Handlebar Width vs Handling - Are Your Bars Too Wide?

Dec 15, 2018
by Richard Cunningham  
Greg Minnaar knows a thing or two about turning it on at World Champs and he is looking to ad to his impressive medal collection tomorrow.
Size matters: Fluid and relaxed, Greg Minnaar makes 800mm handlebars look small - reportedly, he was previously riding 820's.

There is a correlation between modern "long, low and slack" geometry and wide handlebars, but if your guess was more leverage, you'd be mostly wrong. You may need 800-millimeter handlebars to tame a 280-pound, 60-horsepower off-road motorcycle, but few riders need that much leverage to control a vehicle that weighs only one fourth of its rider. Beyond offering enough mechanical advantage to show the boulders who's the boss, the more important role that wide bars played was to transform riding styles to adapt to much slacker head angles, lengthening reach, and the trail bike market's wholesale switch to short stems.

To set the record straight, personal preference is reason enough to defend your favorite width. I'm not going to dictate which bar you should ride. This is an attempt to frame the handlebar-width/handling equation in a historical perspective that explains why at one time, exaggerated handlebar widths were beneficial (perhaps, essential), and to support why the average handlebar width is now progressing in the opposite direction among the sport's most notable bike handlers.

Monika Hrastnik is just coming of her first world cup podium in Leogang and is on a high like no other
Monika Hrastnik, 2018 IXS European DH champion, demonstrates how wide bars keep a rider low and forward.


Wider is Better: Why that was true

Not so long ago, frame geometry encouraged riders to stay well back over the bike while descending and cornering. Both downhill and trail bikes had shorter reaches, steeper head tube angles, and more compact wheelbases. On the trail bike side, 50-millimeter stems had become mandatory, (down from 90mm), but bike makers had not yet compensated for the missing 40-millimeters by lengthening their cockpits. Centered over the bike, the combined effect of those factors put more than enough pressure on the front wheel to balance cornering and braking traction on level terrain and down modestly steep trails.

That was fine and dandy until you needed to pressurize the rear wheel at the apex of a berm-turn, lower your center of mass to prepare for hard braking, or balance your weight between the wheels to maximize control on a steep descent. The solution was outstretched arms, butt behind the saddle, and heels down. It worked well, because bikes were more compact, and that's where you needed to be to keep just enough pressure on the front tire's contact patch to maintain traction and steering precision, while being in command of the rear tire at all times (or simply to prevent being pitched over the bars).

Try that on a modern DH or trail bike and the front tire will push so badly you'll probably hit the ground before you figure out what is going on. Reaches are longer, head-tube angles are much slacker and, in the case of trail bikes, additional travel and bigger wheels have lengthened forks. The combination of those factors has moved the front axle much farther forward, which means that riders must put a lot more pressure on the front of the bike to maintain traction. This is where wide bars come in to play.

Wide handlebars literally forced riders to shift their weight forward, because that's where you needed to be in order to bend your arms enough to control the bike. Get back too far and your arms quickly straighten, so you can't decouple your steering inputs from the bouncing and bashing your bike is taking. Wide handlebars were an organic, stylish and transparent solution to make the jump from old-school to new-school geometry. Shopping through before-and-after images shows a pronounced improvement in riding posture after bike makers started spec'ing bar-widths north of 760-millimeters - even Joe Blows were looking aggressive, elbows out, head forward, with their bodies low over the bike.
Jordan Sarrou in action.
Today's cross-country racers sport the bar-width and body position that was cutting edge for all-mountain and gravity riders, circa 2005.


The 2005
The 2005 "Sam Hill Replica" Iron Horse Sunday. Something look wrong in this picture?

Yeti
Yeti SB150: Once head-tube angles dropped below 69 degrees and reaches were adjusted for short stems, the front wheel jumped well ahead of the rider.


Why Down-Sizing Makes Sense: Balance and flow

Once you know something, you can't un-know it. Most of us have adapted to rider-forward geometry by now, and it's doubtful that we'll forget to stay over the front end. So, unless you prefer the widest bar you can ride, downsizing can further improve your handling. The attack position that exaggerated bar widths create naturally tightens up your body, which isn't always helpful. Also consider that wider bars require faster and broader steering inputs to make minor corrections. Slicing off as little as ten millimeters can improve steering precision, and give you more freedom to move the bike around while negotiating technical sections. Plus, you'll be better balanced when your upper body is decoupled from lateral forces.

Sam Hill kept it steady in the top 10 to take his second EWS title in two years.
Sam Hill prefers widths around 750mm on his EWS bike. Many enduro pros have downsized their bars as well.

Stable geometry is another factor that has reduced the need for massive widths. Custom offsets, mid-stroke suspension support, and slack head tube angles have reduced the workload necessary to pilot a bike. DH bikes can straight-line sections that competitors once picked their way down and trail bikes are not far behind them. Corrected geometry makes it feel like modern bikes have power steering.

handlebar story Cannondale Jeykll
Sliding a pair of lock-on grips inboard is a non-destructive method to experiment with handlebar widths.


So, What's the Bottom Line on Bar Width?

What feels best is always the bottom line for choosing the right handlebar. That said, if you subscribe to "wide as you can ride" and you don't have an ape index like PB's Paul Aston or Greg Minnaar, you may be in for a surprise. Just for fun, grab a couple of grips, shut your eyes and place your hands on a table where you believe the width is just right. Compare that measurement against your current bar (I was 20mm off).

Curious? Experiment with a pair of lock-on grips. Slide your grips and controls inboard five millimeters at a time. Wait for a few rides before you pass judgment. You should be searching for the point where your arms and shoulders begin to relax noticeably while you are riding at pace. You'll know you've gone too far, when steering inputs get wiggly in the corners. When you think you've found your sweet spot, ride it there for a month and then return to full width to make a fair comparison. Only then should you consider the hacksaw.

Vali Holl looking at ease in the tricky top rock garden which has caught out many a rider in the past and many riders today.
Vali Höll makes short work of the rock garden that stumped a number of riders at the Lenzerheide Worlds.
bigquotesI was always riding an 800mm handlebar when I was a kid because that's what was on the bike. When I went to Tennessee with SRAM, they were like, "what are you doing with that bar!?" And they cut it down to 760mm. It is way better now.Vali Höll


Compare Your Handlebar Setup With the Pros
Height vs width for 24 of the sport's best riders


Richie Rude
EWS Pro
Height: 5' 10" (179 cm)
Bar Width: 750 mm

Martin Maes
EWS and DH Pro
Height: 6' (183 cm)
Bar Width: 780 mm

Cody Kelley
EWS Pro
Height: 6' 1" (185 cm)
Bar Width: 750 mm

Yoann Barelli
EWS Pro
Height: 5' 7' (170 cm)
Bar Width: 780 mm

Isabeau Courdurier
EWS Pro
Height: 5' (152.5 cm)
Bar Width: 760 mm

Katy Winton
EWS Pro
Height: 5' 2" (157 cm)
Bar Width: 750 mm
Keegan Wright
EWS Pro
Height: 6' 2" (188 cm)
Bar Width: 780 mm

Wyn Masters
EWS and DH Pro
Height: 6'1" (185 cm)
Bar Width: 780 mm

Greg Minnaar
World Cup DH Pro
Height: 6' 3" (190.5 cm)
Bar Width: 800 mm

Amaury Pierron
World Cup DH Pro
Height: 5' 11" (180 cm)
Bar Width: 800 mm

Danny Hart
World Cup DH Pro
Height: 5' 9" (179 cm):
Bar Width: 780 mm

Bernard Kerr
World Cup DH Pro
Height: 6' (183 cm)
Bar Width: 768 mm
Brook Macdonald
World Cup DH Pro
Height: 5' 7" (170 cm)
Bar Width: 775 mm

Greg Williamson
World Cup DH Pro
Height: 6' (183 cm)
Bar Width: 780 mm

Greg Callaghan
EWS Pro
Height: 6' 0.5" (184 cm)
Bar Width: 770 mm

Zacharias Johansen
EWS Pro
Height: 6' 1" (185 cm)
Bar Width: 760 mm

Adam Brayton
World Cup DH Pro
Height: 5' 8" (173 cm)
Bar Width: 760 mm

Phil Atwilll
World Cup DH Pro
Height: 6' 1" (186 cm)
Bar width: 780 mm
Gee Atherton
World Cup DH Pro
Height: 6' 2" (188 cm)
Bar Width: 790 mm

