How wide is too wide?
As mountain bikers, we take pride in our bikes and swear by parts that have treated us well in the past. Everything on our bikes—from the style of pedals to
our favorite saddles—builds a relationship between us and
our rigs, but there is one part many riders overlook. Yes, we
are talking about handlebars, and to be more specific, we’re
talking about the width of those bars. It’s no secret that han-
dlebars have been growing wider over the last five years or
so. This trend is largely a product of changes in bike geometry.
Bikes today are built with shorter chainstays and longer top tubes
that demand wider handlebars and shorter stems to bring out
the best handling. These changes have made bikes more stable
and responsive than in the past. The law of diminishing returns,
however, says that there’s a limit to how wide you can go and still
benefit. We set out to find that limit and help you choose the right
bar width for your bike.
To be wide or not to
be wide? Handlebar
width plays an important role in the way
a bike fits and feels;
however, current trends
have pushed riders to
use wider bars than
ever before, causing
some riders to run handlebars that are flat-out
too wide. At what point
do we say wide enough
is too much?
Big whips and handlebar widths:
Downhill riders like Brendan Fairclough run
wider bars for greater high-speed stability
and increased control. “Brendog” used his
extra-wide handlebars for max leverage
in the Whip-Off World Championships in
Whistler last summer.