Bontrager Rhythm Elite Handlebar - Review

Jun 4, 2014
by Jordan Carr  
Figuring out the perfect-for-you handlebar width can be a pain in the ass, with so many people running ultra-wide bars but so many bikes coming stock with 760s or even 740s. That's plenty of width for some, but you'll never know if you'd end up preferring something wider unless you give it a go. Bontrager's Rhythm Elite measures in at an eyebrow raising 820mm, with the idea being that most riders will trim off what they don't need. Construction details include quad-butted, taper wall 7050-T6 aluminum, with 9° of backsweep and either 15 or 27.5mm of rise. At 343 grams (when at a full 820mm), it certainly isn't the lightest option out there, but it is also intended to be used as a durable handlebar that one could bolt onto their burly all-mountain bike, or even their downhill rig. Laser etched logos and adjustment marks provide a nice touch on the anodized bars, as do the 40mm worth of cut marks on each end to give the user easy customization. Available in black, red, blue, and gold anodized colours. Sizing options include 750mm and 820mm widths, and 15mm, 27.5mm, and 50mm rise options, all with a 9° of backsweep. MSRP: $79.99 www.bontrager.com

Bontrager Elite Bars

The Rhythm Elite feels stout and flex-free, and we liked being able to start off at 820mm before trimming them down.


Pinkbike's Take:
bigquotesWide handlebars have their advantages, with some added width helping to slow down the steering of a twitchy feeling bike, and many riders who go wide never go back simply because it seems to add to a bike's level of playfulness. That fact alone, that those who go wide usually don't go back to narrower bars, shows that mega-wide handlebars certainly aren't a trend. There are, of course, many riders and many trails that won't gel with the massive Rhythm Elite handlebar when it's left at 820mm, but this is where it pays to experiment. Sure, you'll likely want to trim them down, but you don't know until you give them a go. I did exactly that, taking them from 820mm to 790mm by first chopping 10mm off each side and then later taking off another 5mm. They're still wider than most, but I don't find them too wide for the trails that I ride, while still getting the benefits of the added stability and playfulness that a wide setup brings to the table. The Rhythm Elite also feels extremely stiff - there isn't even a hint of flex to be found - which you may or may not be into if you're coming off of something a bit more forgiving. No, they aren't trying to be the lightest, and their aluminum construction might not be as sexy as a some carbon fiber options out there, but the Rhythm Elite is a reasonably priced choice if you're looking to see what all the fuss about wide handlebars is for. Start wide and then cut them down to what you think is best for you - you might be surprised where you end up. - Jordan Carr



