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The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: Pinkbike Editors' Cockpit Setups

Oct 19, 2023
by Seb Stott  
Pinkbike's tech editors get to sample many of the latest and greatest bikes every year. Obviously, that has its perks, but there are challenges too. Sometimes a bike can leave you scratching your head as to why you're not gelling with it. Often, making tweaks to the suspension, tires and cockpit can get to the route of the problem and unleash a bike's full potential. So getting the cockpit set just so from the first ride is an important step. Once you've gone through the process a few dozen times, you get a pretty good idea of what you like in a handlebar and stem.

Whether our preferences offer any insights to you, dear reader, is another matter, but maybe we can spot some themes in how our testers set up their bikes. Or maybe we can just argue about whose preferences are correct in the comments.


photo

I'm pretty sensitive to stem length and bar height. Once stems get longer than 40 mm I start to notice the lateral component of movement as they turn away from straight ahead, which I'm not a fan of. Too much shorter than 40 mm and the cockpit starts to feel too cramped on most bikes and I feel too far away from the front contact patch.
Seb Stott

Position: Tech Editor & dad joke purveyor
Height: 191 cm / 6'3"
Preferred bar width: 770 mm
Preferred stem length: 40 mm

photo
Bar roll set so the grips have minimal upsweep.
photo
Al 40 mm stem is the sweet spot for me.

I set the handlebar roll such that there is almost no upsweep at the grips (if viewed from the side or the front I like them to be level, not pointing up at the ends). I know some people who prefer shorter stems but with the handlebars rolled very far forward (lots of upsweep) which puts their grips in about the same position relative to the steering axis.

Because I'm tall, I usually like my bars higher than stock (I wrote a whole article on why this is an issue). So I often swap to a 40 mm or 50 mm rise bar such that the centre of the grips sit about 112 cm from the ground, or just under the height of the saddle at full extension.

As for width, I go as narrow as I comfortably can for the tight trees of the Tweed Valley, which turns out to be 760 mm; any narrower and the bike feels too twitchy. I feel no benefit to going wider than 780 mm so I often compromise on 770 mm.

I'm not too fussy about bar materials or models, but I get on well with Renthal's 40 mm rise options along with ODI Elite Pro grips.




photo
Just a touch of upsweep. That can vary between the size of bikes too though.

Handlebar dimensions might be one of a bike's key setup points that I'm most particular about. They have to be set just right and not too goofy looking in terms of shape and where the backsweep starts or they can really throw off both the timing of the steering inputs and the balance on the bike. The short and long of it is that, kooky bars can ruin the ride quality of a great bike by placing unwanted weight from your hands into the turning motion.

Matt Beer

Position: Tech Editor & dishwasher re-organizer
Height: 178 cm / 5'10"
Preferred bar width: 770 mm
Preferred stem length: 35 mm (for bikes 64* or slacker with a short offset fork)

photo
Against popular beliefs, all carbon bars are not made equally. I tested three carbon bars back in the summer that used unusual shapes and features to provide compliance and damping (see link below).
Nukeproof Giga 297
Wave goodbye to hand fatigue and arm pump; ODI Elite Pro grips are formed and cushy. Magura MT5 brakes have a ton of power that comes on early in the lever stroke, eliminating the need to pull hard on the brakes.

I tend to get along with bars that have a 5-degree upsweep and 8-degree backsweep. A few favorites in that column are; OneUp, Chromag, and We Are One. Renthal's family of MTB bars, which have a 7-degree backsweep are also perfectly suitable for my taste too. Any more than 8-degrees though and I find my hands rest too far behind the steering axis, which leads to the bike feel steeper than it really is and too much influence in the steering when starting a turn.

My preferred bar width can change depending on the bike's reach and its purpose too. I spend the most time on enduro bikes that have a reach in the ballpark of 465 to 485. Like Seb, I find that 765-770mm wide handlebars give me enough stability without hindering maneuverability, which is ironic given our height differential.

Similarly to my desired handlebar width, this is why I don't have a preferred set stem length. Each bike's head angle and dynamics can interact differently with your steering inputs. For example, I've spent a ton of time on a Santa Cruz Tallboy with a 65.5-degree head tube angle. Although I run the same width bar, I prefer a 50mm stem length to slow down the steering when entering a turn or lean.

Right now, I have a set of Title's FORM 35 carbon bars with a 35mm rise on my personal ride, a Nukeproog Giga 297. Those are cut to 770mm in width and have a 9-degree backsweep. That bike has a 63.5-degree head tube angle, so I've chosen a 35mm long stem. I prefer shorter stems when bikes get this slack because I find the change in steering dynamics to be less than say a 50mm long stem.

I'm also a big fan of OneUp's Carbon Bar. That one finds its way onto most bikes that come in for review because the angles and flex make me feel most at home. You can read more about the details and differences between a few of those bars mentioned in this 3-way shootout.



photo

Trying to choose the correct setup for yourself based off what strangers on the internet prefer always seems like a strange practice. I'm happy to share my ideal cockpit configuration, but it's important to keep in mind that this is just what works for me and my dimensions. Handlebars can be trimmed, and stems come in more than one length for a reason – it's important to do some experimentation to figure out what works for you and your riding style.

Mike Kazimer

Position: Managing Tech Editor
Height: 180 cm / 5'11"
Preferred bar width: 780 mm
Preferred stem length: 40mm
I'm 5'11”, and I typically run 780mm bars with a 40mm stem on trail and enduro bikes. Lately I've been trying some 770mm bars, and while the slightly narrower width isn't hard to get used to, after all these years 780mm is still the sweet spot for me. I have big hands and ride with the edge of my palm at the very end of the bar, so the extra width puts me in a good position to deal with impacts. There are plenty of trees where I live, but none of the trails are so tight that I'd need to trim my bars to navigate them.

photo
I consider my bar roll to be neutral to slightly forward, depending on what the sweep and rise feels like.
photo
I prefer thin grips, and run my brake levers at a 25 - 30-degree angle.