Rachel Atherton
World Cup DH Pro
Height: 5' 7" (170 cm)
Bar Width: 775 mm

Tracey Hannah
World Cup DH Pro
Height: 5' 6" (168 cm)
Bar Width: 740 mm

Vali Höll
World Cup DH JR
Height: 5' 2" (157 cm)
Bar Width: 760 mm

Brandon Semenuk
Slopestyle Pro
Height: 6' 1" (185 cm)
Bar Width: 735 mm

Nino Schurter
World Cup XC Pro
Height: 5' 8" (173 cm)
Bar Width: 680 mm


PB Even Made a Video on the Subject




360 Comments

  • + 329
 Put your hands on a table? I put mine on a bar, drank 8 pints and now can't remember a thing.
  • + 81
 That's so Australian of you to do
  • + 42
 Is it really a ride if your not hungover?
  • + 97
 I tried to put my paws on the table and was scolded, but I am confident that I need to steer with my mouth anyway.
  • + 27
 I see Amaury and Greg are the only real men they interviewed.
  • + 34
 @scary1: Are you insecure about your bar width or something? I know a person who can help with that.
  • + 4
 Cutting down after 8 pints just doesn't seem right either.
  • - 77
flag scary1 (Dec 15, 2018 at 8:11) (Below Threshold)
 @scott-townes: totally secure,brah! Fag!
  • + 24
 @scary1: your response says otherwise.
  • - 37
flag scary1 (Dec 15, 2018 at 12:32) (Below Threshold)
 You people have ZERO sense of humor. Snowflakes.
  • + 4
 @scary1: *ag could well be the gayest of insults
  • + 25
 @scary1: or your sense of humor has no comical value to the rest of us. Don't worry we know it's all our fault though.
  • + 2
 Everyone’s a bar length expert now , unbelievable ! Smile
  • - 25
flag scary1 (Dec 15, 2018 at 17:55) (Below Threshold)
 @BenPea: are you allowed to say "gay"?
Isn't there a committee you have to check in with on that. That feels like a micro aggression
  • - 22
flag scary1 (Dec 15, 2018 at 17:56) (Below Threshold)
 @lifeofloon: I'll try to pick myself up from that knockout punch
  • + 9
 @scary1: sure, if you're a 14 year old boy.
  • + 15
 @scary1: I could explain how you can get away with it, but first I'd have to explain irony, which I'm not sure you're ready for.
  • - 15
flag scary1 (Dec 16, 2018 at 11:50) (Below Threshold)
 @BenPea: I'm ready! Teach me ,oh wise one
  • - 22
flag scary1 (Dec 16, 2018 at 11:52) (Below Threshold)
 @BenPea: should I explain satire,which I'm sure not a f'ng person on here understands?
  • + 11
 @scary1: sat.ire jsat-ahyuh r]

-noun

1 . the use of irony, sarcasm,
ridicule, or the like, in exposing,
denouncing, or deriding vice,
folly, etc.

2. a literary composition, in verse o
prose, in which human folly and
vice are held up to scorn,
derision, or ridicule.

3. a literary genre comprising such
compositions.

The only thing satirical in this thread is the irony in you trying to make an unfunny joke involving homosexuality yet when it's turned around on yourself you obviously got butt hurt. For Christ's sake you're still going on about it.
  • - 18
flag scary1 (Dec 16, 2018 at 13:12) (Below Threshold)
 @lifeofloon: yes, the satire and ridicule of a stereotypical guy,with a stereotypical response for being insecure about his bar length as pointed out by another poster.
Try and play along. You look like less of a virtue signaling , sjw when you do.
Course, that's the point, right?
  • + 2
 @IamTheDogEzra: Username checks out
  • + 172
 Hey -- important call out on experimenting with widths: to PLUG YOUR BAR ENDS. Even if it's JRA in a parking lot. A kid just got killed this August in Pullman, WA riding with open bar end plugs.
  • + 8
 +1+1+1+1
  • - 19
flag delawhere (Dec 14, 2018 at 18:59) (Below Threshold)
 Is this sarcasm or real? What happens when you don't plug em up?
  • + 57
 @delawhere:

Ever wondered what a core sample of the liver might look like?
  • + 4
 Happens all the time
  • + 31
 I helped a kid at a dirt park who had a bike with no plugs and he ripped a giant hole in his lower stomach. Crazy hospital bill for a 25 cent part.I used to give bar plugs out at the dirt jumps.
  • + 14
 Yeah that shit is no joke.
  • + 17
 Yah looks real. Dear God. Thanks for this comment - will always check my three boy’s bikes here on out.
www.khq.com/news/exposed-handlebar-grip-kills--year-old-pullman-boy-in/article_18d14528-e04d-52a9-90b7-c50a4cdfb300.html
  • + 6
 A buddy of mine ruptured his spleen and his bowel from exactly this (and maybe 10 too many beers) just rolling down the street.
  • + 2
 @delawhere: belly cookie cutter
  • + 7
 Friend had to get helirescued with an almost thorn aorta thanks to otb without plugs.
  • + 5
 @K1maxX: We always joked about bars with out plugs taking core samples, but holey hell those sound nasty.
  • + 5
 Nice post, we had a rider here that died within minutes when the bar went through his femoral artery. No plug.
  • + 4
 Holy shit. I've always run plugs just because I like the look. I honesty had no idea it was a safety thing.
  • + 3
 @BlackVR: literally aren’t aloud to compete in any event without them.
  • + 1
 Thank you so much for addressing this! I took a bar end to the thigh this fall and have a permanent hard spot because of it. This was the most painful injury I have sustained on a bike. Also, my whole thigh area (from pelvis to knees) was black and blue for at least a week. Plug your bars folks!
  • + 90
 Bernard Kerr is quite a precise guy with 768mm... he should test 767.5mm next year
  • + 96
 Or maybe 728.99
  • + 68
 All jokes aside, it could be that he measures things in inches; 30¼ inches comes out to 768mm when rounded.
  • + 28
 @PhilKmetz: "Who threw the metric system out?"
  • + 19
 @PhilKmetz: pretty sure Bernard Kerr is the most English person racing World Cup DH i think he uses the metric system...
  • + 12
 @PhilKmetz: you that skills will phill dude?
  • + 14
 @PhilKmetz: to be fair, 768 come out to 770 when rounded
  • - 3
 @spaceofades: 768.35 to 738 dummy.
  • + 1
 I spotted that too.
  • + 14
 @PhilKmetz: check out the big brains on brett.
  • + 12
 @dugcarch: I'm not sure if being British really implies a preferred use of certain unit systems. Our cars are in MPH, most people quote their weight in stone and I've never heard anyone say they have 200mm penis?! However, our engineering standard is in Metric and asking for a furniture measurement yeilds a certain answer dependant on age!! God we are so confused!! What even happens after Brexit FFS?! Hahaha
  • + 1
 Bahahahhahaha
  • + 1
 @BobLogiii: Americans.....we got to the moon using yardsticks, sliderules, and balls.....A bunch of times....50 years ago.......
  • + 5
 @bart882: but couldn't replicate because of measurement confusion... Smile
  • + 1
 @bart882: seriously? Americans went to the moon? :-P
  • + 1
 @kabaroo: brett/brad's a smart mutherfukker.
  • + 60
 Don't use handlebars and just grab the stem. It is more aerodynamic.
  • - 3
 But then your forearms aren't aerodynamic
  • + 36
 Damn, those are some thorough stats. Are these readily available somewhere, and if so, how does someone find them?

Two counterpoints:
1: pros are stronger than the average rider, so they can ride narrower bars, which in turn allows for more precise control. I wonder if somewhat wider bars could be beneficial for the casual rider that wields their bike like a bludgeon instead of a scalpel.

2: local terrain matters when choosing bars. If you ride in areas with less trees, wider bars might be better, but if you ride trails with tight clearance of trailside trees, it’s better to opt for narrower bars to avoid clipping every tree and pinballing down the trail.
  • + 14
 Pros are stronger?
  • + 32
 I'd argue that the pros being stronger isn't as big of a deal because they will be going so much faster. So, based on straight reckoning and no science, I figure the average rider is going to be having a lot less forceful input from the trail so their relative strength to the trail they ride would be similar if not less than a pros. Basically, yeah pros are stronger, but they are also going mach chicken, so their bikes are trying harder to get off line. Your second point though is for sure spot on.
  • + 11
 Point 2 I think nails it.

I asked a pro on that list whether he dropped his bar width down to where it sit now from 800 due to preference/control or if it was for more clearance between trees because he races on tracks that can have narrow clearances. He confirmed it was exactly the latter.

Sample size of 1. Well, sample size of 2 if you count the fact that I have not yet cut my bars but sometimes think about it only because of tree clearance and no other reason.

What's the ideal width? Maybe do a bench press and measure where your hands are most comfortable for maximum strength?
  • + 5
 @dtrotter: dude... I think he meant they are more fit than weekend warriors.
  • + 7
 @kram: I agree with this-ran bars at 720-740 for years on a 240 lb. moto for enduro, only to get through trees more quickly. Arm strength was irrelevant compared to the ability to turn continuous sharp corners into shallow bends. Perfect handlebar width for me is always that exact width where you can feel the grip touch bark, while not getting pinwheeled off line.
  • + 5
 @ Shralpophiliac I got most of the statistics from PB Bike Checks
  • + 2
 @dtrotter: I think they are just lucky.
  • + 4
 No. 2 is huge, and I've heard multiple EWS racers cite trees as the reason to cut down the bars on foreign tracks.
  • + 2
 @kram: nope, because when bencing, you're shooting for elbows much closer to your torso than when riding to protect your shoulders in a strong, externally titated position. On the bike, there's less load on the shoulder, and you want your allows out to facilitate bike body separation
  • + 3
 @RichardCunningham: could you please recall that once you wrote : "1cm of stem equals to 2 of hanlebar" was like this??
  • + 6
 @kram: I second the remark on narrower clearances. I’ve spoken to a number of EWS riders that say they ride narrower bars because they need the clearance on the tracks. Changing bars to narrower measurements when necessary was seen as no option because they want to be comfortable with their equipment at all times. .
  • + 2
 @briceps: Blue Derby enduro is a perfect example of why narrow bars are the new norm.
  • + 7
 My local trails are pretty darn narrow and I put up with 800mm bars because they feel so much better. My hands naturally rest almost off the outside of the grips. I reckon there's also something in wider bars effectively being softer and taking some of the sting out of the trail. Really found myself getting beaten up on some 760s. Though they were pointless 35mm... For reference I'm ~185cm, broad shoulders but average arms.
  • + 2
 @mountainsofsussex: the stiffness thing is why if you want to go from 800mm bars to 760s you really should get new bars. Bars that come stock 760 are designed with flex around that range. The 800 cut down will be crazy stiff. But I agree narrow trees can be avoided even with wide bars most of the time, you should ride what feels comfortable. For me I like a good 760 or 750 and my trails are wide open. I'm 6'1"
  • + 2
 @mountainsofsussex: I was alternating between 750 on my hardtail and 810 on my full-sus, also mostly in the mountains of Sussex. And then earlier this year I tried to thread a narrow tree gap at speed with the big bars and had a nasty crash... Anyway, I’ve replaced the SixC 35s with Fatbar Lites which are 40mm narrower and that 770mm width seems to work well, though I’ve gone up a frame size (in reach) at the same time to regain some room. 179cm tall, fairly broad shoulders, bloody long arms.
  • + 2
 I doubt a pro's arms/chest are stronger than your average fit rider.

