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How Wide Are Your Bars?



  • 720mm Fire Eye FE-318 on the Orange. Think the stem is about 80mm. No more than that anyway.

    With regards to handling, it seems to me that shortening the stem quickens the steering, whereas shortening the bars seems to make the steering more twitchy, rather than faster, if anyone gets what I mean. I reckon wide bars/short stem will never feel the same as narrow bars/longer stem.

    I prefer wide bars/short stem, never have a problem with catching the bars on stuff - most gaps between trees are a bit wider than they look. If you're a bit nervous of the narrowness of a gap, likelyhood is you'll be watching the sides rather than the line through, which will send the bike to the side.

    Another point is that at speed you don't actually turn the bars the way you want to go. I know this sounds like total rubbish, but next time you're riding, test it out a wide bit of trail! When you want to turn left at speed, what actually happens is you push the left hand side of the bar slightly away from you, which causes the bike to lean into the turn. It's not mega obvious, like it is on a motorbike (due to much slacker head angle on a motorcycle), but it's there. It's called 'counter-steering'. You can see it on those weird camera angles where the camera is on the bars looking back at the rider with a wide angle lens.
    ...anyway, the only real point of all that, if anyone's still awake, is that because you're using the bars to lean the bike, they don't move much at all at speed, which means that wide bars are good because they let you hold a line & keep the twitchiness at bay, but they don't slow down the steering like you might expect because you're not moving them through much of an arc.
    At really slow speeds, you do turn the bars the way you'd expect, but then all the leverage issues are less relevant as twitchiness isn't an issue.

    Well done if you made it to the end of all that, and feel free to disagree, but that seems to make sense, both in theory & practice, and I've read bits of it elsewhere as well...
  • supersonicsupersonic Posts: 82,708 Lives Here
    I think you make very good sense! The counter steering theory is also correct, but can be hard to see at first!

    I have a few diagrams I will post tomorrow to further the long stem/short bar reasoning, and leverage etc.
  • I have 690mm Bontrager race riser on my trek fuel ex 8, I'm not sure of the dimensions of my old bontrager crowbar on my trek 4300 but it felt nicer to ride, was narrower and I now find myself not being able to fit through gaps I could previously squeeze through, can effect my ride quite a bit at times! :o
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