Handlebars, wider the better right?
G’day Bossman here for a Tech Tuesday.
Well the planned tech section this week wasn’t going to be about Handlebars, but after snapping my very expensive Titanium bars at the Meehan Range Skills Park, and walking away without going to hospital maybe this is a good time to talk bars!
I have spent the last few days looking at what is available on the Enduro/Gravity market, as handlebars are usually the very first upgraded parts MTBers are reaching for their wallet for, so here it goes
There are three basic decisions to make:
Bar Width / Clamp
- Super stiff
- Super strong
- Super light approx. 180g
- Can get terrible arm fatigue especially in 35mm bar clamp
- Crashing can be catastrophic, they don’t like smashing into trees that much
- Little Heavy (345g Thomson 780×31.8 15mm rise)
- Very flashy
- Awesome controlled flex for less arm fatigue and trail buzz
- Very expensive, $220aud for Taiwanese $480aud for Thomson
- Can snap with heavy hits, like last weekend booting big airs over the Meehan Hips.
- Nice on wallet
- Nice balance of stiffness and good trail feel
- Exotic alloys and butting tubes, modern alloy are pretty light 270g Renthal Fatbat LITE
- Tend to bend on crashes rather then snapping and lodging into your leg
- Lots of choice is rise and widths
- Some cool tech like SPANK Vibrocore (aka expanda-foam inside)
Bar Width / Clamp
If you’re a gravity rider and need stiff responsive steering then going for wide cockpit with a super stiff 35mm clamp is going to be the go. As bars have got wider they have got more flexy, 35mm bar clamp is probably the least annoying standard that we have dealt with and actually makes a difference when railing berms at warp speed.
However if your happy on 700-740 bars and riding a smaller frame (S or MED) then wider bars and 35mm will probably cause more discomfort to riding in the saddle then looking like Sam Hill on the descents. So stay with your 31.8 bars and try not to go too wide, and see if you like the stiffness of carbon or less fatigue/stress of alloy.
The Most overlooked criteria I think is bar rise
Remember to check your stem stack spacers, if your running more than 10mm under your stem how about remove some spacers and go higher rise, the flat 15mm riser bar is needed on high stack 29ers and big travel enduros, don’t be scared to try 38mm rise or hell even 50mm. Trust me you will be teased less by your mates running high rise bars then a heap of spacers under your stem.
There is more advanced criteria like back-sweep and up-sweep, these are things to try out as you get the above 3 criteria sorted.
There is heaps of options out there for bar choice, and even though in Australia the bar of choice seems to be Renthal, don’t be frightened to try some other rad kit like Deity, Chromag, Spank, ANVL and even Joystick, they are all doing some great products.