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Thread: Bar width

  1. #1
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    Default Bar width

    This is my next question, bar width. I've got Race Face alloy bars that are still stock width. IMO, it's seems really wide, wider than my shoulders by several inches. Back in the late 80's, early 90's we cut our bars down just wide enough for shifters, brakes, and grips. And a 150mm Tioga Tbone. We did this because Tomac did it and he was cool. Now I think I need to cut down my bars, if for no other reason than turning at slow speed on switchbacks.

    Is there a rule of thumb for bar width or is it just trial and error?
    Weight Doper

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    Default Re: Bar width

    I pretty much stopped mountain biking as bars got wider and wider...but I liked the Niner Flat Top carbon bars which were around 710mm's...

    SPP
    My name is Peter Miller.

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    Default Re: Bar width

    Quote Originally Posted by bigbill View Post
    This is my next question, bar width. I've got Race Face alloy bars that are still stock width. IMO, it's seems really wide, wider than my shoulders by several inches. Back in the late 80's, early 90's we cut our bars down just wide enough for shifters, brakes, and grips. And a 150mm Tioga Tbone. We did this because Tomac did it and he was cool. Now I think I need to cut down my bars, if for no other reason than turning at slow speed on switchbacks.

    Is there a rule of thumb for bar width or is it just trial and error?
    Narrow bars were stupid. Now, how wide is too wide ? It depends on your size and the kind of riding you do. A wide bar shouldn't be an issue to turn at slow speed unless your reach is too long. reach/stem length should be smaller with wider bars. I'd try a smaller stem first before cutting down the bar. My sweet spot is between 730 to 780mm. Right now I'm using a 780mm on a long travel bike because I tend to go faster in the downhills. It can be an issue in woods (slamming a tree with your hand/grip can end badly) or narrow paths at the edge of a cliff and I ride more cautiously there than I used to. If I were to have two bikes I would build the XC bike with 730-740ish bars.
    Last edited by sk_tle; 06-12-2019 at 06:35 AM.
    --
    T h o m a s

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    Default Re: Bar width

    Quote Originally Posted by sk_tle View Post
    Narrow bars were stupid. Now, how wide is too wide ? It depends on your size and the kind of riding you do. A wide bar shouldn't be an issue to turn at slow speed unless your reach is too long. reach/stem length should be smaller with wider bars. I'd try a smaller stem first before cutting down the bar. My sweet spot is between 730 to 780mm. Right now I'm using a 780mm on a long travel bike because I tend to go faster in the downhills. It can be an issue in woods (slamming a tree with your hand/grip can end badly) or narrow paths at the edge of a cliff and I ride more cautiously there than I used to. If I were to have two bikes I would build the XC bike with 730-740ish bars.
    They were stupid, but we were in the infancy days of MTBing. My stem is a 60, I'll measure the bars this evening, pretty sure they're still around 800. This is a hardtail with a 120 fork.
    Weight Doper

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    Default Re: Bar width

    Quote Originally Posted by bigbill View Post
    They were stupid, but we were in the infancy days of MTBing. My stem is a 60, I'll measure the bars this evening, pretty sure they're still around 800. This is a hardtail with a 120 fork.
    If you have lockon grips you might want to experiment with various positions and figure out what works best for you before cutting anything.
    --
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    Default Re: Bar width

    I've gone back and forth between bar width and what I've found is for me the 740 is perfect for XC and 770 is great on my Enduro bike. This is all because of the steering input factor. I find the narrower bars are easier when you need to turn your handlebars which happens a lot more on my xc bike and the wider is better for stability when I'm using more body english because of the higher speed descents. Of course between between the reach (bb-center of stem not the geo chart reach) I'm about 1.5cm shorter on the enduro bike.
     

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    Default Re: Bar width

    I've been setting my bar widths with Lee McCormack's methods since I did a workshop with him a couple years ago. Works well for me. Currently at 760mm on a Trek Remedy.

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

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    Default Re: Bar width

    +1 on the article above

    I find wide bars hard for tight single track. The trails around here developed with us riding hard tails, with narrow bars and 1.8 inch tires pumped up to 60 psi (early 90's) - all these Bro -duro boys with their flat brim hats and big wheeled bikes are killing the trails around here. Everything is getting pushed out and a few of these f*ckers have cut down some trees to make it easier to corner.

    Bar width is like sock height - run what makes you feel and look good - go with feel first.

    I am probably down to 740 mm on a Devinici Marshall and narrower on my single speed - Easton Monkey Lite bars - ~600 mm
     

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    Default Re: Bar width

    It takes a bit of time to adjust to wider bars but I like them. I am 6'3" and ride 800s on my sentinel and 780s on my hardtail, but I like going fast and stable bikes. 10 years ago I was riding 660 bars on a steep angles XC bike that is now a townie beater that feels twitchy. Make sure you ride a few times before you cut, shorter stems and playing with grip location are also good ideas.
     

