The Deity Highside Riser Bar Makes Descending Feel Even Better

Deity Highside 35 riser handlebar

I never realized how much handlebars contribute to the look and feel of a mountain bike, until I slapped the Deity Highside 35 alloy riser bar onto my hardtail. Switching from flat bars to risers visually takes the bike from pedally to party before even hitting the trail!

Gerow wrote about riser bars earlier this year, and his article convinced me to give them another try after years of riding flat. I was also trying to resolve a fit issue with a low stack height and hoped the 50mm rise on the Deity Highside bars might help.

Deity Highside 35 specs

Deity recommends the Highside for DJ and slopestyle bikes, and offers the bar with 50mm (tested) or 80mm of rise, and 5° of upsweep. The handlebar is 800mm wide and can be cut to 750mm for those who want a narrower cockpit. Guide marks make it easy to align the bar accurately in most any stem, and the clamping diameter is 35mm.

The bars also come in a 31.8mm diameter which is likely more common for slopestyle and dirt jump bikes.

Deity Highside handlebar clamping area

The Deity Highside 35 is made from T6 aluminum and weighs about 365g uncut. Bold graphics are offered in seven different colors.

Test pilot profile height: 190cm (6’3″) weight: 72.5kg (160lb) testing zone: Southeast, USA

Over the course of a couple months I rode with these bars on an Alchemy Arktos 120 full suspension test bike, and my own Orange P7 hardtail. Installation went smoothly and quickly on both bikes which is to be expected.

On the trail

Attempting to hit the “highside” of a janky wall ride. Photo: Paul Foster.

Cockpit changes tend to be risky, and it’s never a sure thing that a new bar shape will be comfortable for everyone. Fortunately I got along with the Deity Highside 35 thanks in part to the just-right 5° upsweep. This puts hands in a neutral position and tends to be pretty standard for bars of most shapes and sizes, from flat to rise. Rotating the Highside bars north of center places the grips closer to saddle, but I found the center position to be a good and comfortable fit on both bikes in my test. With many bars I’ve tested in the past I’ve found it necessary to cut them down to 780mm or even 760mm to get the right fit but thanks to the shape of the Highside bars I haven’t felt the need to go any narrower.

The T6 aluminum alloy in combination with purposeful gradient butting gives the bars a nice ride feel that’s not harsh at all, yet still feels plenty stiff on hard hits.

As I mentioned in the intro, Gerow’s article about the advantages of riser bars piqued my interest in testing the Deity Highside 35. The advantages are especially clear on my hardtail with more confident descending, especially on the steep stuff. I found the raised hands — and by extension, body — position reduces that over-the-bar feeling and delivers improved control riding downhill.

Of course there’s a flipside to everything, and the tradeoff to higher bars is less control when it’s time to climb. This translates into a slightly more wandery feel at the steering end on uphill slopes, though the upshot is a more upright position overall which I found makes breathing easier. As some have pointed out it also means wheelies take less effort since there’s reduced weight over the front end of the bike.

In the end I found these 50mm riser bars didn’t do a whole lot in terms of improving fit on a bike that clearly wasn’t sized correctly. On the Arktos with the low stack height the steering felt muddled and just… off. A riser bar might help some with specific fit issues, however in my experience these are best suited to changing the ride feel of a bike, rather than the fit.

Overall

Overall there really isn’t anything I would change about the Deity Highside 35 handlebars. The bars deliver a good blend of stiffness and comfort for an excellent ride feel, and I’m a fan of the straightforward, bold look. While some might quibble with the amount of rise offered, Deity like other brands, offers their bars in plenty of other shapes to suit just about any rider and riding style.

Party laps

  • Good ride feel balances stiffness and comfort
  • Durable and reliable alloy material
  • Cuttable down to 750mm width

Pros and cons of the Deity Highside 35 handlebar.

Dirt naps

  • Graphics might be overstated for some