Lee McCormack's Guide to Finding the Handlebar Width Sweet-Spot

Dec 17, 2018
by Lee McCormack  
Your ideal handlebar width will help you ride better and faster with less discomfort.

Recently Richard Cunningham posted Handlebar Width vs Handling - Are Your Bars Too Wide? The article started a great conversation about ideal handlebar width. I’ve been studying mountain bike setup for years; I figured this is a good time to share some thoughts about handlebar width.


Are your bars the correct width for you?

Unless you have a custom setup, the handlebar width that comes with your bike is probably determined by:

Fashion. What is cool right now?

The style of bike. Is it a cross country race bike or a trail bike or an enduro bike or a downhill bike?

What the bike company thinks it can sell. What width handlebar do people expect on a bike like this? What width looks cool? Yes, that really happens — and wider bars do look cool.

I sure thought I was cool with my 800mm handlebars, but they contributed to the demise of my shoulders.

None of those factors have anything to do with you, the rider. While most people can ride a variety of handlebar widths, the wrong handlebar width can mess up your riding and your body:

• You lose range of motion so you can’t ride down steep hills or make tight turns.

• You lose pushing strength so you can’t handle impacts at your best.

• You lose pulling strength so you can’t pump terrain at your best.

• You rely on the small muscles in your arms and shoulders, and they get tired.

• You can damage your shoulders. This I know.

If your handlebars don’t fit you:

At best, you’re not riding at your potential.

At worst, you’re damaging your body. If you’re young and healthy you might not feel this. Yet.


It's all about the elbows

When you pull the handlebars, your elbows tend to draw inward. This happens in the troughs between bumps and in the bellies of well-pumped turns. It doesn’t look very cool, so you rarely see photos of this position.

When you push the handlebars, your elbows tend to flare outward. Many sick action photos show a moment of pushing, for example going over a rock or off a ledge. Elbows tend to be wide in these moments; it’s easy to think they should always be wide.

Sam Hill kept it steady in the top 10 to take his second EWS title in two years.
Sam Hill is pushing across the top of this rock, and his elbows are out.

When you shred, your elbows cycle inward and outward. This movement is a natural part of many activities (consider rowing and punching), and it’s a natural part of pumping terrain.

Most of the time, your elbows should be directly behind your fists. For this reason, elbow width and handlebar width should be roughly the same.

Pumping through a turn, elbows and hands at the same width. Braaap!


Calculating your sweet spot handlebar width

While teaching thousands of riders over more than a decade, I’ve learned a lot about how bodies and bikes work together. I’ve also worked closely with the doctors at REVO Physiotherapy and Sports Performance in Boulder, CO to understand the biomechanical relationships between handlebar width, shoulder function and shredding.

From this work, I’ve developed the RideLogic sweet spot handlebar width calculation. Starting with your gender and height (and assuming average proportions) this calculation gives you a handlebar width that:

• Gives you the range of motion to shred downhills and carve tight turns.

• Supports huge pushing strength for aggressive riding.

• Empowers pulling strength for pumping bumps and turns.

• Uses the big muscles in your torso, rather than the small muscles in your arms and shoulders, so you ride longer and harder with less pain.

• Keeps your shoulders stronger and healthier.

Finding the right width will make you ride — and feel — so much better. And it’s so easy.

Are you ready?

To get your RideLogic sweet spot handlebar width in millimeters:

If you’re male, multiply your height in millimeters by 0.440.

If you’re female, multiply your height in millimeters by 0.426.

Simple.

Bonus: These numbers are almost identical to the median and average rider heights/bar widths in Richard Cunningham’s story. The bar widths are relatively wider for the female riders — but they are not ordinary people!

When you don't know what's coming, you want a neutral position. Proper handlebars help.


Dialing in your handlebar width

The RideLogic sweet spot handlebar width is your maximum biomechanically recommended handlebar width based on your height (assuming average proportions).

There are lots of advantages to making your bars narrower: more range of motion, more pulling strength and better shoulder health, to name a few. For most riders, the usable range is between sweet spot width and about 5 percent less than sweet spot width (for example, 750 to 710mm).

Making your bars wider is almost all disadvantages: less range of motion, less pulling strength and worse shoulder health. If you’re not a big person, there’s a good chance your bars are too wide.

If you’re very small, you might have trouble getting your bars narrow enough while fitting all of your controls. To make more space, feel free to cut your grips narrower. They’re probably twice as wide as your hands.

If you’re very tall, they don’t make handlebars “wide enough” for you. That’s OK: It’s better to err toward narrow than toward wide.

If you have shoulder injuries, I encourage you to try narrower bars. My sweet spot handlebar width is 760mm, but I ride at 750mm and often narrower, especially in pull-intensive situations like technical climbing, sprinting, pumping and jumping.

If you’re a reactive rider — the kind of rider who bashes into bumps and just tries to hang on, you might prefer wider bars. The more proactive your riding style, the more likely you’ll prefer bars at sweet spot width or narrower.

If you ride in trees, make sure your bars fit. Duh.

I hope you find this tip of the iceberg helpful. You can learn way more about mountain bike setup in my book Dialed or at the Lee Likes Bikes MTB School. The website includes online calculators that help you precisely determine handlebar width and other aspects of setup.

- - - - - - - -

I’m Lee, and I Like Bikes. Over the years I’ve written 10 mountain bike books, built a bunch of pump tracks, taught thousands of riders, invented RipRow and devised the RideLogic bike setup system. Thanks to the knowledge I’ve discovered for the mountain bike community, I’m riding better — and having more fun — than ever.

Learn more at
www.leelikesbikes.com
www.llbmtb.com
www.riprow.com


251 Comments

  • + 68
 I use to read Lee’s stuff pretty regularly but fell off. Then I checked back in and he was saying all bikes are too big and he’s telling some guy to turn the riser bars on his Ibis Ripmo upside down.

I really appreciated his advice back in the day but this made me really confused.

Could we have him and Leo from Pole come on and debate bike fit and who is the true genius of bike fit?
  • + 34
 I love your idea of debates between bike pros!
  • - 3
 He said, She said, They said. This is the reason mountain biking sales are down . Consumers are so confused.
  • - 4
flag DarrellW (Dec 17, 2018 at 7:28) (Below Threshold)
 @deadflat: debates, AKA fights...
  • + 19
 @endurocat: mtn bike sales are down?
  • + 14
 @wibblywobbly this is a good idea. Bike fit Thunderdome—except won by arguing on the internet.

Leo Kokkonen vs Lee McCormack vs Chris Porter vs ????
  • + 17
 I welcome that discussion. Quickly:

Leo's ideas about bike geometry and handling make perfect sense. My only counter-thought is: There comes a point where a bike might be more stable, but it no longer fits the rider.
  • + 42
 @brianpark: the Sick Bicycles guys, a lawyer from Specialized, two random commenters who know about all the above mentioned bikes without having ridden them and some old guy who rides a 26 rigid single speed faster than you in work boots.
  • + 7
 @brianpark:

As a bike sheep, I will respect the outcome of the Thunderdome match and will quickly adjust my setup per the winner's commands.

Let's make this an annual thing.

