I’m having a hard time settling on a bar width for my new mountain bike. As configured the bars are a bit too wide – I’m clipping them on trees and I have to turn the wheel to get though some doorways in my house. An Easton rep I spoke with at Interbike this year mentioned that they were designing wider bars for 29er bikes but somehow I don’t think it matters all that much. The stock bars on my 29er are nearly 28" across!
On the other hand I’m testing a Blue XC Carbon bike and the handlebars on the loaner bike are way too narrow for me – around 22.5". I rode out at the 1996 Olympic MTB course in Conyers yesterday and after 1 lap I felt like I had done a thousand diamond pushups. Plus it was a little harder to control on tight sections with my arms so close together.
So, what is a nice medium bar width you guys would suggest? My old Trek 26er bars are 24" and those felt comfortable but should I go a little wider to compensate for the larger wheels on the Redline?
28 inches is the standard on DH bikes and has been for while. I am not going to deny the physics of a longer bar, but I also think it gets a bit too much hype. I know short riders who run 26 inch bars and never have a problem in the nastiest of DH sections. Personally, I run a 28 inch bar, but not because of the increased leverage. Instead, it’s because I am bit wide (not thick mind you) through the chest. When I am in the attack position, the most critical position for my riding, my hands nicely rest at the end of the bars. If I try a 26inch bar my chest feels bound as soon as I soon as I grab it. My advice is go with comfort, if you need to extend your bars to lift a sub 45lbs mtn bike, you might try some push ups and pull ups first.
I have always been of the impression that the bars should be wide enough to accomodate your hands at shoulder width. If 24" is comfortable then you are probably good to go with that. If you don’t feel comfortable with the big ones but feel you want a little more, extend by an inch or two which shoulkd give you more placement options. But then again I’m not an expert and I only ride Trail and XC. Let us know what you go with….
Yeah, I agree there are a number of factors at play here. I’m tall (6’3") so I would think the wider bars would be a good thing but I’m riding XC not downhill so that may allow me to go narrower than 28". Honestly I was much more uncomfortable on the narrow bars (22.5") than I am on my wide 28" bars.
At this point I’m thinking the best thing may be to gradually shorten the bars – maybe take a half inch off each side and see how it feels. If it’s still too wide I can always lop more off (a little harder to add it back on 😀 ).
My Trek had 24" bars and when I demo’d my Niner with 28" bars I clipped a tree and went flying! Now that I’m used to them they feel much more comfortable and I feel more in control with the wider bars – I haven’t hit that tree anymore either. 😳