why do mountain bikes have straight handlebars

Why Do Mountain Bikes Have Straight Handlebars

why do mountain bikes have straight handlebars

In the past mountain bike handlebars were not straight, now they are all straight. What did they figure out about straight bars and their benefits. Let’s find out.

Why do mountain bikes have straight handlebars? Mountain bikes use straight handlebars because riders need to be in an upright position, the bars can be made wider, and it increases stability. Straight bars allow one finger braking, an increase in suspension, better shifting of body weight, and better leverage.

Once mountain bikes switched to straight handlebars they never switched back. Let’s see how to make the most of them.

What Are Straight Mountain Bike Handlebars Good For

  • Mountain biking is a lot more technical than road biking. Riders go on various sorts of terrain, as well as different kinds of trails. So mountain bikers need to be in a more upright position on their bike in order to see the trail, terrain, turns, and obstacles. Straight handlebars ensure this position.
  • Straight handlebars allow handlebars to be made wide. A wide bar allows for a wide grip. A wider grip improves the riders bike handling capabilities. A drop bar causes the grip to remain narrow and reduces bike handling on the trails.
  • On the trails stability is very important. Riders need to go over roots, rocks, and other small obstacles. As well as manage sharp turns and drop offs. Straight handlebars are more stable for trail riders because they are wider which provides a wider grip.
  • Being able to brake accurately on the trail is crucial for optimal riding performance. Straight bars allow one finger braking. This enables the rider to maintain maximum control while braking instead of needing to alter his grip when using a drop bar. One finger braking allows the rider to also modulate the brakes by feathering the brakes.
  • Good suspension makes all the difference in mountain biking. Not only the bikes suspension but the bodies suspension. Straight handlebars allow the rider to use his arms and legs more effectively as suspension in order to absorb the impact of the terrain. Drop bars are just for speed.
  • Mountain bikers need to shift their weight forward, backward, left and right at a moments notice. This is in order to overcome the rough terrain, sharp corners, jumps, and drop offs. Drop bars keep the rider in one position for going faster.
  • Straight handlebars give the rider better leverage for doing wheelies, manuals, bunny hops, and jumps. All of these skills require the rider to pull up on the handlebars. Leverage is also needed when going uphill and downhill. Drop bars bring the riders weight too far forward, no leverage.
  • Mountain bikes need to have straight handlebars in order to maneuver through the trails effectively and absorb all the impact from the terrain. There is no reason to use a drop bar for mountain biking.

What Types of Straight Mountain Bike Handlebars Are There

There are 2 types of straight bars the first is a flat bar and the second is a riser bar. Flat bars a perfectly straight from one end to the other. Riser bars overall are straight but they bend a little towards the center of the bar.

On a riser bar the bar grips rise up toward the rider. This makes the grips a little higher than the center of the handlebar. Also, the ends of a riser bar sweep back a little toward the rider. This brings back the grip closer to the rider.

Which Straight Handlebar is Right For You Flat or Riser

If you are a downhill rider you will want to use flat bars or very low rise bars. When you are going downhill you want your body to be leaning more forward. This is more aerodynamic. With flat bars or low riser and a wide grip you can bring your chest more easily forward.

For cross country rider speed is very important. You will want to use a flat bar or a very low riser bar. Flat straight handlebars will bring your weight forward and help you to pedal while standing up. This will increase your speed, and stability on cross country trails.

Singletrack forest riders will want to use a higher rise flat bar. This will bring the higher bars higher and closer to the rider. Your position will be more upright moving your weight back. This will increase your bike handling so you can maneuver around obstacles and turns.

What Materials Are Straight Bars Made From

  • Mountain bike handlebars are made from alloy, aluminum, carbon. Each of these materials has their own characteristics which make it ideal for mountain biking. Depending on what your riding style is and your budget will determine which on is right for you.
  • Alloy handlebars are made of a number of metals like aluminum, magnesium, and nickel. They are combined together to make a lightweight handlebar. This increases their bike handling performance when riding on technical trails.
  • Aluminum handlebars are flexible and a little light. This flexibility sends the impact of the terrain to your hands and forearms. This allows your arms to act as suspension. Aluminum is fairly inexpensive and will gives you signs of when it is close to needing a replacement by showing a dent or bending a little.
  • Carbon handlebars are very good at dampening and absorbing impact from the rough terrain of the trails. This makes them very stable and saves you energy from having to steady the handlebars. Carbon is more expensive than the other materials. It will not tell you when it is wearing out, it will just break or crack.

How Wide Should Your Straight Handlebars Be For Mountain Biking

Determining how wide your handlebars should be is based on two factors the style of riding you are doing and your body size and what feels comfortable to you. The right right for you will be a combination of the two.

  • Cross country riders will want to use a narrower bar something that is 740mm or narrower. This will help to improve your aerodynamics by bringing your upper body forward. Your elbows will be brought in reducing wind resistance and increasing pedaling efficiency.
  • Downhill riders will want to use a wider handlebar such as 800mm or wider. This will give you the stability you need to go downhill fast and to be able to absorb the impact of the trail. Your upper body and wide elbows will be the suspension. It will improve your control while descending.
  • Technical trail riders and singletrack riders will want to use handlebars of more average width such as 760mm. This will give you a combination of speed, stability and control. The best position for this is the attack position for technical trails and singletrack.

In terms of the rider, taller riders will want to use a wider handlebar. Shorter riders will like to use a narrower handlebar. The main thing is to feel comfortable. Some shorter riders have longer arms and some taller riders have shorter arms.

On the other hand some downhill riders are more comfortable with narrower straight handlebars compared to the other downhill riders. Some cross country riders are more comfortable with wider handlebars compared to other cross country riders. Pay attention to what works best for you. Following our guidelines is a good place to start.