Pros train for power on a bike (NOT the same as how much you can squat/deadlift) and a lot of "core" strength, and while they develop their upper body I doubt it's a huge focus. A large amount of upper body mass would probably be a detriment on a bike since every pound counts.
  • + 4
 @rezrov: If you want a ride a bike downhill fast you need plenty of upper body strength - top DH and enduro riders are strong. There’s plenty of evidence of this if you read any articles about off-season training.
  • + 5
 @threehats: one word....Brayton, he's a monster in the gym
  • + 2
 @threehats: Yeah but so are amateur and recreational riders. I'm sure there's a HUGE number of riders that can bench way more than a pro, but that doesn't mean it's going to make them faster.

I'd wager anyone who's spent a few years powerlifting a few times per week can more-or-less match the pros for pure strength. That doesn't mean they'll have the same power on the bike, or that it'll somehow make them as fast as pros.
  • + 3
 @JacksonTM: +1 for the phrase "mach chicken" Pretty sure it evokes an image more akin to my own riding style than the pros; a furious skwarking mess on the raggedy edge of control.
  • + 26
 I don't know, the whole story seems constructed to me. Back then nobody thought about the better weight distribution and evolving geometry as far as I can remember. In my mind bike geometry and handlebar width development were completely decoupled (also from a marketing point of view) and just happened to be in parallel.
I think the biggest benefit besides the better leverage was and still is the more ergonomic posture to take hits and impacts (push up position). It was just way easier to ride elbows out and absorb hits with wider bars and that was it (and leverage advantage of course). Everything else seems to be interpreted into the story from a current view point. And I remember that time very well and my thoughts on that development.
  • + 13
 Elbows out isn't ergonomic though, it internally rotates the shoulder and pulls the lats out of play. Elbows out, followed by external rotation is a much better cue to use and a narrower bar width enables that. Look at any Olympic lifter in the clean/jerk. Their hands are sitting just outside the shoulders during the movement.
  • + 12
 @TobiasHandcock: if it's about biomechanics under load, yep, narrower bars and external rotation, with elbows more back than out would be the way to go. Just like when doing proper push-ups, or pressing with good form. But... - the elbows out thing seems to work way better in terms of bike/body separation, so coaches all emphasize it for that reason. Which makes sense - you're not that loaded up on the shoulders even in full on attack position because most of your weight goes through your feet into the bottom bracket rather than through your arms.
  • + 3
 @TobiasHandcock: yep, I've settled for hands just outside of shoulders..which is 740mm down from 780. In theory I lost a bit of stability at speed but I can ride much faster everywhere else...
  • + 2
 Hey this is a great article PB thanks for making our sport better and better.
I have one question about big bar width: Bontrager and Enve both manufacture 820mm bars, and being 6’2” 190 lbs, I bought the new Bontrager 820 bars love them on my Remedy RSL (XL frame). Could I have made a size choice mistake with getting the 820s?
  • + 4
 @RichardTaylor1: yes. Unless you like how they feel.

Follow the steps in the article two figure out if you like a different width better.
  • + 4
 @RichardTaylor1: I ride 820mm bars too. It feels natural, I don't think about it, it fits the position of my hands doing push-ups. I'm pretty broad-shouldered. That said, the 710mm bar on my xc bike feels optimal. I do wonder if I should try smaller bars to deal better with trees. I've had some scary bar-end scrapes and one nasty fall because of that too.
  • + 3
 @TobiasHandcock: clean jerk I do that every night.
  • - 6
flag dtm1 (Dec 14, 2018 at 22:45) (Below Threshold)
 Well said. Cue a whiny & defensive Kazimer saying why you’re wrong and misunderstood the article in 5 4 3 2 1...
  • + 3
 @TobiasHandcock: you’re comparing an anaerobic, fast twitch, high CNS movement that occurs maximally once in a matter of seconds, for maximal strength... to an aerobic, slow twitch, finesse movement where precision is key for 30 60 90 + minutes and maximal strength is irrelevant
  • + 3
 @dtm1: In terms of mechcanics its still the best position to have your shoulder in for endurance, strength and explosivness, regardless of the sport. Also In a downtime podcast with a guy who studies MTB athleyes, testing shows that inban enduro race the rider undergoes up to 6g in short sharp bursts throughout the ride, so you are defiantly getting some fast twitch action going on to keep composed under that kind of force.
  • + 3
 100% thought the same thing....never heard of this bike length and bar width symetry before......modern bikes corner poorly as there too slack and long.....simple fact. However they do handle straight line rougher trails better. What surprises me is that a lot of people think slackening and lengthening a bike so much would have no detrimental affect on handling. You want a bike that corners really well.....that will most likely be a bike with older style geometry. it wont feel so confident inspiring on the rougher trails though. You have to decide what matters more. I feel a lot of this long low slack business was done to help bring in less competent riders to make them feel more capable. My old 2013 bike handles so much better on turns than some of these newer ones. It will not feel quite as stable over really rough trails but i just practice at that stuff as i prefer to be able to corner faster as thats the most fun to me but we are all different. Modern bikes with good technique can corner well just that i find it easier on slightly older geometry bikes which are a bit steeper and shorter.
  • + 7
 @rabidmonkfish: longer slacker bikes corner better at higher speeds and steeper terrain. This idea that older bikes corner better and slacker bikes are for less competent riders is naive. Enter a national level DH or enduro race with your old bike and those 'less competent' racers on modern bikes will put you in your place real quick.
  • + 2
 @DavidGuerra: I'm sure open terrain and wide bars work, here you wouldn't get 500meters down most of the fun trails without loosing your pinkies, depends on where you ride I figure. Better to go a bit shorter and make it down than wider looking for pinky transplants.
My two cents
  • + 5
 @RichardTaylor1: Ride what ever feels good, currently running bars at 845mm, renthals with extensions stuck in the ends, Im 6'3", it feels about right, have tried 800, 820, 830 and would hang on to the outer edge of the grips. It may sound massive but bikes are made for average size people, if you are much taller, or heavier than the norm it can be a pain to get a setup that works, but easier now that bike bikes are bigger in general
  • - 1
 @jeremy3220: you did read my comment didnt you? i never said i was better than a national level dh or enduro racer but also please dont assume to know how good or bad a rider i am either. No need to take offence with what i had mentioned though. I wasnt saying modern bikes were crap i was just stating that i believe they are better on the rougher straight sections and not so good on corners. i jut don't believe that everytime a bikes geometry gets slacker and longer that its going to be overall better at every aspect of handling. i think that would be unrealistic. It will improve some things but also have some detrimental affect on other areas. It cant be awesome at everything. i hold the 7th fastest strava time this year (21st fastest ever) over a section at my local trails which has lots of fast speed turns and has a lot of smaller drops and i believe that my bike is advantageous to me on this track over others on longer slacker bikes.
  • + 1
 @rabidmonkfish: Your bike may be advantageous on your trails but on the terrain enduro bikes were designed for they corner better than shorter steeper bikes. Go ride a lift access DH park, I guarantee the guys on DH bikes aren't going to have any problem keeping up with you in the corners.
  • + 4
 I don’t think he’s saying Pro DH riders can’t corner, just making a logical argument regarding different geometry. If you disagree, come to Sea Otter and watch what the pro dh riders use for slalom @jeremy3220:
  • + 1
 @codypup: Exactly, slalom is a much slower speed than a DH race. On high speed courses the longer enduro and DH bikes corner faster. If a corner is tight enough for the wheelbase to be a concern then you'll start to see an advantage to the shorter wheelbase. Outside of that, he's wrong that older style geo bikes corner better.
  • + 24
 It would be interesting to know the ape index as well as the other information provided.It might give some insight as to why similar height riders are on different width bars.
  • + 17
 I was thinking it would be cool to know the wingspan to see what difference that makes. Would also be interesting to see how wide shoulders are too.
  • - 3
 bet you could calculate them ape indices from a few good profile pictures of these athletes if you really wanted to.
  • + 7
 Surely it is down to shoulder width.
  • + 4
 Isabeau Courdurier , ape index of + 12.
  • + 19
 I'm not sure I dare write this but I run 700mm!! Don't feel I need wider, have tried. My left sholder is wonky and wider bars stretches it to far on tight corners. Also it's easier getting through tight trees as I mostly ride in the woods.
  • + 64
 SHAME (rings bell) SHAME (rings bell) SHAME (rings bell)
  • + 7
 How could you POSSIBLY ride your bike with little, narrow bars like that? Must be XC. ;-) Yeah, I think, like most things the whole wide bar thing is/was sort of like the long ski thing. Longer/wider more "cred". Whatever. I tried 780, just too wide for narrow treed trails and felt like I was riding a semi. Have Renthal 740's now (I know, the SHAME) and they are perfect.
  • + 39
 The Ministry of Swedishness would like to apologize for this man. We shall strip him of his passport and nationality, deport him for a life long mandatory typical Swedish sex holiday in Phuket or Magaluf as soon as we can... his psychiatrist says he suffered mental damage by attending too many "MTB Långlopp" which stands for Ikea of MTB Marathons. Furthermore he experiences seizures due to chronical sphincter soreness which he suffered by attending 300km road race Vätternrunda, where people torment their anuses for 6-12 hours while watching pulse meter and eating salty cucumbers.
  • + 1
 @JanB How tall are you?
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: Salty Cucumbers :-D haha haha! Back on form squire!
  • + 5
 Haha. I ride 685mm with 90mm stem on my XC Pivot Mach 4C. It is for the same reason. My trails are narrow with lots of trees. Plus my shoulder are narrow. Originally I had it at 720 and found it too wide. People just follow like sheep what the industry throws at them.
  • + 3
 When the wide bar movement started, I measured the width of my shoulder joints, about 21" then measured my hand width, then converted it to mm's (cut marks are in mm's, duh) and came up with 740mm or so. I then went on a trail ride at 800mm and moved the grips in until I got a comfortable feel, I experienced shoulder pain after 20 minutes at 800mm's. I settled on 730mm's. I still keep my hands at the very end of the grips, but that's how I like them. Oddly, sometimes they feel wide, sometimes they feel narrow. All I know, I like them that wide. Run what you run, it's your set up..
  • + 4
 @WAKIdesigns: you speak from experience.... How are those priests anyway?
  • + 1
 You win! I've tried everything as a 6 foot tall male, and 700mm is the Goldilocks number.
  • + 1
 @Kramz: 6’2” and i run 670mm on my top fuel and 720mm on my farley.

