweep is the vertical angles of the bars at the grip. Up sweep does not affect the
overall rise of the bars. The Back sweep refers to the angle which the bar swoops
back towards the bike.
This angle can range from zero degrees for a completely straight bar
to 45 degrees for a speciality bar like the Jones hitch bar.
Thankfully mountain bike bars come in just one width at the grip: 22.2 mm
This means grips are interchangeable with any bar on the market.
When it comes to the stem clamp, that’s a different story.
The most common diameter is still 31.8 millimeters.
More recently an oversized 35 millimeter standard was introduced by Easton.
This promised even greater strength and stiffness.
Now for a good few years the trend for bar width has been one thing – W i d e r !
The wider the better. Now this is actually true for most modern riders and wider
bars slow down steering input for added control especially when paired with a short stem.
They can even make breathing easier in the climbs. Think about taking a deep
breath of your arms closed, as opposed to one with your arms wide open.
Now the crucial thing is to have a bar that is wide but not too wide.
If you have short arms you might not want the widest bars available even if you are
a super aggressive gravity rider.
These days mountain bike bars are available in widths ranging from less than 600 millimeters
all the way up to 840 millimeters or more
but keep in mind you can always cut them down afterwards.
Now bar material is conventionally thought of as a binary question.
We even run our aluminum alloy because you’re not rich and you don’t
trust carbon. Or, you run carbon, knowing those fears of a bar failing are unfounded
and you like a bit of black glossy bling. But these two options are
not all that’s available on the market. Titanium and steel bars are also an offer for the
discerning and more offbeat rider.
Regardless each of these four materials
offer various and differing amounts of these key characteristics:
Strength, flex, weight, and vibration damping
The crucial factor for all bars is to ensure they
are correctly installed with the proper torque. If in any doubt, see your local
bike shop mechanic and get them to inspect or fit any of the bars for you.
And lastly there’s the shape.
Most mountain bikes utilize a standard straight bar
but these days some mountain bikers are experimenting other shapes like the
Jones H bar and Rude style drop bars most of these choices however are based
on extreme use cases like bike packing and ultra-endurance riding.
In general, these types of bars treat comfort over trail handling.
So there you have it.
The 101 intro to mountain bike handlebars.
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and tell us what bars and widths you’re running in the comments.
Thanks for watching and happy trails!
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Last update on 2020-05-29 / Disclaimer: as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.