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Seriously.... do MTB bars actually help??

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Seriously.... do MTB bars actually help??

Old 10-06-17, 06:24 AM
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Cyclocujo
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Seriously.... do MTB bars actually help??

So, I just want to know.... do these wide 31.8 MTB bars actually help me ride better? Only aking cuz I see that trend even in "entry level" MTBs. My 2013 Hardrock is considered entry level but it does make a good trail bike. Where I live.... we don't really have any technical trails or elevation. So, right now my bike has a 25.4 flat bar and it's about 560mm in length. I thought about updating the bar to a wide 31.8 but is it actually necessary for me? I know it's personal preference but is there an actual any benefit to that? I just need to know you clear my thoughts on it cuz I'm gullible enough to buy that snake oil.
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Old 10-06-17, 07:08 AM
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Wayyyyyyy back in the day I had a very narrow bar on my '93 Stumpjumper. It was great for fast trails and fitting between tight fitting tree's. Sometime along the way bar ends were replaced by wide bars and short stems. I replaced the bar on my current MTB and I bought the widest bar I could find. I used this over a few weeks cutting a bit off the end of it until one day it was way to narrow. ooops!! I measured it and bought a bar that was close to the size before my last cut.

Anyway, the point being is everyone has a width they prefer. Try a wider bar and see what you think of it and find out if it is Nirvana for you.
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Old 10-06-17, 09:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Cyclocujo View Post
I just need to know you clear my thoughts on it cuz I'm gullible enough to buy that snake oil.
In That case ... you will need to buy me about half-a-dozen bars in different lengths, bends, and rises ... i will test them all for you.

Do you feel a desire for a wider bar while riding? I wider bar increases leverage, which can lead to quicker steering or can turn the wheel when it doesn't want to turn. With a short enough stem, this can lead to twitchy, imprecise steering.

Also ... my understanding was that people bought really long bars with the intention of cutting them down to the right size. Every rider has different strength and different arm-length and shoulder width.

If you already have a comfortable set-up ...

I know it is contrary to industry design and probably will get me banned from this site ... but really, let's admit it ... most "upgrades" provide very little change in overall performance, unless there was a serious lack to begin with.

If you aren't thinking "Wow, I wish I had more leverage right there" or "These bars feel cramped" then probably you don't need a change.
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Old 10-06-17, 12:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
In That case ... you will need to buy me about half-a-dozen bars in different lengths, bends, and rises ... i will test them all for you.

Do you feel a desire for a wider bar while riding? I wider bar increases leverage, which can lead to quicker steering or can turn the wheel when it doesn't want to turn. With a short enough stem, this can lead to twitchy, imprecise steering.

Also ... my understanding was that people bought really long bars with the intention of cutting them down to the right size. Every rider has different strength and different arm-length and shoulder width.

If you already have a comfortable set-up ...

I know it is contrary to industry design and probably will get me banned from this site ... but really, let's admit it ... most "upgrades" provide very little change in overall performance, unless there was a serious lack to begin with.

If you aren't thinking "Wow, I wish I had more leverage right there" or "These bars feel cramped" then probably you don't need a change.
And often times people think their set up is great until they try something else.

You can probably try wider bars for relatively cheap (specially when you consider you can sell the bar if you don't like it) Then you know what works or doesn't work for you.

As for the 31.8vs25.4 clamp size, the oversized clamp offers the potential for lighter AND stiffer handlebars. But mostly, by using the same standard for road and mtb it allows retailers to keep less stem sizes.
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Old 10-06-17, 01:11 PM
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Old 10-06-17, 02:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Cyclocujo View Post
So, I just want to know.... do these wide 31.8 MTB bars actually help me ride better? Only aking cuz I see that trend even in "entry level" MTBs. My 2013 Hardrock is considered entry level but it does make a good trail bike. Where I live.... we don't really have any technical trails or elevation. So, right now my bike has a 25.4 flat bar and it's about 560mm in length. I thought about updating the bar to a wide 31.8 but is it actually necessary for me? I know it's personal preference but is there an actual any benefit to that? I just need to know you clear my thoughts on it cuz I'm gullible enough to buy that snake oil.
I ran something like 580mm bars with bar ends and 120mm stems when I started riding in the late 90s.