I will go a little narrower and longer on a dedicated XC bike, somewhere in the neighborhood of 760mm for the bar with a 50mm stem (which is still fairly wide and short for the cross-country world), but overall my setup is fairly consistent between bikes.

I've been gravitating towards higher rise bars the last couple of seasons, typically in the range of 35 – 40mm. The extra rise helps give me a more upright riding positions while climbing and descending, and I really enjoy the taller front end in steeper terrain.

For stems, around 40mm is my go-to length. The Chromag Riza pictured is technically a 38mm stem, but I don't notice the 2mm difference. As for bar material, sweep, and rise, I wouldn't say I'm super picky, mainly because of how many test bikes come in over the course of the year – I'd drive myself mad if I stressed over every single dimension. That said, OneUp and Santa Cruz's bars carbon bars are nice and comfortable, and I'm also a fan of Renthal's aluminum offerings.




photo

I think I'm well past the obsession with BIG bikes, and I'm glad there are plenty of bike designers who are coming to the same conclusion. That said, the fact that 2024 bikes are being released with more moderate reach numbers probably highlights that I'm late to this trend. For my cockpit, I'm also not convinced that pursuing a rearward weight bias (short stem) and dimensions that require a degree of man-handling (very wide bars).

Henry Quinney

Position: Tech-editor and sometimes video person
Height: 183cm / 6'
Preferred bar width: 770
Preferred stem length: 45 or 50mm

photo
I have my bars similar to Kaz, in a neutral to forward roll. I run my brake angles at different amounts depending on the brand, and what bike they're on, and go solely off feel. There is no magic number for me.
photo
I like the 42mm OneUp stem and 35mm rise bar. I've been running these bars since quite literally my first day in Canada, over so many bikes and they're still going well.

I really enjoy shorter reaches, not least because of how they balance the bike, but also because they allow me to run a slightly longer stem. 40 is on the cusp, but anything below that isn't something I particularly enjoy. I think a 470mm reach paired with a narrower bar and 50 mm-ish stem is about right. Currently, on the 485mm reach of the Spire, I have a OneUp 42mm stem but I'd happily have a shorter reach.

Similar to Seb, a slightly off-the-wall measurement I often use is the distance from the floor to the center of the grip. Ideally, I go for something around 108-109cm. Although this doesn't take into account things such as bottom bracket height and the offset that is a consequence of axle path, it does help me get things into a window from where I can tweak further.

I'm running some yet-to-be-released grips from Raceface. They're big, comfortable, and soft - but more about them later, I suppose.



photo

Cockpit setup is possibly my most fussed-with area of the bike, and that's saying something considering the amount of tweaking I tend to do. Part of it is the distinct change you make to a bike with a different stem or bar, part of it is the ease of access, part of it is aesthetic. At this point, I've mostly settled on a couple firm dimensions that serve as good starting points for setting a given bike up. 770 wide, 42ish out, 35ish up.

Dario DiGiulio

Position: Tech Editor & Toxic Optimist
Height: 191cm / 6' 3"
Preferred bar width: 770mm
Preferred stem length: 42-50mm

photo
Face of bar rolled just so to match the head angle. Brake angle changes quite a bit depending on the bike, but is usually around 27° down from flat.
photo
These Spank stems come in 42mm lengths, which feels like the perfect length for most all-mountain bikes.

The cockpit you see here is a go-to that I swap between a lot of different test bikes. The 31.8 Renthal bars feel comfortable and ultra-normal at this point, which make for one less variable when switching between bikes all the time. The 40mm rise is great for big bikes and really anything ridden in steeper terrain, though I'm not going to pretend I haven't run these on light-duty trail bikes. On that smaller end of the travel spectrum I tend to opt for the longer of my stem range, as 50mm extrusions seem to suit the tighter dimensions of bikes with touchy handling and an uphill bias.

While I'm happy to run stems anywhere between 40 and 50mm, bar roll is something I'm more sensitive to. Though you can adapt to any setup given enough time (I used to roll by bars forward of center, like Hen and Kaz), I've settled on a method that feels repeatable and easy to tune to a given frame. Essentially, I'm trying to line the flat face plane of the bar up with the head angle of the bike, which on the Renthals results in a nearly flat top-of-grip. The photo of my POV best displays this, and tends to be my starting point when it comes to cockpit setup.

Grips: always the ODI Longnecks. I used to feel similarly about the Sensus Lites, but these ODIs are the best gloveless grips I've found yet. I really don't like grips with a "correct orientation" and just want something simple and round. My hands end up at the extreme outer end of the grip, pinky on the bulge, with brakes pretty far inboard and angled a bit differently depending on the bike.




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224 Comments
  • 168 0
 Bar roll is best set with total disregard for anyone else's opinion. There will be an angle that feels best, it's unlikely to match the HTA or vertical, and the only way I'm going to find it is by getting it wrong a couple times first.
  • 41 0
 Exactly. That’s my method too.
  • 11 0
 I am so happy to see someone does this entirely off feel and failure. When its right there are marks, when it’s not I’m cursing with a multi tool at a trail intersection.
  • 5 0
 I've always set my bars so the point they sweep/rise back the most is aiming about towards my chest. I was under the impression that was best for control but now I'm wondering after seeing these setups.
  • 3 0
 Beer helps too. I always leave that for after the 6 pack.
  • 2 0
 A friend rode a bike of mine, "Ah so you like your bar rolled like this?" Yes, it's perfect. Feels so good.
  • 3 0
 Ha! Perfect!
I found a set of carbon bars that are just right when rolled back, and I’ve had them through 3 bikes now.
I had to go with a 60mm stem on my Tallboy because of this.
One thing that isn’t cockpit, but maybe should be is pedal cleat position. I moved mine forward (foot moved back) 3mm and the difference was real! Bike felt longer, everything fit better!
This was only made possible by going from clipless XC pedals to clipless platforms.
I think of it as the adjustable reach SC forgot.
  • 1 0
 @FaahkEet: Just bled my Cominions. Great setup so thank you for that tip! I seem to have a tiny leak - did you use the Hayes or SRAM banjo bolt?
  • 2 0
 @AndrewHornor: still running SRAM with the o-rings that were on the bolt. If the o-rings were pretty old may need to replace them, the ones for my brakes were only about 7 months old.
  • 2 0
 @AndrewHornor: if you do replace the o-rings instead of a full banjo replace I think the biggest o-ring could be a little thicker but not much. I did order Hayes compatible banjos and bolts, haven't installed them yet just because no need currently, but eye balling them the banjos don't look much bigger which may not resolve the o-ring slightly visible when pressurising the brake line which I'm guessing is the source the leak for you.
  • 68 3
 42mm feels like a karate chop right on the nose of the perfect stem length.

