How To: How Wide Should Your MTB Handlebars Be? (How Wide is too Wide?) [Video]

There are a few different things to consider before choosing the right handlebar width for your mountain bike. In this blog, we are taking a look at what handlebar widths suit different kinds of bikes, and how the same set of bars might not work for every rider out there. Check out our full collection of mtb handlebars to find exactly what you need. We carry all the best handlebars from brands like Race Face, Renthal, Truvativ and more in a variety of widths, rises, and bends. Which width is best for you?

How Wide Should Your Handlebars Be blog

Different Disciplines - Different Handlebar Widths

On average, it's common to see the narrowest mountain bike handlebars on cross country bikes, and the widest on downhill bikes.

For XC bikes, using a longer stem gets you in a better position on the bike to put out more power efficiently. A narrower bar tends to suit that longer stem. When standing, the longer stem pulls your center of mass forward on the bike. If the bars paired with that stem are too wide, the steering will feel even slower, you will be bent over too much at the hips, and a strong riding position will be compromised. Narrower bars are used in this case to keep your chest open even when leaning forward in a climbing position

  • XC Bikes: 680mm - 740mm bar width 

For downhill bikes, using a wider bar gives you a good stable feel, you have more leverage in the corners, and that all gives you the confidence to ride more aggressively. Think of wider handlebars as having power steering for your car. If the bars are too wide, your body position on the bike may be compromised, and you are also at a much higher risk to tag your hands on trees passing by.

  • Downhill Bikes: 760mm - 800mm bar width

Handlebar widths for enduro bikes are somewhere in between the two. From regular trail riding to the Enduro World Series, having handlebars that give you the control and stability on the downhills along with being in an optimal pedaling position and fitting between tight trees is the name of the game. It is a balance and important to find what is comfortable for you!

  • Enduro Bikes: 740mm - 780mm bar width

Different Body Types - Different Handlebar Widths

We are all made in different shapes and sizes. We all prefer different suspension set ups and cockpit set ups. That is why it is very important to find the right handlebar width perfect for your body type and riding style

  • For shorter riders, it is only natural to use a narrower handlebars. Think about doing a push up. If your hands are much wider than your natural position, you end up working much harder to do one push up. Now if your hands are very close together, again it's unnatural and very unstable. Find a comfortable middle ground for your body type and consider what type of riding you will be doing. 
  • For taller or lankier riders, using a wider bar might be just the trick.  The same theory applies here. If you are very tall with long arms, using a wider bar will get you in a more natural riding position and give you more control on the bike.

How Wide Should Your Handlebars Be blog

How Wide Should Your Handlebars Be blog

Cutting Your Handlebars Down

Changing your handlebar width even a total 5mm can make a noticeable difference. Don't be afraid to cut your bars down to get the right width perfect for you. Most handlebars nowadays come very wide and there is plenty of extra room to cut them down to size. Just make sure you are using the right tools. 

  • Carbon Bars: For carbon handlebars, it is best to use a hack saw with a carbon specific blade and the Park Tool Saw Guide to get a perfectly straight cut every time. Make to sure to measure and mark the bars before cutting so you don't end up cutting more off of one side. 
  • Aluminum Bars: You can also use the same hack saw and Park Tool saw guide, but using a pipe cutter is also a quick and easy way to get the job done.
  • Make sure to use a file to smooth out the edges where your cuts have been made. 

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May 15, 2019

Bike Knowledge › Handlebars › How To › Video ›

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