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Cutting the handlebars shorter, increased comfort!

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Cutting the handlebars shorter, increased comfort!

Old 10-16-13, 12:49 PM
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rbloem
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Cutting the handlebars shorter, increased comfort!

I have a 2011 Cannondale SL3 mountain bike and I was finding that the comfort wasn't there compared to my old cheap mountain bike. I narrowed it down to the handlebar width. I cut off 1 inch off each end and what a difference! Now my arms aren't stretched out wide. I'm 6'3" and I found the stock handlebars and grips were to wide. I know that is the trend lately, but by cutting it shorter makes for so much more comfort. Did you guys find this as well? My width now is close to 26" were as before it was over 28" wide.
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Old 10-16-13, 12:55 PM
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Nope. Like wide barz.




Had a set of bars once that were too narrow. Cut them three times and they were still too narrow.
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Old 10-16-13, 02:34 PM
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It's 2013. Bar width should equal inseam.






Seriously though, I like 25" bars.
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Old 10-16-13, 03:14 PM
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It's all very personal - just with any other factor of the bike fit. What works for you, may not work for someone else. I love my wide bars (28").
Then again - some people with narrow shoulders and short arms may prefer narrower bars - though I don't have broad shoulders, but do have long arms...
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Old 10-17-13, 12:54 AM
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I like wide bars myself--more stable, less twitchiness on rough trails. I have a 685mm/27 inch bar on my Santa Cruz and that felt wide/weird at first as I came off a 90s hardtail after 20 years but I got used to it after a couple weeks and wouldn't go back to old school narrow. My new Kona has a 711mm/28 inch bar and I love that even more.

A few things that I found that effect bar-width feel is how much sweep is created or removed by how a riser bar is tilted in the stem. Tilted forward makes you reach and feel even wider on the grips. Folks should check that before making drastic cuts. Also, using a shorter stem will "narrow up" a wide bar as well as help a bike's descending and handling qualities. My Santa Cruz above came with a 90mm stem which paired well with the 685/27 bar. I spec'd an even shorter 70mm stem for the Kona with its 711/28 bar--it handles and feels awesome.
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Old 10-17-13, 02:01 AM
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I usually cut my bars down to my shoulder width so my arms are straight. But remember that on a 29er the bigger wheels means you will need to apply more force to turn than on a 26 inch MTB, hence the wider bars that often come mounted. Not that important on gravel and on paths. But in the woods it may play a part.
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Old 10-17-13, 02:21 AM
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Wow, someone 6'3" needs *narrower* bars? Another unanswerable question, though there are guidelines: for road bikes, try shoulder with to begin.
For MTBs a little wider.
Seriously though. To get a starting point, sit on your bike (or even a chair if you can approximate your riding position/back angle); close your eyes and extend your arms forward to a neutral, "relaxed" position with elbows slightly bent (more so if you ride only gnarly stuff) and mimic holding the bars. Have a helper measure the outside width, and approximate grip (sweepback) angle, or to get the angle more simply, measure the forward/backward offset between inside & outside of hand rather than trying to measure degrees with a protractor (pretty much impossible). That can be converted to degrees with geometry, or much more easily drawn on paper and compared to bars in a shop.The position should feel effortless with no muscle tension. This is your baseline, or starting point. A bar that fits these measures should feel at the very worst "pretty good". If the position is truly neutral, it should feel like the bar almost isnt there. From there on out, it's all personal preference & riding style. Some people like narrower bars for less required movement to change direction, others like wider bars for more leverage. You upper body build will often influence this as well, though not always in the way one might think.
Bottom line is, start with a "neutral position bar" and trial-and-error your way to the perfect fit. Don't over-analyze it, even if you have a PhDs in biomechanics, mechanical engineering and physics. Riding will tell you more than any theory ever could.
__PS: Don't be afraid to experiment with bar configurations that you think you won't like or you feel are counterintuitive. You'll be surprised sometimes after you give it a chance. Again, ride more, think less!