The smart ones will reap the benefits in the post Thunderdome annual buy/sell.
  • + 1
 @brianpark: vs big brand marketing guys?
  • + 3
 @brianpark: Nobody wins arguments on the internet.
  • + 2
 @leelikesbikes: Agreed. Not to mention the region you ride. I think you've been to Pisgah haven't you? Rhododendron and twisty old hiking trails
  • + 2
 @brianpark: Get Cesar Rojo in. He worked with Mondraker on their forward geometry now has the 'perfect geometry' with Unno. Would be very interesting.
  • + 1
 @leelikesbikes: I feel like all the riders around me run thier bars too tall based on comfort on steep. Please fix this next!
  • + 14
 @leelikesbikes: I wholeheartedly agree that some people are pushing sizing, as there are a lot of 5’6”-5’9” average joeys out there riding in a wide armed nearly prone position because they’re chasing fashion, but that’s a choice (an uninformed choice). Up until recently the same was not true for taller riders, as we had no choice in the matter, we had to either ride bikes that were WAY too small for us, or not ride at all.

As a longtime rider who stands 6’2” (188cm) with an 80” (203cm) tip to tip wingspan I’m in line for a 826mm bar by your calculation, which exists nowhere, but at least there are a few options that get me close, which was not nearly the case just a decade ago. Likewise, I am elated that there are finally bike options available that actually almost fit, because previously we had no choice but to ride the biggest option available which was still way too small and the size of most modern mediums. And I’m not even THAT tall.

So, while I do agree that some folks out there are riding bikes too big, I think the fact there are viable options for guys north or 6’ is a worthy tradeoff. If there a few undersized knuckleheads trying to win the fashion show riding cadillacs, so be it, but we taller riders thanks bike makers for finally making some bikes that fit, even if it was inadvertent. I guess what I’m saying is I don’t really agree that bikes have gotten too long, I just think the range has finally expanded to the point where there is something on offer for everyone. Hallelujah! Smile
  • + 3
 @catfish9797: Whiskey Parts Co. makes 840s
  • + 4
 I also used to read Lee's stuff pretty regularly and still go back as needed. I appreciate his comprehensive approach to riding and his contributions to the sport. History will separate "true genius" from novelty and fad.
  • + 1
 He told him that probably because of the current situation at that time, maybe they calculated his handlebars position on the bike he had and they got results which he can't dial his cockpit with the handlebar he had, and so, the best way for him to dial cockpit with current bar was to turn riser upside down (maybe his hands and stack were to high in downhill position, and usually your friend rides some AM style, he climbs first and then descends...) only until he buys a new handlebar (with rise, upsweep, backsweep, setback, that fits his bike, body terrain that he is riding, and his riding style) that fit his bike and body, which he can setup normally on his bike...
  • + 1
 Ultra long low and slack bikes are crap for ordinary trail riding. Its the bike equivalent of the raptor that's never seen dirt.
  • + 1
 @BryceBorlick: Yesh I smacked my right crank on the ground on a left hand turn on a 150mm demo bike a few weeks ago. That's just dangerous.

Sure we can kind of get away with snacking cranks in a DH race run because you learn your sprint tactics for the tracks in advance of a race run.
Scared the hell out of to slap my outside pedal in a turn.
  • + 49
 Any biomechanical argument, why the length of my tibia should contribute to my handlebar width? Shouldn't the perfect width depend on, well, length of my arms and my shoulder width?
  • + 27
 Can't see how shoulder width and arm length aren't considered. Shoulder width can vary quite a bit between people of the same height.
  • + 12
 Def this. For a male I have a stumpy torso and longish legs. Generalities like, “if you’re this tall, then you are this bike size” only get you in the ballpark. We are talking centimeters here.
  • + 6
 I was wondering that as well. I have a plus 2" ape index, but that does not factor into this equation. I guess its just a starting point.
  • + 1
 Wondering the same thing. I'm a hair over 6' (72.5") but my wingspan is nearly 6'5. I have never rode a bike with wider bars than 800mm but I feel comfortable with anything over 760mm.
  • + 4
 What if I'm riding without "shredding"?
Also, I would surmise that Sam Hill runs such narrow bars because he rides flats pedals and super soft suspension and needs to ride off the back of the bike more to keeps his heels down and his feet from flying off the pedals.
Just saying..
  • + 8
 "Starting with your gender and height (and assuming average proportions)..."

Yeah, his equation above is assuming average proportions. Also, the end calculation is just the "sweet spot." Just gives you a base to work from. Feel free to add or take away length based on preference, or on some of the advice he gives here.
  • + 9
 If your tibia is long relative to your femur and/or you ride flats, you're likely to be in a more forward riding position. A wider bar and more stack/rise provide more support for a forward position. Applying math aimed at perfection is 100% likely to induce anxiety--with a margin of error of 5%.
  • + 15
 fanatyk-bb, Few people know their shoulder width, length of upper arms, spleen volume, etc., and it's very hard to make accurate measurements. Almost everyone knows how tall they are. If we know your height we can, based on anthropometric data, calculate any aspect of your proportions. As many of you know, certain aspects of your anatomy might be longer or shorter than average. I hope you find this information helpful.
  • + 4
 @leelikesbikes: Spleen volume. Love it Smile
  • + 4
 Shoulders and arm length should play a role, but also reach dimension on your bike and torso length. When your bars are wider the your body goes closer to the bars and when the bars are narrower your body goes further from the bars. With a longer reach bike that feels too long, shorter bars will make the reach feel shorter and vice versa.
  • - 1
 @leelikesbikes: Interesting. You basically say that people suck so badly at self-measurement that we are better off just determining those measurements from general anthropometric data for their height.
  • + 2
 I have short legs and long arms like a monkey. Men and asian tend to be like this. Women generally long legs short upper body. Don´t know if arms too...
  • + 6
 @fanatyk-bb:
No, he's saying that because proportionally we are all roughly the same, even given small variances, it's easy to fairly accurately get yourself in the right ball park using data that's readily at hand.
  • + 2
 @leelikesbikes: Can you improve the fit with the following: (1) measuring your shoulder width (2) using anthropometric data to determine how tall people usually are with this width (3) multiplying it by 0.44?
  • + 1
 @scary1: Have you seen Sam's pin in his flats? I think flying off the pedal is out of the equasion.
  • - 1
 @fanatyk-bb: Why would shoulder width play a part in anything? Roadies locking elbows straight onto the hoods, yes by all means, measure those measly shoulders. But on a mountain bike, it has about as much bearing as spleen volume.
  • + 2
 @tacklingdummy: I agree. Wider bars (or long stem) will pull my shoulder forward and give me less range of motion if the bike's reach is already long enough.