71 Comments

  • 67 2
 Holy crap, it might not have been a bad idea to knock an inch or two off that steerer tube as well.
  • 11 7
 Give that man a beer!!
  • 4 1
 I don't get why some people ride like this... Yes - it's easier to sell the fork or swap it between frames if the steerer is not cut too short. But that doesn't really help you the day that something goes wrong, and you land chest first on that sucker!
  • 3 0
 Bars look simple and at a decent price for the youngsters. BTW, anyone know what bike that was???
  • 10 1
 Thanks for noticing! Borrowing a fork off a bike with a much taller headtube.
  • 1 0
 richierocket that looks like a Fuel EX 9 29er
  • 3 0
 I was actually a fan of the old Earl collection from Bonty, durable and very affordable. But I've been riding their Rhythm series for 4 years or so now on and the Rhythm stuff is fantastic. Not as flashy as other stuff but the $ is right and the performance I've found is second to none. Good review, keep up the great work Bonty.
  • 36 9
 Oh pinkbike, you actually trimmed down a handlebar, it is really surprising. I thought your preferred length was 860mm or something, since you call every single handlebar on the reviewed bikes as "narrower than we prefer".
  • 38 14
 As mentioned in the review, many bikes come with 760s or narrower. These are actually narrower than we prefer, hence the statements in many bike reviews about how they are narrower than we prefer.
  • 8 3
 TBH I mounted a 760mm bar to my new enduro, and for me it is too wide. Too uncomfortable (feels stretched) and you get stuck on trees all the time... For me, 720mm is the sweet spot.
  • 4 1
 Different people, different opinions. Wink
My trail bike had a 710mm handlebar which was ok... for XC. now it's got a 760mm which is perfect for everything from XC through AM to ENDURO. Smile
@mikelevy's right - if pinkbike prefers wider than 760, it's understandable to not be completely happy with all the bikes speced with less than 760! Wink
  • 4 0
 i remember a few years ago when someone made a joke bout 40 inch wide bars nd i actually thought it was real
  • 8 0
 Makes me laugh when I see these skinny short arse kids riding super wide bars
  • 6 1
 A lot of people when they see my wide bars think they are too wide and can't understand it. I went from a 760 Nukeproof to a 780 Renthal, I never felt comfortable with the back sweep of the Renthal. Now I have 800 Enve DH (which measure a bit wider than 800). They feel really good. I rode my mates bike the other day, it has my old Nukeproof bars on it, and they felt really narrow. To me wide is good but getting the right rise and back sweep for you is also important.
  • 1 0
 well theres alot of opinion on this . semenuk rins 27.5 bars on his slope and dj . its all what you are used to i guess
  • 1 0
 I imagine narrower bars spin easier in the air than wide ones!
  • 14 0
 I'm still amazed no one has done a "fit-guide" for handlebars. I've been thinking for a while that bars should be fitted to a person based primarily on their shoulder width and arm length. I'm no scientist but reckon there has to be a formula where arm length, shoulder width are taken into account, then the little grey area of the style of riding taken into account to spit out the "ideal" bar width for a given user.

The three points of contact between rider and bike, 1- saddle, you can buy different shapes/ sizes to suit. 2. pedals- the same, 3- handlebars, yes there are loads of different widths available, yet at the moment the general consensus is "wider is better".

The other thing that I've been thinking about is the stress/ strain placed on joints and muscles. There has to be a point where both are over extended when a bar that is too wide for the riders arm length/ shoulder width is used. At that point the benefits are gone and the extra width becomes a hindrance.

A 780mm bar for me at 5"9 with broad shoulders is probably about as wide as I can go without over stressing joints/ muscles. Likewise a girl that's 5"4 with narrow shoulders would get the same feel from say 711mm.

Of course the one factor that is the same for both is the wheels are the same size (leaving out the 26/ 27.7 debate) so leverage comes into play, however, I'm never going to be 5"4 with narrow shoulders and she's never going to have broad shoulders so that's irrelevant

thoughts anyone Wink ?
  • 7 0
 Tech Tuesday: Handlebars - How Wide Affects Your Ride => Pinkbike May 17, 2011
  • 2 0
 im kinda with you on this one @ad15, im sure there is a width or stance on the bike that is the most effective for shoulder support and back position when up and attacking? I think the counter to that would be although it translates to a very different feel when running a bar from 720/760 thats only really a 40mm difference, and a width of 20mm at each side which might only be a marginal diffenrence to shoulder/back positions...maybe?
  • 9 0
 With bars like these you could just slide lock-on grips wider/narrower until you found the sweet spot, then cut the excess.

Might be a little dangerous for a while and people will ask what the hell is going on, but, do you really care about such things?
  • 4 0
 Lee McCormack suggests you do some push-ups with wider/narrower hands until you find the sweet spot and use that for your bar width. Makes good sense.
  • 9 2
 Ekhem, khe khe khem... if it was only that easy... khe khe, ekhe ekhe ekhe... sweep angles... rise angle, khe, frame reach, stack, stem length, head angle, wheel size... ekhe khe khe khem kheeeeeem! Then all the dimensions of the temporary aglomeration of atoms you are, including your nervous system, shape of palms of your hand - think of the whole recipeeee, no one made a better chilli by focusing only on tomato sauce - relativity, interconnections, and the striking terror of never finding the truth, the illusion of perfect solution - We may all agree that fun starts at 700mm and beyond that we might as well give up and go for what we think feels right. shalalalalala I am so mad right NAO
  • 4 1
 @ WAKI: "We may all agree that fun starts at 700mm "