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Old 10-17-13, 11:10 AM
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Just to make this clear. I use my Cannondale Trail SL3 for really light flat trails as well as paved roads. This wide bar set up you guys are all promoting, is it geared more for downhill aggresive trails? Remember I use my bike on flat surfaces! Maybe that is why I prefer the narrow bars. Less wind resistance I notice with the bars being narrower.
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Old 10-17-13, 11:25 AM
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I ride with ape hangers.
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Old 10-17-13, 09:09 PM
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Originally Posted by rbloem View Post
Just to make this clear. I use my Cannondale Trail SL3 for really light flat trails as well as paved roads. This wide bar set up you guys are all promoting, is it geared more for downhill aggresive trails? Remember I use my bike on flat surfaces! Maybe that is why I prefer the narrow bars. Less wind resistance I notice with the bars being narrower.
It's more widespread than DH, rise of the bar is getting lower and width is getting wider. That being said, I honestly think everyone has a sweet spot for a handlebar. For me, it's 720mm with 50.8 mm rise
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Old 10-18-13, 08:24 PM
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Yeah, a 26" bar for someone 6'3" tells me that you're slightly narrow in the shoulders. I'm 6'1", admittedly a widebody, and 28" bars are sweet for me. I ran 26's for a few years, and was AMAZED at the difference when I bought the 28's!
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Old 10-18-13, 11:28 PM
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Think I'll leave these uncut, see what all the hoopla's about. Dunno if I can get 'em through apartment door, tho

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Old 10-19-13, 07:48 AM
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I like 700+mm bars as well. Except when I'm banging off trees on either side of the trail.
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Old 10-19-13, 09:44 AM
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I be liking my bars like I likes ma'women...tall and wide.


I just ditched my 685x40mm EA70 bar for another ProTaper 720x50mm. Never been more comfortable.



Btw...cycle club sports has them for $31.


And one more thing...why the crap is it called a cockpit? What does that word even mean?

Last edited by ed; 10-19-13 at 09:49 AM.
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Old 10-19-13, 10:20 AM
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Originally Posted by rbloem View Post
Just to make this clear. I use my Cannondale Trail SL3 for really light flat trails as well as paved roads. This wide bar set up you guys are all promoting, is it geared more for downhill aggresive trails? Remember I use my bike on flat surfaces! Maybe that is why I prefer the narrow bars. Less wind resistance I notice with the bars being narrower.
I wasn't aware of that, so width for your use is moot. I'm a XC guy and I do ride some rough descents and rough trails in general but I'm no downhiller by any means. For my riding, the wider bars are awesome. As mentioned, wider/lower is the trend, even in XC or trail bikes. Narrower/higher in the cockpit is twitchier on trails. BTW, I think the term cockpit for bikes is just trying to be cool sounding like a jet or race car, lol.
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Old 10-19-13, 11:45 AM
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Originally Posted by ed View Post


And one more thing...why the crap is it called a cockpit? What does that word even mean?
Good question!

I wikipediaed it... The word cockpit is taken from the Royal Navy. Cockpit meant coxswain's pit, named after the area of the ship that the coxswain had charge over i.e. where the rudder controls and stuff like that were. The coxswain was apparently the dude who was in charge of steering the ship.

Don't know about you guys, but I'm done referring to myself as a biker or cyclist. From now on I'm the ****ing coxswain of the road.
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Old 10-21-13, 02:25 AM
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I'm 6'1" and went from a 90's bike with narrow bars that I'd cut down to a 29er this year, getting back into biking.

One of the first things I did was cut the 700 bars down to 670, they still feel on the wide side of comfortable, but at least they are now in the comfortable "range" for me.

I also, against the LBS's advice went from a 65mm steam to 120, felt better to ride to me. One ride with a group that pushed my downhill gnarly limits, and well, I have a 60mm steam now!
Back to the shorter steam makes the bars feel less wide (for me anyway).

I guess the thing is: You have to set up your bike for how you like it, how you ride it and where you ride it.

There is no one right answer.

I would like to take another 10mm of each end of the bars, but given how I stuffed up steam length, I'll leave it a while then maybe chop some off.
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Old 10-21-13, 08:11 AM
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785mm low rise bars, 60mm and 70mm stems, depending on the bike. Love 'em. And I'm a whopping 5'8" tall with average shoulders/arms.

As you go wider, you need to shorten the stem - the wider bars stretch you out (obviously) in the shoulders, and this has the effect of drawing your torso more forward as well.

Great steering, lets me weight the front end of the bike like I prefer, yet still super easy to get low and back when wanted.
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Old 10-21-13, 09:12 AM
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Yes, I find narrower bars more comfortable. Being and old timer who rides on narrow single track woods trails, I find it humorous that 26" bars are considered narrow. I just switched to drops because my arthritic wrists and thumbs couldn't take straight bars any more. The bars I was using were 23.5". I might have cut them yet a little shorter but they had some sweep back far enough out that I really couldn't cut them any shorter and still use the same levers and shifters.