I am 171 cm tall, use 710 mm bar, 45 mm stem, and 450 mm reach bike.
  • + 2
 @scary1: Hmm, odd. Sam was amongst the first to run noticeably wider bars on dh, maybe he's kept them around the 750mm mark like he runs now? Also, he tends to ride pretty forward on the bike. Smile
  • + 0
 @tacklingdummy: Finally a nonanecdotal observation! My formulation: a wider bar lengthens the cockpit by virtue of shortening the rider. Add stack to counter weight shift. Anecdote: my shoulder problem lessened when moving to a wider bar. Suck it, broscience.
  • + 1
 @ceecee: That is what I said in different terms. Widening bar will quasi-lengthen the reach but will shift your weight more forward and vice versa.
  • + 38
 I am 6'7'' with 6'11'' wingspan, i shall stick with the 800s and accept most of the world is not designed for me. Still gonna send it though....
  • + 24
 You gotta try those 925mm bars per my calculations. Sooo much control.
  • + 17
 I'm 6' 4" I can't imagine a 840 mm bar. I ride around 760-780 and am pretty comfortable there.
  • + 15
 @Highlander406: Yeah, at 6' 2 i get a 830mm bar. No thanks, which incidentally is nowhere near the median width for riders of my height in the story and certainly doesn't fit his idea that wider bars are disadvantageous. What gives?
  • + 7
 @Bob-Agg: Lee specifically says: "For most riders, the usable range is between sweet spot width and about 5 percent less than sweet spot width". I'm a touch over 6', and that gives me a range of 808mm - 767mm. I ride 780's currently which feel really good. It's more about the range than the absolute number from what I read.
  • + 2
 @Bob-Agg: More push ups in the off season is the answer. I hate having my elbows out beyond my shoulders more than a couple of inches, it makes it feel like I have no means to keep my face from impacting my handle bars on a big hit.
  • + 3
 @mangochaos I'm with you there. At 6'4" this calc sticks me with a 849mm bar. No thanks. I'll stick with my 'too narrow' 825mm Holeshots.
  • + 3
 @Nagrom77: Well, you actually prove his model:

"For most riders, the usable range is between sweet spot width and about 5 percent less than sweet spot width (for example, 750 to 710mm)."
  • + 1
 @Highlander406: yup, I get 835mm recommended and I ride 780mm bars. You have to remember that even 190cm is 95th percentile for height so @leelikesbikes sweet spot calc might be a better fit closer to the median.
  • + 1
 @robwhynot: Good point. I stand corrected. My only argument would be that this model begins to be more of an intellectual excercise at the extreme end of the height spectrum (Shorter and taller than average). Very intersting read nontheless.
  • + 1
 Yeah it may work better for shorter riders. I calculated mine with his formula and it was within 1mm of the width I've dialed down to over years of trial and error using my hacksaw and file. I'm pretty amazed.
  • + 0
 I’m 6’4” and get the 854 recommendation.
Strangely, a few weeks ago I fitted some 820mm bars and slid my lockons out a few mm.

Total bar width is now 850.

Looks like Lee is on the money!
  • + 1
 @Mfro: yea I have been riding almost exactly what it calculates at for me too 173cm tall and 760mm bars. New bike is on 800 and I'm going to slowly bring them back down.

But, my gf is 164cm according to his calculation she should be on a max of 698, which is laughable. She is more comfortable on her new 800s than she was on 730. They are coming down but below 700 is just absurd.
  • + 2
 I am the same height and am having that same thought process myself. I ride 800 with a 38mm rise to the bar for both comfort and control. I know I definitely prefer that to a shorter length bar. I would be curious if the measurements would be different at a certain point.
  • + 27
 The .44xheight(mm) is WAY off for tall riders - there isn't anyone in the previous story by Richard Cunningham running bars this wide. With that formula:
5'10: = 782
5'11" = 794
6' = 805
6'1" = 816
6'2" = 827
6'3" = 838 (where the f*ck are you even going to buy some shit like that and what treeless landscape are you going to ride it in...)
  • + 7
 No kidding! 6’3” here and my 800 bars hurt one of my shoulders. My highly unfashionable 740 bars on my XC bike don’t hurt at all... I’m hoping my body is comfortable with 740 XC, 760 trail/enduro and 780 for DH.
  • + 3
 I'm 6'5 and no chance I can ride any trails without chopping trees down with a 860mm wide bar, haha!
  • + 2
 @gbeaks33: Get some Whisky No. 9 Carbon Handlebars 840mm!!! Clothesline everyone on the trail including yourself!
  • + 2
 Keep in mind, he did say, "If you’re very tall, they don’t make handlebars “wide enough” for you. That’s OK: It’s better to err toward narrow than toward wide."

At 5,9", my calculation came to 771. Interestingly, I decided to position my hands on a pullup bar which felt most comfortable. My thought that the pullup hand position should be measured, not the pushup hand position. My sweet spot for the pullup was 760.

Not saying that either method is set in stone, but found it interesting that the two mentioned above were close.
  • + 3
 6ft1 and ride 750 for trail riding. 755 for AM and 760 for Dh. I couldn't imagine riding 816 bars.
Having timed with different bar widths I will stick with my current widths thanks. Shoulders are fine (1 collar bone plate and both separated in the past as I am not good at crashing).
  • + 3
 These numbers don't make much sense because they are likely based on creating a ratio of the riders they fit, then averaging them together and coming up with that number, which doesn't work. It's about as scientific as measuring everyone's foot on Pinkbike, creating a ratio based on their salary, then saying everyone on Pinkbike makes $x per mm of foot length. It is equally as ludicrous to assume that figure and your height can be used to determine your bar width.

Like others have pointed out, that just doesn't work. There isn't a linear change in bar widths based on height, rather it depends on many factors including, but not limited to: bike reach, stem length, arm length, hand size, shoulder width, saddle position, saddle height, torso length, riding style, and preference. An experienced bike fitter would take all of these things into account and there is no one universal formula.

The reason averaging doesn't work is because it ignores all those factors, but is also easily skewed. You could have outliers (e.g. a 5'6 person using 800mm bars) or it could even be skewed by the sample set, if they are all in that middle height range, fit using similar bikes and riding styles to a similar bar width, then that becomes your basis for the entire data set. There is also no linear growth in bar size, even counting other CORRECT fit factors into the formula (if there were possible), which height is not.

Lee is right about everything else in this article, but this formula is complete nonsense.
  • + 1
 @shinook: You assumption about how I created the multiplier is incorrect.

It comes from biomechanics, anthropometry and geometry — all tested and re-tested with a wide variety of riders and bikes.

If you want to learn more, check out the book and site.
  • + 1
 @leelikesbikes: Regardless of how you came up with it, as you can see in several posts here, it is clearly wrong. I've worked with several very experienced bike fitters and not a single one of them would advocate using height as a sole reference for your bar width or any other fit factor, even. There is a very established science behind bike fit that takes many variables into consideration, the idea you can take one into account for something as dynamic as bar width is wrong.

On a more personal level, your formula puts me at over 45mms of width greater than where I'm at now. I've tried that width and it suffers from every drawback you list of being too wide in the article and created considerable issues for me in my hands and arms. I'm not what you'd consider an outlier in height, either, being just under 6ft. I've had these things fit to me by bike fitters with considerable experience and that can actually justify how they reach the conclusion as to where it should be. I've had conversations with them, at length, about how bar width is fit and height was never once brought into the conversation.

The fact you fit others using this formula or that it is somehow reinforced by how they were fit doesn't mean anything, doing something wrong several times in a row doesn't make it right. I'm also not disputing that this figure could be right some of the time, but the idea that you can take one fit variable and apply it to something this dynamic is insane.

So even if I'm wrong about how you came to this figure, the figure is still not usable for what you claim and the numbers generated it are wrong for most.
  • + 26
 The same equation works with anything in life in general. Just multiply your size by a constant factor and you get the correct size for [*insert_whatever*]. It is a well known fact in medicine.
  • + 8
 But the constant factor here seems off, and doesn't take into account other important considerations. Lee's next equation will calculate rider's ideal wheel size based on their height in millimeters.
  • + 5
 @Flowcheckers: I think @powpowpow is hinting at a little sarcasm
  • + 23
 Really respect Lee and have his books on my night stand. WRT this article, using a linear model to explain a normal distribution is statistically unsound. For the 1000's or riders you have trained, had you measured every single one of their shoulders (and arm length, some might argue), then you could have come up with an evidence-based calculator that would give most people a good starting point.

