MTB handlebar widths

Discussion in 'Mountain Bikes' started by franco1, Jun 23, 2010.

  1. franco1

    franco1 New Member

    May 17, 2004
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    I'm sure this questioned might have been asked before but coming from a road back ground to mountain biking, it feels if my standard handlebars are too wide for me.

    I spoke to a mountain biker in the club that I belong too, that it should be shoulder width plus 10mm either side.

    Is that correct? Or is it better to leave them as is for sake of leaverage?

  2. Scotty_Dog

    Scotty_Dog New Member

    Jul 30, 2004
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    Everyone is different, so cut them to the length that suits you.
  3. alfeng

    alfeng Well-Known Member

    Jul 23, 2005
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    I don't think that there is a hard-and-fast rule with regard to determining the MTB handlebar width for a rider ... if you look at how MTB racers set up their handlebars, their bars are much shorter than I think most regular riders set up their bike's handlebars.

    So, while using a rider's shoulder width + 10mm (?) may work, measuring the width of the rider's shoulder width could be considered arbitrary depending on how much/little shoulder muscle the rider has ...

    10mm seems like an inconsequential length to add to whatever your shoulder width may be, IMO; but, it's certainly one gauge.

    Perhaps you have noticed that unlike Road bars, Flat bars often only come in "one" length (but, many different rises ... well, probably different lengths for different brands/models) ... the same handlebar which might be sold to someone who is 5'0" tall is also sold to someone who is 6'5" tall, and vice versa ...

    That is, it is presumed that end user will adjust the length to whatever is comfortable by shortening the handlebars as necessary; so, if you are under 6'0" and the bars have never been shortened, then you may-or-may-not want to shorten them.

    How long should your handlebars be?

    I just looked at two bikes that I have which currently have Flat bars & they are currently set up differently!?!
    The total difference in the location of the brake levers is ~2" (~1" on each side of the stem) -- I might have to change that at some point in the future ... maybe, not ...

    That's not really that much of a difference in the grand scheme of things ... and, a different stem & different top tube length will affect the handlebar width (at least, IMO).

    Obviously, I can narrow the bars which are wider, but I cannot widen the bars which are narrower!
    Currently, my brake lever clamps appear to be about 2" inboard from the inner edge of the grips. I'm going to say THAT's undoubtedly as arbitrary as not; but, it apparently works for me.

    So, before you do any cutting, as what may be a backwards way of determining how wide your handlebars should possibly be, measure the location of your brake levers relative to your grips ...

    Perhaps, you may want to move the brake levers inward (for a couple of rides) by a small amount if it feels as though your handlebars are set too wide.

    Keep adjusting the location of the brake levers every couple of rides until you find the brake lever location that is the most comfortable for you ...

    Then, use the length of the grips + 2" to the distance from the 'center' of the band which clamps the brake levers to the handlebar as a rough indication as to how wide a handlebar you can comfortably live with ... at least, for this season ...

    Who knows? Maybe the methodology I suggested will work out to the width of your shoulders + 10mm!
  4. Downhilldad

    Downhilldad New Member

    Jul 5, 2010
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    Might I suggest you get a cheap long handle bar and ride it for a week. If it's uncomfortable or you keep hitting the trees because your bar is too long, nip it by an inch or two and try it again. Keep a ledger of your lengths and observations. When you find your happy place it'll be recorded, then cut it down at lest one more time just for the experience. Cut your good bar to your happy length and feast on those trails. :cool:
  5. vspa

    vspa Active Member

    Jan 11, 2009
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    i also have a road bike background but what i dislike more is the lack of alternatives - non in fact - for your arms to position. So Bar-Ends have been important for me to have in the handlebar ends.