Most people overlook and ignore the importance of handlebars in mountain bikes. They are an essential contact point in a bike. When choosing MTB handlebars, there are several factors you need to consider. Besides the size and shape, you need to consider the fit, accuracy, steering and comfort. What is comfortable to one person may be uncomfortable to the other person; that’s why you need to choose what works best. In this article, you will see everything you need to look for when purchasing an MTB handlebar.
Mountain bike handlebars are mostly carbon fiber or aluminum. The materials are different in terms of weight, prices, performance, and characteristics. Carbon handlebars are lightweight, have a flex pattern design, and are more methodically placed. However, they are less durable and also more expensive to manufacture. On the other hand, aluminum handlebars are quite cheap and very durable. However, the aluminum handlebars are overbuilt and are too stiff due to the 35mm clamp diameter. People will choose the handlebars considering their strengths and weaknesses.
What Type of Handle Bars for Which Bike
Different makes of handlebars work differently on different bikes. Although there is no given specification on which handlebars to use on a specific bike, there are guidelines to help you choose the perfect handlebars.
- Cross Country Bikes
These MTBs work better with a lower-rise handlebar. The lower rise handlebar helps you keep the weight on the front wheel more easily, allowing you to climb steep slopes and mountains easily. Having a lower rise bar and a longer stem will power you up on big climbs. These handlebars are required to be lightweight, so they are made of carbon fiber.
- Enduro bikes
When it comes to trail or enduro bikes, there are a large variety of different handlebars. If you spend most of your time in the saddle, you will require a carbon handlebar that perfectly absorbs vibrations. A 10mm to 35mm rise is important, and it will perfectly match your enduro bike.
- Downhill bikes
For downhill bikes, you need the highest-rise handlebars. These handlebars get your weight back over the rear wheel when going downhill. With this bike, you can choose between carbon and aluminum material. Aluminum material is more durable and less expensive, so it is a better choice fr the downhill bike.
Handlebar Rise and Sweep
Handlebar geometry involves the rise and sweep of the handlebars. The shape of your handlebars is determined by the rise and sweep of the handlebars. The rise of the handlebars is the vertical rise, and it is measured from the center of the bar to the bar end. The handlebars on different mountain bikes range from mm to 40mm rise. If the rise is high, the handlebar will feel taller.
For steep terrains, the high-rise handlebar is more preferred since you can get all the weight at the bike’s back. However, if you own an XC bike, a lower rise bar is better since you can keep the weight on the front of the bike on steep climbs.
The sweep is the bend of the handlebar. Sweep is broken down into the upsweep and the down sweep. The upsweep is seen from the front view is the angle measured from an imaginary line drawn parallel to the clamping surface and perpendicular to the direction of rising to the handlebar. This upsweep is about 5 degrees.
Back sweep, which can be seen from the top-down view, is the angle measured from an imaginary line drawn from the clamping surface back to the handlebar. It ranges from 7 degrees to 10 degrees.
The upsweep and back sweep determines the riders’ comfort and wrist angle.
When dealing with the bar diameter, we have 35mm diameter and 31.8mm diameter. The 35mm diameter and 31.8mm diameter differ in the stiffness and weight balance. However, over the years, the 35mm diameter has been the most common since the industry and manufacturers have been pushing and making more 35mm clamp diameter. The 35mm clamp diameter handlebars and clamp are characterized by stiffness and durability. The 31.8 mm clamp diameter handlebars are now gaining popularity since they are lighter and less stiff.
For the longest period, wide handlebars have been preferred by riders. Although longer handlebars slow down the steering input, they are still better since it is easier to move the weight with the longer handlebars.
Longer handlebars also make it easy for you on climbs and make breathing easier. The bar width goes for a bar that is not too wide since it overstretches the rider limiting his overall potential. On the other hand, getting a narrow handlebar will increase the riders’ range of movement, but on the downside, it makes the steering heavier, and you will be less stable.
You will find handlebars with widths ranging from 600 to 840mm, so when shopping for handlebars, always consider the width and the effect they have on you when riding.
Mountain Bikes have maintained a standard straight bar over the years. However, now with improved technology, improved handlebar shapes, and riders experiment with the new shapes. Some of the new shapes include; Jones H-Bar and road-style drop bars. These different shapes help riders utilize different hand positions to get rid of fatigue. In reality, when using these bar shapes, you will be trading comfort over trail handling.
You can enjoy a beautiful and comfortable ride on any terrain by your choice of handlebars. With the different variety of handlebars available, you will be spoilt of choices. However, when picking a handlebar, you must consider the steering, comfort, accuracy, durability, and terrain. Otherwise, you will have a rough time riding and controlling your mountain bike. Before any purchase, have thorough research on the qualities and reviews of handlebars to avoid any disappointments.