Also, one way to test things out is to start with wide bars and lock-on grips, and gradually move the grips inwards to simulate shorter bars. Be careful not to impale yourselves though Smile
  • + 2
 Or scratch a fresh BMW while crossing the street... like I just did... I am keeping my fingers crossed that the damage will be covered by insurance company, otherwise it will be Xpensiiiive...
  • + 9
 Per xkcd: look, science is hard, and he's a serious person doing his best. xkcd.com/2048
  • - 1
 @dreamlink87: yeah especially considering all the pretentious a-holes in old fashioned bike shops, offering you bike fit for your 160 bike as if it was a road bike.
  • + 2
 This is probably best described by a piecewise function then.
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: One of the under rated aspects of dropper posts is being able to have your seat up at an optimal position for climbing, similar to a road position.
Previously my mountain bike always had the seat about 2 cm lower to (partially) accommodate the demands of technical climbing and descending.
  • + 0
 @ReformedRoadie: I do adjust the dropper for various kinds of climbing too however since many of my climbs are done on single track I just lower the whole thing around 2cm below the "optimal" level for spinning circles.If I went for long climbs I'd higher it. Funny enough I don't need more than 120mm of drop, 150 is mega luxury. I just don't need it, I like forward position over the bike, I like front wheel grip. I could utilize 170-200 on a HT. Not on a fully.
  • + 4
 deadflat,

Thank you for your thoughts.

The multiplier in the above article is a great starting point for most riders.

When I fit people in person, I use a different method that accounts for all aspects of the rider's proportions. I won't open that can of worms in a free web post.

If you have unusual proportions, or you just want to learn more about bike setup, check out the Dialed book or www.llbmtb.com. The website includes a 'pro' calculator that lets you input your shoulder width and other measurements.

You're right: It's best not to impale oneself!
  • + 0
 @leelikesbikes: Thanks Lee! I'll be sure to check out the "Diabled book" - there's always something new to learn Big Grin

If you're (or anyone) is ever interested in developing a broader model, feel free to reach out to me. I do the science/math thing for a living, in order to pay for bike parts (and support my family, no necessarily in that order) and am always interested in new problems. I'll stop here, I think the post-ride beer is affecting my judgement.
  • + 1
 @dreamlink87: xkcd in pinkbike comment section!
  • + 22
 Pretty typical PB comment posting here I see. Someone offers up some science based advice and the keyboard trolls bash and trash. First, lets bash the math because maybe your personal dimensions don't fall into the theoretical average .OK Lee offers up the Pro calculator to help, then its bash and trash because you either don't want to do the math or the math indicates maybe you should ride something other than what you believe. Bottom line here is that most of these articles are offering to help in some way. No one is saying you HAVE to follow the advise of others. If you like 26" wheels ride them, same with 29", same with long low bikes, same with short reach bikes. The point is you currently have a choice. As the science is catching up with trends there may be some things that don't work out.
How about this, we thank those people that take their personal time to try and offer us some helpful advise? Should we choose not to follow it, then that is at our personal discretion. But we should still be thankful that someone took the time to try and offer the help!
Thank you Lee for the insight and helpful advice!
  • + 20
 That calculation says I should ride 860mm bars @ 6'5". Time to install some Control Tech Terminator bar extenders... I'll be back
  • + 4
 @MmmBones - Nicely done there...
  • + 13
 Rider - Calculated Width - Actual Width Richie Rude -787.6mm - 750mm Martin Maes - 805.2mm - 780mm Cody Kelly - 814mm - 750mm Joann Barelli - 748mm - 780mm Isabeau Courdurier - 649.65mm - 760mm Katy Winton - 668.82mm - 750mm Keegan Wright - 827.2mm - 780mm Wyn Masters - 814mm - 780mm Greg Minnaar - 838.2mm - 800mm Amaury Pierron - 792mm - 800mm Danny Hart - 787.6mm - 780mm Bernard Kerr - 805.2mm - 768mm Brook Macdonald - 748mm - 775mm Greg Williamson - 805.2mm - 780mm Greg Callaghan - 809.6mm - 770mm Zacharias Johansen - 814mm - 760mm Adam Brayton - 761.2mm - 760mm Phill Atwill - 818mm - 780mm Gee Atherton - 827mm - 790mm Rachel Atherton - 724mm - 775mm Vali Holl - 668.2mm - 760mm Brandon Semenuk - 814mm - 735mm Nino Schurter - 761.2mm - 680mm
  • + 1
 Nice maths, weasel kitty. Seems like alot of racers don't want a tree to end their race run. I've considered dropping back down a hair from 800 for the same reason but now that Deity no longer has purple ano blacklabel bars (787) i'm beside myself. Life is hard.
  • - 6
flag bluenext (Dec 17, 2018 at 11:12) (Below Threshold)
 Rider - Calculated Width - Actual Width Richie Rude -787.6mm - 750mm Martin Maes - 805.2mm - 780mm Cody Kelly - 814mm - 750mm Joann Barelli - 748mm - 780mm Isabeau Courdurier - 649.65mm - 760mm Katy Winton - 668.82mm - 750mm Keegan Wright - 827.2mm - 780mm Wyn Masters - 814mm - 780mm Greg Minnaar - 838.2mm - 800mm Amaury Pierron - 792mm - 800mm Danny Hart - 787.6mm - 780mm Bernard Kerr - 805.2mm - 768mm Brook Macdonald - 748mm - 775mm Greg Williamson - 805.2mm - 780mm Greg Callaghan - 809.6mm - 770mm Zacharias Johansen - 814mm - 760mm Adam Brayton - 761.2mm - 760mm Phill Atwill - 818mm - 780mm Gee Atherton - 827mm - 790mm Rachel Atherton - 724mm - 775mm Vali Holl - 668.2mm - 760mm Brandon Semenuk - 814mm - 735mm Nino Schurter - 761.2mm - 680mm
  • + 16
 Wow, I know I'm really short, but I am NOT going to ride with a 660mm handlebar. NEVER.
  • + 1
 Bingo. For many years (I am 44 and started riding MTB in 93) bars were WAY too narrow, much less control
  • + 15
 I am 1960mm. So I need 862mm bars?!? Guess I may be an outlier to the formula.
  • + 2
 ha ha! I am sitting here looking at the same number to my height calculation. This should be interesting...
  • + 12
 While I agree with a lot of whats being said here, I think the calculations need to be done off shoulder and arm length, not height. WAY too universal.
  • - 3
 thuren,

Great point!

There's a relationship between rider height and shoulder/arm measurements — and there's a relationship between shoulder/arm measurements and ideal handlebar width. So, ultimately, there's a relationship between rider height and handlebar width.

I do the math so you don't have to!
  • + 10
 I’m going to hang this article from my bars so dipshits stop telling me “your 750 bars are to narrow brah”
  • + 6
 I'd love to read an article from Lee where he talks about his ideas abou reach an stack measurements. It would trigger and offend lots of Pinkbikers and make them grab their pitchforks...
  • + 9
 That’s in my to-do list!
  • + 3
 @leelikesbikes: don’t do it. People will report your FB page and Insta account as offensive. Sick Bicycles will dedicate a long rant to you Big Grin

You have been warned!
  • + 4
 It seems this maths makes most of us go even wider of what we expect... Quite contradictory... Me I am slim with 183mm and only 72 and long torso and arms... But di I should ride 80.5?? No. I already have troubles in my elbows riding at 76.5...
  • + 4
 Just did the push-up test (measure width of my strongest push-up hand position) and surprisingly it comes out nearly identical to Lee's calculation.

