I am a mountain biker and about the only thing I can agree on with regard to bikes is that they must fit right. When I started 17 years ago- Everyone had flat bars and they were set up about 2" to 3" below saddle height. It was not that we all wanted to be racers- That was the way Mountain bikes came. Then in came the riser bars. These quickly gained a large following of users and a 2" rise that also bought the bars back towards you seem to be the way to go. I resisted for many years but eventually I decided to see what all the Fuss was about with these bars. You also had to go wide apparantly so I got 27" bars with a 2" rise. Took a couple of rides to get used to but suddenly I had more control over the bike- It was more manoeverable and it also felt as though I had a lighter front end on the bike.
I have just taken a ride on my 13 year old Kona Explosif. This was my first quality bike and it really got me into distance and technical riding. It is so comfortable that it still fits like a glove- Except for my neck. I am in agony. The ride was not that Severe or long in comparison to what I normally do- but after 20 miles I was beginning to feel the strain. I did cut out one technical part of the route to save my body.
It felt as though my neck was about to fall off. I had trouble looking ahead on the trail and boy did it ache. Only difference on this bike is the straight bars that are 2" below the saddle. As to the ride of the bike- It still feels and rides aswell as it did 10 years ago, and it is heaven to control. Only problem is that I can no longer ride with my head between my knees.
Bikes may develop over the years and technology may make for a better bike- But unfortunately- my body has gone backwards with time. Looks like it is time that the kona got some new bars- and posiibly some more up to date Suspension forks.