Same bars... just cut 1” off each side on the summer bars.
  • + 1
 @spinko: 5' 9"
  • + 2
 @WAKIdesigns: Kommer jag ifatt dig i Änggårdbergen ska jag skvätta lite extra lera på dig...
  • + 1
 @JanB: oooo, fast jag skojjar ju bara Big Grin
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: Du skriver väl aldrig nått på allvar eller Wink Du kan känna dig säker dock, jag cyklar nästan alltid i hemma skogarna i Kållered.
  • + 1
 @JanB: Ju, ibland. Men det är svårt att märka. BTW fina stigar de där runt Kållered. Om du skulle vara så snäll en gång och guida mig lite Wink jag kan bara Bohusleden och Slickrocks. Jag har en riktig stigdepression nu. Efter 12 år kan jag de flesta stemar på rejäla stigar norr om Mölndal och söder om Kungälv
  • + 2
 One major problem with this article is that handlebar angle is never mentioned. In my case the less angle in a bar the wider it needs to be to feel comfortable.

Years ago I got fed up with the industry standard 9 degrees back, 5 degrees up and got a Jitsie trials bar with 9.5 back, 12 up. I've never looked back. Mega comfortable for me. I'm 5'11" and have cut it down from 730 to 710 mm wide. In its original size I found I had my hands a good inch in from the ends, hence the narrowing of the thing.

Modern bars with their minimal angles and wing-like widths have nothing to offer me.
  • + 1
 @TomBasic: you must have very narrow shoulders or elbows that bend inwards
  • + 18
 It’s great to see handlebar width being discussed.

In my opinion (as someone who’s taught and done setups with thousands of riders), handlebar bar width should be related to your size and proportions, not the style of bike you ride or the decade you ride in.

I recently published a book about mountain bike setup. It’s called Dialed, and part of the book covers “anatomically correct” handlebar width.

The recommended width in Dialed is very, very close to the numbers that were provided above in “Compare Your Handlebar Setup With the Pros.”

If you’re interested, you can check out Dialed here:
www.llbmtb.com/product/dialed-the-secret-math-of-a-perfect-mountain-bike-setup
  • + 2
 Props to Lee, he's put more thought and analysis into mtb fit than anyone else I've found by far. His calcs have me with a wide bar which has been awesome (6'1" with very wide shoulders).
Warning for long and low bike fans,he has very sound logic on why this trend has gone too far on some bikes, suggesting many need to size down rather than up for optimal control.
  • + 2
 "handlebar bar width should be related to your size and proportions, not the style of bike you ride or the decade you ride in."
Many other more established sports do exactly this, take your body proportions into account when choosing your equipment... Then mountain biking comes along with its arbitrary numbers and "ride-what-you-like" mentality(while completely contradicting itself with those exact arbitrary numbers that don't make sense), and just goes with whatever width is fashionable at the time.
  • + 20
 If you're going to slide your grips in for some trial runs please make sure you use bar ends
  • - 26
flag H3RESQ (Dec 14, 2018 at 12:18) (Below Threshold)
 Probably just stay inside and become a recluse. The world outside is too dangerous.
  • - 8
flag hillman-hunter (Dec 14, 2018 at 12:20) (Below Threshold)
 Or ride without a helmet and any pads aye?
Nob
  • + 15
 @H3RESQ: you must have never seen someone impale themselves with their bars.
  • + 9
 @H3RESQ: that's a fallacy called a false dichotomy. you're implying that there is no middle ground between not being careful not to take a core sample out of your own neck and staying inside.

that's obviously completely, embarrassingly false.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_dilemma
  • - 18
flag H3RESQ (Dec 14, 2018 at 20:17) (Below Threshold)
 @xeren: Your arrogance is far worse than my exaggerated (false dichotomy) response to his mother like comment.
  • + 0
 I digress, clearly there is no joking about when it comes to bar ends in mountain biking. I do remember the days when we all had bar ends sticking out the ends of our bmx bike grips and couldn't afford to replace them all the time. Only made it worse that we would try and save the grips by putting coins in the ends only to loose them when the grips ripped. RIP those dangerous days.
  • + 15
 Headlines coming soon to PinkBike: Is your bottom bracket too low? Is your head angle too slack? Are your tyres too grippy? Is is time to start running tubes again? Is your suspension too supple? Does your dropper post have too much drop? Do your brakes stop you too quickly? Are your rims too wide? Is aluminium the new carbon? and so on, and so forth Smile

I say this in jest - I love a lively cycling debate. Keep up the good work PinkBike Big Grin
  • + 15
 Something should be said about how where you place your hands in the grips effects this. I have run both 760 and 780 bars equally well but found that with 760s I was running my hands on the outside edge of the grips and while woth 780s I ran my hands centered. My hands are actually at the same distance apart, but with 780s my grips feel nicer and I have a little impact zone for obsticals that’s not the outside of my hand.
  • + 1
 I'm the same and have 760mm on 2 bikes and 780mm on another they all feel right riding down hill stood up, but when sat pedalling I always end up on the outside of the 760's.
  • + 1
 @StevieJB: I’ve got 800mm on one bar and 760 on the other. Both feel right.
  • + 3
 I find that if my hand aren’t at the exact end of the bars I tend to clip trees with my bars. I tried 780, I liked the feel in the garage but on the trail my hands trend towards 760. Then I’d forget about the extra 10mm on each side, clip a tree and have some unnecessary excitement.
  • + 16
 Pick your bar width and don't be a dick about it. Thanks to How to be a Mtn Biker video for that one......Classic!
  • + 3
 But they still suggest being a dick about wheel size. I'm so confused.

Amazing video too, every moment; classic.
  • + 14
 i ride 420's everyday...
  • + 14
 those are high bars, not wide...
  • + 10
 Start my day with 420 then hop on and steer with my 760
  • + 8
 After breaking my scaphoid, I learned that wider bars (800) caused my arms to angle in and pinch my wrist. This caused me so much pain I couldn’t ride.