Sorry dude, my dirty mind had to take that sentence out of its original context Big Grin .
  • 3 1
 There is such a thing as too wide. If you do a pull up, push up, a row or just about any exercise that requires to grab a bar in a mtb-ish way, past a certain point, the wider (or narrower) your grip is the harder the movement becomes so running bars that are too wide (or narrow) for you is actually detrimental as you lose more energy for the same movement.

Optimal (what feels the best) push up/pull up width should do the trick. I actually took a look at a bunch of pro dh racers and most of them have their grips set slightly wider than their shoulders (grip starts where shoulder ends) which sounds about right for efficiency.

I think it's also about common sense. If your front end isnt twitchy and you don't need more power to handle big deflections, the odds are that your handlebars are wide enough as is. Oh and a few millimeters doesn't make much of a difference. I ride a 730mm on my AM bike and a 745mm on my dh bike and when I switch between them I hardly notice a difference.
  • 3 0
 Push Up is a half-myth. There are different muscles working therefore different neuro connections created when doing push ups, different core muscles stabilize those movements. We don't do push up movements to make the bike point where we want it to ride. Because vast majority of weigh (should) be placed on pedals, that thing is uncomparable. Furthermore the fundamental bad habit on Dh bikes is hanging from the bars.

James Wilson tried to take it to science and came up with a concept that elbows out is bad. There is no need for science here, it's like trying to figure out why do you like hazelnut icecram - try several setups for quality periods of time - IF YOU REALLY MUST KNOW.
  • 3 1
 wide bars are just fun
  • 2 0
 MDRipper - and that's the great way to put it.
  • 1 0
 sometime you feel like a nut sometimes you dont, grass is alwas greener on the other side of the road, steak is great but after eating it for several weeks, i sure would like a cracker.......mtb NERDS Wink
  • 1 0
 Shoulder width is a carry over from road biking. It should be closer to elbow width for mountain biking, imho.
  • 1 0
 If I rode my bars at shoulder width length, I'd be riding 450mm bars and I think we can all agree that this would not make sense. The way I see it, the stance of your feet to get most power out of your legs is shoulder width, not hip width, so to get more power out of your arms, a little wider than shoulder width makes sense.

And yes, for steering, push up/pull up form is irrelevant but for handling the front wheel on a vertical axis, push up/rows seems to be pretty close for me movement wise.
  • 2 0
 Waki, I'm not suggesting that the ideal push-up width is perfect bar width BECAUSE (read that as italics, not upper case) it is the perfect push-up width, but that the push-up width is a good anatomical starting point.

I'm pretty happy with my 730mm at the moment on my trail bike (I'm 5.10, like my shoes - ha!), so now I'll have to measure my push-up width. Unfortunately I am such a hunk of beefcake that I do my push-ups one-handed, so it is going to be hard to measure the straightline distance of the hand on the ground to the hand behind my back. And should I measure it at the top or the bottom of the push-up?
  • 2 0
 WAKI is right as usual. sweep, rise, stem length, stack height, head angle, frame reach all come into the equation.
  • 1 0
 Yup, so many factors. Hence this bar, dammit.
  • 8 2
 Finally a fancy handlebar that's cheaper then my smartphone. Looks good bontrager
  • 6 0
 What makes it fancy?
  • 4 0
 it's wide...
  • 3 0
 gold = fancy
  • 10 1
 Kashima coated handle bars???
  • 2 1
 I got these on Trek Fuel Ex. It is so great handlebar and convenient that I would like to buy same (in 750 mm width) for second bike. BTW current 720 mm width is perfectly fine for 19.5'' Fuel and my 186 cm with wide shoulders, also for extreme Alpine singletracks. For DH bike I will keep it in 750 mm width though. Surely in 15 mm rise.
  • 4 0
 Wide bars are great to a certain degree (I run 750 still) for control.
But it does make me smile when you see short skinny people run 800+.
  • 4 0
 Anybody say wide bars? Have a look at Superstar Components Yardstick. 915mm!!!!