50 is decent. 40 is good. 45 is alright.

But 42 *chef kiss*

Truly a gift from the cockpit gods
  • 33 0
 at least its metric...
  • 41 1
 Honestly feels like a joke from the creators to include 42.0 on something.
  • 36 3
 I’d argue to 2mm is a subjective in your head feel over actually translating to bike feel. 2mm isn’t even an 1/8”. You’d have to spend a significant amount of time on the bike and be absolutely one with it to notice 2mm and you go pull easily lose or gain that with just a extremely slight roll to handle bar set up haha
I think people need to pull out an actual tape measure when they’re over thinking a lot of these marginal component spec differences and bike sizes and not get so hung up over a mm here or there.
That’s just my two cents though
  • 3 0
 @b824: I'd argue the same about 5mm, so a 42 feels enough different from 35 or 50 that it makes more sense than 40 and 45...
  • 4 0
 Actually...the Spank Split 31.8 stem is available in 33,38,43 and 48mm. I have a 43mm on one of my bikes.
  • 32 0
 Life, the universe, and everything is better with a 42mm stem.
  • 9 2
 in theory, a stem the same length as the fork offset would be best..... in theory
  • 4 1
 That's what she said
  • 4 1
 42mm is way too long. 32mm FTW
  • 15 1
 For Sale - 40 mm stem.
Will trade and add $$$ for a 42 mm.
  • 2 0
 @Brasher: because?
  • 2 0
 @b824: It’s even more homeopathic when considering that stems with the same nominal length can easily vary by a couple millimetres.
  • 3 0
 I bet if someone snuck a 60mm on your bike you wouldn't notice it at all.
  • 4 0
 @Brasher: In theory, yes. But then you'd have to make sure your bar roll and handlebar backsweep coalesce into the perfect set up to account for the change in relative offset of reach number. Seeing as exactly no one is doing the calculation and measurement to set up their cockpit right, we're left with only one option: PICK A STEM LENGTH AND BE A DICK ABOUT IT!
  • 1 2
 @Muckal: Physics.
  • 2 0
 @Brasher: That's assuming a bar with no rise, and no upsweep, and the backsweep as an arc instead of at an angle.

And a 0 degree stem, although most (all?) short stems are 0 degrees.

You could add rise and upsweep if it's always installed perfectly parallel to the head tube, which it never is.
  • 2 0
 @matyk: I went from a 50 to a 60 and definitely noticed the difference, if nothing else in the amount of front end lift I was getting on climbs (ebike), which was the main reason I changed it.
  • 1 0
 Like I said, in theory..... in practical terms who gives a shit lol. Pick a stem and bar and be a dick about it.
  • 1 0
 @nozes: running a 43mm here but mostly because of the color options available Smile I would have been ok with a 40 or 45.
  • 1 0
 I dunno, switching to a 50mm really improved the handling of my hardtail. It might have to do with the unusually tall stack height which can make it tough to get enough weight on the front. So really, like most things, there is no one size fits all but for the majority of mass produced bikes I think you are probably correct.
  • 1 0
 @Ttimer: not to mention backsweep and how wide the bars are can move your hands a considerable amount.
  • 36 2
 MTB needs a James Randi to call out all you believers...like white wine with red food coloring in it, indica vs sativa, norberts thinking they can feel 2mm differences in bike measurements...wrap these bikes in Bruni's shock diaper and I got 500 bucks you couldn't tell me if you're on a VPP or Horst link, let alone any of this shit!
  • 2 0
 You're my hero!
  • 1 0
 I think it's a 80-20 split where 80% of people couldn't tell you their preferred tire casing and air pressure and 20% (including pros and racers) could tell pick out 5mm stem length difference in a blind test and also tell you their favorite spoke tension for a given terrain.
  • 2 0
 I can tell the difference between indica vs. sativa for sure, otherwise I entirely agree.
  • 28 1
 i know there was some debate amongst the podcast crew a few episodes ago about the orientation of the rise of the bars with respect to the steerer tube. i heard another podcast quite a while ago with someone from (i think) raceface and they confirmed that, contrary to many people's intuition, the rise is designed to be parallel with the head tube, not perpendicular to the ground. i think dario was making that point at the time
  • 53 1
 I am vindicated
  • 5 0
 Interesting. OneUp seems to have the opposite philosophy. Their hash marks on their bars have suggested adjustments based on headtube angle and are oritented the other direction (i.e. to have you more perpendicular to the ground).
  • 9 0
 That's how ppl riding BMX have done it since barspins became a thing BITD.
  • 2 0
 But then the Rise would change depending on the Headtube angle. No saying I disagree, I like it to match the HA, but I don't think thats necessarily the why its meant to be measured.
  • 5 0
 Jeezus, for a second I read that as 'parallel to the top tube' and I was wondering what that would look like...
  • 2 0
 This is how I've always done it and seems correct. Plus it looks the best...
  • 1 0
 @djjazzynick: really just relaying what the actual designer said. Maybe the company he works for has a different phosphor than others but it was the only time I had even heard it discussed. My intuition told me that the rise was suppose to be perpendicular to the ground but after hearing that podcast (wish I could remember which one) I started doing it the way they suggested. At least with my oneup bars, it seems to be more comfortable and also offer better compliance. Guessing that’s cause the tire, wheel, fork and bar all move in the same plane now
  • 13 0
 With bikes so slack these days, anything with reasonable rise is also going to result in a lot of lost effective reach/ETT if leaned back to 63/4/5 degrees. I run some tall bars and tend to have them a hair back from vertical, which also works with the sweep to give me a comfortable wrist angle. I like the height and the cockpit length that results - inline with the headtube would bring my grips back and down, and mess with my wrists.