But based on this and RC's article, that would mean 95% of pros are going to have serious shoulder problems. Would like to know how Lee concluded his shoulder issues were bike fit related.
  • + 4
 Hi bcmrider,

My shoulder issues come from a combination of genetics, aggressive teenage bench pressing, hypermobility, years of riding improperly and simply not knowing how to operate a pair of shoulders. Oh also: My pathological willingness to work through pain.

Handlebar width has a huge effect on how your shoulders operate ... and the shift to wider bars made my shoulder issues worse. I'm feeling way better now, thanks to tons of PT and training ... and knowing how wide my bars should be.

This article and video were posted a bit over three years ago. It shows early explorations with Dr. Dane DeLozier from REVO between bar width and improper shoulder muscle recruitment. www.leelikesbikes.com/my-shoulders-hurt-are-my-bars-too-wide.html

I am way stronger now, thanks to all that PT. My favorite bar width is 750mm. When I RipRow hard, I'm even narrower, but on the machine it's all about making power, and bike handling isn't a factor.
  • + 1
 @leelikesbikes Thanks for your perspective on this and the bio mechanical reasoning behind it. It does makes sense. But there are situations on the bike where forces are not coming at you from a perpendicular angle. Say leaning the bike over in a turn, riding a rough berm, or pin balling through a hectic rock garden where the wheel is being twisted in your hands. To me it feels like a wider hand position helps in those situations. Perhaps this is why people are preferring bars wider than is optimal for most situations?
  • + 2
 @leelikesbikes: Have you considered upsweep and backsweep? Handlebars, like humans are 3 dimensional. My personal thoughts on this are that bars with a larger backsweep might be preferable for many people for comfort and performance, but there aren't many options available. Flat, straight bars are another hangover from '90s xc that we are yet to completely fix, prior to this most handlebars had huge back sweeps. Modern bars are wider but they are generally have little upsweep and backsweep.

Moto bars generally have more backsweep than current 'normal' mtb bars.
  • + 4
 @bcmrider:
I believe wider bars do provide more "stability" when you're bashing through stuff.
I'm about to get hated on, but I'll offer this:

- The more engaged you are (the better rider you are), the more you'll likely enjoy the advantages of sweet spot or narrower bars.

- The less engaged you are (the worse rider you are), the more you'll likely enjoy the stability of a wider bar.

There are of course exceptions, but I see that in my work.
  • + 2
 @Braindrain:

Yes.

I ride 16° SQlab 30X handlebars.

I talk about bar sweep extensively in the Dialed book (www.llbmtb.com/product/dialed-the-secret-math-of-a-perfect-mountain-bike-setup) and on the www.llbmtb.com site.

That's a cool idea for another article!
  • + 1
 @leelikesbikes: I'm interested in the stability Vs width thing from the point of a female rider. As you noted the pro women are using a lot wider bars than your formula. Also your formula would put my average height gf (164cm) on sub 700mm bars. I know she prefers wider than 730 (still a work in progress) for Enduro/DH.

What style of riding were most of the women doing that you fit this formula to? Looks to me like they were probably more xc based (where at least in the past there has been a lot more female riders).

It would make sense to me that a rider with lower strength (most young riders and most females) would benefit from the stability of a wider bar and hence they are running them in the more aggressive end of mountain biking.

Your thoughts?
  • + 3
 I still advocate getting down into an efficient-for-you pushup position and measuring the distance between the outsides of your hands.That's a great starting point for handlebar width. Tweak it from there.

We all have individual differences (flexibility, riding style, range of motion, "ape factor", muscle strength, previous injuries, etc.) that make a formulaic approach based only on height a bit suspect to me.
  • + 2
 This I agree with
  • + 2
 jddallager,

Great point. I find that, when people do "proper" pushups, their hand width is very close to the with produced by the multiplier.

In the end, it has to feel good.
  • + 1
 @leelikesbikes: Lee, Thanks. I think/hope Santa is bringing me your Dialed book for Christmas. Can't wait!!!
  • + 4
 Yeahhhh this says I need 849mm bars. I use 780mm. Feels great and is the max width that will shimmy through some tight tree spots on some of my local more “old school” trails.
  • + 4
 I'm the same height as you. 800 (I'm riding now) feels a little wide in the tighter turns, of course the tighter trees too.
  • + 3
 Each to there own on finding fit, as debate is never a bad thing, however I use the most simple system I know, which hasn't really failed me yet in my 46 years on the planet.
System being: Find bike that looks "right" visually and from experience gained riding other bikes, sit on bike, ride bike, send message to brain asking "does this bike feel right?" brain asks body same question, once body answers, brain either confirms bike feels fine, or not. brain helpfully assess for me, what may or may not need changing/fettling with in order to improve bike for my body, bike is either purchased, or not on this info.
The power of "feel" that your average simple human like me has, is a wonderful thing, personally anything else is just noise that leads to confusion.
  • + 3
 Hey Lee, this is odd. I think maybe your system is a bit to biased towards the typical shorter rider. I'm 6'4" (1930mm) with an Ape index of 1 tho I don't have really wide shoulders. That puts me at roughly 850mm wide bars. I think that's a little silly tbh and not an ideal setup. Something tells me that a few extra parameters are needed to dial this in. I'd definitely like to see more data driven setup as plenty of stuff is fashion driven. Especially for kids too.
  • + 0
 Svinyard,

It's better to err narrower than wider. I'm guessing some standard 800s would feel good.

And you're right: Rhere are other parameters that go beyond the scope of this web post. You can learn about them in the Dialed book or on the www.llbmtb.com.
  • + 1
 @leelikesbikes: got it. Love what you do. Kind of a pioneer here. Im not a paying member but I certainly consider it often lol. Hoping what you do can continue to evolve and then turn into something that can drive bikes and equipment to match. Cheers
  • + 5
 The "very tall" point seems to indicate that the formula works for everyone under 5'6". Otherwise, use 780mm and deal with it.
  • + 4
 Unless my meth is bad, the ideal bars for me, at 5’11” is 793mm. Every pint below that multiplier contradicts what I ended up with.

I ride 750 and am quite comfortable with them.
  • + 1
 "For most riders, the usable range is between sweet spot width and about 5 percent less than sweet spot width (for example, 750 to 710mm)." - From the article, so your 750 bar is just a tiny bit out of the range, but shouldn't be a problem(as also mentioned in the article). I'm the same height and have been running 760 bars for a long while and they fit(me) just fine.
  • + 1
 The calculator has me (6'5") on 860mm bars. I guess I'm already ahead of this month's 'let's all go back to narrower bars' trend with my 800mm bars.
  • + 0
 @jeremy3220 ha ha, yeah, things like this and BMI only seem to work within a certain height range.
  • + 11
 I'm surprised you're riding at all if you're using bad meth. Mind you, if it was good meth you'd probably have sold your bike to get more by now.
  • + 1
 Narrower is better than wider.
  • + 2
 Meth is always bad
  • + 3
 I'm having trouble with "assuming average proportions". I'm 5'11" with broad shoulders. The math says I should be on a 755-790mm bar. I've been comfortable on a 760mm for a few years now. Wider feels awkward to me.