superstar.tibolts.co.uk/product_info.php?cPath=72&products_id=532
  • 4 2
 Dear Mr. Carr. The truth is that the core of the handlebar business is somewhere around 740mm in length . We hear this comments on your bike and equipment reviews about wanting wider bars but the truth is people don't want them. Any company Rep can attest to this .
  • 1 0
 It's easier to cut down a bar than the other way around. Why not just stock a wide bar? because it makes sense.
  • 2 0
 It only makes sense on aluminum not on carbon ,too expensive to waste even if its only an inch or so. Customers also like the concept of set and forget. You may have the patience to cut it but to the average consumer they just want something to put on with no hassles
  • 1 0
 Backsweep & upsweep angles are at least as important values when choosing a handebar. By rotating the bar you change these angles, having more options to find optimal fit.

I'm only 5'6" and run a 750mm bar on my "old school" 26" XC hardtail. Previously I had 700mm and the increased width gave me the stability my 70 degree HA was missing. I thought I'd chop it a cm either side when I got it but after the first proper ride I was hooked. I'm fine between 720-760, and find sweep shallower than 8 degrees uncomfortable. Narrower than 700mm feels too narrow to handle any kind of tech.

BTW, my current handlebar (Funn Full On) cost me 32 euros, and it's silver, so I guess semi-fancy Wink
  • 1 0
 That Bonty choose to offer an extra wide bar is a smart idea since it allows you, the rider, to try out different widths before deciding on the final cut. That said, I wish there were more options on back/up sweep because my wrists are not happy with the current trend of 8-9° back and 4-5° up. My current Answer Protaper 20/20 does the trick but they're 'only' 720mm wide so count them out if you aim for dh/enduro control (or if you simply must have wider bars because your mates thinks you're uncool otherwise...).

@jimeg - Sure there are, got myself the Rhythm Elite wheels on top of my purchase list. But then I'm a geek and like the off center rim tech and styling too...
  • 1 0
 Interesting. It looks like my comment was deleted.
  • 1 0
 Gotta same bar in carbon. Awesome. Refused to go back narrow bar.
15mm rise. Looks flat but rise & back sweeping way better than race face atlas 9mm rise bar believe it or not. Try it to believe it.
  • 1 0
 This bar is for rider who is tying to find the perfect length to suit his/her style of riding. But you have to consider the sweep and rise too.
  • 3 0
 Looks like I found my new handlebar for my Trials bike
  • 1 0
 I tried a carbon version of this bar from bontrager and though i liked the width it was to wide for some tree sections and felt a little ridiculous at times.
  • 1 3
 "added stability and playfulness that a wide setup brings" - Huh? I think you got that the wrong way round? In my experience wider bars help make a bike more stable, narrower bars help make it more playful. Although that doesn't read right; it's more like a stable bike benefits from wider bars.
  • 1 0
 Jeez that steer tube from the fork must have its own gravitational pull judging by the size
  • 2 0
 For $80 there are tons of other bars I'd run before this thing.
  • 2 1
 No one pointed out that it comes in 27.5??? Enduro-specific.
  • 1 0
 27.5mm rise... the 650b of handlebars
  • 1 0
 Stop with the Enduro crapbullshit...
  • 1 0
 Too flat for me.
  • 1 2
 what the hell is it me or it s available in 820mm ? who rides with that ???
  • 2 0
 Did you not read the 3rd sentence of the article?
  • 1 3
 the Truvativ Danny hart blackbox gold bar is 20$ less expensive and 3 grams lighter ---- > NOBODY will get this Big Grin
  • 1 0
 I'm going out on a limb here, but I would think that most here on PB don't go for "signature" items.
  • 3 4
 People actually buy Bontrager parts aftermarket?
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