I cut my Renthals down to 760 on my trail bike and 780 on my dh bike and I have had ZERO wrist issues since.
  • + 1
 I had the same kinda thing going on ran wide bars and was getting some wrist pain. Took me some time to figure out it was the bar width. Went down to 760 and no more pain.
  • + 7
 I'm a large framed 6'3" tall guy. I scoffed at these wide bars when they first came out. "Why do you little wussy men need all that leverage to turn your bike?" I asked. Then I got a new bike with wide bars. I've never been more comfortable riding for long periods of time. They just set my body position up perfectly. Sure, I may clip the odd tree. but it's a small price to pay for comfort. That being said I'm not sure how a person with a 5 foot nothing frame rides a 760mm bar? Cough, cough Isabeau Courdurier cough, cough.
  • + 7
 Whatever feels comfortable to you and you enjoy riding is likely the best setup, regardless of what the pros do...
  • + 32
 Well she’s probably faster than you so I’m gonna go ahead and let her slide on this one
  • + 2
 @rellinger - my 13 year old is 5'1", and find 760 mm bars to be a huge improvement.
  • + 8
 Being told wider bars were needed because people couldn't figure out how to ride their new bikes is more painful than being jabbed in the eye repeatedly.
  • + 8
 So you are telling me my 915mm bar is too wide for me. Go ahead, i won't cut it down. I need something to compensate my little prick
  • + 7
 Is a 35mm clamp to compensate for girth?
  • + 7
 This is an interesting conversation but what about sweep? Seems like higher sweep is the right option for some and we only discuss rise and width.
  • + 5
 This is absolutely great. I got to go into my shed and try to find all those old handlebars that I couldn't sell for $5 in the buy and sell. So if skinny bars are coming back, does it mean 26 inch is that far off? I still have four bikes that use that diameter of tire. I think I have an old 8-speed XT derailleur as well. I knew in my heart of hearts to keep all that stuff. I am so stoked
  • + 5
 5'9" here, 765 is perfect. Last time I cut some bars down I did a pushup, figured out the balance between where I could generate the most power and comfort and measured it. 765 is where I wound up. I ran 800 on my old downhill rig for a bit, it was OK at the bike park, but found my wrists getting sore.
  • + 7
 Why are people listing their ht info as if it is key to their bar width? Surely your shoulder width is more important. I am a tallish guy (6FT) but thats mostly legs and i have relatively short torso. I like a bigger frame for leg related #'s but can run shorter reach/stem. 800 may be all the rage for bar but pulls me way forward on the cockpit. My shorter torso/shoulder width makes 760 bar ideal for me. Stop pretending wider is better - it is better fit for wide bar is better , not a one size fits all # FFS!
  • + 1
 @brentkratz: I am not sure if shoulder with or arm span is more important? However, arm span very close to ones height, give or take a couple of cm's. So perhaps height is a decent indicator of bar width prior to personal preference.
  • + 2
 @smuggly: The real combination to figure it out fit would be shoulder width, arm length...all physiological measurements really, then reach, stack, and bar width, etc. There are just so many factors going into proper fit and handling...
  • + 0
 @brentkratz: Shoulder width is an arbitrary number when measuring where your hands should be while riding. Its like using waist width, or how far your knees are apart, or how big of a helmet you wear.
  • + 1
 @smuggly: vague rule of thumb. My wingspan/height differ by 12.5 cm /5", (no injury involved).
  • + 5
 So a few years ago on a riding trip my bike got tossed off my buddies truck on the freeway. Luckily only the front wheel and handlebar end were mangled. A quick visit to a ahop got me a new wheel but there wasn't a bar in 35mm so I just cut the ends off of my 800mm BZA and turned it into a 760mm bar. Now I'm 6'4" and have a pretty wide wingspan. That day was an eye opener for me! I felt like a god damned gazelle out there! I've since gotten rid of that bar and have settled on 780mm.
  • + 7
 I'm 6'2 and find that 780 is about perfect. Just looking at the pro's setups seems like that 760-780 is the sweet spot for a wide range of heights.
  • + 2
 Yeah I'm 6'4" and am running 760. Keeps it nice and nimble without sacrificing big hit control. Good in tight spots too.
  • + 72
 i might only be 5'-11" but i'm an american. i like big cars, big beers, big women and super size the fries. i gotta big house, a big toilet and take big shits. hell, my prostate's the size of a cantaloupe and my brain is twice that big. My heart's as big as my feet & balls and those together couldn't be even begin to match the size of my ego and self-confidence. so yeah, nah i'm stickin with 800's, dawg. toodles
  • + 28
 @rocky-mtn-gman: But you have tiny hands?
  • + 14
 why do Americans and even Canadians measure there body length in feet and inches and the handle bar width in mm?
  • + 17
 @vhdh666: it's like when your neighbour plants bamboo in their yard. We don't want it but inevitably it creeps in
  • + 8
 @rocky-mtn-gman: We waited 11.5 months for it, but here it is. Comment of the year.
  • + 1
 @vhdh666: Because as a nation we the US took an idiots approach to adopting and using the metric system.
  • + 11
 @drdirty: There are only two kinds of countries: those that use the metric system, and those who have landed on the Moon. Hehehe
  • + 11
 @DrPete: Actually the Apollo program used the metric system.

You guys stayed with Imperial after your independence because the French emissary who carried the pattern meter and kilogram sunk in a tropical storm at the Caribbean.
  • + 3
 @vhdh666: it's because we drink too many points of beer to worry about the inconsistency...
Jokes aside - I grew up in Germany, and the whole non-metric units this g is driving me nuts. But because it's what everyone around me uses, I've adapted. Sort of a when in Rome thing.
  • + 3
 @DrPete: of course the engineering fir the moon landing was running on metric units..
  • + 7
 I should've known my jab at American jingoism would've failed in the PB comment section... I do think it's ridiculous that we don't use the metric system. I made the comment because of the sheer "america, F*** yeah" style when I saw that in a meme once.
  • + 6
 @DrPete: Liberia landed on the moon?
  • + 2
 @vhdh666: because mountain biking was invented by Napoleon I believe
  • + 3
 @DrPete Burma too
  • + 3
 @vhdh666: Bike tires in imperial, fork and shock travel in metric, bars and stem in metric, frame size imperial....yeah its f*cked up, but the best is car tires measured in both metric and imperial!!
  • + 2
 @rocky-mtn-gman: haaaaaa thats friggin awesome
  • + 2
 Your reach, not height, is what matters. Height has less to do with bar length and more to do with bike size (frame reach) and bars should be suited to a persons reach. From there its down to personal ergonomic preferences, how your bike centers you and how you ride. at 78" reach w broad shoulders a 800mm puts my hands in an hand to shoulder pushup position on a L bike suited for a 6'1" frame, which works perfectly for me. People need to try different setups and settle where it works for them. thats all this article needs to say.
  • + 5
 My argument for not going crazy wide relative to your body type is that you loose arm extension and the ability to lean the bike without having to lean with it. Stability and tree clearance kinda cancel each other out for for me.
  • + 8
 According to the math in this article, my bike weighs 50 pounds.
  • + 2
 Mine weighs 55
  • + 4
 In my not pro opinion, bar width is in direct proportion to shoulder width and arm length (reach/wingspan) I am just under 5'10" and slender build with a fairly wide wingspan. The taller you are, generally the longer arms you have and being a wider "wingspan". When you bend your arms into the strongest position and most comfortable position: Thinking in terms of bio-mechanical, that will be approximately a 40-45 degree angle in the humerus upper arm bone to the torso line, on both axis (to the side and forward), and a 30-45 degree angle in the forearm/upper arm angle.
The longer the distance is from the tip of the shoulder to the center of the hand, the longer bars you will be comfortable with riding. So for most people unless gorilla armed and 3 foot wide shoulders, this is gunna be in the 750-800mm range for many riders 5'9 and taller. Height does some into play here too as the greater distance the shoulders are from the hips and hips to bars, the strongest most bio-mechanically sound angles will change. Ya I'm a science geek so I paid attention in those physics and human anatomy classes. Shred on!
  • + 4
 How come nobody is talking about how wide the rider shoulders. Your height is only part of the equation. You can be short but have wide shoulders. Or you can be tall and have nerow shoulders. Also your arm reach is another factor, shorter arms , wide shoulders Wider is more comfortable. Skinny tall narrow shoulders, not so wide. Comfortable is key
  • + 3
 Surprised that ergonomics and proper fit for different anatomy is rarely part of the discussion around bar width. That bikejames trainer dude says to drop into a pushup from a standing position; the hand position you fall into is where your bars should be. I was getting some odd upper arm/shoulder aches when riding wider bars and have since cut down to 740 or so.
  • - 1
 I get 420 If you are trying to prevent your beak from getting smashed when you drop into position, your hands will likely be less than shoulder width apart
  • + 6
 one other thing I would like to know is how high should my handlebar / stack height be?
  • + 2
 I think stack height seems to be overlooked, certainly for a while head tubes went too short, I would see lots of people with a stack of spacers under the stem to get comfy. Looks shit, taller head tube looks way better and has to be stronger, more room for welds and tube interfaces.
  • + 1
 That depends on your physical characteristics and riding style. If you are short legged in proportion to your torso, and you ride more down than up, you'll want longer top tube/reach and taller stack. If you are long legged you'll probably like a lower stack and shorter reach. A pro fit in a shop one option, but the best option is to try a lot of rental/demo bikes, taking good notes. When you have good idea of what works, set up your bike, then ride with someone experienced that you are willing to be critiqued by - a good MTB coach. This will give you the tool to really up your riding confidence.
  • + 7
 It’s coming. Shorter reach figures. It has begun. The revolution.
  • + 3
 The height vs. handlebar width is a nice but simplistic approach to the many variables that can determine which bar width is best for each individual. As many have pointed out, there's the arm length variable, torso length variable, flexibility variable, etc.