That said... I think cockpit setup is one of the first things that makes me go "whoa" when hopping on a friends bike or a slapped together shop bike... easy to make a lot of small changes that dramatically change how a bike feels under the hands.
  • 2 0
 Sorry, philosophy, not phosphor..
  • 4 0
 @wolftwenty1: Haven't seen Chicago bars on a BMX since prior to early 90s. Agree, bars parallel with the HTA looks best too.
  • 7 0
 @ohbmxer: Yeah it weirded me out to find that mountain bikers seem to think rise perpendicular to the ground is the default. They're moving their hands forward of the steering axis as they go up in rise and they're totally unaware somehow.
  • 2 0
 @Glenngineer: I'm just picturing chopper bars
  • 10 0
 I don't know what the intended neutral point is but if it is bar rise parallel with headtube angle then the long standing belief of higher rise bars preserving reach vs stem spacers decreasing reach is moot. If rise and head tube are at the same angle, higher rise bars and adding spacers below the stem will do exactly the same thing. That said I find my happy place seems to be rolled slightly forward of head angle and I believe there are far to many variables to have a recommended position. A recommended angle range I could understand.
  • 3 0
 @ohbmxer: +10 points for saying chicago bars! (i ask my old bmx friends if the other way had a name, and they don't have one--do you?)
  • 5 0
 @dariodigiulio: F-ing thank you Dario give yourself a raise. As long as Ive been doing this.. it's HT match, at least to start with some variance or weird and the controls never feel as good. Plus it looks goofy.
  • 3 1
 @ohbmxer: rotating your bars forward makes throwing bars a lot harder and makes the handle like shit. Not sure about this setup
  • 1 0
 @st-alfie: yep. Exactly... And if a bar is set up to preserve the reach( with the rise vertical, then it's the same as running a longer stem. Puts the hands further forward from the steerer. You just can't have it both ways at the same time.
  • 1 0
 @MrSMF: That's what he's saying.
  • 2 0
 @jalopyj: Inthink that’s because the one ups need orientating so the built in flex they market works to its best
  • 1 0
 @ohbmxer: then you need to watch some contemporary (max. 10y old) street videos. Since nose mannys became a thing, nearly every BMXer runs the bar slightly forward with respect to HTA
  • 1 0
 @jeremy3220: Do a majority of mountain bikers think this? I've always heard to line it up with the HTA as long as I can remember having riser bars on mtb, and I'm old af.
  • 26 2
 Seb, I'm worried you are going to impale yourself on that steerer tube
  • 8 0
 He promised something ugly, and delivered.
  • 4 0
 Real talk, I had a long steerer tube on a bike a few years back while I was sorting out spacers and cockpit variations... went on a quick test ride and ended up getting punched in the gut by said long steerer tube.
  • 4 0
 I don't understand experienced riders with a long steerer tube. Like they presumably know what they like/what fits...why not cut that shit off?
  • 9 1
 @catfishburglar: you may sell the fork one day... cut may narrow the buyer target Smile
  • 10 0
 @catfishburglar: I find it uncommitted to leave steerer tubes uncut and frames protected for a future sale. I think a bike should have no extra material and be engineered for all out speed like a Porsche 917. It's the last bike you will ever own and every day on it is like racing the Worlds......
  • 3 0
 Seb, don't be ashamed of your tower of indecision! Wear that chameleon fork head tube like a badge of ever changing armor!
  • 2 0
 @catfishburglar: Because some people make all decisions in life based on resale.
  • 1 0
 @catfishburglar: could be too that they’re swapping forks between frames with different sized head tubes and need the extra length
  • 17 0
 Next pinkbike poll: What is neutral bar roll? Bars vertical, or bars parallel with the forks/HTA?
  • 26 0
 At this time we need healing not more division. That poll will burn the comment section to the ground. BTW: bars parallel with HTA is the correct answer
  • 2 0
 @mtmc99: Fully agree
  • 3 0
 So raw digging this without any measure or regard is wrong? Oh boy.
  • 4 0
 @mtmc99: totally agree too, but I don't think the manufacturers do it consistently. On higher rise bars with identical numbers ( rise, back and upsweep) you can end up with your hands in pretty different places depending on the angle of the rise section. Enough that talking about 2 mm of stem length is kinda funny.
  • 1 0
 LOL. thank you @mtmc99
  • 1 0
 Manufacturers tend to say HTA, though I've done both
  • 1 0
 HTA makes more sense when you consider "vertical compliance". The vertical force on your bars is transmitted at the angle of the HTA, not perpendicular from the ground. So you should in theory get the best compliance vs forces directly hitting your hands that way.
  • 18 1
 As long as it’s 31.8 we are good
  • 11 0
 A bar roll article with pictures would be useful to define the term 'neutral'.
  • 2 0
 RC has already done a very good job of this www.pinkbike.com/news/exploring-the-relationship-between-handlebar-vs-stem-length.html which everyone seems to forget about.... At least he is measuring ESL.
  • 11 0
 Clickbait headline. The article doesn't say which setup is good, which is bad, and which is ugly.
  • 8 0
 Am I the only one that likes to run my bars vertical - i.e the rise goes straight up instead of inline with the fork?

