How wide should mountain bike handlebars be?

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Choosing the right handlebar width is an important decision for every mountain biker. 

This is because the width of your handlebars can greatly affect your control, stability, and overall riding experience. 

However, determining the ideal width can be challenging, considering the various factors at play. 

So, how wide should your mountain bike handlebar be?

Well, this depends on your personal preference, however, the general recommendation is that your handlebars should be as wide as your shoulders.

But you also have to consider your riding style and the terrain you often ride on. 

Aggressive riders tend to prefer wider handlebars for stability, while narrow bars are better for maneuverability for cross-country or trail riding. 

Comfort and control are also important factors to consider, so your handlebar width should allow for a comfortable riding position and optimal grip. 

What is the standard bike handlebar width?

The standard width for mountain bike handlebars usually falls within the range of 700mm to 800mm. 

However, it’s important to note that this can vary depending on the specific bike model, brand, and intended use (whether it’s for road biking, mountain biking, etc.). 

There really isn’t a one-size fits all for bike handlebars, so manufacturers often have different handlebar widths to cater to riders with different sizes, varying preferences and riding styles. 

Some mountain bikes may come with narrower handlebars, especially those designed for cross-country riding, while some others, like those built for downhill or trail riding, may have wider handlebars for increased stability and control.

How do I choose the width of my handlebars?

Choosing the right handlebar width for you is very important, especially because the width of your bars influences your bike control, and maneuverability, which affects your overall riding experience.

bike handlebar width

Therefore, you need to carefully pick a handlebar with the right width and design to suit your body type and riding style. 

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you make the decision:

Measure your shoulder width

To determine the right handlebar width for you, you first need to know how wide your shoulders are. So, start by measuring your shoulder width. 

Stand up straight and have someone measure the distance between the bony protrusions on the outer edges of your shoulders. This measurement can serve as a starting point for choosing handlebar width.

Consider your riding style

Different riding styles benefit from different handlebar widths. If you’re an aggressive rider who enjoys downhill or rough terrain, you might prefer wider handlebars for added stability and control. 

And for cross-country or trail riding, narrower handlebars could enhance maneuverability.

You also have to think of the type of terrain you ride most frequently. If you frequently ride through tight trails or heavily wooded areas, narrower handlebars may be more suitable for easy navigation.

Test different widths

If possible, try out handlebars of different widths to see which feels most comfortable and natural for you. Many bike shops allow test rides or can assist you in finding the right fit.

Consider your arm and wrist position

Your handlebar width should allow you to maintain a comfortable arm and wrist position while riding. Avoid handlebars that force your arms too wide or narrow, causing discomfort or strain.

Trim the handlebars if necessary: If you can’t find the exact handlebar width you want, some handlebars can be trimmed down to your desired size, though this should be done carefully to ensure the integrity of the bars.

Lastly, you can visit your local bike shop for help with choosing the right bars for you. If you’re lucky, they can provide valuable insights and help you find the ideal handlebar width based on your body proportions, riding style, and preferences.

Are narrow or wide MTB handlebars better?

The choice between narrow and wide MTB handlebars is kind of tricky, because there are some factors to consider before deciding on whether a narrow or wide bar is better for you.

Bike handlebar width

Whether a wide or narrow bar will suit you better will depend on a number of things, like the type of riding you do, the terrain or where you ride most often and even your body size. 

Here are some considerations for both options:

Narrow handlebars:

  • Maneuverability: Narrow handlebars can allow for better maneuverability, which makes it easier to navigate tight trails and obstacles. They also allow for quicker steering response, ideal for riders who prefer technical and twisty terrain.
  • Body positioning: Narrower handlebars can encourage a more aerodynamic body position, which can be great for riders focused on speed and efficiency, like cross-country racers.
  • Shoulder comfort: Riders with narrower shoulders might find narrow handlebars more comfortable, as they align better with their body proportions.

Wide handlebars:

  • Stability and control: Wide handlebars offer better stability and control, especially when riding at higher speeds or through rough and challenging terrain. They allow for more precise steering and better handling of the bike.
  • Downhill riding: Wide handlebars are commonly preferred by downhill riders who require maximum control and stability while descending steep and technical sections.
  • Improved leverage: They can also provide better leverage for tackling obstacles, absorbing impacts, and maintaining stability in rough conditions.

How does handlebar width affect handling?

There are a few ways your handlebar width will affect your bike handling. 

First off, wider handlebars offer more stability, control, and leverage, providing a more stable platform for riding at higher speeds and in rough terrain. 

They can also help to improve your cornering abilities and overall control during maneuvers. 

On the other hand, narrower handlebars offer quicker steering response and increased maneuverability, making it easier to navigate tight spaces and technical sections. 

Handlebar width can also affect your comfort and body position on the bike. 

For instance, wider handlebars can open up the chest and provide a broader stance, potentially helping you to breathe better, which reduces fatigue. 

And narrower handlebars encourage a more aerodynamic body position, which is ideal for riders focused on speed and efficiency.

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BikeCrunch offers the best riding tips and guides to help you get the most out of your cycling adventures. We offer in-depth bike and accessory reviews, unbiased buying guides, how-to guides, and much more. Mountain biking, road biking, commuting, touring, and recreational cycling are some of the topics we cover.