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Old 07-08-2014, 11:31 PM   #1
pne OP
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handlebar bend/height and offroad riding

I'm 5'10 with a 32 inseam. For many years I have used the bars that the previous owner installed on my dirt bikes. Lately I've been more focused on improving my enduro skills and part of that has been setting up the bike. I've been riding a bar with a tall rise for a couple seasons. Although it feels more natural to reach when standing up, I've been noticing it has some unwanted effects on handling.

The two big downsides I noticed are: First, when cornering and sitting, the bar feels too high. With a standard bar the bike feels more compact, and is easier to lean underneath me. It is easier to dab the inside foot and the weighting of the inside hand also feels more natural. The second is weighting the front end. While a tall bar is easier to reach when standing, it makes me lazy when it comes to putting my elbows up and bending my knees. The low bar forces me to stay hunched down and I can feel a lot more weight in my wrists and consequently on the front tire when cornering while standing. It feels natural to keep my weight over the number plate this way.

I switched to a protaper henry/reed bend and while it was more uncomfortable to ride with, it seemed to promote better traction and cornering. Then I bought a steering damper which forces the bar to be raised 30mm, even higher than my original tall bars. I've not ridden this setup yet but it has me weary of the high reach.

I'm curious what the science is behind this. It seems like all MX bikes come from the factory with a pretty standard bend that does not allow a comfortable reach unless you are 5'6. Is this on purpose? What handlebar rises do you guys prefer? Do you run with/without risers? Please specify your height as well.
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Old 07-09-2014, 07:07 AM   #2
Yooper_Bob
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You need to find what works for you and your style of riding.

Is the bulk of your time spent riding rough stuff, and standing? Or do you ride 300 miles in a day, and only 10% of that is rough stuff that requires you stand?

I tend to split my riding 50/50 between stuff that requires me to stand, and stuff I take sitting down. My bars are not high enough that I can fully stand without hunching over a bit...but then again, they are not so high that they become uncomfortable when sitting and doing a bit of pavement.

I am 6'6" tall, and cannot raise my bars any more without going to custom cables. Even if I did raise them more, I think they would be too high for riding while seated.

You have to compromise a bit.

Most MX riders spend 90% of the time standing...and therefore run bars set up to fit standing most comfortable.
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Old 07-09-2014, 07:41 AM   #3
markk53
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pne View Post
I'm 5'10 with a 32 inseam. For many years I have used the bars that the previous owner installed on my dirt bikes. Lately I've been more focused on improving my enduro skills and part of that has been setting up the bike. I've been riding a bar with a tall rise for a couple seasons. Although it feels more natural to reach when standing up, I've been noticing it has some unwanted effects on handling.

The two big downsides I noticed are: First, when cornering and sitting, the bar feels too high. With a standard bar the bike feels more compact, and is easier to lean underneath me. It is easier to dab the inside foot and the weighting of the inside hand also feels more natural. The second is weighting the front end. While a tall bar is easier to reach when standing, it makes me lazy when it comes to putting my elbows up and bending my knees. The low bar forces me to stay hunched down and I can feel a lot more weight in my wrists and consequently on the front tire when cornering while standing. It feels natural to keep my weight over the number plate this way.

I switched to a protaper henry/reed bend and while it was more uncomfortable to ride with, it seemed to promote better traction and cornering. Then I bought a steering damper which forces the bar to be raised 30mm, even higher than my original tall bars. I've not ridden this setup yet but it has me weary of the high reach.

I'm curious what the science is behind this. It seems like all MX bikes come from the factory with a pretty standard bend that does not allow a comfortable reach unless you are 5'6. Is this on purpose? What handlebar rises do you guys prefer? Do you run with/without risers? Please specify your height as well.
As stated in the earlier post, it is an individual thing. You sound like you've learned enough to make a choice - aka compromise that suits your needs best. There is likely no one perfect bar for all circumstances and you realize it.

Quit looking to others and look at what you've learned. One thing - use cheap steel bars in the early stages - way cheaper if you find they don't feel right. Also check other bikes out with different bends. Once you know where you are with the bars then go big bucks.
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Old 07-09-2014, 08:51 AM   #4
LittleRedToyota
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many (most...maybe just about all) pro racers shun bar risers and use low bend bars for the very reasons you discovered. you can get a lot more leverage to flick/turn the bike faster. it also puts you in the attack position and moves you forward on the bike so you get more weight on the front wheel in turns.

if your goal is all day long comfort without worrying about trimming seconds off your times, though, you might find having the bars a bit higher is helpful.
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Old 07-09-2014, 11:09 AM   #5
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this is on the play bike so it is 100% rough single track, offroading, and occasional mx. I sit perhaps 20% of the time I ride just to give the legs a break. Just curious what others thoughts are, since buying a bunch of different bars to experiment gets quite expensive.
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Old 07-09-2014, 11:24 AM   #6
LittleRedToyota
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pne View Post
this is on the play bike so it is 100% rough single track, offroading, and occasional mx. I sit perhaps 20% of the time I ride just to give the legs a break. Just curious what others thoughts are, since buying a bunch of different bars to experiment gets quite expensive.
you could by some adjustable risers (i know enduro engineering sells some, i'm sure other places do, too) for not that much. they won't let you play with different bends, but will let you cheaply and easily play with different bar heights.
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Old 07-09-2014, 12:26 PM   #7
pne OP
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that would work if I wanted taller only. With the damper an average bar is too tall. So I would have to buy several low rise and maybe a straight bar to try.
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Old 07-09-2014, 03:54 PM   #8
markk53
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Most manufacturers list the bend dimensions on-line. Find the one you most recently used that you liked or was nearly correct. Then look over the offerings. All dims are available for Renthal, possibly for others too.
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Old 07-10-2014, 03:40 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LittleRedToyota View Post
many (most...maybe just about all) pro racers shun bar risers and use low bend bars for the very reasons you discovered. you can get a lot more leverage to flick/turn the bike faster. it also puts you in the attack position and moves you forward on the bike so you get more weight on the front wheel in turns.

if your goal is all day long comfort without worrying about trimming seconds off your times, though, you might find having the bars a bit higher is helpful.

This...
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