Should I be erring on the larger end of the range?

That said, I put more trust into how it feels than any calculation will tell me.
  • + 4
 Way more factors involved as well. Bike length, riding style, bar height, bar sweep, torso to left ratio, arm length just to name a few. This isn't cut and dry. I'm 5 9 and use 800mm with good sweep and uprise on my dh bike that has a 426mm reach and a 50mm stem. I found bars with less sweep at 800mm didn't feel right but more sweep did. On paper I would need a completely different setup. Also. Trail bike has 435 reach, 60mm stem and 760 bars with less sweep.
  • + 1
 Torso to leg*
  • + 2
 @makripper: how do you measure sweep on road bike handle bars? Cuz I got those bad boys flipped up on my enduro rig.
  • + 2
 actually from his article it looks like you fell right into his "slightly narrow than sweet spot" optimum width.
  • + 4
 Did you read the article?
  • + 1
 For most people narrower is better than wider.

"There are lots of advantages to making your bars narrower: more range of motion, more pulling strength and better shoulder health, to name a few."
  • + 0
 @rrolly: now don't give them that idea hahah
  • + 2
 @leelikesbikes: there are equal amounts of advantages for running a wider bar lol
  • + 5
 Geez. I should ride 880mm wide!! I always supsected that my 810mm bars are too narrow. Ok, so next ride I will get the chainsaw to cut all those trees in my way.
  • + 2
 Same here!!! I thought I did the math wrong, nope, 880. Hope the bar manufacturers are paying attention. I literally just cut down my diety bars from 825 to 800...
  • + 3
 The formula is 95% to 100% of your sweet number. For me that is 780 to 820. He also says if trees are an issue go a bit narrower. I ride 770, because of trees, if I lived in Moab - no trees- I would ride 790’s. So I would say the formula works for me.
  • + 1
 Even in the desert, width can be an issue. I cut mine down to 760 (I'm 5'11") when I lived in Grand Junction due to a few of the more common trails having tighter rock-squeezes. I'm currently riding 800 (b/c they came with the bike and I feel weird cutting carbon) and they feel strange.
  • + 2
 Yeah I’m a little skeptical. More inclined to thinking just ride what’s comfortable for you. To say there are no advantages to wide bars is ridiculous. Leverage, stability, cornering, more of an attack position are but a few advantages. There definitely is too wide as there is too narrow. I’d rather too wide than too narrow though. That tipping over, skittish feeling with narrow bars sucks.
  • + 2
 Like I'm ever going to even try 872mm bars. I'll stick in the 740 - 760mm range, depending on frame geometry. Publishing such a horribly over-simplified calculation just killed all of your credibility as a coach. Of course, anyone can call themselves a coach in this sport. I have almost 37 years of experience, and call bull$h1t on this article.
  • + 2
 I think the key word in this whole argument is "average". Average is such a subjective measure that people either need to think about it with a degree of detachment OR care about what average means. Is a 6'6'' male an average dude or a 5'11 lady an average gal? Me thinks not... if you don't fall in that range, you're special and need not to look at a formula that has "average" as part of the disclosure/application. HAPPY TROLLING!

@leelikesbikes keep doing your thing.
AT_Pink_Pals: stop reacting like someone just told you that the earth is flat...

FELIZ NAVIDAD
  • + 2
 I think advice with a mathematical approach from a thoughtful and experienced rider and coach is awesome! I’m 6’0” /183 cm and so my optimal max is 805. I’ve been riding 787 and wondering if that’s a bit too wide.

There’s no doubt that feel is important... but I came up in the days of bar ends and sub-600 mm bars, so everything feels wide compared to that. For sure at times I still think 720-750 for some conditions still beats 787 for me. I regularly move my setup around a bit with lock on grips.

Thanks got the advice!
  • + 3
 Was about to call 'bullshit' on this 0.44 calc. Until I actually worked it out.

5ft8 = 1727mm

Giving me a bar width of 759.88mm.

.12mm of what I've always consider my 'sweet spot for bar width!
  • + 3
 I don't really really know what to say ,I tried bars that I thought would be too long but I ended up liking them better , what is wrong with me ,same goes for the size frame I ride , maybe I should seek help
  • + 15
 It’s because you’re a chicken dog.
  • + 0
 This is a dog, not a chicken. Chicken's don't look like dogs. Who told you this was a chicken, son?
  • + 2
 @acali: your Mom?
  • + 1
 @COnovicerider: Foghorn Leghorn
  • + 5
 882mm? Really? Where can I get them ? Smile
  • + 2
 This “rule” is like Newtonian physics—seems to break down at the extreme ends.
  • + 1
 I think people are missing the sweet spot and 5% variation bit. if you subtract 5% even from some of the super tall rider measurements above you get bars under 800mm.

And then of course you have reach and stem lengths to consider. The more you need to stretch the narrow your bars should become.

I think the real gauge is this: "your elbows should be directly behind your fists." And this is going to depend on how your bike is set up, the calculation above really just provides you with a starting point.
  • + 1
 Haven't read all the comments, but according to the formula presented, I need 853.6 mm bars. Not only is his formula bogus, it doesn't take into account the width of one's shoulders. I am 6'4" with wide shoulders, so I guess I better get some 900s, eh Lee?
  • + 1
 Awesome stuff @leelikesbikes. I've always cut my bars narrower on my race BMX (currently 26.5in/675mm) even though the current trend is 28 - 30in/711 - 762mm!!! I've always found the narrower bars just give me more response/control and maneuverability. Just trimmed my DH bars down to 740mm (10mm under my sweet spot according to your formula) and it's never felt better (and hopefully it reduces the wrist/hand pain I've been getting on longer descents).
  • + 1
 179.5cm and 789mm handlebars. I think 780 is still uncomfortable when pushing the bars forward, my fore arms and hands get stressed out. Push up posture of not opening shoulders by not rasing my elbows upward will be better because this posture let my chest muscles work harder and more effectively. To me good width can be such like that.
  • + 1
 690mm to 726mm on my Altitude (medium size).

Absolutely no way it makes sense. I have gone from 740mm to 780mm over the last 7 years. I think I am around 765mm.

You see, my torso is not in proportion to my legs. I tried a small Altitude and it was so scary and uncomfortable.

I am sure there’s a lot more at play than your height. Other biomechanics factors as well as bike choice / size, terrain.

If there was a clear science to it, everyone would adopt it.

My saddle at full pedaling height is level to the top if my stem whereas my shredding partners have their seat 4-5” higher for the same frame size (the right frame size too).

Experimenting is the way to go.
  • + 6
 summarizing: Bullshit.
  • + 1
 This is pure gold. Why should a 5'3" woman riding a small bike have the same bar width as a 6'3" dude riding an XL?! They shouldn't, but they do because that's how they're shipped and only a tiny percentage actually cut down bars--or cut them enough. Taller people require longer reach, bigger wingspans require wider bars, bigger hands require thicker grips.
  • + 1
 I would get away from any formula. It is like using a Body Mass Index. I can remember be in the shape of my life and being labelled Obese by the BMI. The comment about elbows lining up with wrists makes a lot of sense. I am way wider than tall and use 780's. You have to look at your shoulder width which generally follows your height. The operative word is generally. Works for most but not all......
  • + 5
 Huh go figure....783mm. Now another new standard for me to deal with
  • + 3
 Deity does make Skyline 787mm bars.
Quit yer whinin' Smile
  • + 2
 Arm length doesn’t impact ideal bar width? Say you’re 5’10” but have a higher ape index and longer arms/torso for your height... would seem you’d want wider bars than the 782mm calculated width?
  • - 1
 The above multiplier assumes average proportions, which work for most people.

