Handlebar Width? How Critical?

reed scott

Active Member
I've gone with a MTB type bike as that's my history with bikes for 4 decades. However never much more than a casual rider. I like the suspension as well. However the bike I have on order will come with 760mm wide bars. I know I don't need that width. I'm used to about 670mm bars and can't imagine I will like the wider bars. I will never ride difficult single track and I don't ride very fast anywhere. I'm sure I could be fine with even narrow bars. Please anyone with an opinion on bar width please chine in. :)
 

Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
It is extremely easy to get used to wide MTB handlebars (my e-MTB sports the 780 mm ones). They give you excellent control over bike steering, trust my word on that. It's just the matter to get used to it a little bit.
 

reed scott

Active Member
It is extremely easy to get used to wide MTB handlebars (my e-MTB sports the 780 mm ones). They give you excellent control over bike steering, trust my word on that. It's just the matter to get used to it a little bit.


Thanks Stefan. How do the wide bars affect your body position? A bit less upright perhaps? I don't want to be riding like I'm sitting in a chair but neither do I want to be too far forward.
 

antboy

Well-Known Member
I'd suggest trying the bike as-is first, and see what you might want to change about the handlebars. Not just length but whether you want a flat bar or some sweepback/rise etc.

If they work, except for width, you can always cut them down. If the manufacturer lists the make/model of the handle bars you might be able to find the minimum recommended width as well.

Most aluminum bars are usually safe to cut down by about 40-60mm, as a rule of thumb, but checking with the handle bar manufacturer first is always a good idea.

For example, SQLabs 311 MTB handle bars come in at 740mm but can be cut down to 700mm according to their own recommendations (PROBABLY the bars I'm going to go with).

I've spent far too much time on handle bars in the past couple of weeks because it's the one thing I want to change on my latest bike, and I'm looking for just the right ones. The sweepback is just a bit too much for my tastes. I knew this going in, though. :D
 

Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
How much did you raise the bars Stefan, and in your experience/opinion, what's the effect on handling? The reason I ask is I'm experiencing lumbar back issues since moving to MTB.
Can't tell you precisely, Randy, since my Trance E+ is now with my brother but the standard A-HEAD stem raiser is around 75 mm. Before installing that, I was leaning on the handlebars and felt like frog with my hands widely extended and my head felt below my bum (exaggerating). After the stem extender was mounted, I sit in fairly comfortable, slightly forward position. Bike steering hasn't changed at all. I greatly recommend it to you.

(If you need, my brother can do measurement for you or even tell me the brand).
 

Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
@RandallS: That's precisely Ergotec AHEAD 3 Stem Adapter, 70 mm length. I bought one in a LBS just after I collected my Trance. There are many A-HEAD stem risers on Amazon, the price about $20. A-HEAD stem riser/extender/adapter is always 1-1/8" diameter, it is adjustable by provided spacers. The total length differs: look for one with the length around 70 mm.

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Photo: Jacek M.
 

Bicyclista

Active Member
When I first got my Haibike AllMtn ebike more than four years ago I immediately cut off about two inches (about 50mm) off each side. Yes, I know you lose leverage, but I've never had a problem controlling my ebike. I also raised the bars about 4 inches (100mm). Fortunately, all the cables were long enough.

Then, about two years ago I switched to Jones H-bars which have a 45-degree sweep and 2.5-inch rise. They are much more comfortable due to the more natural wrist position. I did not feel the need to cut them at all; at 710mm they are the longer of two options. The bonus is that they give me more room for all my cockpit accessories (bell, lights, GoPro camera, reflector, dropper seatpost lever, Yamaha display and control pad, etc.). Mr. Jones knows what he's doing!
 

FlatSix911

Well-Known Member
I've gone with a MTB type bike as that's my history with bikes for 4 decades. However never much more than a casual rider. I like the suspension as well. However, the bike I have on order will come with 760mm wide bars. I know I don't need that width. I'm used to about 670mm bars and can't imagine I will like the wider bars. I will never ride a difficult single track and I don't ride very fast anywhere. I'm sure I could be fine with even narrow bars. Please anyone with an opinion on bar width please chine in. :)

I routinely narrow my handlebars to 640mm for off-road use... I have better control don't need additional leverage. ;)

You could safely cut 2 inches of each end to modify your 760mm bars to 660mm... many bars even come with cut lines.
 

Asher

Well-Known Member
Wide handlebars are bad ergonomics. They have a purpose in MTB, for quick sharp turns, but not for casual road riding. The most ergoñomic position is the pushup position, hands just outside of shoulder width. Road handlebars are around 42 cm but city bars are around 50-60.
 

MikeDD

Active Member
Wide handlebars are bad ergonomics. They have a purpose in MTB, for quick sharp turns, but not for casual road riding. The most ergoñomic position is the pushup position, hands just outside of shoulder width. Road handlebars are around 42 cm but city bars are around 50-60.

Just curious, what data do you have to backup this statement?
 

PDoz

Well-Known Member
Wide handlebars are bad ergonomics. They have a purpose in MTB, for quick sharp turns, but not for casual road riding. The most ergoñomic position is the pushup position, hands just outside of shoulder width. Road handlebars are around 42 cm but city bars are around 50-60.

Intriguing , I measured my push up position and it's 870 mm , but puny 760 mm bars feel perfectly natural.
 

linklemming

Well-Known Member
Long Answer
Handlebar width works with headtube angle/fork offset/stem length to determine how sensitive a bike is to steering inputs

Modern MTBs tend to have longer top tubes these days with shorter stems and slacker head angles and wider handlebars (as you have noted).

Short Answer
Try several things and see what works for you.

Im 6ft with average proportions and like 760mm bars with a 80mm stem or so for anything offroad. Never had any offroad control issues but Im not doing crazy downhill bombing runs, For bike path/gravel stuff, I like about 700mm on an 80mm stem.

I have an analog FS MTB (2019 Santa Cruz Tallboy) with 50mm stem and 780mm bars and just dont like it. Steering is too quick for my tastes even with the wider bars. I will likely finally go to a longer stem with more rise and 760mm bars.

I used to run super narrow bars back in the day (555mm titec bars with bar ends that took up alot of handlebar width). I rode that setup for many years over everything (local trails, chairlift assisted downhill, moab, lake tahoe, fruita).
 

Asher

Well-Known Member
Just curious, what data do you have to backup this statement?
Pull-ups and bench pressing and lifting generally. This stance is best for shoulder health and reduced strain (though there are variations to target different muscle groups). Motorcycle/bikeshare cockpits.

Industry sells dumb 'cool looking' stuff all the time to make customers feel hardcore, like knobs on tires for bikes that don't go off-road. This is in that category.
 

6zfshdb

Well-Known Member
I had 760 mm BMX type bars on my bike which were too wide to fit safely between the anti vehicle stanchions on many of the trails I ride. I replaced them with 660 mm Jones H bars which, in my case, are much more comfortable.