I think RC's last paragraph is an excellent suggestion that tailors the decision based on practical "cockpit time". And it makes you go slow and methodically thru the process. Without spending a lot of money!!
  • + 3
 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo is coming up. There's cholla cactus everywhere. Your race packet comes with a fro pick to remove cactus from your flesh (I'm serious, no joke). I fear the day when I punch a cholla. I'll be running 610mm bars on my XC hardtail; it makes cactus dodging easier. I use 750mm bars on my regular trail bike. Feels fine. I'm 5'11.
  • + 4
 Sounds like the perfect race to use hand guards.
  • + 2
 @nozes: Not a bad idea. Probably wouldn't help much. Cholla is also known as "Jumping Cactus". If you hit it it breaks and bounces. Guards would just bounce it from your guards to your forearm, shoulder, or face.
  • + 5
 Backsweep makes a big difference in final hand position. 800 with 5 degree sweep is much different than 800 with 9 degree Do what's comfortable. sweep the leg johnny.
  • + 3
 I've been waiting for someone to say this. The actual angles of the bar affects 'proper' width more than the actual bar width itself. I'm actually pretty shocked pinkbike even let such a simple-minded article appear.
  • + 1
 It definitely does. Wrists pain on long rides, so i tried sweeps between 12-35 degrees - Answer 20/20's feel just right (named for their rise and sweep). I just wish they'd make 740 or 760s so I didn't have to run my grips 5 to 10mm off the ends.
  • + 5
 Aaron Gwin wasn't on the list! I NEED TO KNOW WHAT WIDTH HE RIDES!!! I base all of my bike adjustments off of his settings... since I ride just about as fast as him.
  • + 3
 All of that and not a mention of larger diameter wheels and the increase in centrifugal forces that a wider bar helps negate. And forget the effect of longer forks and slack geometry...
  • + 1
 Really surprised at that too. I can imagine how many factors long the list gets for a simple PB article, and he's not getting paid to write a full book on it. Still surprised this and sundry others didn't even get an "also consider" summary line tho?
  • + 2
 " Sliding a pair of lock-on grips inboard is a non-destructive method to experiment with handlebar widths."
For god's sake, please put plugs in your bars if you do this.
I had a 15 YO student of mine almost die and miss 6 months of school due to a "core sample" wherein his handlebars punctured his spleen on a bail.
Just sayin'.
  • + 4
 Isn't shoulder width something to consider? Why people only talk about how tall they are? I mean they could be eel-slim at the same time.
  • - 6
flag Thustlewhumber (Dec 15, 2018 at 8:07) (Below Threshold)
 Shoulder width has nothing to do with anything.
  • + 2
 I have no idea which width I like the most, but I always run BMX grips on my bikes. My 800mm PRO on the DH rig had 145mm grips and I always held the bar at the flanges, never at the ends. I then switched to a Spank Royala at 760, still held it at the flanges. Basically, I get a bar and just hold on the inside of the grips and play with lever positions. I must say, I often hit objects next to me, though Big Grin
P.S. I am 6ft
  • + 2
 I too am flanges all day! I found some 135mm push ons though so I'm not so in from the sides. I'm honestly still amazed that there so few of us who rock 'em, I just feel so much better on the downhills and hidden jumps with the inside of my hand pressed against them. If I don't have flanges I push up against the levers and then can't reach my brakes or shifters lol
  • + 1
 @510iso:
I forgot to add, that in order to keep the grips from sliding inward, I have taken two lock on rings and put them just at the end of the flange. I always leave 1 finger of space between the lock ring and the brake, this way, when I hold near the flange, my hand just rests on a big rubber cushion, because of the ring underneath.
  • + 5
 I think there's a bit of height exaggeration in those rider profiles - Keegan Wright is assuredly not 188 cm!
  • + 5
 leaving the end of the bar exposed beyond the end of the grip is a recipe for disaster if you're riding in tight places.
  • + 2
 I just watched the Friday fails and noticed a lot of the OTBs were due to over pushing the bars. A slightly longer stem/narrower bars would have reduced the crashes.

To be clear, the bar/stem needs to be viewed as the ergonometric tuning for a bikes handling that works in conjunction with the saddle height/angle. And although a trusted combo is a good starting point, every unique geometry requires a unique bar/stem. I have a 26" trail-hardtail, a 29" XC hardtail of older design, a 29" Turner Sultan, and 27.5" KTM ebike full-squishy. Although similar, non of the bikes has the same cockpit setup, but they all fit me perfectly.
  • + 6
 I like big bars and I cannot lie.....
  • + 15
 Other brothers can't deny, when a girl rides by with an itty bitty stem and big bars in your face you get sprung?
  • + 2
 Fun with ever changing geo numbers etc. I'm riding a relic from 2005. Its a cannondale prophet and I run a 70mm stem with a 740mm bar. I may cut that down 10mm or so next season. It works for me. The original lefty that the bike would've come with needed a 110mm stem to clear the upper crown. So it's a compromise. Whatever. I ride and I don't die. Cool.
  • + 2
 I demo'd a bike with 800 mm bars recently. I couldn't even turn up and around switchbacks without the bars hitting my knees. If all you do is send it down A-line, then yeah 800 mm. But if you plan on actually climbing uphill or negotiating a tight slow turn then 760 mm makes much more sense.
  • + 1
 That doesn't apply across the board. On my bike with a 500mm reach, 800mm bars are not in the way on tight turns.
  • + 2
 lets not forget the obvious, pro's get free bars and lots of them so cutting them for different races means nothing. The rest of us not so much free stuff if any so cutting is a bigger deal after paying mega retail$ for some fresh bars.
  • + 2
 Bar width impacts the effective CoG of the bike when leant over and the apparent speed. The wider the bar the faster you might feel as your hands and face are closer to the ground when leant over, but this comes at the price of less grip sometimes as the force generated on the tyre due to you pushing on the grip is now effectively makes the incident angle less than ideal. As you raise the bars then the width may go up but the effective angle remains the same. Some riders ride a higher front end so may use a wider bar to accommodate this. Bigger wheels may also result in a higher front end, as does a higher bb. What does this ramble mean... it means the data provided for various riders is incomplete. Smile
  • + 4
 It make sense to me that as bikes get longer, handlebars get narrower....you can only be stretched out over the bike so much.
  • + 4
 Could be a reason you hear of more people complaining of arm pump these days even with great suspension. The forward geo going too far, making arms work too hard and taking the load off your thighs. I for one used to remember the 1st DH run of a day out and my thighs would be burning as they warmed up, now that doesn't happen so much but my arms suffer at the end of a day and that never used to happen.
  • + 2
 Bar height relative to the ground should be another consideration. As cockpit height rises, bars should be wider (within reason) if a rider is looking to create the same "feel" between bikes. 760mm on a DJ bike might feel spot on, but I'd bet most people that like that set up would think 760mm bars on a long travel 29er will feel too narrow.
  • + 1
 This one really says something about fashion over function in mountain biking. Its sad but I remember mountain bikes in the 80s with widish bars - can't remember exactly the width on my first set of "moosehorns" with integrated stem but it was wider than any other bar I had ridden up to that point.
In the 90s at least on vancouver island and BC central interior (where I was riding) bars got super narrow, the claim was it was necessary for serious riding on narrow trails (many trails were much narrower than flow trails are now - literally singletrack). I had fairly narrow bars and I am a big guy, but my brother who has even wider shoulders had ridiculously narrow bars. I don't remember offhand but I bet it was 26-27" (650mm) I think the bars and most of his 90s Kona are in my garage. I rode that bike a few years ago and it was shocking how bad it felt with bars that narrow

My bars have been getting wider and stems shorter for a while now. I think the Honzo I put together in 2016 has 800mm bars on it and basically 0 stem extension. It rides pretty good, but my wife who is very tall with long arms can't stand the bars. So I have wondered how the majority of mini-rodent people who ride bikes (5'9'' 145lbs) - the sort of people bikes are built to survive being ridden by - are actually getting by with super wide bars.

Anyway these types of fashions are kind of comic, I assume competitive DH will soon be back to 26" wheels because they accelerate faster - maybe 24" rears will soon be back.
  • + 1
 My mates take the mickey out of my 800s saying they're daft, but I argue that I'm very broad shouldered compared to them and that I've never felt more comfortable on the bike. I recently had my grip width measured and sure enough, 800mm... Go figure.
  • + 4
 Something in your PB name suggests....
  • + 1
 @RichardCunningham: the ultimate ape index.
  • + 1
 I'm 191cm and was riding 810mm on my dh bike for couple years, and honestly- with this new geometry I'd even love to try something around 830, the more slack I'm the narrower bar seems when I ride... Moreover I've had 800 bar on my dirt jump bike, so I guess it all depends on your preferences, but I definitely could not ride on a bar like 760 or so- I tried and it sucked
  • + 1
 I run 770mm on my medium sized Altitude. I am 5’5”. Long torso, short legs. Hence the medium size. 32mm long stem.

I run my Altitude at its slackess position. I had it originally in its neutral position(1/2 degree steeper). It was too skiddish. Too quick for steering / leaning in both fast and slow speed.

8 years ago, I was running 750mm (50mm stem) on a small Nomad.

Pain / discomfort will dictate if it is too wide after a ling ride.
  • + 1
 I'm sure there is some science behind it, but for me it all depends on what bike, what terrain, and specifically which bar (they all flex differently at different widths). I rode 770 for a long time, then 800, then 790, then 800 again, and recently bolted up a set at 825 x 38mm rise. The high surely has something to do with it but I am blown away with how awesome the 825's are on my trail bike, I wish I had found them years ago. I'm 72" tall with 72" arm span.
  • + 1
 I play around between 760 and 800. 760-780 is preferred on a bike I'm gonna race. If it's a pure play bike that I'm gonna ride a lot of jumps on and not care about the weight, 780-800 feels good. I have a 6'3 wingspan so that explains a bit of it, but I think when I hit jumps on a trailbike, I tend to grip inwards like I'm on my BMX, so 800ish feels better. When I go ride places with tighter trails, 760 is wayyyy better. IDK, I haven't settled on anything because I'm usually "into" a certain type of riding more than other types any given month or season or particular bike I'm riding, so I swap bars somewhat frequently.
  • + 2
 actually, I just measured all my bikes. My 20" has 29" bars, my (main BMX) 22" is 29.5" (~750mm), and my Chromag Primer has 780s. My Blaze Ti hardtail is in pieces right now, but I have 760s for that. My Patrol is sitting in a box in another state, but I am 99% sure the Ibis HiFi bars are uncut at 800. I think I grip 800s the same as 780s, any way. 780 has been my most consistent bar width, just so everyone who doesn't care knows what bars I run haha.
  • + 1
 Setup your bike for 95% of your riding, not the 5%.