If you have unusual proportions, you can use the pro calculator at www.llbmtb.com — or check out the Dialed book.
  • + 1
 @leelikesbikes: I will eat my words a bit. I’ll say your calculation is pretty much right on for what I ride. I concede!
  • + 2
 so I just changed my 800s out for 760 with a 50 rise... wow what a difference its made... much less fighting on the trail... on a Carbine 29 doing lots of steep and deep with jumps ... 5'11" tall
  • + 1
 Do narrower bars make it easier to do slower, tighter corners with a bit of tech? Or should they be better for that (assuming no trees). I'm 6-4, lean with narrower shoulders on 800mm but wonder at times about going a bit narrower. (of. Course I'll just get some different grips that slide in more and try)
  • + 1
 whoa.. so many comments.

6 footer here.. arms are slightly longer than spec for a 6 footer.

hate narrow bars for whatever reason. I feel sorta claustrophobic like my chest isn't open to air enough. no shoulder issues with the 810's I have been using. ride in some pretty tight tree heavy trails, never even so much grazed a tree, let alone crash because of it. I feel like I climb the piss outta my bike because of the wider bar, giving me more leverage. actually, Ive been able to climb some pretty steep hills lately after making only one change to the bike set up (the wider bar).


back in the day-- I used to cut bars. now, I just slap N go, don't geek out about certain things like is my handle bar an inch too wide
  • + 3
 How hard would to be to get someone to measure your elbow to elbow measurement with your arms out wide? That is the real number we’re after, not height.
  • + 1
 I must be an anomaly. Did the calculation, and it came out to be 768mm. I'm a whopping 5'8-3/4" with a 5'10" wing span. One bike I had came with 750mm bars, felt ok. Second bike came with 760mm, felt better. Tried 800mm bars for a bit, too wide. Trimmed them down to 780mm, and feel great. Strong and stable regardless the type of riding I'm doing. It may also be because I am stronger than the average person/rider and I understand kinesology having working in the fitness/physical therapy world for a number of years. Go based on what feels good and doesn't cause pain/instability. Ride bikes. Have fun. Go fast. Take chances.
  • + 1
 i did the calculation. my sweet spot is exactly where (2mm off) i cut my bars down to the other night. i just did it by feel, so it would appear that for me this calculator would have worked very well. i have long arms (higher ape index) than normal for my height, but i also probably have shorter legs for someone my height so it probably evens out in my scenario.
  • + 1
 How about wheel size ?i think the bigger the wheel a little more bar width is necessary but not that in a way that you start riding your bike with the shoulders and not with your arms or something with that meaning,I’m 1,78 used to ride a 740 ,now a 760 with more rise and I think I’m almost at the end of the width cause that 740 give it more a direct feel a more racing one,and the 760 a little more of a comfort on open turns a little more forgiving one but at the “expense “of that racing feel ,but no more width for me ,I see people that ride 800 and it’s just weird cause when you look at them riding they almost have their hands inwards almost 2 fingers from total bar width ,but in the end is like ok you want to ride that way fine, just enjoy but I think it’s just a little strange at least for me.
  • + 1
 In your calculation, do you account for grips when deciding on handlebar measurement?

For example:

The outside shoulder of a grip can be up to 5mm inboard of the handlebar width, cutting a bar to 760mm then adding grips will give you an effective 750mm.

Did you just cut your bar too short?

Thanks
  • + 1
 When I calculate handlebar width, I mean that to be the distance between the outsides of your hands. Where your hands are on the grips is up to you.

As a matter of fact, it can be beneficial to move your hands on the grips depending on what you're doing.

Descending: Hands at full width.

Pumping, jumping, technical climbing: Hands a bit narrower.

But that's another post.
  • + 2
 I have always used the push up position as a base line, cuz i do lots of push ups. That "math" says 810 mm. Lee's math said the same. I prefer 740-750 and i ride bikes that are small for me!
  • + 1
 Ive been wondering the correlation between bar width and the size of wheel being ridden. My last bike was a Norco Sight 27.5, on which I rode a Chromag bza 800mm x 20mm rise, with a 50 mm stem. Im 6' tall with pretty wide shoulders and long arms. Nowadays I'm riding a Norco Range 29, the cockpit I have now is a Raceface sixC bar, the monster 820mm x 20mm rise with a 40mm stem. The push and pull leverage feels pretty damn similar to me, stability when on the dh sections is amazing! So I believe it needs to be a bit of this formula, plus you're riding style, subtract trendy, multiplied by comfort and divided by where you spend most of your days riding. Maybe we are all just pissing in the wind.... Im going for a ride. Peace
  • + 1
 Oh yeah the bar equation had me at 805 mm
  • + 1
 As bikes have gotten longer, the need for wider bars (to a certain degree) has diminished a bit. If the frame is shorter, your elbow width in a hinged position is wider. On my sb6c, the 800mm bars do a great job of letting me get lower and feel longer on the bike, when I ride a longer bike like my friends Mondraker, the 760mm bars he has positions me just right. We swapped bars for shit and giggles and found the 800mm bars totally uncomfortable as you felt way spread out.
  • + 1
 I agree with your premise. Often, longer cockpits feel better with narrower bars and vice versa. Look at a road bike.
  • + 1
 hi Lee i currently run 800 and im 178cm tall so i should be about 783.2mm but I've always struggled with bike sizing. Im looking at the ebook but i have a 838mm inseam (so really long legs) and an ape index of 192 or so. i have always struggled buying a bike the right size and i just got a Bird Aeris 145 in large which has a reach of 504mm. what bar width should i look to run? My downhill bike is large giant glory that has 467 reach and is also on 800s.

Are my bikes too long? i have broad shoulders and i do find steering a bit tetchy
  • + 3
 Nobody that runs a zero rise handlebar on a mountain bike should be giving advice! Eww....
  • + 4
 Handle bar sales must be down 2 articles in 2 days
  • + 2
 Everyone is going to cut their 800mm bars, then in two years they'll come out with some 825mm bars and then say you now need multiply your height in mm by .47 instead of .44 to accurately calculate for maximum shredding. Everyone already cut their bars, so handlebar sales up 2020.

#gaslighting
  • + 1
 I was interested in getting Lee’s book for curiosity and helping the young shredders I coach with their bike setup.

After this little bit of advice, I have my doubts. I haven’t rode 726mm bars in iver 15 years...
  • + 1
 Definitely does not seem legit - includes nothing about shoulder width, which determines the angle your arms create. Nothing about torso vs. leg lengths. Take with a grain of salt.
  • + 1
 Lee what numbers are you talking about and quantify "almost identical" ?

"Bonus: These numbers are almost identical to the median and average rider heights/bar widths in Richard Cunningham’s story."
  • + 2
 Hi vggg,

On hindsight, when I posted this article I should have included this chart:

www.llbmtb.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/McCormackProBarWidths.png

The chart lists rider heights and handlebar widths for the riders cited in Richard Cunningham's story, then it shows the ratios between height and width. It also shows the median and average ratios.