I feel like I have the most leverage over the front in any direction.
  • 3 0
 I do this too - mainly because I'm 6'5" tall so I need all the reach my Spectral 29 XL can provide (along with a 50mm stem and 800mm wide Chromag FU50 riser bars).
  • 2 0
 I have always done this on all my bkes. It just semed the right way to do it. My thougt was that if a bar is designed with upsweep and backsweep they are only relevant if it's mounted vertically.
  • 1 0
 Not at all, lots of people do this. I used to and liked it in some situations but found that over a long ride the upsweep on the grips made me ride with my shoulders shrugged and killed my back so I rolled them back quite a bit and now prefer that. There's no one solution that suits everyone.
  • 8 0
 Holy cow I just fixed my bar roll and adjusted it to match the head angle of the bike and golly that there is the frosting on the cupcake! Thank god for articles on Pinkbike by these cool cats.
  • 13 6
 This is my favorite kind of content. I love seeing other people's setup. Seems to validate my preference for 770 width bars as well. Clipping trees with anything wider.
  • 18 2
 Love the cliched clipping trees. You've been reading too many bike mags.

Do trees never grow closer than 770mm?
What about 768mm ? 750? 780mm?
Its nonsense.

Ive read real reviews where theyve commented on 785mm having tree-clipping worries then not mention it on 780mm bars! Seriously.
  • 5 0
 @puukkopedro: all depends on your trails in my experience. Used to have a trail that went between two trees into a berm, they were almost exactly 750mm apart. This was back when 720 bars were wide. No problems, but then as bar width crept up we got more and more people having issues with them, along with chunks or bark missing. Eventually, one of the trees had been damaged that badly it started rotting out so we took it out before the other one went the same way.
  • 2 1
 @puukkopedro: This. There are so many narrows near me but I really don’t think I’m brushing past them at a distance where a cm is going to make a difference. It’s all trends. 770 is the new cool.
  • 10 1
 @puukkopedro: Science has shown that when left alone in the woods and split by a bike trail, trees will ALWAYS grow between 770-779mm apart.
  • 3 0
 Top tip; ride around the trees
  • 2 0
 @inked-up-metalhead: There's a trail on the Grand Ballon in France like that. The Norco 720mm bars that came on my previous bike had no problem, the 780 Renthal Fat bar I upgraded it to couldn't get through the gap!
  • 2 0
 @korev: yup, it's definitely an issue on some older, tighter trails. There's loads of old lines round here that died between 2008 and 2012 when everyone was moving to 750mm+ bars. I was an early adopter (800mm bars in 2009, though they got cut down to 760 after a while)because I'm built like a sasquatch, loads of rides I had to navigate stuff differently to my mates because their bars could fit and mine couldn't.
  • 2 0
 @inked-up-metalhead: exactly so anything over 750 is an issue anyway. And everyone runs over 750 these days so it's regardless of chosen width of bars its just a trail obstacle.
And that's 2 trees on one trail out of millionsnof potential options out there!
  • 1 0
 @mtnjamscott: yes ! Haha love it Smile
  • 6 3
 "Any more than 8-degrees though and I find my hands rest too far behind the steering axis, which leads to the bike feel steeper than it really is"

Unless you're running some alt-bars with 12+ degree sweep, or P-dent level super-short stems, your hands are not "behind the steering axis". Maybe pretty close with a 35mm stem, but not really behind.

And how does that make it feel steeper? That's like saying a shorter stem makes the steering too twitchy, which no one says.

You also shouldn't be looking at backsweep for effective-reach adjustment. Find the backsweep that your hands like, and tune effective-reach with stem length. Because both sweeps are to fit your anatomy, not to actually move your hands like bar rise and stem length.
  • 1 0
 @justinfoil: watch the Rulezman vid
  • 3 0
 @mattbeer says "Any more than 8-degrees though and I find my hands rest too far behind the steering axis, which leads to the bike feel steeper than it really is and too much influence in the steering when starting a turn. ", but as he preferes 35mm stems, if he instead uses a 50mm stem (or 40, 42, 45 whatever) and removes a few mm of spacers, he should supposedly have his hands not too far no ?
The bars backsweep and longer stem should cancel each other right ?

Shouldn't bars compensate for the backsweep by having a "frontsweep" in the middle before having a backsweep for the grips ?
  • 6 0
 Job interview question number 1: what is your preferred bar width?

Interviewee: 770mm

You are through to the next round.
  • 2 0
 Question for Seb and Kaz. I see that you run your riser bars with your stem lowered on the fork steerer tube (with spacers above the stem). Do you feel a difference between raising your grips by using a riser bar, rather than moving your stem higher on the steerer tube and using a flatter bar? I'm a tall rider with a longer torso, so am often looking to get my bars higher, and to save the cost of buying a riser bar, have my stem at the top of the steerer. Would I benefit from purchasing a bar with some extra rise to it?
  • 4 5
 Higher rise doesn’t affect reach.
More spacers below the stem shorten reach. It’s that easy
  • 10 0
 @qbensis: that wouldn't be the case if you set up your bars like Dario, with the rise on the same plane as the head angle. A higher rise would shorten the reach in that case.

Not that I'd do that, I'm an outlier with a fair whack of forward roll. I thought at least one rider here would be the same but apparently it's weird to roll your bars forward.
  • 4 0
 More spacers and a lower rise bar is not the same as fewer spacers and a higher rise bar. The lower the stem is on the steer tube, the more you will preserve the reach of the bike. Higher stem shortens reach. Bar roll should be set in a way that keeps your wrists and hands happiest, and so should be a constant (i.e. you probably don't want to shorten or extend your reach by changing your bar roll). Using 25mm of spacers below the stem and a 25mm rise bar is not the same as running 10mm of spacers and a 40mm rise bar, as the 25/25 combo will have a shorter reach. Neither setup is inherently wrong or better than the other. They're just variables you can tweak in acheiving the fit that feels best to you.
  • 3 0
 @lukeb: put a “automatically” after the “doesn’t” In my post, and we’re good.