Over the next 15 years I kept going wider on the bars and shorter on the stems. Sometime around the 660mm bars I ditched the bar ends and never missed them.

I am now running 750mm bars, and stems from 45-60mm.

I find wider bars (and the shorter stems that they generally call for) to be FAR more stable and give better control in pretty much all trail riding situations.

They do require a different technique when climbing.

As far as the 31.8 vs 25.4 clamping area, I can't really say I have noticed a difference on narrow bars, but it might make a difference on wider ones.

However, if you are going with a new stem and bar (you will probably need a shorter stem with a wider bar) then I would just plan on going with 31.8 because that is what most mtb bars and stems are now.

I think at 750mm, I may have reached my limit, but it is hard to say. When I bought these 750 bars 5 years ago, my plan was to cut them down to 720, but decided to try them first at 750. Almost immediately I decided there was no way I was cutting them down.

The only time I would appeciate narrow bars and a longer stem is on longer road sections (dirt and pavement). But for trail riding, I see no benefit over the wider bars. I hear clearance get mentioned sometimes (as in around trees), but my experience is that you quickly learn where the ends of your bars are (because that is where your hands are) on any width bar. And yes, there are rare occassions where I have to slow down between two trees more than I would have had to on 580mm bars, but even on the East Coast that is rare in practice, and is easily outweighed by the benefits of the wider bars that I enjoy the other 99.9% of the time I am trail riding.

So, my advice would be.... try it. Most people like it. Not all, but most. Worst case scenario? You put your old bars and stem back on.

Last edited by Kapusta; 10-06-17 at 02:14 PM.
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Old 10-06-17, 02:44 PM
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Originally Posted by FrozenK View Post
And often times people think their set up is great until they try something else.
.
This^^^^^

I have never once felt like I needed or wanted a wider bar. It always feels like the right width.... until I try one wider and realize I just did not know what I was missing.

In my experience, a lot of things in mtb are like this.
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Old 10-06-17, 05:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Kapusta View Post
This^^^^^

I have never once felt like I needed or wanted a wider bar. It always feels like the right width.... until I try one wider and realize I just did not know what I was missing.

In my experience, a lot of things in mtb are like this.
I was the same way with tubeless. I thought it wasn't worth the hassle until I tried it.
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Old 10-06-17, 05:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
Do you feel a desire for a wider bar while riding? I wider bar increases leverage, which can lead to quicker steering or can turn the wheel when it doesn't want to turn. With a short enough stem, this can lead to twitchy, imprecise steering.
This is wrong. Leverage is increased but movement speed is decreased as the end of the bar needs to move more over a degree arc than it would with a narrower bar. A wider bar slows down steering, which is why they are paired with shorter stems.

In almost all cases going from a 650-680 handlebar to 700-720 will be a great improvement.

Last edited by Spoonrobot; 10-07-17 at 07:41 PM.
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Old 10-06-17, 07:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Cyclocujo View Post
So, right now my bike has a 25.4 flat bar and it's about 560mm in length. I thought about updating the bar to a wide 31.8 but is it actually necessary for me? I know it's personal preference but is there an actual any benefit to that? I just need to know you clear my thoughts on it cuz I'm gullible enough to buy that snake oil.
I bet you'd benefit from trying something wider. Part of the fun of riding is experimenting. But are you sure that your bars are only 560 mm? Because I'm seeing 640 and 660 listed in the specs on the Specialized website.

Shorten the stem if you go wider.
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Old 10-06-17, 08:49 PM
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Originally Posted by JonathanGennick View Post
I bet you'd benefit from trying something wider. Part of the fun of riding is experimenting. But are you sure that your bars are only 560 mm? Because I'm seeing 640 and 660 listed in the specs on the Specialized website.

Shorten the stem if you go wider.
So, how short are you thinking?
50mm? 70mm?
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Old 10-06-17, 08:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Cyclocujo View Post
So, how short are you thinking?
50mm? 70mm?
Depends on a few things...