The median and average are 0.42 and 0.43, compared to my recommendation of 0.44 as the widest healthy handlebar for most people.

If you omit narrow-outliers Semenuk and Schurter (the only non-EWS and DH riders in the list), the median and average are 0.43 and 0.44.

Of course there are exceptions! But I've set up more than 1,000 people, and this approach works very well most of the time. If you need more specific help (say, for unusual proportions), check out the Dialed book or www.llbmtb.com site. Or take one of my classes.

I hope this helps!
  • + 1
 Pretty close for me. I calculate 793mm but have ridden 780s for the past few years. Have ridden 800s on some rental DH bikes and never felt strong on them.
  • + 1
 "The bar widths are relatively wider for the female riders — but they are not ordinary people!"

Excuse me, but what the actual what?
  • + 3
 The female riders in Cunningham's list are running wider bars than 'optimal' for their heights, but they are all super strong and likely have great shoulder mechanics. An ordinary person might not get away with the same relative width.
  • + 2
 How can this calculation work without taking into account the reach of your bike (including stem length)?
  • + 1
 1800 mm here it says I need 792 mm handlebars and I ride with 720 mm. Cross country/all mountain rider here, should I try 740 mm?
I feel fine with 720 though....
  • + 1
 Welcome to the 900mm bar club. Thomson or someone please make this happen. Even with control tech bar extensions I can only get to 840mm with an alloy bar.
  • + 1
 The way I did it was to drop and do some press ups and find the hand spacing that made them easiest. I got handlebars about that width and tweaked from there
  • + 3
 Junk Science is what we call this folks
  • + 3
 I calculated a 858mm handlebar I'm 195cm Smile NICE. Were can I get one?
  • + 3
 I like my 780s but Lee says I should be on 827.5. WTF!
  • + 2
 Same for me. No way. 780 is good.
  • - 1
 I'm not saying you *should* be on 827.5s. I'm saying that's your maximum recommended width — and that it's super great to go narrower.
  • + 2
 @leelikesbikes: let's just admit that that calculation is pretty primitive, ok? it doesn't account for ape index, nor does it work outside of the bell curve of average heights.
  • + 1
 @conoat: The multiplier, which I provided free of charge, works at all heights, but you're right: It doesn't account for unusual proportions. If you want to learn more deeply, check out the book or website referenced in the article.
  • + 2
 6 foot 4 and I came out to 855mm? seems a bit wide but i've always loved 780-800 mm
  • + 0
 Calculation is pretty pointless, no more useful than saying "umm, you are of medium to tall height, go and use somewhere around the 750 to 800 that you are probably already using".
  • + 1
 5’8 with long legs and arms. 760 is my sweet spot for enduro, got 750s on my XC bike. Ride a size large because I like long bikes
  • + 2
 Measure the distance between hands when doing a push up comfortably, cut bars go riding . Boom . Old man tech
  • + 4
 844.8mm, really?
  • + 2
 I’m having a tough time believing I should be at 825mm. I was thinking about chopping my 800s down to 780...
  • + 1
 Then you're in luck. As he said in the article, optimum bar with is anywhere between the calculated measurement and 5% shorter than that (95% of the calculation). 95% of 825mm is 783mm.
  • + 1
 @tmargeson: I saw that, but I guess the reason that’s less helpful is that changing bar lengths isn’t exactly like changing tires. Not that it’s some monumental wrench task but it is a bigger deal than most.
  • + 2
 Turns out my 780mm bars are pretty much bang on for me. 1mm too wide lol
  • + 1
 I am 6'2" tall. in mm that is 1880mm. 1880x.440=827mm.

Is this dude telling me to ride 830's?????? LMFAO
  • + 2
 Strongest Press up position, measure ,go!
  • + 1
 i‘m 1,85m and according to lee‘s formula i should be riding 810mm bars. no thx, i‘m fine with my 780mm renthal fatbar!
  • + 2
 I like Lee. Lee like Bikes. Ergo, I like Bikes.
  • + 2
 827?? Who makes that, Boeing ?
  • + 2
 Using the 0.440 calc I should be riding 830mm bars. Yeah - M'kay.
  • + 1
 Doesn't sweep matter a huge lot, especially for wide bars? Lee sells bars with more sweep through his website.
  • + 1
 I did the calculations that he said to find the proper width, and it was my exact current bar size! WooHoo!
  • + 1
 absolute crap. assumes everyone of the same height has the same width shoulders...
  • + 3
 Meh.
  • + 1
 Superstar Components had a yardstick some years ago, discontinued, guess I should try to find one.
  • + 1
 I'll wait for the bicycle calculator to be released....Park Tool, OneUp, SRAM.
  • + 1
 How much arm span affects to handlebar width? Usually its same as height. Im 173cm and arm span is only 164cm..
  • + 2
 How wide are the bars on a RipRow? ill go with that.
  • + 1
 Yes! When you do hard work on the RipRow, your hands find the perfect width.
  • + 2
 804mm if I identify as male, 779mm if I identity as female.
  • + 1
 im 6'1. I wouldn't dream of running bars as wide as this formula suggest. 817!!!! no way is that rite!
  • + 2
 740 to 760 if you are 6ft tall is about right.
  • + 1
 yep...
  • + 2
 I'm 1980mm... anyone seen 871mm bars for sale!?
  • + 1
 Am I the only one who saw the calculations (.426 and .440) and though 'this guy's a MOPAR man for sure'?
  • + 1
 I always just made fists, put my knuckles together and then measured elbow to elbow across. That has always worked.
  • + 0
 I'm 1773 cm so it says my bars should be 780.12mm wide. I'm running 780s so is there a handlebar stretcher out there? I don't need much.
  • + 2
 Ibis does have those cool bars that you can adjust anywhere from 750-800 using screw-in extensions...
  • + 1
 Apparently I need 827mm bars. My 800s feel pretty gpod though!
  • + 2
 I need 838 mm bars!
  • + 1
 These numbers don't add up ?
  • + 1
 Recommends 871mm bar, better hope there aren't any trees around!
  • + 1
 Pick a width and be a prick about it!
  • + 1
 Lee kicks ass. Love his books.
  • + 1
 That's a swing and a miss!
  • + 1
 I took up mountain biking to get away from maths ????
  • + 1
 You know what they say about long handlebars.....
  • + 1
 Try 999 and then you flip it upside down
  • + 1
 28.88 was wrong after all?
  • + 2
 wow you guys are tall AF
  • + 1
 So 871.7? Apparently my bars are almost 100mm too narrow.
  • + 1
 By 2025 we'll be back to 600mm bars
  • + 1
 As long as there not carbon . Carbon bars hurt my elbows
  • + 1
 856 for me, too funny! I'll stick with my super "narrow" 800's.
  • + 1
 793.4, close enough to 800 for me!
  • + 1
 what!?
  • + 0
 Apparently I should be using bars wider than 800mm. NO THANKS.
  • + 2
 Same, I don't think 815 is going to work for me
  • + 0
 I guess my 810s are too wide
  • - 10
flag weappa (Dec 17, 2018 at 6:23) (Below Threshold)
 Grow up
  • + 1
 .... so are my 800s. Man, it's not rocket science, even though this Lee dude would like you to think it is.
  • + 1
 Seems Legit to me

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