By the way: forward bar roll is the way to go!
  • 2 0
 @qbensis & @lukeb: I also do a forward roll. I don’t know about this match your roll to your head angle thing, doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. I set my roll to feel best to my wrists. I’ve got 3 bikes with 3 different head angles. Why would I want the roll to be different bike to bike? I keep it pretty constant.
  • 1 0
 @BrambleLee: Same. Wrist comfort dictates the roll for me as well. Although, if the roll gets to extreme, I find that I need to examine top tube length and stem choices.
  • 1 0
 @qbensis: if the bar has any substantial amount of rise, the grips will move forward and back so much as the roll is adjusted to suit comfort preferences that I don't think there is any predictable connection between bar rise and reach. At least stem spacers will only affect it in a predictable way! Plus, as this article and comment section is revealing, having the primary rise of the bar actually vertical is probably not in actual fact the intended design, nor the most common way to mount them.
  • 2 0
 Measuring Bar height from the ground, is it to the bottom of the grip, top of the grip or center of the grip? I see a range of 108-112cm from the ground but not reference in where the measurement is taken from. I like that it was stated just below the saddle at full extension, that's something else I'll check on my current setup as a baseline. I'm shorter than Zeb but taller than Henry, so I figure I'll shoot for 110cm and adjust from there.
  • 1 0
 I'd read it as probably to the bullseye center of the grip at the end of the handlebar, just like how we measure the center of BB when discussing BB height to ground, BB drop, or saddle height from BB to rails or BB to saddletop. In the end, even if that's not what they mean, it doesn't matter. All that matters if you're going to start using this measurement for setting up your own bikes is that you do it the same way consistently. That way you're able to control and compare the variables in a meaningful way.
  • 2 0
 it's a good starting point, I'm 6'1 and 110cm is my preferred height. Co-incidentally it's the same as my bellybutton, so sizing bikes is easy now lol.
  • 2 0
 The way I do it is lean my bike against the side of the house/garage etc and make sure it's level side to side. Then whiteboard marker over the grip where it touches. It's pretty easy to assume where the center is after.
That way it's real quick to compare bikes etc.
  • 2 0
 Personally, I’m fine with anything between 760 and 780 (settled on 770 a couple month back) and anything between 35 an 45mm stem (50mm still feel strange to me), but I absolutely can not stand backward bar roll.
Don’t get why some people like it
  • 1 0
 Big guy on a large too, he likes small bikes,
  • 2 0
 Because I'm riding a bike that's two frame sizes smaller than I should be on, I'm rocking a 100mm stem instead of the 60mm it came stock with. But at least its still shorter than the 150mm stem I was using on my Rocky Mountain thirty years ago that was the correct frame size.
  • 3 1
 Can't believe that so few are talking about bar setback. Sweep numbers are pretty meaningless without the actual setback they result in.

@mattbeer , your preferred bars of OneUp and WAO may have the same sweep angle, but differ in setback by 8mm due to the WAO starting their sweep much farther out from bar center.

So if you're running a OneUp bar with a 35mm stem, then swap to WAO bar you are effectively running a 43mm stem in regards to where your hands actually are. That's a big difference that should be quite noticeable.
  • 5 0
 How on earth Seb can live with those grips being in different angles, would annoy the shit out of me.
  • 3 1
 1. Pick stem length/rise/clamp diameter
2. Pick bar width/rise/sweep
3. Convince everyone that your setup is best with numbers and figures of an engineer even though you graduated with a jounalism degree
4.Be a dick about it ; )

Thanks for the article Pinkbike, great as always. You make loving fun!
  • 3 1
 Thanks for sharing your cocpit setups! However, I find stem lengths and bar rises combination slightly misleading and not exactly clear.
For instance Seb Scott has a 40mm stem and 40mm bar rise, but he still has approx 20mm of uncut steerer tube available. He could also use a 50mm stem with ~15-20mm rise bars 20mm higher on the steerer to get the EXACT SAME handlebar location (given a ~64 HTA). Also 55mm stem, 5mm rise bars would be the same. It's quite simple geometry.
Regarding handlebar position, the only two numbers that actually matter are "Effective Stem Length" (the real offset of your hands in relation to the steerer tube axis) www.pinkbike.com/news/exploring-the-relationship-between-handlebar-vs-stem-length.html and "effective stack" (handlebar height from the BB) www.pinkbike.com/news/importance-of-handlebar-height-mountain-bike.html. Additionally if necessary, the backsweep and and upsweep of the grips.

The takeaway is that discussing stem length doesn't make much sense because it's the bar rise+sweep+stem length, that actually give you the effective stem length. And the same hand (grip) position may be achieved with multiple stem lenghts.
  • 2 0
 I think the one big problem about settings is: Most of the time if you change one setting, everything changes with it. E.g. run a shorter stem -> Get a shorter reach, lower stack, shorter effective stem length etc. It takes a lot of experience and testing to truly understand what you like and dislike about the new setting. Often a setup that feels 'better' is merely better in the sum of effects, but far from the global optimum.

The most tricky part to me is balancing Reach, HTA, front/rear center (chainstay length) along with effective stem length. Most people have an effective stem length somewhere between 18 and 30mm, because modern sizing of the big brand need that numbers so that the effective reach is about right. If you want to ride a shorter effective stem lenght, many people just go with a shorter stem/more backsweep and are like "meh, it's getting unstable". They often overlook that they just reduced their reach by 18-30mm, which needs a LOT more work of your shoulders to cope with compressions that slow the bike down.

You'd need to size the frame up a size to get the same reach, but that's just ridiculously expensive for some testing. Also then the front contact patch is further away from the steering. To achieve the same balance you'd either have to lenghten the chainstay by a significant amount or steepen the HTA. Tbh I would buy a 5kg monster frame that came with +-20mm reach, bb and even more chainstay adjust just for testings sake.