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    Default Re: Bar width

    Quote Originally Posted by jscottyk View Post
    I've been setting my bar widths with Lee McCormack's methods since I did a workshop with him a couple years ago. Works well for me. Currently at 760mm on a Trek Remedy.

    Lee McCormack's Guide to Finding the Handlebar Width Sweet-Spot
    That's really good - thanks !!

    - Garro.
    Steve Garro, Coconino Cycles.
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    Hecho en Flagstaff, Arizona desde 2003
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    Default Re: Bar width

    Quote Originally Posted by steve garro View Post
    That's really good - thanks !!

    - Garro.
    When I worked with Lee, we really didn't use the formula but rather he watched me ride and played with grip position to get my elbow tracking behind my wrist.
    "Most of the time, your elbows should be directly behind your fists. For this reason, elbow width and handlebar width should be roughly the same."

    That said, when I use the formula, my "Sweet Spot" is 805mm, and 760mm fall about 5% less than that as described, "For most riders, the usable range is between sweet spot width and about 5 percent less than sweet spot width."

    Quote Originally Posted by sk_tle View Post
    If you have lockon grips you might want to experiment with various positions and figure out what works best for you before cutting anything.
    This bit of advice was the way I spent time confirming before cutting.
     

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    Default Re: Bar width

    Another data point: I've been using a 760 mm wide bar (50mm stem I think) on my hardtail (120 mm of travel) and it seems to strike a good balance, especially if the trees narrow the trail down.
     

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    Default Re: Bar width

    Quote Originally Posted by jscottyk View Post
    spent time confirming before cutting.
    Just find all this timely as I got D a new set of Thomson Ti risers - I know what I'm going to cut them to, interesting to check out the formula and see if we agree.

    Sidenote:

    Put your hands really far apart & do a push up

    - Garro.
    Last edited by steve garro; 06-12-2019 at 07:32 PM.
    Steve Garro, Coconino Cycles.
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    Default Re: Bar width

    Quote Originally Posted by steve garro View Post

    Put your hands really far apart & do a push up

    - Garro.
    Oh! That's a good tip. Just tested and confirmed same width.
     

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    Default Re: Bar width

    Quote Originally Posted by jscottyk View Post
    That said, when I use the formula, my "Sweet Spot" is 805mm, and 760mm fall about 5% less than that as described, "For most riders, the usable range is between sweet spot width and about 5 percent less than sweet spot width."
    The formula in McCormack's article is the for the upper limit:

    "The RideLogic sweet spot handlebar width is your maximum biomechanically recommended handlebar width based on your height (assuming average proportions)."
    --
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    Default Re: Bar width

    Quote Originally Posted by sk_tle View Post
    The formula in McCormack's article is the for the upper limit:

    "The RideLogic sweet spot handlebar width is your maximum biomechanically recommended handlebar width based on your height (assuming average proportions)."
    Good catch. Iíve missed that detail when reading previously.
     

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    Default Re: Bar width

    I like 760 on my 150mm travel bike, maybe 720-740 on an xc bike depending on stem length. Iím 6í0 tall with wider than average shoulders.

    Going too wide takes away the ability to move forward and backward on the bike, locks you into more of a forward position, which is obviously not ideal on a MTB. It makes it harder to adjust body English for jumps, drops, steep terrain, and even turns. Mountain biking is such a dynamic sport and itís so important to be set up on the bike in a way that you can move freely and confidently.
     

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    Default Re: Bar width

    Quote Originally Posted by jscottyk View Post
    Oh! That's a good tip. Just tested and confirmed same width.
    Old School method !!!

    You body will tell you where your strength is centered

    - Garro.
    Steve Garro, Coconino Cycles.
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    Hecho en Flagstaff, Arizona desde 2003
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    Default Re: Bar width

    Quote Originally Posted by steve garro View Post
    Old School method !!!

    You body will tell you where your strength is centered

    - Garro.
    Indeed! The big lesson for me from Lee was to get the elbows tracking inline (behind) the wrist and letting that be a primary driver of bar width.
     

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    Default Re: Bar width

    Quote Originally Posted by jscottyk View Post
    Indeed! The big lesson for me from Lee was to get the elbows tracking inline (behind) the wrist and letting that be a primary driver of bar width.
    This extends to your brake levers too - they should be in a line with all this when in the 'attack position' -



    - Garro.
    Last edited by steve garro; 06-13-2019 at 12:00 PM.
    Steve Garro, Coconino Cycles.
    Frames & Bicycles built to measure and Custom wheels
    Hecho en Flagstaff, Arizona desde 2003
    www.coconinocycles.com
    www.coconinocycles.blogspot.com

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