Are wider MTB handlebars better?

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Lance Branquinho's picture

Lance Branquinho

Lance Branquinho is a Namibian-born media professional who graduated to mountain biking after injuries curtailed his fascination with trail running. He has a weakness for British steel hardtails, especially those which only run a single gear. Lance is an award-winning writer who has contributed to myriad piblications all over the world including Cyclingnews, Bike Perfect, MBR, Topgear, TopCar and Car magazine.


6 months 2 weeks ago

For me (on the gravelly side of the MTB world) I found fitting SQLabs Innerbarends helpful. Gave me a range of positions whilst still providing leverage for the technical bits. Given issues with numb hands that was important otherwise I would have had to trim down my bars quite a bit to take pressure off the nerve feeding my thumb and forefinger.


6 months 2 weeks ago

Only half the story.  Handlebar width and Stem length go hand in hand, because its the length of the diagonal (within limits) from the end of the bars to the center of rotation (the steerer tube) that counts.

You can get similar advantages to wide bars as by lengthening your stem - but because this is not fashionable and Manufacturers have to sell new "changed" bikes this has been forgotten.  Narrow bars and longer stems will return if we wait long enough.

6 months 2 weeks ago

Such a long article, and still so much nuance missing.

Not everybody rides gnarly trails, a fact that most mtb media outlets always seem to forget. Many people like to just ride nice trails through nature, on hardtauls of fullies with limited trvel. Those people don't need these superwide handlebars, no matter their own size.

Yet, here in The Netherlands, I see most mountain bikers riding, what I call 'gorilla style'. Mega wide handlebars, looking totally uncomfortble and awkward.

Yes, back in the nineties we eventually went too far with the narrow bars, I readily admit that, but I think it's time others admitted that those wide bars have gotten a bit silly too.
i think it's simple; if it's a trail you can ride with a gravel bike, the wide handlebars on your mtb are too wide. I ride everything off-road with my 46cm wide (at the hoods) flared dirt drop bar, and on my bike messenger bike my slightly curved handlebars are 60cm wide. I never ever feel like I am lacking leverage, and i am no stranger to some silly stunts and jumps on my rides.