Otherwise it's just practically impossible to optimize the settings individually.
  • 4 0
 Pretty convenient all the editors ride a 770ish when passing bikes around. Do you trim the bars on the review bikes?
  • 49 0
 Ha, we do. We also often will take a few sets of bars and stems to field test. When we do cut the bars on the test bike, there is normally a muffled "Does anyone mind if..." that's loud enough so you can say you asked but inaudible enough so nobody can hear and disagree.
  • 7 0
 @henryquinney: The CYA whisper.
  • 5 1
 765mm for me, just because I have enough internal conflicts to add another one.
  • 1 0
 Running a 35mm stem on some of these 64 enduro bikes is an interesting idea. I've tried 45mm & 50mm as recently as last year on my ~63.5 bike, and they felt horrible & weird compared to 40mm. But I didn't get around to trying shorter than 40.
  • 1 0
 Oh thanks for this one! Going to buy a new bike and I'm quite nervous because new bike has a 17 mm shorter reach and 9 mm lower stack. Now i'm puzzling with stem lengths and bar hights. sounds embarassing haha this article makes me feel more relaxed now... Big Grin
  • 1 0
 It would be great for the Pinkbike team to provide some relevant measurements like 'wing span' and 'hand size' to give context to their cockpit set up choices.

I'll think you'll find wider bars are better suited to riders with longer arms (not so much rider height).
  • 1 0
 My first go with the Oneup bars, I couldn't understand why everyone raved about them. My hands hurt, my shoulders hurt, my neck, my neck and my back, etc. Then I tried adjusting them back from where they said they should be based on head angle and only then did they actually start to feel not bone jarringly stiff. Now they've become some of my favorite bars.
  • 1 0
 I play around until it feels right and then never change it again for the duration I own the bike. I couldn’t tell you if my current bars are rolled forward, backwards or are straight up. Ive always assumed that the numbers manufacturers state must be perpendicular to the ground, otherwise the numbers are meaningless.
  • 2 0
 No stems with any rise? I guess with stuff that short it's not very common or necessary.

Anyone know of any 50mm stems with any rise besides the i9?
  • 2 0
 I just put on a DMR Defy 50 stem on my bike and dig it a lot. Has a little rise to it, like 5mm according to the webs. Usually get my rise thru the bars though.
  • 3 0
 Renthal stems have 6 deg of rise, but with all MTB stems being 50mm or less it seems like a pointless gesture, you're getting 5mm extra bar height.
  • 1 0
 My L 2019 Stumpy has a 50mm stem with some rise. The rise is not marked on it, probably 10 degrees?
Don't know if the rise affects reach or not.
  • 1 0
 Hope has some with 20° rise. They look rather masculin, too.
  • 2 0
 the dmr defy 50 has a good bit of rise.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=9oxkX-PW0RA
  • 6 0
 I find all stems have rise if you put a spacer under them. Additionally, every stem I’ve used pairs nicely with handlebars, which come in a wide variety of rises. Sorry to be sarcastic, but is 3-5mm of stem rise really moving the needle on your bike fit that much? And this is coming from someone who loves y’all handlebars.
  • 3 0
 Yoshimura ENDH Big Grin
37, 42, and 47mm though. 35mm rise and 26mm stack height.
  • 4 0
 Check out the Funn - they have a 10mm rise stem.
  • 1 0
 Nukeproof Horizon stem has a 5mm rise.
  • 1 0
 Raceface Aeffect is a 6 degree rise
  • 1 0
 prefer 0 rise stem with high rise bars any day of the week
  • 1 0
 renthal has a +5mm rise in the stem
  • 1 0
 Funny how the industry said 820mm was the standard, and here we have tech guys cutting down bars to 770... what's next? Editors running Lyriks and 36's despite the industry saying 38mm is the next standard??
  • 7 0
 Yeah, about 6-7 years ago, radness didn’t start anywhere short of a broomstick handle.

At this point, though, I’d say long bars are just an economical means of manufacturing. You just make them all long and people cut them to length. Way easier than producing 1,000 bars at 780, 1,000 bars at 800 and 1,000 bars at 820 and losing money because you made too many (or too few) bars at a certain length.
  • 20 0
 Bikes should come with 750mm bars. If I want them wider, ill cut them longer.
  • 1 0
 @TheR:
Agreed. Unfortunately many dealers are sending novice riders out the door with full 800mm bars on a S1 Stumpy.
  • 1 0
 The industry isn't saying is the standard. They are just providing products that can be cut down and adapted to riders preference. You can't make a narrow bar wider!
  • 2 1
 Consumers are typically suckers for whatever the market tells them they "need." That's why the majority of mountain bikers are over biked. Looking cool is more important than using the correct equipment.
  • 3 0
 Too bad Paul doesn’t work for PB anymore. Would’ve made a more interesting article.
  • 1 0
 I spent my days with the SQ Labs bars, but I've come back to the land of normal sweeps. Renthals are even less than typical, around 7°.
  • 4 1
 That’s funny.
I cut my 800’s down to 770
  • 1 0
 What’s on the top of Henry’s fork on the air/coil side? I’ve seen some coil conversions for ohlins but nothing with a top cap like that.
  • 1 0
 Looks like a BYB telemetry air cap adaptor thingy, I suppose you can attach the fork telemetry doodad there.
  • 1 0
 Can't really have bad or ugly on something so personal.