For these pro, 95% is their job so get used to what they need to get their job done.

As well, they could probably ride tricycles on some of the stuff we want to use our “enduro” bikes. They’re that good at their job...

We have narrow trails around here but I can count on mabe 6 trees I could hit with my bars. 770mm, 5’5”, carpenter shoulders. Considering going back to 760mm. Wink

I really like the research and perspective since it brought our position more forward on the bike. Great write up RC.
  • + 1
 I'm a narrow bar guy but I don't quite agree with you when you say narrower bars increase precision. I think this would be opposite as your lever is bigger with wider bars allowing for more precise steering inputs. I think where narrower bars give you an advantage in steering is for big steering inputs where your outside hand isn't so far away from you and your bike.
  • + 1
 1. isn’t wingspan (arm length/shoulder width) more important than height?
2. where are the ‘800mm plus’ widths? Why is 800mm the limit?
it’s a little like reach numbers, where someone 5’6 is on a 450mm reach and someone 6’3 is on a 490mm....not much of a jump for the big guys
  • + 4
 Shoulder width and arm length should play a greater part than just rider height.
  • + 1
 As does torso to leg ratio.
  • + 1
 IMO bar widht depends on 2 thinks, you and the bike, on dirtjumpers I´ve never used more than 740mm, my 26" DH bikes used to have 760mm, but last time with 29ers, first a kona honzo and now a trek slash 780mm feels perfect, I´m 184cm
but like 10 years ago the change from 710mm bars to the wider ones....it was wonderful!!! bike control changed a lot since that
  • + 2
 Switched to 800mm bars and for the first time I have no desire to move my hand position while riding. Feels perfect while climbing and perfect while descending. (I'm 6'2" so having the extra arm space is nice
  • + 5
 Pink Bike comments next year:

"#800mmaintdead"
  • + 1
 I have bikes with from 610-760mm Oversteered and crashed bad enough to put me out for a season first time out on wider bars. Clipped my bar on a tree before a jump and just saved it last month. Still prefer the extra leverage not just for cornering and easier whips but for manuals too. I keep the 610mm bar bike for skitching cars and easier xups (almost).
  • + 1
 Hate my 700mm XC bars and liking my 780mm Enduro bars. Long arms at 189cm tall. Can understand tree avoidance issues reasoning for narrower bars but not at the expense of control. Pushed my XC lockon grips 20mm out either end of the XC bike which helps but probably would be happier with a 20mm rise and 760mm width on a 50mm stem. Since though I have the other bike for gnarly off road duties, the XC can stay as is and be an about town basher.
  • + 1
 It'd be a lot of legwork but you can probably find enough reliable data points for bike geo, stem setup, etc. for any given race just by browsing the pro bike checks and compare it to the rider's results against the field on that day as well as against their own results across a season. There's a whole host of useless but fascinating analysis to be made here.
  • + 1
 I find it interesting that the bike industry and internet forum blowhards speak of geometry in subjective terms. It's "Ride what's popular!" first and "Hope it fits, though" a distant fifth.

As far as I know, human proportions (Golden Ratio) haven't changed since Australopithecines were a thing; however, we're "suddenly" discovering "better" geometries on bikes on a weekly basis.

So, if a bike fits you properly, say, last week, how does it stop fitting properly a week later (i.e., whenever Pinkbike crowns Cool Geo Bike Company's new GeeWhizBang Enduro bike the Bike of the Week)?
  • + 3
 do a push up at different hand widths. mark where your hands are when its the easiest width to do a normal push and start there for bar width.
  • + 1
 I like this starting point. But how often on the bike are we in that bottom third of push-up... Aka the hardest part where hand placement will influence leverage & perceived effort the most? Maybe just do the top two thirds of a push-up to make it more bike specific?
  • + 1
 Have just replaced my current 740's for 780. All my old bikes have had 780 and one with 800 which was perhaps a bit too wide for me as I don't have wide shoulders but I am 181 cm tall. 780 just feels right , just keep an eye out for those trees !!
  • + 1
 So, I always ride with my hand right on the end of the bar, even hanging over. I always wear away the ends of my grips completely, doesn't matter what size bar, been running 800 for years. Does that mean I still need a wider bar? I always feel I want wider and wider so I can ride the middle of the grip, but I actually often get pain on the outside of my hand which I thought was pressure from the bar tips. No idea what is right, I just get on and ride. Always seems odd to me when I see pictures of people riding with their hands on the very inside of the grip and 4cm bar showing outside, never done that, surely they need narrower bars.
  • + 3
 no mate, it most likely means you run your brake levers too far outwards! my mate did this, always complained his bars weren't wide enough despite moving from 760 to 800. if your levers are too far out then you will need to move your hands outwards to comfortably reach the lever. Something that seems to have been overlooked here.
  • + 1
 It’s an automatic reference point.

Some people like to feel the flange or the inside ofthe grip. I like my pinky to feel the end if the grip.

I have tried to move the controls further inboards. Felt weird and kept sliding my hands back and forth.

You either hit your bars or your hands in trees.
  • + 1
 @aidy: my levers are about 2-3cm in already, don't think I could run them more in and still reach the shifter...
  • + 2
 @clarky78: maybe you just have weird hands lol.
  • + 4
 Be brave, don't follow the herd.. I thought it was all about the girth anyway
  • + 3
 And stiffness.
  • + 1
 @metaam: but no vibrations?
  • + 1
 @BenPea: try spank vibrocore for that one.
  • + 1
 The opening paragraph is rather confusing.
The difference with the dirt motorbikes is that the bicycle has a mass, no more than the /10nth of the rider… When ridding a motorbike the bike’s weight lowers the center of mass and the rider learns to use the momentum that is created by the mass of the machine and not just handle all that weight.
On a bicycle, the main mass is… us! So we have to deal with this and move around a lot more, actually pulling our bike along.
That’s why ridding a mountain bike will always be more demanding than ridding a motorbike.
As for the steering bar’s width, there are more factors to be considered before deciding the right width. The terrain we’re ridding (do we have to pass through trees?), how we ride (our personal style) and more.
It is good to start the measuring from somewhere, but there are more on this than meet the eye.
  • + 2
 5'11". Used to ride around 750-760 for years. Tried 800, too wide. Went down to 780. Will reassess when I end up on a bike with more modern reach.
  • + 4
 Conclusion:

Bar width (mm) = 0.7565 x Height (cm) + 631.88
  • + 0
 Please don't encourage the bike industry to make smaller bars. They're probably the only part I can easily buy! At a not even that tall 6'2" it's a struggle to get a frame that fits with bike companies so far in the past with geometry.
  • + 2
 In Singapore it is is illegal to have handlebars wider than 700mm. You get caught, you will be fined and your bike will be impounded.
  • + 1
 At the last EWS event, Yoann Barelli told that he downsized from 780mm to 760mm because many other riders of the ews were riding shorter handlebars and he tried and got used to 760mm.
Are these charts updated?
  • + 0
 I had extremely wide FUNN bars, and got super used to them. Then I had the option between 640mm, and 800mm carbon bars, I felt them both in the store, and ended up going with the 640mm. Now the bike feels super darty. I don't know what the answer is, the 640mm felt the best when I tested them in the store. The true answer is probably 700mm for me. 640mm is probably A-OK, I'm just used to such a wide bar from so many years of riding that it feels darty.
  • + 1
 Wow the FUNN bars were only 730mm wide. Everyone always used to comment how wide they were, and they felt wide.
  • + 4
 Give me a broomstick and some wheels and I will be fine.
  • + 1
 need broom, bro?
  • + 1
 I tried 780, it was awesome! Then I had a 800 stock, so I tried it, no way I'll be back to 780. It helps all the time, and I've a way better position while climbing. And it helps breathing. (I'm 175cm tall)
  • + 3
 Ride what you like.. really who gives a shit. One rider is 5ft7 has 780mm bars another is 6ft2 and rides 780mm bars.
  • + 5
 That's very narrow minded
  • + 1
 @enduroNZ: good.. less drama
  • + 1
 @enduroNZ: You’ve just raised the bar for comment!
  • + 1
 Dagzin the Wise
  • + 4
 Unfriend the person who says your bars is too wide.
  • + 9
 Seriously. And then clothesline them with your bars.
  • + 3
 Wait I have only been told go as wide as you can buy. Are you telling me PB has been steering me wrong all this time?
  • + 1
 6ft and tried 800mm 2 different times, but it was too wide for me, went down to 780mm both times and haven't really thought much about it, I think 760mm would be fine for me aswell, if the trails I ride were narrower.
  • + 3
 Your bike is too short, your bars are too long and you must clip in. That's what you learn from Pinkbike these days kids.
  • + 1
 Am I the only one that never caught on to the wide bar trend? I have always ran 740 on my trail bike and 750 on my DH bike since I started biking in 2012. Any wider and it makes handling worse for me.
  • + 2
 'I was always riding an 800mm handlebar when I was a kid...' Vali Holl - 16
  • + 1
 Can we even imagine? Dominating all year... Badass
  • + 2
 JEEZuSSS.. Watch the top of the homepage for a Renthal banner ad sometime in the near future
  • + 1
 LOL in MX this isn't even a discussion and you go wayyy faster on a machine that can actually headshake out of control. Those are only around 800. 750 on a bicycle is plenty.
  • + 2
 I’m 6’5” and run 800’s. Idgaf what the pros ride. That’s what’s comfortable for me.
  • + 1
 I haven't seen any mention of aerodynamics. If you're doing a long cross country ride you don't want to make yourself unnecessarily wide.
  • - 1
 I am disappointed that there is no mention of counter-steering effect (not the same that is used to drift cars). On two wheels vehicles, we don't turn because we have turned the handlebar on the direction we want. We can turn thanks to counter-steer, it makes the bike to lean on the side we want. By the way, a wider bar gives more force for counter-steer. On motorcycle course, this is one of the first thing that you learn. Also, if you think your bars are to wide, maybe it's because you're not using your shoulders to lean. Try to move your shoulders over the bar before changing direction, you will notice the difference, it feels easier. You thing grabbing a table eyes closed will give you the right size ? What about grabbing a traction bar ? We are humans not robots.
  • + 1
 I’m 5.11 and had the Renthal carbon light 800mm plus brendog grips but felt far to wide . I cut them down to 760mm plus grips are about 770ish , ride like a pro now !
  • + 1
 would be nice to know the ape indexes of pro riders as well. I am 183cm ape index 12cm and I am fine on 765-785mm bars, wider and my shoulder pops out
  • + 0
 This article has just confirmed to me that bar width is just preference between the range of 750-800mm. Which is probably the bar widths on bikes of 99% riders reading pinkbike
  • + 2
 Length and width is for most relative! Except in trumps case, mr. little hands!
  • + 3
 If I had 800mm bars, I would have clipped even more trees.
  • + 1
 the only reason i dont ride 850s is because my 800s clip trees
  • + 3
 Damn it already...Danny Hart is not 5'10"
  • + 3
 I measured him standing against some 9” tiles. He 5’10” all day bro.
  • + 7
 @iqbal-achieve: the dude has the biggest balls in DH, its just weird EVERYWHERE says he is 5'10" yet he stands next to 5'9" Loic at Worlds and looks short, and short next to 5"11" Amuary as well. I just don't get it. He is a badass and probably 5'7" to 5'8" and thats OK!
  • + 10
 Saw him in the SRAM booth at Interbike many years ago and he looked around 5'5". Maybe he was still growing.
  • - 1
 @H3RESQ: I hear ya. Thought for sure he was shorter myself. But then I spent longer than anyone ever should analysing that pic of him stood up to those standard 9” tiles and unless it’s an ever more elaborate hoax...he pretty much exactly 5’10”.
  • + 3
 @twozerosix: I’m 5’6” and he is for sure taller than me.
www.pinkbike.com/photo/16673030
Maybe he just doesn’t know how tall he is, somebody told him 5’10” and he’s just gone with it cus it’s easy to remember.
  • + 2
 @iqbal-achieve: Ya, its really just funny to me that everywhere says 5'10" without waiver, but he clearly isn't. I seem to remeber that interview picture that you are refrencing. I however prefer to look at him standing next to others over tiles...lol Smile www.cyclingnews.com/races/uci-mountain-bike-world-championships-2018/elite-men-downhill/results
  • + 2
 @H3RESQ: whadaya mean tile pictures is the gold standard when it comes to height measurement Razz
I met him briefly and I’d have guessed st 5’8” disregarding all else. Also looks s good 2” shorter than Maes there.
But here he is nearly as tall as a pop up gazebo www.pinkbike.com/photo/16673076
lol one day we’ll get to the bottom of it!
  • + 3
 @iqbal-achieve: I'll bet that cut out of him is 5'10", Look close though, at the very bottom in small print it says "not actual size" Smile
  • + 2
 Maybe he crouches
  • + 3
 I heard rumors that sram is coming out with a 780.99 mm bar...
  • - 1
 I heard it was 780.98 :p
  • + 1
 Actually, that is Shimano, and it won't be compatible with anything you currently own...
  • + 1
 @Geof3: sram
  • + 1
 6 foot 2 with monkey arms, i spent years pressing extensions into handlebars. glad i can just buy an 800 mm bar. i bought my first 800mm bars in 2009 and havent gone back
  • + 2
 Balancing my desire to experiment with a shorter bar against bear-wrestling my DMR Deathgrips off to do it...
  • + 0
 Dont even have to read the article. 99% of you fanboys got sucked in by wide bars. More stable yes, everything else can be done on a much smaller bar. Example: Brandon Seminuk.
  • + 1
 Trees on my local trails are tight. Brand new SC HTLT got the RIDGID pipe cutter treatment. 19mm off each end. Things are great now.
  • + 3
 Bearclaw edition Spank Spike 777 feels perfect and I'm 6'2"
  • + 1
 Same here. Best bars ever
  • + 1
 Well obviously a 5'2 girl is going to feel better on 760mm bars. Are we really using that as an anecdote? This article is overreaching. Badum psss
  • + 1
 So the industry pushed for super wide bars and now they say not too wide is better.
I feel we’ll get the same thing for super long/slack bikes too!
  • + 1
 Like I’m going to ride around with my grips half way down my bars for a month and then swap back to compare !! Just out of interest can anyone be arsed doing that?
  • + 1
 Trimmed my stock 800mm bars to 780 a few weeks ago. Far prefer the feel of the bike and the slightly reduced anxiety when passing through tree gaps and narrow gateways...
  • + 2
 what if I ride a 2008 bike?
  • + 1
 Your poor
  • + 1
 It may only be an inch but it's an angry inch ... That's 25.4mm for you civilized people.
  • + 1
 It’s all personal preference. The rule I’ve always gone with was 800 for DH, 780 for trail and 760 for DJ
  • + 1
 When I got my first 'real' mtb in 2015 I remember getting a "wide" bar at 700mm LMAO.
  • + 2
 800mm on the DH bike, 760mm on the enduro....
  • + 1
 That's alot of difference, I'm 790 for DH, 775 for enduro.
  • + 1
 What about grips?? Single clamp grips (like Deity or Santa Cruz for example) add 14mm to the overall width.
  • + 2
 *places fingers in ears lalalalalala lalalalala lalala.....yeah whatever
  • + 1
 Fake news. 1000mm wide bar or bust! Everyone knows that, and those who don't are n00bs!
  • + 1
 Danny Hart is 5'9" and two inches TALLER than both Yoann and Brook Macdonald...?!
  • + 2
 Greg Callaghan has moved to DH?
  • + 1
 would have been great to see shoulder width/ape index listed on that table. Informative none the less.
  • + 1
 The thing that surprised me most about those stats is that Danny Hart is taller than Adam Brayton.
  • + 2
 780 is the right answer. 780! 780! 780!
  • + 2
 Can't. Focus. Those cannondale brakes are sooooo asym.
  • + 1
 Bring back the SYNCROS FR1000 bars. Why go with 800 when you can go to 1000. It's needed when you're 6'6".
  • + 1
 With it’s not true,its a new wave but almost stupid in a majority case,its just stupid I guess.
  • + 3
 Dick weeds
  • + 2
 Horses for courses but I think it is more about arm length than height.
  • + 1
 Schurter and Minaar in the same comparo. lolz 820 on me trail bikes, 780 on my DH rig
  • + 1
 sweet jebus, on the cannondale what is that dropper lever doing over there? and ABOVE the bar!
  • + 1
 Greg Callaghan - World Cup DH Pro, what? When did he leave EWS ...?!?! Copy and paste error methinks???
  • + 1
 I would consider a tubing cutter over a hacksaw. Just my opinion.
  • + 0
 At 5'10" even 780mm feels pretty gross. 760mm feels just right; I'd be afraid to go any narrower.
  • + 1
 Semenuk 735mm bar is for the trek ticket or session?
  • + 1
 My bar is easy to reach, I don’t have to go far to get a drink!
  • + 1
 750mm for me.. Smile since 2008 ahaha my body never change Smile
  • + 1
 Danny hart is 1.79? I thought hes like 1.57
  • + 1
 Keep your long bars and just choke up on them like street and bmx guys do.
  • + 1
 I just got a 800 mil bar and its kinda nice. Really wide but nice
  • + 1
 OR............. maybe the reach on your bike is too far??
  • + 1
 I can ride my bike with no handlebars
  • + 2
 666 for me
  • + 1
 It has more to do with shoulder width than height I'd say.
  • + 1
 I agree. I'm running 785mm and that's nice for my shoulder width (xxl shirt).
  • + 1
 4'6" x 800mm seems about right
i.imgur.com/0REL2Tm.png
  • + 1
 just ride what feels best
  • - 1
 I like wider bars because they let me get lower without going farther forward.
  • - 2
 So so true.
Somewhat applies ti handlebar rise too if u ask me.

(Still somehow i find myself riding 800mm... i'm institutionalized)
  • + 1
 #WideBarsWinWars
  • + 1
 I feel attacked.
  • + 0
 Wide bars look super cool. All ya need to know.
  • + 1
 780mm end of story
  • + 1
 Agreed I went from 600mm to 780mm can never go back NEVER!!!!!!

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