How long is your current stem?

Are you sure your bars are 560mm?

What width bar do want to try going to?
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Old 10-06-17, 10:09 PM
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The blue bar is what I have on my bike now.
The Easton bar is what I'm planning on using.
I need to get a shorter stem because the Easton stem is 150mm long.
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Old 10-06-17, 10:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Cyclocujo View Post
So, I just want to know.... do these wide 31.8 MTB bars actually help me ride better? Only aking cuz I see that trend even in "entry level" MTBs. My 2013 Hardrock is considered entry level but it does make a good trail bike. Where I live.... we don't really have any technical trails or elevation. So, right now my bike has a 25.4 flat bar and it's about 560mm in length. I thought about updating the bar to a wide 31.8 but is it actually necessary for me? I know it's personal preference but is there an actual any benefit to that? I just need to know you clear my thoughts on it cuz I'm gullible enough to buy that snake oil.
560 is a little narrow for my taste. I've tried everything from that to 780 and my happy zone is 650-670mm.

25.4, 31.8, or 35 doesn't matter.
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Old 10-06-17, 11:56 PM
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The blue bar looks exceedingly narrow to me ... commuter-width road-cycling narrow. Could just be the angle of the photo.

Bars on my Rize 4 are 670 mm and don't feel wide at all. I know I tried a few bars ion my last MTB, and eventually resorted to the hacksaw to get the width I wanted--which I think was wider than I use now. But that bike rode and balanced completely differently.
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Old 10-07-17, 02:07 AM
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Originally Posted by FrozenK View Post
And often times people think their set up is great until they try something else.
I know this bit was quoted before....but stated well enough one more time won't hurt

Such a true statement. Even if you have a setup that you like and works for you, it never hurts to branch out and test what else is out there just for comparison.

Me, I prefer a little shorter straight bar on mine and (don't flame me).... but also have a set of old school ICON fatty bar ends. They aren't for everyone, but on longer climbs, it makes it nice to change grip positions like that. And being the fatty style they're quite comfortable to hold onto as they're larger diameter than the grips on my handlebar. And about a 20 degree rise longer stem. (mainly more for comfort as I'm a taller rider so feels better to me)

As for the bar... at least most are fairly reasonable in price that if you mess up and cut one shorter than you're comfortable with it's not the end of the world.

Last edited by Rocket Mouse; 10-07-17 at 02:11 AM.
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Old 10-07-17, 07:10 AM
  #17  
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Originally Posted by Cyclocujo View Post
The blue bar is what I have on my bike now.
The Easton bar is what I'm planning on using.
I need to get a shorter stem because the Easton stem is 150mm long.
I'll ask again:
-How long is the stem you are currently using with the 560mm bar?

-How wide is the bar you plan on using?
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Old 10-07-17, 07:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Cyclocujo View Post
The blue bar is what I have on my bike now.
Hey, I LOVE the look of that blue bar with those grips. It's a good look.

If you want color, head on over to Competitive Cyclist. They are blowing out some Deity bars at $30 each:

https://www.competitivecyclist.com/S...deity+bars&s=u

I just cut down a set to put on my neighbor kid's 20-inch bike.

Not sure what advice to give about stem length. You had asked about that. These days I tend to throw on whatever short stem I have laying around. I think my last build used either a 60 or 70 mm stem. The received wisdom that I have is that as you widen the bars, you want them higher (riser bars) and closer (shorter stem).

Do you already own the Diamondback in your photo? Maybe just take the entire bar and stem from that bike, throw them on your Hardrock, and see what you think. Go from there.
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Old 10-07-17, 08:01 AM
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Originally Posted by JonathanGennick View Post
Do you already own the Diamondback in your photo? Maybe just take the entire bar and stem from that bike, throw them on your Hardrock, and see what you think. Go from there.
Even if you don't own it ... nobody is using it ....
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Old 10-07-17, 09:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Kapusta View Post
I'll ask again:
-How long is the stem you are currently using with the 560mm bar?

