Man Riding Mountain Bike Handle Bar View


Mountain bike handlebars are an essential part of a mountain bike because this is what you use to control and steer the bike. If it’s your first time to get a mountain bike, pay attention also to the handlebars aside from the style of the bike among other things. Here’s an easy guide on how to pick the right mountain bike handlebars.


Mountain bike handlebars are mostly made either of alloy or carbon fibre, and the choice between the two depends on weight and cost. Mountain bike bars made of alloy cost less but weigh more than bars made of carbon fibre. This reason makes most riders opt for alloy bars. However, an advantage of carbon fibre bars over alloy is that they can be moulded into more different and interesting shapes than aluminium as well as being strong and incredibly light.


There are two things to check when looking at the handlebar geometry: rise and sweep.

Rise pertains to the height between the centre of the bar where it’s mounted to the stem and the centre of the diameter after the taper and the transitional blend. Figuring out the right rise depends on the rider position on the bike. Check if the position is too low for you. If so, the riser bar needs to be adjusted to a level most comfortable for you.

Sweep is further measured as upsweep or backsweep. Upsweep refers to the vertical angle of the bars at the grip, whereas backsweep is the angle which the bars swoop going to the back of the bike. Again, sweep depends on rider comfort and preferences.


There are three styles you need to be familiar with if you want to know how to choose mountain bike handlebars.

Cross-country and trail (flat and low rise): When you’re engaging in cross-country racing, you want to use flat handlebars with zero rise. This style lets you enjoy a low power-packed position and are narrower than the others.

Downhill bars (riser/low-ride and flat): If you’re into downhill mountain bike racing, you need bars made of alloy. This is to help prevent high repair or replacement costs when a crash happens. Downhill bars are wider than cross-country trail bars, need to have oversized stems and are very strong. Modern downhill bars are also low rise to help riders be comfortable in a lower position as they go downhill.

Dirt jump/skatepark: These bars are generally tall (2-3 inches of rise). You can get either a chromoly or aluminium dirt jump bars.

Whether you want an entry-level bike or a full-custom bike, choosing the right handlebar plays a vital role in making for a smooth and safe ride. After all, these are what connect your body to the front part of your bike. Your bars are more than a spot to hang your gear and your brake levers, so take time to know how to choose mountain bike handlebars. Picking the right handlebars depending on your preferences lets you enjoy ultimate comfort, stability and efficiency each time you ride.



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Peter Williams

Peter loves bikes of all kinds. He has a passion for mountain biking right through to cycling long distance. He is sharing his experience here OnDECK.