I'm pretty new to mountain biking (just bought a TREK 4300) and I'd like to know how high I should set my handle bars . I have the straight kind. I'm pretty tall and find as it is know I get a stiff back and neck after any time in the saddle.
Josephe, unfortunately many product managers for the large bike companies care more about how their bikes look in a catalogue, rather than how comfortable people will actually be riding them. In addition to this many large size bikes (which I assume you have if you are tall) are not specced with higher rise stems or forks with lnger steerer tubes as they should be. The combination of these things often means bars which are too low, especially on larger bikes. A good rule of thumb for a relatively new bike is to have your bars somewhere around level with your saddle. This is a good confortable position for general riding, though if you get into more performance riding and as your body becomes more used to the stresses of hard riding, you can lower them back down a bit.
If you do currently have a large drop to the bars another issue could be whether the bike is big enough for you. If a tall person is on a bike too small, they may be able to get the seat high enough, but the bars will still be too low. In an ideal world all of these issues should have been addressed by the shop from which you bought the bike - but seeing as 16 year old kids who know nothing are so cheap to hire over the holidays - that's all too rare these days... If you do have faith in the shop you bought the bike from, you would be well served to go back to them. Any shop worth their ssalt should sort you out with an appropriate stem and bars for your needs as part of the sale of the bike. Before you do that though, I would highly recommend doing some reading up on bike fitting on the net. There are many good resources around, but I would particularly recommend looking at Keith Bontrager's discussion on bike fit
. A conventional and simple view it's not, but it seems a very sensible one to me.
By the way, would you all recommend I get shoes that clip on the pedals or can I use sneakers etc?
Clip in pedals and stiff soled shoes are the single best upgrade (after getting your position right!) you can make to your bike!
Enjoy the ride,