-How wide is the bar you plan on using?
The stem on the bike now is 85mm but it's a 25.4 so ill be looking for a 31.8 stem cuz the bar I'm planning on using is a 31.8 and 685mm long.
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Old 10-07-17, 09:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
Even if you don't own it ... nobody is using it ....
that's what I intend to do but the stem is too long...150mm
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Old 10-07-17, 11:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Cyclocujo View Post
The stem on the bike now is 85mm but it's a 25.4 so ill be looking for a 31.8 stem cuz the bar I'm planning on using is a 31.8 and 685mm long.
Huh. From a steering/handling perspective, 85mm is a pretty short stem for a bar as narrow as 560mm. Sounds like a very "twitchy" ride to me.

Going from a 560 to 685mm bar (which is a pretty huge jump), I would normally think going about 30-40mm shorter on the stem would be a good starting point, but in this case that would be a ~50mm stem which mighy be a tad short for a 685 width bar. Or maybe not.

If the fit of your current setup feels good to you, I would start with a 60 mm stem and see how it feels. Thos is erring slighly on the long side, but will be more likely to work out if you end up cutting the bars down some.

In the end, a change this large may take some fine t***ng in stem length and rise.
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Old 10-08-17, 05:50 AM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
I know it is contrary to industry design and probably will get me banned from this site ... but really, let's admit it ... most "upgrades" provide very little change in overall performance, unless there was a serious lack to begin with.
A bit melodramic there. No one's going to ban you for merely expressing an opinion regarding bike upgrades.


Originally Posted by Spoonrobot View Post
This is wrong. Leverage is increased but movement speed is decreased as the end of the bar needs to move more over a degree arc than it would with a narrower bar. A wider bar slows down steering, which is why they are paired with shorter stems.
Wider bars are also paired with shorter stems to compensate for the added bar width. With your hands further apart, your reach is decreased and your upper body is pulled further forward closer to the bars. Having a short stem helps keep your weight better centred over the bike rather than having your weight placed too far up at the front of the bike.

Originally Posted by LesterOfPuppets View Post
25.4, 31.8, or 35 doesn't matter.
It does if he's planning on keeping his old stem. It also matters if you're considering current day standards. 31.8 mm is the current standard for stem diameter. 35 mm is becoming more and more common as OEM offerings on many All-Mountain, Enduro, and downhill bikes.

Originally Posted by Cyclocujo View Post
So, I just want to know.... do these wide 31.8 MTB bars actually help me ride better? Only aking cuz I see that trend even in "entry level" MTBs. My 2013 Hardrock is considered entry level but it does make a good trail bike. Where I live.... we don't really have any technical trails or elevation. So, right now my bike has a 25.4 flat bar and it's about 560mm in length. I thought about updating the bar to a wide 31.8 but is it actually necessary for me? I know it's personal preference but is there an actual any benefit to that? I just need to know you clear my thoughts on it cuz I'm gullible enough to buy that snake oil.
If you want a pretty good article to read on the subject, you should read this: Trail Tech: are wider bars better bars? - BikeRadar

It's got some good information and can help point you in the right direction regarding your question on what stem length to get for a new stem to go with those wider bars.
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Old 10-09-17, 09:56 AM
  #24  
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My experience is, don't go crazy-wide with your new bar. I used to ride a 580mm on an early '90s bike and was shocked when I bought a new bike in 2014 and it had a 690mm on it (bars are even wider now). I almost cut it down but was advised to ride it for a few weeks first. I got used to it and found that it's a great width for me. Since then, I tried newer, even wider bars like 720mm and I've found those are beyond my "strength zone" spread. That is, too far beyond what is a comfortable hands-apart width for doing a set of push-ups. In this philosophy, the bar is at, or just wider than, the width of the outside of your hands when doing push-ups. No matter where width trends go, use what is right for your body. Obviously be open to trying new things but don't be afraid of saying no to one-size-fits-all or for being uncool for bucking a trend. Bottomline, I enjoy the great control (less of a twitchy feel) and slower steering of a wider bar.
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Old 10-09-17, 12:05 PM
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I feel like I'm in a time warp when reading this thread...

Ran 685s(27") for years starting in the early 2000s. Switched to 800s 5 years ago and couldn't be happier.
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