Except for those chimneys on Seb's and Mike's, but that's not fiit & feel, that's lazy!
  • 5 0
 No, that's making sure you can put the fork on another frame someday, a frame that might have a taller headtube. I used to be OCD about no chimneys, but I switch out frames more often than forks. I have now decided that as much as I might be offended aesthetically by a chimney, I need the practicality to move parts to new bikes. But still NEVER a chimney on a road bike! That's truly offensive. And non-aero!
  • 1 0
 @Marquis: I would change to a lower rise bar and/or stem and put those spacers underneath. Beyond looks, it's can be painful, and most people don't wear chest protection on trail bikes!
  • 1 1
 Every time one of these articles comes out I hope my setup similar to @mikekazimer but its always pretty much the same as @dariodigiulio ... perhaps a son I never knew I had...
  • 3 0
 That Nukeproog Giga must be super ultra custom
  • 1 0
 “Once stems get longer than 40 mm I start to notice the lateral component of movement as they turn away from straight ahead,“

  • 3 0
 why on earth didn't you include the amount of rise they prefer?
  • 3 0
 780-800/50 seems to be my sweet spot
  • 3 1
 Surprised none of you said something like 774mm just to be difficult
  • 2 0
 I have 777mm on a bike, just for fun.
  • 1 0
 I have no idea what my bars are, I just cut them to where they're comfortable. They're almost certainly not a multiple of 5
  • 3 0
 I run 380 on the right and 400 to the left, math is hard
  • 5 3
 Where is Mike Levy’s GDv4 setup?
  • 10 0
 Levy runs a 120 stem with 40cm dropbars.
  • 1 0
 @xciscool: what's his preferred bar flair?
  • 1 3
 " I'm also not convinced that pursuing a rearward weight bias (short stem)"

Is that why people choose short stems? I thought it was for steering feel, to make it less twitchy by reducing the leverage, and to reduce the "swing" effect of the entire bar moving side to side as it rotates. And to get the hands behind the front-contact for OTB protection, although this is also served by droppers letting you get low. Rearward weight bias is going to come more from a loooong front-center than just a short stem.

Or go super-short just for looks to match the mega-wide bars.
  • 1 0
 It's actually the opposite. The shorter stem is more twitchy.
  • 1 0
 @pioterski: I've heard the opposite numerous times right here on this very site. In actual articles, not just comments.
  • 1 1
 no sense for having 770mm for 190cm and even 170cm guy! i really hate cutting bars, mine have 800 and next time will go even wider!
  • 1 0
 Should have included Costco in this discussion. From what I've seen, they are very picky on setup.
  • 2 0
 Dario's Cockpit Setup is scary neat !!!
  • 1 0
 Those canyon headsets are a mess. But that Strive is the messiest of them all. Wow.
  • 2 0
 Dario's bar roll looks perfect....
  • 1 0
 Couldn't agree more
  • 1 0
 Half of those have the brake levers pointed forward. I'd snap those off after only a few rides.
  • 1 0
 no impact on anything important, but 2 inches of steer tube above the stem triggers me.
  • 1 0
 take a look at the 2023 rampage bar rise and you see many at 50. Its a perfect size, Deity is selling them like hotcakes
  • 1 0
 It would be rad to do this with a greater cross section of rider's. The staff all seems to be 5'11 to 6.
  • 2 2
 Right on, 770ish and around 40. Kudos to the one rocking Magura brakes, great brakes no matter the internet opinion.
  • 1 0
 @mattbeer - I too am a dishwasher reorganizer, ha!
  • 1 0
 770 40 and Magura is the way.
  • 1 0
 Sternum punch Seb! Gotta crop that thing!
  • 1 0
 Those RaceFace Grips look familiar...
  • 1 0
 what stem is Seb running?
  • 1 0
 @seb-stott : The shotgun spacer is an important upgrade.
  • 1 0
 @dariodigiulio What's that green bike?
  • 1 0
 @dariodigiulio Oh, I think it's a Slash? The Field Test Slash is a different color—did you pick one up for yourself? You dropping chains?
  • 3 0
 @BrambleLee, we had two Slashes in for Field Test - a large and a M/L.
  • 1 0
 More importantly… Hasan Minhaj.
  • 1 0
 Now this is a Friday thread! Bring out the pitchforks!
  • 1 0
 now is see why there isn't much XC content on PB
  • 3 0
 You couldn't see that before this article?? Pinkbike is the mecca for the mountain bike bruh culture.
  • 1 0
 I’m afraid Seb looses the cable routing wars.
  • 1 0
 75mm rise 800mm bars or die!
  • 1 0
 How about sharing stack height preferences?!?
  • 1 0
 When review of the RR stem from Be more bikes?
  • 2 3
 I'd like to see some reach and ETT numbers too. That will give the stem lengths some context.
  • 1 6
flag BrambleLee (Oct 19, 2023 at 14:51) (Below Threshold)
 I think you're getting downvotes here (including from me—I'm one of them. Don't take it personally.) because you're conflating things in a way that's common, but not necessarily correct. If you read again, you'll see that they all talk about stem length in terms of steering characteristics. That's why they're all able to definitively state that they prefer 40s or whatever. They aren't adjusting stem length to acheive their desired reach, so much as to acheive their desired steering characteristics.

I've got an XC bike with a pretty steep HTA, and a shortish reach. I run a 50 on it because it slows down the steering in a way that balances out the bike's kind of twitchy instincts. The STA is pretty slack, I think like 74.5º, but I run my saddle centered on the rails, maybe even slightly back of center, because it buys me some reach and puts me in a good position to deliver power to the pedals (that's why XC bikes are designed that way!). I've got an enduro rig that's got a really long reach. It's STA is not terribly slack, but also not as steep as a lot of newer bikes in the segment are (like maybe 76 or 76.5, compared to most bikes in the segment now having 78-79). Maybe I should have downsized, I dunno. I'm right on the line I guess. Anyway, that slack-ish STA gave me some wiggle room to push my saddle farther forward than I would want to on a steeper STA bike, and reel back that reach into something more manageable, while keeping my preferred 40mm stem on. Running a 32mm or 35mm stem in order to manage reach would have just bit me in the ass by making it harder to get my weight over the fron of what's already a long bike.

If I felt like I need to run a stem shorter than 40 in order to make reach manageable, my conclusion would be that it's not the right bike for me.
  • 1 0
 *Root of the problem
  • 1 0
 Seb's stem listing left?
  • 1 0
 Back sweep sucks
  • 1 3
 absolutely struggling to feed the cringe - oops i mean - content machine I see pinkbike.
  • 1 4
 Oooh you big tease posting all those pics of your cock pits.
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