The drops I am now using are 15" at the hoods and 17" at the drops. They take a bit of getting used to and I am still adjusting to them, but I am pretty sure they are going to work out for me. My wrists definitely hurt less after a ride with them. I expected them to be iffy when bombing downhills, but that has not proven to be the case. I still have a too long stem on the bike but a shorter one is on the way.
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Old 10-23-13, 09:40 PM
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Originally Posted by scrublover View Post
785mm low rise bars, 60mm and 70mm stems, depending on the bike. Love 'em. And I'm a whopping 5'8" tall with average shoulders/arms.

As you go wider, you need to shorten the stem - the wider bars stretch you out (obviously) in the shoulders, and this has the effect of drawing your torso more forward as well.

Great steering, lets me weight the front end of the bike like I prefer, yet still super easy to get low and back when wanted.
And as you grow taller...hi rise is your friend, hahaha.

My red ProTaper moved over to my heckler. I tried a syncros bulk 710x40mm, but I didn't like the width and sweep compared to the ProTaper.

Got a killer deal on a new ProTaper...so I'm back in business.

I've experimented with many bars. The EA70 was my bar of choice until the wide ProTaper.




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Old 10-25-13, 09:00 AM
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I also like to ride narrow bars. It seems to me that the wide bar fad is a cheap solution for the ****ty handling that some 29ers have.
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Old 10-25-13, 09:15 AM
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I have read a couple of articles that tie bar width to ease in breathing as well as handling. I am fairly broad across the shoulders, (size 46 jacket) and enjoy broad bars. Especially on a downhill when I tend to push the butt back and stretchout, I want some width!
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Old 10-26-13, 01:35 PM
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The "wide bar fad" is for people that like going fast on technical descents, downhill switchbacks, and berms. It's been common in DH racing for years, in the AM scene, and is making it's way into XC racing, too. Geoff Kabush, Adam Craig, etc sort of pioneered it, and it's gathering steam as XC courses become more technically demanding.

Pro XC racer with 710mm, -5mm bar with a Syntace FlatForce stem on my 29er HT.

740mm, -10mm bar on my AM/Enduro bike, a Santa Cruz Blur LT Carbon.

I'm 5'6", 145lbs.
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Old 10-28-13, 11:31 AM
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Originally Posted by SnowJob View Post
I like 700+mm bars as well. Except when I'm banging off trees on either side of the trail.
This is my main motivation to stick with bars under 700mm when possible. 30" bars do technically fit between the trees, but I'm more likely to hit one at 15+ mph the wider my bars get.

The most important thing about your bars is that they have a width that you are comfortable with and that works for what you want to do with the bike. I wrote this a few weeks ago "somewhere else".
Reach is a factor of 3 things: effective top tube length, bar width, stem length (and angle). But only one of those, stem length, has a significant impact on weight distribution when you are comparing two different frame sizes of the same bike.

How much reach you need depends on your body and your riding posture. On a road bike when you're nose down ass up for hours, you better have your reach, saddle position, cleat position, all nailed down perfectly. Dialing in fit isn't as critical, or even as feasible, on a MTB compared to a road bike because you alter your body position so often on a MTB.

I for one don't see the advantage in ultra-wide handlebars in and of itself, but I do see the value in tuning weight distribution with stem length and then using wider or narrower bars as appropriate to dial in reach for better comfort in the saddle and/or better ability to get back on the back for steep descents. If you can't lift the front wheel of your bike easily enough, use a shorter stem. If you feel like you're going to loop out when doing steep climbs in the saddle, use a longer stem.

I don't think most people pay enough attention to their static weight distribution on the bike. Trying to properly manage your dynamic weight distribution is tougher when you start with your weight too far forward or rearward.
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Old 10-30-13, 06:48 PM
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Originally Posted by colinl
I don't think most people pay enough attention to their static weight distribution on the bike. Trying to properly manage your dynamic weight distribution is tougher when you start with your weight too far forward or rearward.
This is why I feel everyone has their sweet spot when it comes to bar width/height. 720mm is mine, feel cramped on a narrow bar and too stretched on a wider low rise bar.
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