– [Man] So, ever since I’ve been involved
with mountain biking I’ve seen handlebars evolve a lot. From sort of mid-to-late 90s
when I was riding, people tended to ride very narrow bars right up to now,
where people tend to ride, I can’t even comprehend how wide their bars are. I
do have a vivid memory of growing up, of seeing Neil racing in the late 90s,
going extremely fast with narrow bars. Would you like to talk about that? – [Neil] Yeah, it’s funny. I look at
old photos now, and I cringe. They must have been probably, you know,
smaller than 700 mil, but I used to ride a BMX a lot, and I sort of used really
narrow bars for that. So I thought it was cool to use them on the downhill bike. – Okay, wide bars. What are the
pros of using wide bars? Well, I think the biggest thing for me is you
have that nice, big, wide bar, and it makes the bike feel really planted, really
stable. You’ve got a lot more leverage in the corners, and you really feel
like you are in control of that, and it’s confidence-inspiring. – Yeah. A big thing I notice, if I go too
wide with my bars, which actually I’ve got a new bike. It’s come with 780 mil on
there and that’s much wider than I normally use. I feel that riding in the
woods where I normally ride, I’m getting really close to those trees and having to
slow down to get through them. So yeah, definitely smacking your hands
on trees is a big disadvantage, but also it feels a bit sluggish, not
quite as nimble in the woods. So, personally I run 740’s, and that’s
still relatively wide, but I’m not up there with the big, downhill
800 mil-wide bars. ♪ [music] ♪ So, why use narrow bars? It’s fair to say
narrow bars suit a longer stem because it’s bringing your weight further forward
with a longer stem. If you’re then running wide bars, it’s really bringing you chest
down and forward. So longer stem, narrower bars, definitely better for
cross-country. Also, going back to something you see with road guys, when
they’re climbing they bring their hands right on the tops, really close to the
stem, and it can open your chest up a little bit better for
breathing on climbing. – They’re all valid points, Neil, but I
just want to talk about some of the cons of running narrow bars, you know,
especially at higher speeds, you know, like I get up to. The bike might
feel a little bit twitchy underneath you, perhaps haven’t got quite the control
that you would have with a wider set. In the turns, you haven’t got that same
leverage and that same sort of confidence-inspiring, sort of getting the
weight through the bike to get that grip. It just doesn’t do it for me. – No, and it is definitely something we’re
even seeing with the cross-country guys and girls, they are starting to
go a bit wider with their bars. So, how do you choose
the right bars for you? ♪ [music] ♪ So, doing a press-up this is my natural
position, hands slightly wider than my shoulders. Feels really nice and
strong, nice and stable as well. If I try and go out too wide, okay, it’s
going to be much harder work, definitely pretty tiring. But also, going
back to the middle feels pretty strong now, I could do a press-up. Again, that’s
quite hard work compared to my comfortable position but also, obviously, I’m less
stable. So, trying to find that comfortable position, hands slightly
wider than shoulders, nice and strong. So, it’s fair to say that the narrower
bars suit a longer stem for cross-country, where you’re going to need to keep some
weight on the front tire to stop that front wheel from wheeling
on the really steep climbs. – And also, there’s similar issues
with the wider bar. If you have, say, a longer stem, something like
70 mils, and you put a wider bar on, you’re going to have this effect of, like
you’re driving a big London bus or something. So, the steering would
be even slower with that long stem. So if you are looking to run a wider bar,
we tend to mate it with a shorter stem, therefore you have that nimble steering
but then the stability when you’re up to speed. – Yeah, so, It’s fair to say that, you
know, the bar set-up really comes down to the trails you ride
and what you like to ride. ♪ [music] ♪ So the other thing to talk
about the handlebars is rise and sweep. We’ve got
two sets of downhill bars here. Sweep is that measurement of how far the
way you grip on the bar actually comes back and also up. There’s two
measurements to sweep, back and up. You see on these bars, this part of the
bar’s much higher off the table than these so there’s more sweep-back on these bars.
Tends to be more of a personal preference thing I think, although you tend to find
downhill bars have more sweep than cross-country bars. – Yeah. I think that’s a fair point
and, as you say, I think there’d be certain…you could give me a
set of bars, and I’d be like, “Oh, that’s horrible,” and you would be, “Oh
no, I really like that.” I think it’s just the way your shoulders are set and
how it kind of fits to your body. Rise, on the other hand, so, rise
is what we’re looking at here, is if this was zero, and then it’s how
much rise up to here. So in this case, it is 20 mils from here to the top of
there. So, there’s all different rises that you can get. Downhill bikes,
as a rule, tend to have a bigger rise, and then a cross-country would
have zero-rise handlebars. – All right. So, there’s
handlebars explained. I run 740s. – I’m running 750. – And just let us know in the comments
what bars you use, and if you want us to cover anything else, give us a comment and
we’ll try and cover that stuff as well. – And don’t forget to watch more videos
here on GMBN. Check out my video of suspension forks explained up here. – Or click down here for Si riding
technical climbs, showing you how to do that. – I might watch that, actually. I’m
not very good at technical climbs. – No. That’s what I’ve heard, yeah. Don’t
forget you can click on us if you want to subscribe to GMBN. – Click on me, I’m better looking
than Neil. Don’t click on him.